When I was a child…

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1Co 13:11

Have you ever met anyone that is a full fledged grown up in age, but has not been able to put ways of childhood behind them, someone stuck in time, paralyzed, lost in the world?  Of course you have. They are everywhere.  If you haven’t, you likely are that person. I was.

I remember when I became a man.  It wasn’t when I turned 18.  It wasn’t when I moved out, or paid rent on my own for the first time.  It wasn’t even when I got my first real job, or had my first long term relationship.

When I was 23 years old I remember how I viewed the world in great detail. I had been burned, had a serious attitude toward life and justified it vigorously.

There were three principles that were most important to me.

  1. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Take what you can get.
  2. You can only really trust yourself, everyone else will always let you down.
  3. It’s my life, I will live it how I want! Get off my back!

These three principles became my hiding place in my early adulthood.  They gave me direction (pleasure seeking), protected me from harm (other people) and made me the king of my world (It’s all about Me).  I was a pretty good thinker so I was able to stave off any threat that came along with my witt and ability to argue.  My guards were up and I was a self-preservation machine.  My artistic and deceptive skills allowed me to create a ficade of my life.  I wore whatever mask I needed at the time, and became what I needed, to get what I wanted.  Reality was something to mold, twist and make a slave out of.  Perception was reality, and deception was the way to change reality.

The Crash

And then it all caught up to me at once.  My world came crashing down in a pile of rubble.  Like waking up from a dream or experiencing sight for the first time, I realized that the earth didn’t really revolve around me. It was the greatest most painful loss, and at the same time the biggest sense of relief.

I took a long hard honest look at my life for the first time ever. I was ambarrassed and ashamed of the blindspots that everyone else already knew. I seemed I was the last to find out. I had been exposed.

I took a long look at myself, and here is what I discovered. My worldview was all wrong.  Here are some of the the values I had come to embrace throughout my life:

  • I must let nothing be my fault as to remain blameless.
  • I must allow myself a way out of any situation in case it gets difficult (avoid commitment).
  • I must hold everyone accountable for how they have hurt me.
  • I must be in control of the situation, and not be controlled by the situation or anyone.
  • I must convince everyone of my impressiveness so they will respect me.
  • I must hide my flaws so no one can criticize or look down on me.
  • I must expect grace for my actions, and justice for everyone elses.
  • I must not think about my problems or acknowledge they exist so I don’t have to deal with them.

I realized that I was eating and drinking and being marry to avoid committing to anything.  Committment requires trust.  I didn’t trust anyone, because that would mean I needed to be a person that could be trusted.  I was living life how I wanted because I didn’t want to be held accountable.  I was avoiding responsibility in most every way.

I realized that the worldview that I had embraced, that I thought was serving me, was actually waging war against my soul.  It became clear to me that seeking to serve my own needs left all my needs unmet.

It was that day that I decided I was going to put the ways of childhood behind me.   I was about to begin a brand new life of adulthood.

Because Jesus Christ took 100% responsibility for my sin, I was able to became 100% responsible for my life.  Not only my actions and bahavior, but also my thoughts and emotions.  No longer was I going to allow my circumstances to control my thoughts and keep me in emotional imaturity.  For the first time it wasn’t about self-preservation, pride or impressiveness.

I discovered a different set of principles to live by:

  • I must make no excuses for my actions, thoughts and sins.
  • I must embrace reality (truth) and live by it, rather than distorting it.
  • I must committ myself fully to people and responsibilities given to me.
  • I must forgive everyone who hurt me and expect nothing in return.
  • I must be transparent and humble. For when I am weak, I am strong.
  • I must be responsible for only what I can control, and patient with what I cannot control.
  • I must earn respect through putting others needs before my own.
  • I must expose my sin, purge it from my life and experience freedom.
  • I must live fully accountable for my actions.
  • I must face my fears and perservere through the obsticles holding me back.
  • I must surrender in order to have victory.

I still fall short, but now I am more aware and have a savior to vouch for me.

