maybe they’re not GIVING you a hard time. maybe they’re HAVING a hard time.

The next time someone gives you a hard time, consider the possibility that it has NOTHING to do with you. Consider the possibility that they are dealing with something you know nothing about.

Think of something you’ve struggled with and lived through that not many people know about.

(The “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” kind of lived through.)

Now, realize OTHER people – people you meet today and people you’ve known for years – have lived through things you don’t know about.

And cut them some slack.

Give them some grace.

because We’re all #JustADifferentKindOfBroken

Sometimes, even when it’s not your fault, it’s still your problem.

Some will step up, take ownership and work toward a solution.

Some will complain and search for someone to blame.

And when they’re done complaining about it and/or trying to find out who’s to blame, it will STILL be their problem.

But then they’ll have less time to solve it.

#ItIsWhatItIs so #NowWhat

There will always be time AFTER you’ve solved a problem to take steps to prevent it from happening again.

and, of course, to complain and/or blame. But if you give in to that, you risk loss of respect because some people may see you as being as petty and vindictive instead of a gracious and competent problem solver they can trust.

If you are a person of faith, remember, the problem is no surprise to God. And if you have a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit is your Help. You are not alone. Pray. Ask God for wisdom and discernment. As Him to guide you. To bless you with ideas. To equip you.

Problems happen. They are opportunities. To be a good steward of all the gifts you’ve been blessed with. To be a witness. To give thanks and credit for His faithfulness. And to frustrate Satan.

If You Want to Recognize Opportunity, Pay Attention.

Notice What Others Overlook and You’ll See Opportunities they Don’t.

Notice What Others Overlook and You’ll See Opportunities they Don’t.Notice What Others Overlook and You’ll See Opportunities They Don’t.

Seems simple.

but you know as well as I do that people are oblivious most of the time.

We walk around in a vacuum, navigating the smallest encounters on autopilot, looking at our phones instead of looking people in the eye and missing the sunset for months.

Not only do we miss opportunities that would bless us, but opportunities that would bless others.

From fleeting opportunities to encourage someone to huge missed opportunities to…

connect with someone,
learn from someone,
even receive help from someone.

When we don’t pay attention, we miss identifying all the disconnected things we encounter in our day, which means we forfeit opportunities to recognize ways we can connect them, leading to new ideas that might solve our problems or inspire us to take a step in a new direction.

Try it. Just for today. Pay attention to as many things as possible – small and large, in your direct line of vision as well as in your peripheral vision. Listen to words and sounds you overhear in the background and stop tuning out direct messages as noise.

If you are a person of faith, pray.
Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you. Nudge you. Call your attention to whatever He wants you to notice today.

What opportunities can you recognize?

Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. #DoYourBestEvenWhenYouDontNeedTo #GoodSteward #AudienceofOne

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. #DoYourBestEvenWhenYouDontNeedTo #GoodSteward #AudienceofOneWhen you are talented in some area and doing a job you are overqualified for, it may seem like you don’t need to work as hard to be half as good as everyone else involved in the job.

put another way,
When you are really good at something and you are working with people whose skills are average or less, it may be tempting to coast.

but what if you didn’t?
What if, instead, you did your absolute BEST work?

What if you put forth the kind of effort required when you are in a situation where YOU are the one working with people who have more skills and experience and you are striving to keep up?

In that situation, if you were the person with less talent and YOU worked harder than someone with more talent,

who would be seen as the person with the strongest work ethic?
would you be given more responsibility?
more opportunity?
more respect?

would your pursuit of excellence inspire others to also give their best, leading to increased morale and an elevation of the entire project?

When you are the person with less talent and YOU work harder than the person with more talent, does that make YOU their greatest competition?

Back to the original scenario, if YOU are the person on a team who has the greatest talent, the strongest skillset and the most experience and YOU pursue EXCELLENCE when a lesser effort would still contribute more than…everyone else combined,

would you be seen as the person with the strongest work ethic?
would you confirm to everyone involved that you deserve more responsibility and opportunity?
would the respect others have for you increase?
would YOUR pursuit of excellence not only inspire others to give their best but also lead to CONTAGIOUS increase of morale and EXPONENTIAL elevation of the entire project?

Consider: If you are the person with the greatest talent and someone works harder than you, they are your greatest competition.

If you are a person of faith,
~ diligently pray that the Holy Spirit would equip your for the work and then lean on God’s power to accomplish in you what you can’t accomplish on your own.
~ ask God to make you aware of what He wants you to attend to and who He might want you to help and encourage or even mentor.
~ ask God to help you be a strong witness for His love and grace.

#DoYourBestEvenWhenYouDontNeedTo
Be a #GoodSteward of the talents you’ve been blessed with.
Keep your focus on #AudienceofOne

You Find What You Look For. What are you missing?

