doubt your assumptions. what’s the worst thing that could happen?

For as long as I can remember, I ask why.

And the asking drives me to investigate.

If I’m not intentional, I can subconsciously alleviate the discomfort of cognitive dissonance by

ignoring,
dismissing or even
rejecting

conflicting information and viewpoints.

It takes courage to challenge my assumptions, but when I do it, one of two things usually happens:

1. I find out my assumptions were wrong, they needed to be challenged and I had/have more to learn/understand.

2. I discover my assumptions were on the right track, I learn even more, validating what I understand/believe and doing so allows me to more competently articulate what I understand/believe.

In both situations, I inevitably learn about the reasoning and feelings behind viewpoints that differ from my own,

often gaining empathy,

which prevents me from depersonalizing someone based on their beliefs and/or the groups they are affiliated with.

This often lands me in an uncomfortable place of being equally rejected by people on both sides of an issue.

obviously,

I’m learning today.

When I’m digging in and learning about a controversial issue, one thing I’ve come to understand is that I need to read/listen/watch to conflicting information, because

one viewpoint is not strengthened by ignoring or dismissing another.

Sometimes, ignoring and dismissing conflicting information actually weakens my argument as well as my credibility.

and I hate it when that happens.

Invite those who will be impacted by change to participate in creating it.

When you need to initiate change, I encourage you to strongly consider involving the people who will be impacted by the change.

Invite their participation and genuinely incorporate their ideas and assistance in the process of:

(1) creating the plan for change and
(2) actually doing the work to carry it out.

Could the work be done faster and with less hassle by having one person do it?

In many cases, yes.

Working with others will often take longer.

it can be…messy. and inconvenient.

But.

When process development is participatory, you’ll hear the resistance during the PROCESS instead of during (and sometimes, loooonnngg after) the deployment.

That means you’ll have the opportunity to work THROUGH details instead of spending time, effort and money recovering from problems created by missing them in the first place:

(1) taking into account problems one person working alone might miss and
(2) incorporating ideas one person working alone might not have considered.

Collectively, more people will see more problems, BUT more people will generate more – and often better – ideas because…

synergy.

A diverse group of people working together will see each other’s blind spots, minimizing risk and building on each other’s ideas, leading to creativity and innovation.

#todaysread and #foodforthought inspired by “Making Conflict Work” by Coleman and Ferguson
(cross-posted on social media)

for printable quotes, check out my etsy shop at thereforeiquote.com

replying to a comment? forfeit the smackdown and choose influence

A few months ago, I read a LinkedIn post by an HR professional who was conducting a video interview with a mom who said she had expected her baby to be asleep at the time of the interview, but it didn’t work out that way. The HR professional told the mom to hold the baby during the interview, which, by the way, went very well.

Most comments were positive.

One read:

Sounds like she should stay at home and take care of her baby instead of…

There were lots and LOTS of smackdown reactions like:

this mentality is why you’re single

and

bless your heart

but none of these comments were corrective or helpful in any way. In fact, the mocking and shaming in these reactive comments seemed to be just different kind of wrong.

It was ugly.

I was compelled to go a different direction with my reply (cause ya know I replied):

Your comment is more in line with the cultural climate of twitter. LinkedIn is a business networking platform where any business associate can go to your profile, scroll to your activity, view every one of your likes, comments and posts and form an opinion about your cultural competence, judgment and social skills. If a hiring manager were to view this particular comment, I suspect your name would be removed from the pool of applicants because it evidences poor judgment and indicates a future potential risk that you would violate an HR policy.

He deleted his comment.

It probably wasn’t due to my reply alone, but I’d like to believe my “developmental feedback” will be a stone in his shoe the next time he is faced with an opportunity to attack a stranger on the internet. or at least on LinkedIn.

I’m not searching for him on twitter. #hardpass

discouraged in your job search? rest. but don’t give up.

