Small Steps… Big Changes (Post #9)

11713890_10153419349950767_7804233536392205323_oI don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed, I freeze. Too many options, too many mistakes, too many problems to solve. I tell myself it’s best to avoid making the necessary changes right now. It’s too big. I should wait until later… which turns into later… which turns into, well, you know.

This summer, I read a new book called Pivot Leadership by my friend Angela Craig. The premise of the book is that in order to affect deep change, you don’t have to make earth-shattering decisions. Keep it simple and take a small step. The smallest shift in your mindset can make the biggest difference. I learned this little tip this past week while camping with my family.

You should know that I am not a particularly happy camper. Nevertheless, every summer we pack up our house and small daughter and venture out to the great outdoors to camp in a local state park with our church family. I cherish the time with people I love, but in years past I found that I had little fun. While everyone else was enjoying the river, reading a book in the sunshine, or playing games around the campground, I was cooking, cleaning, and organizing my campsite. A little compulsive you say? Indeed.

This year, I decided things would be different. I had just finished reading Pivot Leadership: Small Steps… Big Changes where I learned that changing my approach to a situation didn’t have to be mind-bending – it could be simple. I talked with several friends and came up with a game plan to make my campsite simpler and easier to maintain. But after all my “simplified” menus and “easier to maintain” ideas, the biggest change this week came from a simple shift in my mindset.

This past week, I decided that the most important thing was creating a place for my family to have fun. I decided that I would let go of my desire to keep things “perfect” and that I would stop working so hard and have fun. I admit that I didn’t execute this plan perfectly, but there were plenty of moments where I intentionally walked away from my imperfectly organized campsite and joined my family at the river or painted with my daughter and her friends.

Hands down, this year’s camping trip was the most enjoyable of any I have done before! Even though there were some unforeseen (and by unforeseen, I mean negative) events, I was actually a little sad to leave! That is a big (and unexpected) outcome for me. All because of a simple pivot in my mindset.

It is worth mentioning that my little mindset pivot did not come first. My DESIRE for a mindset pivot did. I WANTED to do things differently this year, so I made a simple plan and set up some accountability. The more small steps I took toward simplifying my campsite, the more my brain got on board with the idea. In order to sustain my momentum, it was crucial to pivot my approach to camping (my mindset). But my brain is stubborn and doesn’t change easily. I had to make a plan and take some steps. Then my brain said, “Hey, this is a great idea! I like this! Let’s keep this rolling people!”

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: How about you? What are you overwhelmed by? What is one small step you can take TODAY to leverage yourself out of your little “thinking rut” and get moving again? Please comment below.

If you are looking for some practical tools to help you gain momentum with your work teams, organizational mission, or even your personal life, I recommend reading Pivot Leadership: Small Steps… Big Changes. It’s a quick read and is filled with quick and practical tips that get you thinking and dreaming again. Here are some more resources related to the book:

PIVOT LEADERSHIP Cover Display Mockup

Advertisements
Posted in Personal Awareness, Personal Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What is Your God Language? (Post #8)

Some people might call me a perfectionist. I prefer the term “recovering perfectionist.”

For many years I tried to please God, but usually ended up second guessing myself. Am I reading and memorizing from the “right” Bible translation? Which is more holy? Exuberant worship with shouting and jumping or quiet meditation on my knees? Should I meet with God when the birds are awake? Or when I’m awake? My spiritual life has been flooded with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. After many experiences where I walked away from sermons or worship services feeling like a loser because I wasn’t like someone else, I started to wonder…Is it really pleasing God if I am simply copying someone else?

As a Life and Leadership Coach, I’ve seen firsthand how people function best when they know (and respect) their individual strengths and preferences. As a “recovering perfectionist” who continues to wrestle with how to best please God, I began asking this question: Is it possible that my unique fingerprint of personality and strengths impacts how I connect best with God?

After some reading and research, I discovered an interesting answer to my question. There are some smart folks who suggest that there are Nine Spiritual Temperaments, or God Languages. Let’s take a quick look at each of them and, like me, maybe you’ll recognize a couple that sound just like you!

  • ACTIVIST. The Activist loves God through confronting evil.
  • ASCETIC. The Ascetic loves God through solitude and simplicity.
  • CAREGIVER. The Caregiver loves God through serving others.
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. The Contemplative loves God through adoring worship.
  • ENTHUSIAST. The Enthusiast loves God through mystery and celebration.
  • INTELLECTUAL. The Intellectual loves God through the mind.
  • NATURALIST. The Naturalist loves God through experiencing Him outdoors.
  • SENSATE. The Sensate loves God through all the senses.
  • TRADITIONALIST. The Traditionalist loves God through ritual and symbol.