Sometimes, with people, you find what you look for. #SeePeople because we're all #JustaDifferentKindofBroken

Sometimes, with people, you find what you look for. #SeePeople because we're all #JustaDifferentKindofBrokenSometimes
with people,
you find what you look for.

What if you questioned your assumptions?

What if you asked questions?

And listened.

It’s easier and faster to assume you’ve got someone figured out based on your first impression of them.
It’s easier and faster to assume you know someone’s motivations based on your interpretation of their words and actions.
It’s easier and faster to assume you have no blind spots or biases when it comes to evaluating another person or situation.
It’s easier and faster to write someone off as not worth your time or a second thought. as less or an idiot…or a bigot or a zealot.
It’s easier and faster to dehumanize someone by categorizing them with an adjective or labeling them with a derogatory term or encapsulating them with a pithy meme or quote.

What if you’re wrong? What does that say about your character? Do you care?

People are inconvenient.
They take time. and effort. and sometimes risk and and humility and vulnerability.

But consider this. People take the faster, easier path when they encounter you.

If you are a person of faith, consider this. If you take the easier, faster path with people in your life – whether in fleeting encounters with strangers, casual interactions with acquaintances or the hard work of closer relationships – are you missing something? What would God have you do in each of those opportunities? What would you do differently if you prayed about it?

Would you choose easy and fast? or risk and humility and vulnerability?
Dismissal? Or an opportunity to be an encouragement and a witness and a testament for the grace and unconditional love God has freely given to you?

Will you attempt to act and speak on your own or will you ask the Holy Spirit to guide and equip you to be His hands and feet and eyes and ears and voice?

Don’t miss a blessing in disguise because you’ve dismissed the possibility that God could use THAT person to speak into your life.

Don’t miss an opportunity to be a blessing in someone’s life for the sake of an easier, faster path to your own goals and comfort zone.

#SeePeople and #edify because everyone is #JustaDifferentKindofBroken

 

Repentance vs. Guilt
reACT or reSPOND?

Repentance leads to positive change but guilt is self-destructive, counter-productive and a waste of time.
Repentance leads to positive change,
but guilt is self-destructive, counter-productive and and a waste of time.

Guilt: feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy
Repentance: sad and humble realization of – and regret for – something you’ve done…

with a resolve to change

There are times when we come face to face with the realization that there’s something in our lives that’s negative or destructive or hurtful to others and/or ourselves. I sometimes refer to that moment as an “ugly look in the mirror.”

What do we do? What are our choices? How do you handle negative feedback (or what I prefer to call developmental feedback)?

1. Denial. Is your knee-jerk reaction to deny it? Defend yourself against it? Explain how it’s not true? or how it’s justified? Do you dismiss the feedback as irrelevant because nobody understands?

That’s a completely normal reaction.

Keep that word in mind for a few minutes: reACTION.

2. Discouragement. Do you shut down? Does negative feedback demoralize you? Demotivate you? Depress you? Does it set you off into a multi-day or multi-week debilitating funk that you feed with negative self-talk and junk food?

That’s a completely normal reaction.

again, keep that word in mind for a few minutes: reACTION.

3. Determination. Does your pride take a hit and trigger the warrior in you to rise up and set out on an exhausting and unsustainable pattern of calculated behaviors in an effort to prove “them” wrong.

That’s a completely normal reaction.

there’s that word again. reACTION.

What if you push the pause button on your reACTION? What if, instead, you reSPOND?

act “a thing done,” from Latin actus “a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion;”

-spond- comes from Latin, where it has the meaning “pledge; promise.”

What if you took some time to process not only the feedback that can trigger these reactions, but to also think through the bigger picture:

Is there ANY truth to the feedback? Even if it was delivered by a non-objective source and wrapped up in acrimonious language, is there ANY truth to it? Can you put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see you as they see you? Is there anything you are doing that contributes to their view of you or the situation?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider asking yourself:

Do I care? Do I feel badly about what I’ve said or done? Do I want the situation to change?

If so, do I reACT in guilt?
Or do I reSPOND with repentance?

When Words and Actions Conflict, Actions Carry the Stronger Message
are you duplicitous?

Do you have a friend who you KNOW differs from you with regard to faith, politics, relationships, social issues, etc?

Is there a difference in how you relate to them one-on-one and how you express your opinion of the cultural sub-groups they fit into?

Do you have a Christian friend and mock Christians as uneducated sheep?

Do you have a liberal or conservative friend who you personally interact with respectfully but then post content that could be viewed by them as arrogant condescension?

Do you post divisive and mocking “us” vs. “them” memes and gifs about the group your friend is affiliated with?

