We have all been there: we make a decision about someone (their willingness or unwillingness to do something), and then are surprised when they contradict our expectations. The surprise can be good or bad, but it is a surprise either way.
The reality is we can rarely know exactly how someone is going to respond, but for people with whom we have experience, we can anticipate a response. (Here’s a post about not letting someone’s character surprise you.)
Today, I want to go a little different route. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people around us as a way to denigrate our own creativity or ability. I have a youth minister friend who feels they are not as experienced or “good” as others in our circle, but the reality is their combination of experience, creativity, and passion makes them perfectly unique!
When we assume the people around us are doing the things we are doing, we are neglecting a simple truth: people are wired differently. What comes naturally to one, may not come naturally to another. But we will never know unless we ask.
There is something you do naturally that few people find easy, and there is something with which you struggle that other people may find easy. This is lived out in my children: one daughter loves to read and has to work in math, while the other has to work in reading and loves math.
I have two suggestions for you today: First, embrace your strength. What makes you, you? What comes naturally to you that other people have to struggle to accomplish?
Second, help someone else discover what they do naturally. There is someone in your list of contacts, who is walking through the day defeated because they do not realize they are naturally gifted at something. Take on a role to help them discover that today (or the rest of this week).
Make a difference in someone else’s life today.
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I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hawaii on my honeymoon. I was 20 years old, and had never been to a beach, so to say it was an experience is an understatement. We were fortunate to be able to take several tours, one of which took us around the island of Oahu to a couple different beaches.
On that tour, one of the stops was a snorkeling expedition. I don’t know about you, but I discovered something that day: snorkeling is not natural. Don’t believe me? Fill your bathtub with water and immerse your face, but breath normally. I’ll wait here.
I distinctly remember floating around and realizing my heart was racing and I was on the verge of a panic attack. I was supposed to be breathing through a tube, but my instinct was to hold my breath. Something had to give.
Leadership can feel the same way. You get into a situation where you think you know exactly what you are supposed to do, but in reality you may have to adjust your natural reactions to meet the needs of the moment.
And in that moment, overwhelm sets in. You begin to wonder if you’re going to be able to adjust, or even if you should have to adjust. You feel like the water is all around you and all you want to do is breathe normally.
Here’s the reality: the only way to avoid leadership overwhelm is to avoid leadership.
If I had stayed on the beach that day, I would never have experienced that moment of panic, but I also would not have seen firsthand one of the most inexplicably fascinating things I’ve seen in my life. Sure, I could watch videos or look at pictures of schools of fish swimming by, but nothing replaces the experience.
Leadership is the same. If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, good. Now, breathe normally and keep going. You’ll adjust and respond accordingly. That’s what leaders do.
And who knows, along the way, you may even influence some people to do the same.
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Years ago, I remember traveling over a holiday break with my new wife (the same one I have currently). I remember where we were exactly on the road to my hometown as I shared with her my passion about some ministry ideas I had recently discovered. It was a pivotal moment for me in my early ministry, and a topic about which I was extremely passionate.
This week, as we traveled again, our conversation was slightly different. Okay, not slightly. Instead of ministry theories, I was serenaded by my wife and daughters to the soundtrack of Annie. It is a hard knock life, after all, for our family in our fully functioning gas guzzler, but let’s save that thought for another time. We still talked about life and about ministry, but I wouldn’t trade my in-car-musical for the world.
Instead, my challenge to you this week is simple: unwind.
Not every moment this week has to be filled with a discussion about ministry or next steps or leadership development. Enjoy a conversation about sports, or weather, or life, or anything besides your roles and responsibilities this week.
Thanksgiving is only two days away, so mentally prepare yourself to be present with the people around you. Unplug from distractions and pay attention to those around you this week.
Not to get too agricultural on you, but even the best wheat field needs a break from being grazed to recover. The same is true for you and me.
Take a break this week, even if it’s for one day. It’s worth it, trust me.
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A few weeks ago I had the honor of speaking with a group of student leaders. Their leader is someone I respect, and I was grateful for the opportunity in and of itself.
Then, I was blown out of the water. About a week later, I got a handwritten note in the mail. The note immediately went up on my bulletin board as a reminder of being appreciated.
So, this week, let’s talk about writing notes. Here are 3 reasons to hand write a note today and make someone’s life a little brighter:
Snail mail is the new personal touch. Think about it: who doesn’t love getting something in the mail that is not a bill or a credit card offer? I love getting mail that is hand addressed to me because it’s usually someone who took time on me!
I see this with my kids. My girls LOVE getting cards in the mail. One of them even pouts when someone else gets something and she doesn’t. And honestly, I do too!
My handwritten thank you note went on my bulletin board not for people to see when they come in, but because it’s something I love seeing and remembering. I feel valued every time I look at it. I have thank you notes from graduates that will not get thrown away (especially ones with a personal touch), because a handwritten notes communicates value.
A few weeks ago my oldest daughter forgot her lunch. We have a rule that if she forgets her lunch, she has to deal with the consequences, but I decided to make an exception that day. So, I wrote a note, put it in her lunch box, and dropped it off at school for her. A few days later, I put a note in my youngest’s lunch box. I don’t remember a follow up conversation with either.
Last night, however, my wife told me our youngest told her she wants notes in her lunch box, that it was special and made her feel good.
If I can take a few moments to surprise my child with a note, why wouldn’t I do that? At the same time, if you take time today to write a note of some sort, what’s the most you have to lose?
So, there you go. Today’s challenge is to simply hand write a note to someone. Tell them thanks, or that you’re thinking about them, or wishing them luck.
Grab a stamp and make a difference today!
I have talked about this several times, but I currently do not have a strong habit of reading. I could say I’ve read more this past year than in the past, but honestly anything above 0 constitutes “more”.
So, as I have journeyed along trying to develop a habit of reading and consequently, learning, here are some tools I have found along the way.
Audible – Audiobooks have their downside, but the upside is still worth it for me. I get presented with ideas and thoughts, and it’s an easy win for an audio addict like me. The selection is incredible, and the variety is impressive–I just finished Nick Offerman’s book Good Clean Fun, and it was great fun for a wannabe woodworker like me. If you sign up for the Audible trial, you’ll get two free books, so at least check it out to see if it would fit you.
Kindle Unlimited – The strength here isn’t necessarily the books you have access to, which can be spotty depending on the topic. The biggest benefit for me is the summaries. I’m not spending $10 and countless hours on a full book that I will likely never finish, but instead, I’m getting a summary of the ideas, and get to process them in my mind. I know I miss a significant part of the benefit of reading a book, but I’m exposed to the ideas and they get to bounce around my head for a while. At the same time, with the Unlimited membership, I am able to stock my kindle with books worth reading without breaking the bank. You can have 10 books loaned out at any point, and I stay around 9 or 10. Click here to learn more.
Libby – This is our local library audiobook app. I have discovered it, and have been using it along the way the past couple months. The selection is low, but it’s free with a Library card! I already have a John Grisham novel picked out for Thanksgiving travel, and I’m looking forward to it!
The bottom line about reading is this: you have to make time for it. With apps like Audible and Libby, it fits my routine better because I listen to so much anyway. Kindle Unlimited is nice because when I hit a spurt, I have access to books that stir my curiosity. But reading is a habit, and one I think is worth investing the time and effort to make.