Give me a call, let’s chat. 319.930.1045 

 

 

 

 

How We Show Appreciation

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago I was able to hear Dr. Paul White talk about his book that he co-authored with Gary Chapman called The 5 Languages of Appreciation. I had read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages many years ago, but I connected with this book in a way that made me take a long look at how I appreciate the people in my work.

It is easy to believe that we are doing better at showing appreciation toward others than we really are. There aren’t very many people that are truly successful at showing it in the workplace, and we tend to grade ourselves on a curve. We can tend to believe that being unappreciated is just part of the experience that makes “work” work.

Dr White shared information to help illustrate just how wide this misconception really is.

Why People Stay

  • In a survey of over 35,000 employees completed by the Chicago Tribune, the number one reason cited by the respondents of why they enjoyed their work was: “I feel genuinely appreciated by this company” November 2013

The Big Picture

“More than 80% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and more than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss” (BusinessNewsDaily, 2013)

Why People Leave

  • 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated. (US Dept of Labor)
  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

This survey focuses on how the employees feel they are valued in the workplace. It does not discuss how they really are valued. In some cases the problem may be more about the inability to communicate appreciation to valued employees rather than failing to truly appreciate them. An employee appreciated that doesn’t know it, can’t feel it. They can’t read minds.

The Gap

“While 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognizing job well done by their staff, only 17% of the employees in the same groups believe their managers recognize them for doing a good job” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

According to this survey 34% managers are not aware of their failure to recognize when their team does a good job. The question is, are you one of those 34%, or do you work with anyone that falls into this category?

Recognition vs. Appreciation

One of the contributing factors to why individuals don’t feel truly appreciated is that leaders don’t always understand the difference between recognition and appreciation.

  • Recognition is largely about results or behavior, Catch them doing something great, and recognize them for it.
  • Appreciation is more personal, it focuses on the employee’s value as a person and an employee as well as their performance.
  • The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership. Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction.

What Language are you speaking?

Dr. White and Dr. Chapman suggest that we may be “missing the mark” because we arent’ speaking the same language as our co-workers.

“Each person has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language.”

“When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message “misses the mark” and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.”

If you are in a leadership position and feel you need help with understanding a better model of appreciation, I highly recommend that you read this book. The book discusses the 5 most common languages or channels that people tend to give and receive appreciation. This book has changed the way I will go about learning ways to show appreciation to each individual in my workplace.

Understanding my own language and learning others language is a game changer for me and I believe it can be for you. Appreciation is the secret weapon to bringing people together for a single cause. When we can appreciate our employees as if they were volunteers, we can change the entire culture of our workplace.

Please share your experience.

Influence from the Inside Out

You cannot change anyone. 

To grow, one must make an internal choice to become something you are not, or do something you have not done.  This requires letting go of what already is, in order to embrace something that could be.  It must be by choice and not by direction or force for real change to take place.

The Problem with Leadership Today

Most business managers, leaders and even parents tend to go about developing people all wrong.  Most people in positions of leadership struggle when it comes to reshaping how people do things to reach a desired outcome. It may be that we are looking through the wrong end of the leadership binoculars.

Reshaping Behavior

Our authoritative culture attempts to alter or reshape people’s behavior.  There are so many rules, and regulations that tell us what we are supposed to do, and what we are not supposed to do.  I think of the song from the 70’s by the Five Man Electrical Band that says,

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind, do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

More on this in another Blog.

Motivation in the Workplace

In the industrial age workplace, we essentially bribe people to do a specific task.  The motive for efforts is less often because of desire, or because they truly believe in the cause. It is because rent needs paid, and mouths need fed.  In most industries, we see this play out.  Upper management has one vision that motivates them to see the company succeed. Frontline workers are blind to Managments vision.  They put in their time with no purpose, other than to follow directions to make a buck.

A Disconnect of Values

People feel they have little to gain for their effort when they don’t value the task at hand.   People will not give their best effort unless they have a good reason to.  The old school reasoning of “..because it’s your job!” just doesn’t seem to fly anymore.  The sense of personal responsibility of our past generations has been replaced. People need to be personally vested in something before they give their best effort.  The old way of managing people with the expectations of responsibility is fading away.  A more personal, and missional approach is easing it’s way in on our job markets.