Those friends are not stupid and they don’t live under a rock. They see your posts. They hear what you say. And when you talk to them in real life, they know what you REALLY think about them.

They know you are duplicitous.

(unless you’ve blocked them because YOU ALREADY KNOW you are duplicitous)

Look at the content you post, from the other person’s point of view.
Listen to what you say, from the other person’s perspective.

Often, we have the ability to recognize content that might be viewed as an attack on others who differ from us. If you know it crosses that line, DON’T post it. DON’T say it.

Not sure? If you genuinely care about this other person, be brave. ASK them if they’ve seen or heard anything you posted or said that contradicted the respect you express toward them in person.

Maybe they’ll tell you the truth.

or maybe, they will protect themselves by remaining silent because they know they can’t trust you.

I’ve written about this before, with examples, in my posts entitled:
duplicity. duplicity everywhere” and
People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening

the unintentional message behind accepting the status quo.

Check it out.
Such a cute video.
Encouraging.
A great example of optimism.
But another thought nags at me.
Scroll below the video if you care to explore that thought with me.

Sure. He’s the “GREATEST CATCHER in the WORLD!”

But that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to be the “GREATEST HITTER in the WORLD!”

But after THREE tries. T H R E E.

all by himself.
with no coach.
no instruction.
no advice.
no developmental feedback (constructive criticism)
no hard work.
no practice.

He GAVE UP his self-proclaimed dream.

and settled for what he was ALREADY good at.

(theoretically. At that moment, he has zero competition. “Greatest Catcher” status remains to be seen until he’s on the receiving end of an average pitcher’s fast ball.)

Does all that sound mean? pessimistic?

If the goal is to make him feel better, then yes. I suppose it is.

BUT. If the goal is to help him GET better, then how is cheering for him when he abandons his dream a good thing? How is cheering for him in this situation NOT encouraging him to give up instead of asking for help and working toward fulfilling his dream?

Seriously. Everything I do well, I probably sucked at in the beginning.

I serve as a career coach and one way I do that is to volunteer with a 12 week program that helps the unemployed and underemployed find, obtain and keep a family sustaining career. As you might expect, the people who apply to this program are looking for a better job. They’re looking for a career inSTEAD of a job.

But even more foundational than that, they are looking for CHANGE. They want a better life. A more stable income. Security. Self-confidence. Hope. Encouragement. Inspiration. They are sick and tired of the status quo and they are at a place in their life when they are ready to do something about it. Without exception, every single person who applies is, by the act of applying, asking for help. When they are accepted into the program, they themselves are agreeing to accept help.

So what happens when the coach they’ve been matched with or another student in their group hears their story and reacts by assuring them they are “fine” just the way they are and they don’t need to change a thing. They are ENOUGH.

If you are looking for change and you are being assured you don’t need to change because “you are enough” just the way you are, what does that mean? What does that do to your motivation? If your choices – by natural consequence – have led you to where you are in life and you are not happy with where you are, is hearing “you are fine just the way you are – don’t let anyone tell you that you need to change” really helpful?

Is it kind?

Is it true?

I find myself thinking about the old adage:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

and

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein

and one of my personal favorites:

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
~ Winston S. Churchill

In my experience, telling these students – or ANYone seeking change or betterment in any area of their life – that they are fine and enough is counter-productive. If you want to get better at anything, there ARE steps you can take and by the sheer nature of the word CHANGE, those steps HAVE to be different steps than the ones you’ve taken in the past and the steps you are taking now. I’ve written about some ways to approach changing for the better four times in the last few days alone:

1. It Doesn’t Matter if You CAN. It matters if you DO.
2. Want to improve? Give people permission to tell you the truth.
3. Looking for a Qualified Teacher or Credible Mentor? 4 Things to Consider.
4. problem solving and benchmarking.

The hard fact is that if you WANT change, you HAVE TO change.

problem solving and benchmarking.
facing a problem? search for what's been done before.

I’m not that special.

I feel like I’ve written about this before, but when I’m facing a problem, I tend to believe that someone, somewhere, sometime has faced either my exact same problem or one very similar to it. And that at least one person who has faced and solved this problem – or at least figured out a workaround or a compromise – has written about it (or posted a video about it on youtube).

My first instinct is to search for what they wrote to benchmark best possible solutions.

More often than not, I find some information that helps me. Sometimes in a book, in an article, buried in a comment thread or even on a pinterest board or youtube, I’ve found solutions – or at least ideas – that have helped me in countless situations, from how to change my specific computer’s laptop screen to how to interact with a narcissist to how to have a crucial conversation to…I did say countless situations.