Which temperament did YOU resonate with? Which temperament makes you happy just thinking about it, but you never imagined it as a way to connect with or worship God? Which new temperament might God be calling you to consider? Which temperament (and the people who practice it) drives you nuts just thinking about it?

This is the tension we experience in the Body of Christ. This beautiful and messy jumble of personalities that we call God’s family.

As followers of God, there is real value in “knowing ourselves” in a spiritual sense. When we recognize, accept, and value the way we are designed – BY GOD – to connect with God, we might just stop comparing ourselves with others and fully embrace the beauty of God within us and around us. Perhaps together we will discover new freedom and joy in our relationship with God… and our relationships with each other.

Questions to consider: Which God Language resonates with you? Which one repulses you?

I’ll go first. I am attracted to Naturalist, Intellectual, and Caregiver. I am NOT anxious to dive into Ascetic or Traditionalist (although I assure you that I respect and love my friends who do!) 🙂

*****************************************************

For more information check out these resources:

Myra Perrine, What’s Your God Language? Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament (Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).

Gary L. Thomas, Sacred Pathways (Grand Rapids, MT: Zondervan, 1996).

Posted in Personal Awareness | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Willpower a Limited Resource? (Post #7)

MacGyver

Confession: When I was in high school, I had a pretty serious crush on MacGyver. In fact, I credit him for how hard I worked in my senior year physics class. I needed to know how to make an airplane (or at least a glider), how to diffuse a bomb, and how to survive snake bites… all with just the materials I had on hand. After all, if I ever met MacGyver in person, I needed for him to be impressed with my ability to make something out of nothing! Alas, that bucket list was never achieved, but I did get an “A” in physics!

Unlike MacGyver, our driving desire to do something significant often seems to be met with the reality of insufficient resources. In other words, our desire does not match our reality. If only I could “MacGyver” my way through it! Have you ever felt this way?

The Unfair Experiment

One case in point is the example of willpower. Did you know that willpower and self-control is a limited resource? That’s what Dr. Roy Baumeister and his colleagues discovered when they performed an interesting “radishes vs. chocolate chip cookies” experiment.

One group of subjects were welcomed into a lab that smelled of fresh chocolate chip cookies. The delicious looking cookies were on a table next to a bowl of not-so-delicious-looking radishes. This unlucky group was told to help themselves to the radishes, but the cookies were off limits. After a period of time passed, this same group was taken into another room where they were given a geometric puzzle to solve with paper and pencil. The nasty secret is that the puzzle was unsolvable.

A second group of subjects (we’ll call them the lucky group), were taken into the same delicious smelling room and were told to help themselves to the cookies, but please leave the radishes alone. This group was then taken into another room and given the same unsolvable puzzle.

Can you guess which group persisted longer?

That’s right, the happy people who had just enjoyed fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies. The point? Self-control is a limited resource. The researchers discovered that willpower and self-control have limits, and these limits can be depleted in unrelated scenarios.

Thanks a lot MythBusters.

In February of 2008, the Discovery show “MythBusters” celebrated their 100th episode with a “MacGyver Special.” Imagine my excitement as I tuned in, only to have my heart broken as the hosts of the show systematically and ruthlessly busted MacGyver and most of his marvelous tricks. Turns out you can’t escape from a concrete prison by mixing together one gram of sodium with warm water.

The fact is, our resources ARE limited. Unlike MacGyver, who can prevent a nuclear meltdown with a chocolate bar and duct tape, we do have limited resources at times. Especially when we are seeking to make a significant change. Our “energy for change,” or willpower, is a limited resource. If we are frustrated by a desire to change, but no ability to see it through, perhaps we can ask this question: “What is using up my willpower? Where am I focusing my energy?” If we are using all our self-control to resist those amazing cookies, it’s no wonder we have nothing left for that dumb geometric puzzle. Two unrelated things can both be sucking life out of the same energy reserves.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: What is your willpower energy going into? What pieces of that do you have control over? How does faith impact our willpower reserves?

BONUS QUESTION: What is MacGyver’s first name? (No Google answers! That’s cheating!)

Posted in Personal Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

READY, SET, i can’t… (Post #6)

Indiana-Jones-Start2

Look closely at this picture. Do you remember this movie? Indiana Jones is compelled to cross an impassable chasm that has no bridge in order to save his dying father. As he stands frozen in uncertainty, he suddenly sucks in his breath, closes his eyes, and raises up his foot to step into the bottomless cavern. He hesitates…

Have you ever felt like this? You know what you have to do. Perhaps God has made it clear to you or circumstances have played out in a way that you must take action. But you hesitate. You are trained, you have the experience, you even have the desire, but you are frozen.

