Think it … Act it … Believe it

Have you ever been through a major life change? Well – maybe not even major, but some change that prompt friends to ask, “How did it go?” I’ve been asked that by many of my friends. When a major change takes place in life, friends you’ve confided in want to know “How did it go?” and what else can we say except, “It’s different.” That’s a good place to start. I saw a book once titled, Change is Good.  You Go First. That about describes it.  Sometimes change is forced on us and in those times, change doesn’t seem all that great. Right? Other times we make a decision that changes the landscape of our lives and we think this change is good, we hope this change is good, then we wonder … it’s different.  No matter which description fits the situation, the one thing we can control is our attitude. Chuck Swindoll has a famous quote about attitude and in it he says, ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  So how did it go? It’s different, but it’s good, the possibilities are ahead, as are the consequences. So right now our best choice is to have joy and remember – we are never on the path alone.  – God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5  

When change comes, we have to accept it, because it’s our new normal. It’s reality. We could fret over what we no longer have or we can begin the rebuilding process and start the remanufacture of our life from a different vantage point. When I was in my early twenties, someone wisely convinced me that change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different. It took awhile for that to sink in, but it’s become my survival mechanism. Here’s a little free advice. “Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you can’t.” I know it works.Psalm 30 11-12

Are you going through changes now that are exciting and you anticipate better days ahead? Or do you approach each day, tenuously out of dread or even fear for what lies ahead? Either way, when change comes, it means adjustment … day-by-day, moment-by-moment.  Ask yourself how can I get through these moments and come out the victor instead of the victim? You might not want t to hear this, but it starts with Attitude.  You might come to the starting line kicking and screaming, toting a long list of disadvantages and (gasp) even grievances. Acknowledgement is good. Bring that list along because this is where making adjustments begins. First in attitude, then in thoughts, then in actions, and finally in acceptance. Change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different.  ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

We might not be happy, but we can have joy. Happiness comes from the external; those situations that we perceive as good give us happiness. But happiness can be shattered in an instant, or it can fade when circumstances are less than optimistic. Joy on the other hand comes from the inside and is unaffected by the beating we take by those things that cause us despair.  I was having a bad spell in my life a while ago and on one of my ‘least optimistic days’  someone said to me that I was the happiest person she knew. Well huh! Mission accomplished then, because at that moment, I was anything but happy.  It must work then . . . We can fake happiness by choosing to be joyful. In that moment, when she said I was the happiest person, I prayed right then and thanked God for masking the unhappiness I was feeling at that time, so that happiness looked real.

What can we all do today, regardless of our circumstances, to make a big production of our joy? Think it, act it, believe it!

Psalm 30:5 [God’s] favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Ecclesiastes 8:15  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

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The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance – Book Summary

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance

By Dr. Christian Marcolli     

Before diving into the content of this book, I want to compliment the author and publisher on the format of the book pages. I read about 15 business books every year and most of them have a traditional textbook look and feel. You know what that does to inspired reading – well, this book is not at all like reading a textbook. It’s more on the order of attractively designed help pages with white space and clean font. I know. Normally that aspect doesn’t find its way into a book review, but I was impressed and am giving credit where it’s deserved.

This book title is cleverly relevant today. The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance by Dr. Christian Marcolli, recognizes the volatility of workplaces, teams, groups, and communities today. Dr. Marcolli said, “We have reached the Melting Point when we no longer fully control our thinking, our emotions, and our behaviors, in a positive and impactful way.”  The final words of that sentence, at least to me, are the theme of this book. We all reach the point of meltdown but can we somehow transform the potentially negative into a positive and impactful outcome?

Becoming First Class

Life is not going to slow down, demands are not likely to either. Projects are never assigned with the expectation that you will do the minimum to just get by. No, expectations are geared toward high-performance today and high-performance tomorrow, even if there are obstacles and encumbering circumstances. That’s where this book comes in. You will learn to apply the most important factors when the heat is on: staying cool, raising your Melting Point

The author clearly understands the process of building a career and the pattern that unfolds as executive capacity is developed. He says, “Top performers have three recognizable traits – passion, adaptability, and coolness. But top performers also make key transitions as they develop.“ 

If you are an emerging leader on the trajectory of rising to your calling, this book is like spending time with a life coach, business mentor, career advisor, and professional counselor. In fact, Dr. Marcolli says, “We need to understand why life has become so tough for business leaders in today’s challenging workplace.” Then he coaches you through it.