The Millennial Generation

Our younger generation  doesn’t have the same sense of corporate duty and responsibility as in the past.  They look at life as an individual journey. They have a more creative and personal approach toward impacting the world.  They need to be inspired to pour their efforts into something.  Technology has created a whole new way in which we communicate and interact with each other. It sparked a sense of creativity in young people that we have never seen before. Unfortunatly, however, creativity isn’t always what is needed in our workforce.

If the world around us is changing, we need to change with it.  We don’t need to compromise our principles and convictions. We need to learn better ways to connect with people if we intend to influence future generation.

Inspiration

We need to embrace a better way of leading and inspiring people to do something great!  People need to be inspired to believe they can become something they have not yet considered.  I have never met a person that has found their way to success without someone investing in their growth.  Our younger generation needs us to step up and help them, even if it seems like they not interested.

Connecting from the Inside Out

We need to connect with people from the inside out. Focusing on unfavorable behavior is an attempt to change people from the outside in.  If we learn to understand them and value them we can begin to inspire them toward being the best they can be.  When people grab a hold of a vision with purpose something in them gets stirred and a sense of mission takes over.  People are not that hard to keep interested and focused if we approach them with their best interest in mind.  When we try to change their external behaviors to meet our needs, words begin to fall on deaf ears.

Control Without Connection

No one likes to be pushed by someone that has not gained our trust or does not have our best interest in mind. No one likes to be ‘controlled’, no one likes for others to determine their steps for them.  We want to oversee our own life, make our own choices.  We are usually willing to follow someone who has a better vision than we do, providing it’s our own choice.

The Needs of the Millennial Generation

Young people need to be heard.  They need to know that their ideas and opinions matter and that someone is listening.  They want to be included in the plan, invited to the big kids table.  They want to use their creativity to help.  They want someone to get excited when they are excited and listen when they need to vent.  They don’t desire a list of do’s and don’t s, but they are willing to follow that list if they feel appreciated.

Millennials need challenged.  They need pushed to see just how far they can take their knowledge, skills and creativity.  When we are pushed we somehow get up the nerve to get past our fears. It ignites an excitement in our hearts that spur us on to something better.  We will never grow unless we are pushed by someone who we trust.  We need to be challenged by someone who we know has our best interest in mind, someone who isn’t going to leave us.

What kind of leader/parent are you going to be?

Grapes & Stuff – Raising Responsible Children

sgrapeA while back a friend of mine forwarded me an email about an opportunity to pick grapes for a local winery for a couple hours on Saturday morning. It looked like a great opportunity for me to hang with Jordyn, my 11-year-old daughter and make a few extra bucks for her.

Over the past year Jordyn has gotten a little taste of what it is like to take on responsibilities to make money outside our home.  She has been dog-sitting and house-sitting several times with her Mom and now has big plans for her money.  She knows how much money she needs and exactly how she wants to save and spend it, or at least for the next 9 months until her 12th Birthday of which she has big plans and is very motivated. She wants to save around $350 to rent two hotel rooms at a resort and take five of her friends and give them all $30 of tokens to use on games. It’s going to be Epic!

She is pretty responsible with her spending.  We allow her to spend her money as she pleases but try to help show her what it looks like to save and give. She does pretty well at both. We want her to understand it is her money and she alone is responsible for it.  When it is gone, it is gone.  She can be a very hard worker and self-motivated when she puts her mind to it and clearly sees a picture of what her hard work will get her, and for that I am proud.

I was very pleased to be working alongside Jordyn picking grapes, getting all messy chatting about the best ways to pick and trying to find the vines with the biggest bunches. She is very strategic like me.  She had her goals and would keep reminding me how many more containers we needed to fill to reach what she needed for that week to stay on target.  One of the weeks it was pretty rainy and a little cold.  I thought maybe by the look on her face she wanted to go home, so I asked her.  No! we can’t leave until we get 6 more tickets!  That made my day, she had a finish line and was sticking to it.

As a parent, my wishes are that by the time she is out of the house living on her own, she has a great foundation for making responsible decisions not only with her resources but with her time and goals and especially her problem solving skills.  We all want our children to appreciate the value of hard work.  Good stewardship practices don’t happen by mistake, but bad ones happen naturally.