Every once in a while, I spend a few hours reviewing all the current job postings listed by a growing collection of organizations I have bookmarked. Although I’m usually prompted to do this research because I happen to be working with someone in particular and am looking specifically for them, I NEVER fail to stumble across job postings that seem to be a good fit for someone I’ve worked with in the past. It only takes a minute or so to copy the link into an email to them with a “saw this and thought of you” subject line and message.

I’ve been doing this for years and here’s the thing. It’s very rare for someone to reply and tell me they had already seen the posting. More often than not, when they reply to thank me for sending the link, they tell me they haven’t been looking. The reasons vary, but at the core,

discouragement is sabotaging their job search.

If this is happening to you, please DON’T GIVE UP. Go ahead and keep sifting through those daily emails from indeed and continue to peruse job postings on LinkedIn, but don’t forget about postings on the websites of individual organizations.

I’m not naive enough to think that this one change alone will guarantee you’ll land the job you’ve been looking for. But I guarantee you’ll find opportunities you didn’t know about before.

peace in uncertainty. faith in doubt. trust in fear.

The Holy Spirit nudged me awake before the crack of dawn yesterday and as usual when that happens, I tried to ignore Him and go back to sleep.

It was 4:12am, fercryinoutloud.

But keeping my eyes closed doesn’t prevent me from hearing the persistent invitation of the Holy Spirit and in the silence of a sleeping house, His quiet whisper can be even more intrusive than Patrick Swayze singing “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” on repeat.

By 4:26am, the increasing activity of my mind was impossible to ignore, so I stopped being stubborn, slipped out of bed and went downstairs.

By 4:45am I was sitting on my loveseat with a fresh brewed cup of coffee and a Bible, being stared at by three confused and sleepy cats.

I have a few Bibles, but by (what I now believe is) non-coincidence, the new year had prompted me to start reading a chronological Bible. If you know anything about Biblical timelines, you know the Book of Job was written early, around 6th century BC, so that means in a chronological Bible, Job shows up MUCH sooner than he does in a traditionally arranged Bible.

Meaning that yesterday, at 4:45am in the morning, I found myself reading the Book of Job. Specifically, the part where the Lord “answered” Job. Chapters 38 through 42.

I’ll say right now, Job 40:3-4 is among my favorite passages, but I’m jumping ahead.

In chapter 2, after Job has lost everything, and I mean e v e r y t h i n g, three friends come to him and give us an example of what to do for a friend who is suffering when there really is nothing we can do:

“Then they sat on the ground with Job seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how much he was suffering.”

Because, sometimes, there are no words.

After seven days and seven nights, Job starts talking to them; actually, lamenting to them. His friends reply. They spend 35 chapters slugging through Job’s suffering, all he has lost, why God would do this to him and Job lamenting about how he wants to talk to God and ask Him Why? Why? Why would He DO this!?!?

Then, in Chapter 38:1, God shows up in a storm and “answers” Job’s questions:

“Then the Lord answered Job from the storm. He said:
“Who is this that makes my purpose unclear
by saying things that are not true?
Be strong like a man!
I will ask you questions,
and you must answer me.
Where were you when I made the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.”

The Lord continues with a barrage of questions that, in all honesty, remind me of Genie talking to Aladdin:

“Excuse me? Are you lookin’ at me? Did you rub my lamp? Did you wake me up? Did you bring me here? And all of a sudden you’re walking out on me? I don’t think so, not right now. You’re getting your wishes, so sit down!

Combine my Disney Genie/God comparison heresy with scripture and my paraphrase goes something like this:

“You wanted to talk to me? You don’t think this is “fair”? You want answers? You want me to explain myself to you? Here I am. And I have a few questions for YOU. Did YOU create the earth? Did you…

Question after question in verse after verse, each one another confirmation that God is God and Job is . . . not. and then,

“The Lord said to Job: “Will the person who argues with the Almighty correct him? Let the person who accuses God answer him.”

Then Job answered the Lord: “I am not worthy; I cannot answer you anything, so I will put my hand over my mouth.”