Feeling the Heat

Who doesn’t feel the heat in today’s environment? Be it at work or home, the pace is red hot. We can blame it on relentless change, advancing technology, omnipresent globalization, but blame is a negative word and we are after positive transformation here. Instead look into the factors contributing to rising pressure and learn what can be done to face the challenges in a positive, influential way. Marcolli states it in plain language,” The intense workplace isn’t going to go away, and leaders need to understand the impact of this – on themselves, on their teams, and on their organizations.” Through the pages of this book, the author coaches leaders through the process of growing into their roles and experiencing an executive performance transformation. He says there are four stages of Executive Performance Transformation. 1) Drawn in, 2) Obsessed, 3) Ready for Success, 4) Playful

To grow through these stages, you need to be exposed to challenges and stress. I’m guessing, you will have no trouble identifying with the challenges and stress part. When you read this book, you will be guided through the stages of how you arrive at playfulness where you are responsible for yourself and individuals on your team, and the key operative words here are that you are ‘enjoying it’.

To make the trek from ‘Drawn in’ to ‘Playful’ requires that you have an intimate understanding of your Melting Point. 

“The key success factor for business leaders, executives, and corporate performers to sustainably deliver world-class performance is the ability to raise their Melting Point.” 

When you understand it and the factors interacting to determine your melting point your reaction can go from panic to peace. The author describes how these three factors are interrelated and how they affect your Melting Point.

1)      Mental and emotional constitution – how much we can take before we melt down

2)     Situational pressures – what is happening in your world over a short timeframe that causes you intense stress

3)     Constant pressures – then there is the constant pressure which is characteristic of your role

What creates heat for you? Dr. Marcolli gives us 15 examples of what might create heat for each of us, some of which may be relevant to you, but not to someone else. Examples of the fifteen are: Long hours, Office politics, Travel, Executive isolation, Career moves, Family crisis, Health issues, and here’s one for every person reading this – Always “ON”.

“When top performers reach their Melting Point, it is never simply the result of situational and constant pressures. It is compounded by the elements mentioned above combined with their basic psychological constitution.”

Our culture seems to turn up the heat and create environments of volatility in consistent repetition. There is rarely time to cool off before another heated occurrence confronts us. Raising Your Melting Point takes all the symptoms, causes, elements, experiences, and boils them down into recommendations for raising your Melting Point. In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Marcolli presents the six Ps of Personal Leadership Excellence which leads to raising your Melting Point. Passion, Precision, Perception, Peace, Presence, and Persistence

He also discusses the ten specific behavioral patterns needed to raise your Melting Point. When you read the book, don’t skip the chapters leading up to this one and be sure to read the real-life case studies that are serious eye openers of how executives have learned to raise their Melting Point.  I am putting in a plug for the last chapter that walks you through those important ‘10 key behavioral patterns’ to raise your melting point. Dr. Christian Marcolli has written a solid guide that’s transparent and easily understood so you can raise your melting point, not overnight, but through practice and progress.

https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/the-melting-point-how-to-stay-cool-and-sustain-world-class-business-performance/

Power Comes From Attitude

Have you ever made a commitment, then as the time approached you were overcome with fear or insecurity or dread? I know that feeling. What if, like me, the commitment was long term and you wondered how you would hold up through it and endure to the end? Maybe you haven’t been there and can’t grasp how that feels, but if you can, how did it turn out?

I think God gives us almost unlimited power to change how we think, how we feel, and how we act. I’m not convinced that if I can think it, I can do it, but with a strong blend of prayer, will, attitude, and action, I can change my whole perspective. That thing I labored over, dragged my feet toward, and even cried over – yes, that thing – I now look forward to the opportunity. Attitude is powerful.