As I led a coach training this past week, I volunteered to be coached by one of my students in order to let her practice. She started out with a typical coaching question, “What would you like to focus on during our conversation?” I listed a bucketful of possible action steps laying before me pertaining to my personal and professional life. She listened patiently as I listed 5 or 6 possible action steps. I expressed my confusion and even frustration at not knowing which step to take first. This brilliant novice coach then asked me the zinger question that I was NOT expecting. “What is keeping you from choosing an action step?” I sat back in my chair like the air had been sucked out of me. I was thinking I would talk through the pro’s and con’s of each action step, but she pointed me directly to the bulky, submerged portion of the iceberg. The answer was immediately obvious to me: “Fear.” We spent the rest of our 10 minute “practice” coaching session discussing ways for me to overcome or deal with this fear.

Now I know that everyone’s situation is different, but I would like to invite you into my world as I process my reluctance to move forward because of fear.

What am I afraid of?

Fear of Success

If I am successful with my action steps, my life may be altered in some dramatic and exciting ways. My schedule might change as I spend more time doing something I love that at the same time makes it possible for me to spend time with my family. The prospect of succeeding is exciting… and terrifying. Even though the potential future is full of benefits for myself and my family, it is still different. It represents change. Sometimes what “might be” is scarier than “what is” – even when it is better. Isn’t that crazy?

This past week during my devotions I read this verse:

Lazy people take food in their hand
    but don’t even lift it to their mouth. (Proverbs 19:24, NLT)

What good is it to stockpile continued education, resources, and endorsements and yet stand frozen when it comes time to put them into use? The Bible calls this “lazy.” Ouch.

Fear of Failure

It is so much easier to hope for the future than to actually step into it. The tagline on my coaching website reads, “Focused action begins with a single step.” As I confided my struggle to a friend recently, she calmly pointed to my website homepage and said, “It looks like you need to take your own advice.” Now that is a true friend.

This week I think that the Lord has been trying to get my attention because I also read this:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
    If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Proverbs 22:13, NLT)

And again later in Proverbs:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road!
    Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” (Proverbs 26:13, NLT)

Are you seeing the same pattern as me? Avoiding action because of fear of failure is not called courage or wisdom, it is called laziness. Ouch again.

Lack of Knowledge

As I processed further with my novice coach, I realized that the heart of my hesitation was gaps in my knowledge. I simply did not know which step would be most effective and I had no idea how to best take action. On the surface, I was definitely afraid… but maybe also for a third reason.

Last week I also read this:

Plans succeed through good counsel;
    don’t go to war without wise advice. (Proverbs 20:18, NLT)

And this:

Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good;
    haste makes mistakes. (Proverbs 19:2, NLT)

I wrote these verses down for some reason because they seemed to apply to me. It wasn’t until I entered into this coaching session that the verses came rushing back to me. I believe that this is God’s way of saying, “Hey Amy, pay attention. I care about your future.” Cool.

Step of FaithNext Steps

After Indiana Jones sucks in his breath, he places his hand over his heart, resolutely raises his foot and… steps out onto an invisible bridge. The bridge was such a part of the landscape that it was impossible to see until he stepped out onto it.

So what is my next step? I need to talk to an expert. At the conclusion of my coaching session I decided who I needed to talk to. A couple days later the very person I wanted to consult with passed by me and said, “Hey, let me know if you ever need any help with your business!” Talk about hitting me over the head with a two by four. I stopped what I was doing and said, “Let’s talk. Right now.”

So, what is God calling YOU out to do? Are you paralyzed in fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Or are there simply gaps in your knowledge? Sometimes you might need a coach to draw out of you what you already know, and sometimes you might need an expert (a consultant) to fill in your gaps of knowledge.

Remember this quote from someone who is traveling a similar path as yours, “Focused action begins with a single step.”

QUESTION: What single step will you take this week in response to what you know God is calling you to do? Please comment below.

To learn more about me and the personal leadership coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while.  www.coachamydevries.com.

Posted in Personal Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The “Wizard of Oz” Approach to Change (Post #5)

Wizard of Oz (Aug 2014)How many times have you sat in frustration during a meeting and wondered why “that person” was being so difficult? When an organization discusses “change” there is often a predictable palette of responses around the conference table. While each one of us is a beautiful, intricate, and complicated person, there are some general categories, or personality temperaments, we tend to lean in to.