There is a universal financial principle that I call the Appreciation Principle.  I am sure there is an actual name for it in the financial or academic world.  This principle says that when we work hard and are rewarded a fair and modest wage we tend to have an appreciation for the compensation we have received.  We will be very careful about how we spend it because we know how much effort it took to earn it.  We don’t want our efforts to go for little gain.  Anyone who had grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression probably heard stories of the power of a penny.

The flip side to this principle is the Fast Money Principle. It is  when we come across free money or with little effort (fast money), we tend to value it proportionately to the work we put toward getting it.  The term “Easy come, easy go” comes to mind.  I believe many gamblers have gotten caught up in the Fast Money conundrum that cause them to lose focus on the real value of a dollar.

Proverbs 12:11 “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense”

I have felt this way before too.  I remember when I was a kid around 11 or so, my parents went out of town for a weekend and gave my brother and I each $5 to spend.  My older cousin was staying with us and took us to the 7-11 up the street. I remember making sure I spend every cent of that money and left none to go to waste. I got gum, candy bars, pop and whatever else I could stuff in my face.  $5 went along way back in the late 70’s.  A few weeks later I got $5 for my allowance for doing my chores.  I remember going up to the 7-11 with my friend Tom to play Donkey Kong but I couldn’t get myself to spend any of it because it was the only money I had and I had worked hard for it so I decided to hold onto it.  Tom was ticked and called me a cheap skate. What a difference in perspective. It’s easy to spend other people’s money.

Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gained hastily, will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

Proverbs 20:21 says “An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.”

I had an employee several years ago that was in her mid-twenties, a single parent living with her mother with a few small kids.  When tax season came around she received a $9,000 tax refund.  She was so excited to have this money fall into her hands, and was not expecting nearly this much, and now didn’t know what to do with it. To her it was like free money.  There was a single guy that she had a crush on in the store and she decided that she was going to get him to go on vacation with her.  She made her plans known to others that she was going to get her man by bribing him to go on a trip, just the two of them.  I am not sure how interested in her he was but of course he was not going to turn down a free trip to Hawaii.  She blew all the money on a guy that pretended to like her for a couple weeks then dumped her when they got back.  I remember her response was something like, “Oh well, at least I got to go to Hawaii”.

This same person continued to have a couple more children while living with her Mother, the primary caregiver.  I remember her telling me after she had one of them that now she could afford to get a new car.

I am not trying to be judgmental toward her.  She was a decent worker and did her part and she has the freedom to spend her money how she wants.  However, I wonder if she would have learned the value of hard work and stewardship early in life, if things may have turned out different for her and her family.  She really didn’t have any problems or need to grow up because she has always had her Mom to support her and solve her problems. In some ways, not growing up solved her problems.  She’s not alone, there are more out there.

If you are like me and wish to be done with your primary parental responsibilities when the kid leaves the house, I have a suggestion.

You need a finish line.  I use this term quite often in my work place and in training managers.  The idea is that if you have a task to do you need to know what the end game looks like.  You need a finish line.  Knowing the finish line enables you to determine what steps are needed to reach it.   If you enter a bike race and take off down the road but failed to find out where the finish line is, you likely will never cross it.  You may be on an endless ride wandering around aimlessly never really getting closer to the end. But if you know your starting point, and you know your ending point, you can establish a path that will get you to your destination.

When your child becomes a young adult and leaves the house, you need to be done.  Hang with me, here.  I am not saying that you should not be there for them when they need help.  I am saying that as young adults when they come to you for help,  you need to advise them of how they can solve their own problems. Your days of solving their problems need to be done before they walk out the door.  You need to plan for that when they are young so that it happens before they move out. It’s like being on time to something, there’s a journey in between so if you don’t leave on time you won’t get there on time.

It’s not your place to solve your adult children’s problems.  In fact, by doing so you are likely enabling them and encouraging their dependence on other people to get by. If you delay the lessons of adolescence they won’t just simply be a little behind.  They get stuck!