I am not gifted in this area – but I volunteered to ‘help out’ as a child care provider during the hours of Bible Study. Young moms would then have a place for their kids to play while they spent time with other women learning about Jesus. For the first term, I kept thinking I would say I changed my mind – but that wouldn’t be right. It was a process, but fast forward to three years later and I look forward to the hours watching kids interact (flying trucks, tug of war over one puzzle piece, battle for sippy cups and goldfish crackers).   power-is-in-your-attitude-1

One of my (well-meaning) friends tried to talk me into resigning, but I decided to pray before doing anything. I took pictures of the room full of kids then I started praying for their safety and that everything I did would reflect the love of Jesus. I already loved the kids individually so I didn’t have to pray about that. I questioned my ability to keep them safe when using the slide and crawling over tables and chewing on toys and remember the flying trucks. I felt unqualified to keep them entertained for a full morning. On my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up, there was no hint of teacher. What happens when we are unsure? Do the sure thing.

I started thanking God that I was healthy enough to be the child care provider. I thanked God that I have a strong immune system – you can imagine why that’s important. I thanked God that he somehow chose me to play and be a substitute grandma for a dozen toddlers and preschoolers – Oh! And I thanked God that every week I have a helper.

Then you know what happened? I opened my Bible one day and turned to 1 Corinthians 16 and when I got to verse 13 it cracked me up. “Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” OK, God. I’m in! I can be courageous and strong. I can do this with love.

You know God didn’t do this just for me. If you dread the thing you said you would do, if you have fears that you are way out of your league, if you can barely pull yourself to the task – start praying. “God thank you that you made me just the way I am. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I don’t like it Lord, but I’m in it. Please either change my circumstances, change my commitment, or change me. Make my attitude like yours, Jesus. I trust you, God, to do what’s best.”

Truths Told by the Garden of Leadership

I can’t believe a year has passed since a friend posted a photo of his greenhouse in progress. Absent of philosophical comment to prompt my thinking it instantly occurred to me that this visualCarey Green - Greenhouse image for blog post could be a metaphor for life – at least for mine. The compartments, the vegetation, the curled hose, the tractor, the bicycles, even the walkway dusted with mulch and dirt, everything a picture of life under a glass shield.

It was the tractor that caught my attention first. It seemed out of place. What could a huge piece of machinery do inside the small space of a greenhouse? The tractor, motorized and bulky, was incompatible in its current surroundings and certainly couldn’t work effectively with such boundaries. Beyond the walls, however, it was a qualified, worthy tool of the gardener.  How many times in life do we find we’ve outgrown our surroundings, not in a prideful sense, but simply because we’ve expanded our horizons or discovered knew interests outside the familiar.

It seems a lifetime ago now, but there was a time when my family planted gardens that covered 2 full acres of land. I never mastered the detection of vegetable or fruit by the shape or size of the seed, nor could I identify them by their foliage. The plants had to reach near maturity before I recognized their purpose. Inside me are grains of talent, seeds of interests, roots of abilities, and developing shoots of aspirations. As depicted in the photo, each compartment illustrates the unique traits that grow into mature plants, distinct in stature, design, color, and purpose. I’ve come to realize that I am often late to recognize opportunity and am still coming to realize what I am meant for.

The gardener plans the space, nurtures the soil, plants the seeds, and prepares to work hard to see the garden proliferate and thrive. If planted, left alone and unattended, weeds will encroach and choke out even the heartiest of plants.  Much like a mentor, coach or leader, the master gardener tends the neophyte plants using tools, and his own hands to remove the pests and irritants from among the healthy plants. Things like rumors, gossip, bad attitudes, and demoralizing character cannot be allowed to fester. As debris is discovered from this scavenge, it’s cut, swept, and tossed into the trash can awaiting permanent extermination. This is also a portrayal of leadership and followship. The good leader prepares the space, provides the nutrients, and removes the obstacles, creating an environment for professional growth where followers can thrive. What can happen given the right conditions? Isaiah 32:15 “…the spirit is poured from on high and the desert becomes a fertile field.”

The gardener brings water because without it, the plants will turn back to dust. Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” The hose strung along the path is like the whole of life, isn’t it? Think of how free flowing our activities are at times. Life goes along smoothly when suddenly there’s a crimp in the flow and devastated we turn back until we regain our resolve. Then we’re off again in tenacious pursuit of our dream that compels us forward. Notice how in the photo, the hose has many curls and returns? Notice too, the solid nozzle at the end – the ornament that, when pressed by force, releases life giving water. Inside the hose, water lays dormant until the gardener grasps the hose, nozzle in hand and squeezes with just the right pressure to lightly sprinkle the plants or sufficiently soak them all the way to the roots. Leaders are like this gardener who scans conditions, matching talent with opportunity to grow team members to excellent harvest.