Most of the time, when I research, I get one of four results:

1. I find the exact best solution to my problem.

2. I find a solution that doesn’t quite work for me, but I can modify it a bit to solve my problem.

3. I find a solution that doesn’t work for me at all, but it sparks an idea for something I hadn’t considered before.

4. I find out what DOESN’T or won’t work.

By being patient, doing my research, putting forth extra effort and not giving up easily, I’ve saved money, time and even relationships. Often, after learning how someone else approached a problem, I’ve gotten what I needed, gotten what I wanted and again, even gotten confirmation that a particular approach would NOT be a good idea.

I love learning from other people’s successes – and mistakes.

 

Looking for a Qualified Teacher or Credible Mentor?
4 Things to Consider:

Don't Insulate Yourself from Developmental Feedback (constructive criticism). Be Brave. Seek it out.

Recently, in a post entitled “Want to improve? Give people permission to tell you the truth.”

I wrote:

“As scary as it is, if you REALLY want to improve, seek developmental feedback.

But NOT from just anyone.

Ask people you trust.
Ask people who have experience in your industry or craft – either firsthand or through extensive observation.
Ask people who have no vested interest in the outcome of your decisions…

…Ask for suggestions. Find qualified teachers and credible mentors.”

If you’ve decided to be brave and seek out developmental feedback from “qualified teachers and credible mentors” your first step is to:

1. Define “qualified” and “credible” so you can identify those people.

In my experience, “qualified” can be interpreted to mean that someone has a degree or certification or some sort of credential they’ve earned through a structured educational or training program. But much too often, that degree or certification represents completion in that program and not necessarily COMPETENCE. I’ve personally gotten more than a few clients because the “credentialed” person couldn’t actually DO the work.

(Sometimes a certification is necessary to meet eligibility requirements, but I stopped getting certifications to enhance my credibility a few decades ago when I recognized that, in many cases, anyone could become certified if they paid for it. I chose instead to diligently pursue competence, strive for excellence, demonstrate a strong work ethic and genuinely care about the needs and success of my clients, which resulted in a solid reputation and a client base built by referrals.)

So, if a credential isn’t a dependable measure of qualified or credible, then what should you look for in a mentor?

Someone who is doing what you want to learn to do – and is doing it well.

These are the people you want to emulate. Research their credentials, find out where they obtained their education and training and who their teachers were. Check out their websites, their Linkedin and any other social media presence they may have. Look for articles they’ve written or interviews they’ve given. If you discover they’ve quoted a book, read it. What they’ve done and experienced has helped them get to where they are today and there’s value in that information. After you’ve learned all you can about them on your own, consider reaching out to them personally.

2. In a career search, one way to find good advice would be through something called an Informational Interview.

An informational interview is different than a job interview in that there’s no specific job opportunity available. Rather, the conversation centers around learning about a particular field or career or even a company, so the interviewer can gain a better understanding of best practices and potential pitfalls. Usually, the interviewer comes away from an informational interview with some solid advice from someone who is or has been where they want to go. Approaching someone to interview can be scary, but you would be surprised at how often a complete stranger is willing to give you a few minutes of their time to give you insight into their chosen profession and tell you about their journey.

For more information about how to prepare and conduct an informational interview, check out What Color Is Your Parachute? 2019: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles.

3. Identify good teachers by identifying their students.

Finding a good teacher can be tricky. Forget about advertisements. They are often written by someone about themselves and who would ever say anything negative about themselves when they are advertising their own services? Instead, seek out (a) word of mouth referrals, (b) search for social media comments and reviews by their clients (and former clients) and most importantly (c) look at their students, especially long-time students. You would never intentionally get a haircut from someone if you knew all their clients had terrible haircuts. The same mentality applies when it comes to evaluating a teacher.

For instance, I’ve taken voice lessons on and off for decades. I found my current vocal coach because I heard someone sing and thought “Wow! I want to learn to do THAT!” I was drawn to excellence in a student’s performance and I wanted to know who their teacher was – I NEEDED to know who their teacher was.

If you are considering a teacher and none of their students are doing what you want to learn and doing it well, it could be that none of their students are talented or teachable, but the odds of that are slim. If you can’t find a single student of theirs who is demonstrating excellence, or at least growth, my personal advice is to find another teacher. If you still decide you want to work with them, don’t commit to a long-term student/teacher relationship with them immediately. A few lessons or classes during a trial period should tell you whether you are a good fit.

A Caveat:

If your teacher only ever gives you positive feedback, don’t settle for it. Compliments may make you FEEL better, but it won’t help you GET better. After all, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t need their help. Ask them directly to TELL you what weaknesses they see you struggle with and what you need to work on.

4.

Finally, if your teacher runs out of developmental feedback (constructive criticism), YOU’VE OUTGROWN THEM. It’s time to move on and find another teacher who will challenge you.