That right there. Emphasis mine. One of my favorite passages of the Bible. Job 40:3-4

Why did I take the time to write this and go out on a potentially heretical limb to share it?

Because I believe that:

We may struggle and face dark days ahead, but no matter how bad things get, God is SOVEREIGN. None of what’s happening right now is out of His control or even surprises Him.

God has a history of redeeming situations that satan means for evil and using broken people to accomplish his greater purposes.

I recognize that people who are suffering seek God exponentially more often and more intensely than those who are safe and comfortable and satisfied and successful by the world’s standards, like the story of the rich man in Mark 10.

So. No matter what happens,

when the Holy Spirit leads me to someone who needs encouragement or help, I need to pray and ask Him to equip me to be His hands and feet and eyes and ears and voice because I can’t do it on my own

and

when worry creeps into those quiet moments between awake and asleep, I need to pray and ask God to remind me that He is sovereign and He is with me and I can trust Him.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

you inspire me. no matter what.

you inspire me. yes, I mean YOU.
If you are overcoming challenges, you inspire me to persevere.
If you are making a positive difference, you inspire me to join you.
If you are killin it, you inspire me to work harder.
If you are consistent, you inspire me to develop discipline.
If you are gracious, you inspire me to be kind and patient.
If you help someone, you inspire me to pay it forward.
If you give, you inspire me to be generous.
If you are discouraged, you inspire me to encourage.
If you are heartbroken, you inspire me to be compassionate.
If you face a problem, you inspire me to learn.
If you are struggling, you inspire me to equip.
If you are striving, you inspire me to edify.
If you judge, you inspire me to investigate.
If you generalize, you inspire me to acknowledge nuance.
If you oversimplify, you inspire me to sort out complexity.
If you blame others, you inspire me to take responsibility.
If you complain, you inspire me to take action.
If you hate me, you inspire me to forgive.
If you mock someone, you inspire me to stand up for them.
If you dehumanize someone, you inspire me to #seepeople.
If you point out the negative, you inspire me to recognize the positives.
If you misjudge me, you inspire me to prove you wrong through consistent word and action, rather than explanation or argument.

you inspire me. no matter what. whether you recognize your actions on this list or whether I’ve missed noting them. you inspire me.

because everyone is #justadifferentkindofbroken and even when we “miss the mark” God has been redeeming the failures of broken people since the beginning of time.

including me.

We have more in common than not.

I believe we have more in common than not.

It doesn’t always seem that way at first or at the surface, but in my experience, when I get to know someone more deeply, we find our common ground. And when we build our friendship on that foundation, it’s resilient and edifying.

looking for a facebook alternative? My first impressions of mewe.com, parler.com and locals.com

Tired of facebook selling your time and attention as a product to their customers (advertisers)?

Been censored, warned or suspended by facebook and/or twitter because your content “violated” their terms because you posted or shared anything from a bible verse to a youtube video to a newspaper article?

Have you and/or your posts been shadow banned? suffered from limited visibility?

Me too.

I’ve been testing out mewe.com, parler.com and locals.com as facebook alternatives and I encourage you to try them all out!

I’ve only been on a few days to a few weeks and have limited connections on all three platforms, but here are my first impressions:

(1) mewe.com looks and feels more designed for personal use to facilitate social connection, and is probably the most similar to facebook – again, first impression.

It allows comments, reposts (shares) and the emoji choices for likes allows you to choose from a full library of emojis, not limited to like, love, laugh, etc. It allows privacy settings on your account and your posts.