I love that all this takes place under a crystal dome where glorious sun shines in and all the varmints stay out. Our environment is never fully protected, there are chaotic times, optimism wanes and the economy fails us. The greenhouse, like our organizations are built to provide for livelihood and growth, but even with premium care and planning, not all things will grow. Some will stagnate, some will leave, some will turn to dust – but many will thrive in the environment. Be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.”

What about the bicycles? Well – what about them? What is their meaning in this allegory? All work and no play … and now you create the rest of the story.

 

Photo credit: Carey Green

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw  –  My feet may fail, but I know God will never fail me.

From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions – Book Summary

As I sat down to write about this book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions by Sasha Chanoff and David Chanoff, an online article in the Huff Post grabbed my attention proclaiming Afghan Refugee Crisis Worsens. It seems the news is dominated by more and more crises related to refugees who are suffering greatly in violence–torn regions. This book would have been much more uncomfortable to read had it not been for the authors’ presentation of the storyline through the moral compass of each person involved in the refugee evacuation. In the second half of the book, the five principles of moral decision making are conveyed through stories about corporate heroes of today.

Here are the 5-steps to moral decision making which are in the book called The Five Principles – building blocks to making moral decisions.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Open your eyes
  3. Confront yourself
  4. Know yourself
  5. Take courage

The subject of this book, From Crisis to Calling is about developing authentic leaders who make decisions based on deep personal values that positively affect their lives and the lives of their organizations. Leaders of this deep moral character will build cultures of trust, fairness, equitability, and ethical leadership. One final thought from the authors, “Empathy is the essential need of great leaders who are intentional about building their organizations and communities.” Whether leaders or lay people, life’s tough choices need to be infused with moral sense – empathy, compassion, altruism.

CSLews - Book Cover - From Crisis to Calling

 

 

Read the full book summary published on the BizCatalyst360 network.

http://bizcatalyst360.com/from-crisis-to-calling-finding-your-moral-center-in-the-toughest-decisions/

I want the fairy tale

Once upon a time … and so begins the story with the happily every after ending. I grew up in a black and white world, not a world of a solid line running between right and wrong, but a world before color television and a world on the bleeding edge of Technicolor cinematography. Storybooks were paper, every page imprinted with black ink with an artist’s watercolor illustration adorning a page just at the moment of waning interest. Every night before bed my mom would read The House at Pooh Corners, or a chapter from a book like Treasures in the Snow, or Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, or the Little House books. But my favorites were the stories that started out with the softness of “Once Upon A Time” and ended with “And they lived happily ever after”. I still want the fairy tale.

Can you guess what my favorite fairy tale is? What is yours? Is it the Cinderella story or maybe Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Maybe it’s Rapunzel or Robin Hood and His Mighty Band of Thieves.  My favorite fairy tale is the Shoemaker and the Elves. It’s not about conflict, not about victory over a wicked queen, it’s not about a battle between good and evil; there are no white hats versus black hats; no undercurrent of deception. The Shoemaker and the Elves is all about relationships, personal sacrifice, egoless achievement and support.

This is how I remember the story. Once upon a time there was an old shoemaker. Every day he faithfully went to work in his cobbler shop. Despite the snow, ice, and wind he was there, in his shop every day working hard to provide a warm home and food for his family. Whistling through his day, he stretched, pounded, glued and polished shoes and boots from demanding customers. Being meticulous about his work, and having high quality standards, it took extra time to complete the mounds of boots and shoes on his counter. Every night he assessed his work and every night he prayed that what he had completed was done well and that tomorrow he would make better progress on the tasks ahead.  Some days he was so overwhelmed all he could do was pray.  Sometimes I think he prayed as David did many times. In Psalm 22:19 he prayed “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Like David, this shoemaker knew where his strength came from. And in Psalm 143:8 he acknowledges his trust in God. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life..”source of strength - Psalm 22-19

While the shoemaker was pleading with God to bring relief for his burden, his prayers were already being answered. Concealed from human observation were helpers prepared for this mission, elves whose source of joy was in serving. A team of friends who would come alongside him when the shoemaker’s resources were depleted and his reserves exhausted.  These excerpts from Romans 8:26-28 gives us an inside view. “The moment we get weary in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know what to pray, He does our praying for us. He knows us far better than we know ourselves and knows our condition. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives is being taken care of by compassionate God.”