“It’s not your place to solve your adult children’s problems.”

In the same way that it is hard for a young person to appreciate money that has been given to them that they did not earn, it is just as difficult to appreciate the solution to a problem that someone else provides for you.

There are so many people in our culture these days that are in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s and yet they are stuck in adolescent stage of behavior because they never had to go through it when they were supposed to. We all know that guy, the 30 something man-child that lives in his parents basement. plays video games and hangs with teens down at the skateboard park.  Many people get stuck because their parents failed to set a finish line so they just go through life expecting others to solve their problems for them. Unfortunately, usually stuck parents produce stuck children.

In our company we have had a number of young adult employees whose mother (and some times fathers… no, usually just mothers) would call us on behalf of her child to let us know that her child was going to be late or not able to work that night. I got a call once from a mom that said her daughter would not be coming in to work for the next week because they are going on vacation, then hung up.  I have heard of parents coming to sit in on the interview with their kid and even answer questions for them. The first time this happened I was confused and thought that the kid was a special needs child, then I found out he got an academic scholarship to college a few months later. He understood advanced physics but couldn’t interview for a pizza maker position on his own.  I had a kid’s parents call me to let me know how her daughter isn’t being treated fairly at work and I should fire my manager. My manager sent her home for dropping the F-omb in front of customers.

In each case we do our best to help the parent and employee understand that we did not hire their mother and that they need to confront their issues themselves to work toward solutions.  This is an opportunity for their child to step up and take responsibility, yet sometimes parents seem to fear that more than anything.  We should not deprive our children of these moments. I say we push them into it.  I hope you are not one of these parents. If you are, I am really sorry… see the top 10 list below.

Infants need their parents to be 100% responsible for their wellbeing as they are not yet capable of taking on responsibility.  As they get older they need to be given more leash that comes in the form of freedom, responsibility and opportunities for failure. This needs to be proportional to their maturity and increase over time.  When a child is given too much freedom and too little responsibility, it  can lead to boundary issues and a lack of self-discipline when they are older.  When a child is protected and not allowed to explore, take on new responsibilities, make decisions or mistakes or experience personal loss they can grow up with control issues, lack initiative, or allow fear to take control of their life.  Freedom and responsibility need to go hand in hand if we want our children to be self-dependent when they get to adulthood, no, correction, before they get to adulthood.

Teach your children hard work, let them cry sometimes, make them go without, to appreciate what they have.  Help them learn to fail well, and help them struggle their way out of problems on their way to maturity. That’s being a loving parent.

Top 10 ways to raise a “Man-child”

  1. Continue to breast feed until he’s at least 5 years old. You don’t want them getting a detachment disorder.
  2. Give him candy when he cry’s so he won’t feel bad.
  3. Every time he falls down make a huge deal about the boo boo and smother him with affection. Always assume they are hurt and over react for effect, this helps you demonstrate your love on a deeper level.
  4. Make sure you give them whatever they want for Christmas, Birthdays, other kids’ birthdays, Memorial day, Ground hog’s day, any day in August. You don’t want them to suffer from an inferiority complex.
  5. Believe everything he says, because he is your baby and he would never lie to you.
  6. Put in place a hard and fast rule that he absolutely cannot sleep in your bed after he turns 15, unless he is sick and needs to cuddle.
  7. Tell him constantly how handsome, smart and perfect he is so he has to grow up feeling like he has to live up to your perfect image of him. Maybe that will motivate him toward greatness!
  8. Remember, if you discipline him, he will think you don’t love him.
  9.  Put fingernail polish on him when he is 3 and dress him like a saylor or a duck, then act surprised when he is confused later in life.
  10. Keep him away from all heavy machinery, deep wells, rivers, gravel, roller blades, bicycles, playgrounds, hard pillows, the sun, dairy, gluten, and anything that sheds or bites. Use plenty of sunblock, even indoors and assume all injuries are permanent and degenerative.
  11. Come up with a term of endearment like “Cupcake” or “Peanut” and call him that the rest of his life, especially in front of his Prom date.  Wait, never mind, he won’t have one.

I know, that was 11, consider it a bonus.  I am an over-communicator.