One fun option are the icons under your profile pic and banner that allows you to “click to add…what you’re eating, drinking, reading, listening to, watching and quoting”

(2) Parler is currently more political – if you choose to see “All” in your feed BUT, there is an option to view “Subscriptions only.” I would assume, that if you choose to view only the accounts you subscribe to, your feed will be significantly less political. It also has “upvotes, similar to Reddit. You can follow me there: @juliestilesmills

(3) locals.com is unique. Although you can set your account to be free to viewers (I’ve set MY account to be free), Locals seems more geared to accommodate content providers who charge a minimal monthly fee for access. Again, you don’t have to subscribe to anyone if you don’t want to. You can follow me there: @JSMPragmatic

Again, I encourage you create an account on all three platforms and give them a test drive.

Until and unless facebook and twitter stop deciding what content you can share, you’ve got NOTHING to lose.

inflammatory language and echo chambers

#foodforthought (what my brain has been chewing on for a few days)

I read a post written by an experienced journalist who has a formal education in the use and impact of communication. (meaning, they understand how to use language effectively)

Here are 98 words from the 346 word post:

“Tumult, Chaos, Lies, Corruption, Autocracy, Inanity, stories, scandal, demanded, attention, bricks, wall of horrors, Waking up, doesn’t believe, noise of the news cycle, plot, Chilling, Shocking, Sadly, outrages, rancid ingredients, toxic stew, poisoning, good and just, fragile, mistake, deep roots, founded, system, White Supremacy, long accepted, battled, demons, winked, suffocated, urgent, voices, dissent, perhaps, phrasing, assign, story, Time and time again, injustices, history, movements, fight on, discouraged, persevere, overwhelming, dangerous, disturbing, perspective, rallying, better angels, nature, undeterred, fearless, grit, energy, ferocity, truth, action, glimmering, horizon, hope, dismiss, dilute, challenges, formidable, fearsome, ranks of an army, change, marching, brighter, Courage.”

After reading the post, I was compelled to look up the exact definition of “inflammatory language”:

intentionally provokes a reaction from the reader by use of strong rhetoric or controversial opinions.

Accurate description of those 98 words.

The use and/or abuse of inflammatory language is one reason I don’t rely on anyone else’s explanation or interpretation for accurate, objective information. I search for and read/watch original sources rather than trust articles and videos which summarize, interpret or ‘splain them.

(And yes, “splain” is an inflammatory word, a derivative of mansplaining, but it’s genderless condescension. I said I don’t rely on inflammatory words for accurate, objective information. I didn’t say I never use them.)

But back to the post…I wanted to see what kind of reaction those 98 words evoked. The comment count showed there were 4.3K comments, but when selecting the option to see “All comments” the thread indicated only 2960 comments were available (that’s an example of shadow banning, btw)

While reading through the available comments, I was prompted to look up another definition.

This time for “echo chamber”:

metaphorical description of a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system and insulates them from rebuttal…people are able to seek out information that reinforces their existing views, potentially as an unconscious exercise of confirmation bias. This may increase social and political polarization and extremism.”

I have a personal aversion to groupthink, so the potential negative effect of an echo chamber is one reason I make sure I intentionally and consistently seek out and include listening and processing alternative interpretations and conclusions.

That said, if those alternative interpretations and conclusions are built on secondhand sources – or no sources at all – they lose credibility with me.

Which is what resulted in this case.

#ShareaResource: chirpbooks.com
discounted audiobooks

Monday through Friday, I get a daily email from Chirp (chirpbooks.com) with the subject line: “Today’s audiobook deals” and in the email are links to limited time discounted audiobooks. If you click a link in the email to view a particular book on the chirp website, you can view all of the limited time deals. I sort them by “Expiring Soon” which allows me to delete the email daily to keep my inbox clear without missing any deals.

They have a free Chirp app for android and apple When you sign up for a free account, you can specify the book categories you’re interested in.

For instance, there’s a category called “essential-anti-racism-nonfiction” and it currently has 26 audiobook deals starting at $1.99. If you are interested in books about race relations, check out my personal #RecommendedReads

Two categories I’m interested in are nonfiction and memoirs. Recent email’s have contained:

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum for 4.99 which expires in 10 days and Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir entitled “Yes, Chef” for 4.99 which expires in 12 days.