Each night the shoemaker lined up his work for the next day, swept the floor, snuffed out the candles and went home, satisfied with his accomplishments, but always with an eye on his plan for tomorrow. As he entered his home, I can hear his memory recalling Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the story there is no indication that the shoemaker abandoned his responsibilities to the ‘elves’ and expected them to work so he didn’t have to.  His attitude was one of gratefulness to his secret helpers, recognizing their efforts as important as his own. Romans 11:18 “Do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

Once upon a time . . . I think God knew the heart of the shoemaker was centered on doing the right things despite his circumstances. He was diligent in using the skills God gave him, but he was not too proud to pray for relief and accept help when his situation became too challenging. I love the way the Message describes the relationship between need and fulfillment. The subject here is the Apostle Paul, but it could characterize any one of us if God is Lord and Master of our life.  Philippians 4:13-14 “I’ve found the recipe for being happy…Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”

I still love the fairy tale, but those are just stories, wishful thinking, a dream of living happily ever after. Our happily ever after comes in eternity with God and his son Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9-13 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And they lived happily ever after.

The original story of the Elves and the Shoemaker written by The Grimm Brothers.

Faith like a parachute

It’s Monday everyone. A new day. A new week. What will it bring? Every day is new, but isn’t there something about Monday that just seems different? Some of us love Monday and enthusiastically run into the day with the joyful anticipation of a sky diving adventure. Others plod toward it with resistance like wearing a parachute that’s all burden and no adventure. Most of the time, I’m in camp #1. I look forward to Monday, even though it means leaving the freedom of the weekend behind. Other times my anticipation gets a little tarnished and it takes a lot more effort to polish my attitude before I jump into the unknown. Why is that?file0001754310068

If today is one of those days for you and you enter tentatively, even fearfully, remember this word: faith. We don’t have to walk through this day alone and in the dark. I started preparing for this Monday on Saturday and Sunday. It’s like packing my parachute for adventure.  I took a faith walk through some of the Psalms and revisited some promises in Isaiah and gave my mind an overdose of positive thoughts in Philippians 4.  Today has arrived and I’m ready.

God told us not to worry about the future.  We can make the best choices, and do everything right, but still we are promised this moment and the future is out of our control. I’m not making that up. It’s all true. Anticipating the future can be exciting. Ask someone whose hobby is skydiving. They will tell you, you’re up there in a plane with nothing but you and your parachute. You know it will open on the way down; that’s the faith part.  But there’s still that leap into the unknown, the adrenaline rush, the experience. Whether we approach our day with excitement or dread, it’s faith coupled with hope that carries us.   That’s what we need to do with this day. Let our faith carry us into a day that becomes our joy because we have our faith on and our radar tuned to God’s best.

This morning I was reading a devotional and noticed how  many of the references were in Psalm 119. It’s a long Psalm so it shouldn’t surprise me that there is so much encouragement in there, but I chose these to share with you today – Monday – the day after a weekend – the day after a holiday. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t identify the verses. These are from the Voice translation:  I have pursued You with my whole heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I will chase after Your commandments because You will expand my understanding. Deep within me I have hidden Your word so that I will never sin against You. Guide me to walk in the way You commanded because I take joy in it. The earth is filled with Your unfailing love, O Eternal One; teach me to observe what You require. Help me to learn good judgment and knowledge because I believe Your commandments. Before I had trouble, I strayed from the true path, the path of righteousness, but now I live according to Your word. You are truly good, and Your acts are too; teach me what You require. According to Your unfailing love, spare my life so that I can live according to the decrees of Your mouth. Your word is a lamp for my steps; it lights the path before me. I long for Your salvation, O Eternal One. Meanwhile, Your teaching brings me great joy. Let my soul live on so that I may praise You, and let Your precepts guide me.

No fear OK?  Eyes, ears, heart wide open like a parachute. Take the giant leap of faith – like Francesca Battistelli sings here in – I’m Letting Go.
Ready team? Let’s get out there! Treat yourself to joy every day!