Novelists and screenwriters commonly make use of the four temperaments within their stories (sometimes knowingly and sometimes not!). In the Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum uses characters that are lacking (or think they are lacking) a trait that represents one of the four temperaments: Courage, Brains, Heart, and Home. Here’s a quick look at our characters. Which one (or ones) are you?

Courage-Lion

COURAGEOUS LION

Courageous Lions say, “I’m not afraid! Change? Schmange. Bring it on. Let’s do this! If you don’t like it, well, put ’em up and we’ll settle this the old fashioned way!”

Okay, they might not start a fist fight, but suffice it to say that the efficient and resourceful Lions are ready and willing to go. Right now. Who needs a plan? Courageous Lions are more than willing to handle things as they come – and they are good at it.

Brain - Scarecrow

BRAINY SCARECROW

I’ll tell you who needs a plan, Brainy Scarecrows! The competent and visionary Scarecrows say, “Let’s sit down and reason this out. Have we thought through how this suggested change will impact our organization over the next five years? Let’s tweak the idea a bit.”

Brainy Scarecrows bring a rational edge to the discussion – which sometimes annoys the Lions… and the Tinmen. Nevertheless, these Scarecrows help organizations avoid hard to see pitfalls and navigate difficult waters.

Heart - Tinman

GOOD-HEARTED TINMEN

The Good-Hearted Tinmen care. About everyone. “There is more to this than the bottom line, people! How will Elder Bruce feel if you replace the piece of lobby furniture that his father donated 25 years ago? Have we considered sending a card thanking him and his family for their many years of service?”

Good-Hearted Tinmen are often problem-solvers. They are imaginative and innovative. They intuitively know how proposed change will affect those you lead and they often have good ideas that make people feel special and valued.

Home - Dorothy

HOME-FOCUSED DOROTHY

The Sweet Dorothies just want to go home. Sometimes the Dorothies want to cling to the past (for the sake of comfort and security), and sometimes they call for the team to remember the values of the past. “Change is great, as long as we are connecting it to the mission we all agreed to long ago. Do you remember why we are here and why we are doing this? With that in mind, how can we make this proposed change more powerful and focused?”

Responsible and reliable Dorothies are guardians of what is most precious in your organization: your mission, values, and vision.

The study of personality theories can quickly become extensive and a bit overwhelming, so suffice it to say that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Our teams are filled with beautiful, intricate, complicated, messy geniuses. Who needs simple?

********************************************************************************

UPDATE (8-20-14)

You know, it hardly seems fair to leave out poor Toto. Toto showed up in almost every scene, but didn’t say a word. He watched the action take place and looked cute. Toto didn’t really move the plot along very much at all… or did he? Sometimes the one who says the least, actually has the most influence. Have you found this to be true? Just my late night musings as I continue to think about this topic. 😉

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: Which character do you see yourself more as and which one annoys you to pieces? How will you adjust your perspective for future discussions within your organization? Please comment below.

To learn more about me and the coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while.  www.coachamydevries.com.

Posted in Team Skills | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Possibilities everywhere… but not for you (Post #4)

Shrek (July 2014)It’s a big, bright, beautiful world, With possibilities everywhere. And just around the bend there’s a friend or two… But not for you.”

.

I recently watched Shrek The Musical  on Netflix and this is the theme song that Shrek’s parents sing to him when they send him out into the world. Nice message, huh? Sounds like a limiting belief.

The tricky thing about our limiting beliefs is that they are often invisible to us. They are such a part of who we are that they are hard to recognize. Limiting beliefs are those phrases or sentences that have been repeated to us so many times that we don’t even realize how our life choices have been narrowed and restricted because of them.

The sound of this rings familiar. I don’t know about you, but I have internalized all kinds of limiting beliefs during my life. Here are a couple of mine: “I’m not good enough for that successful or beautiful person to like me,” or “I’m a girl, so I can’t serve God as a minister unless I’m married.”

What can we do about limiting beliefs? How can we discover something we don’t even realize is there? One way to shed light on them is to get unfiltered perspective from other people. Other people often see things that we cannot or will not see for ourselves. We might get this insight by asking someone we trust, “What are my blind spots?” or “What am I good at that I don’t realize is a strength?” Shrek was fortunate to encounter a friend like Donkey who told it like it was. Donkey didn’t hold back but, with honesty and loyalty, spoke truth to Shrek.

A great resource that I recommend is the use of assessments (with quality coaching, of course!). There are fourteen million assessments (give or take) online that tell you everything from which Star Wars character you are (I’m Princess Leia, of course) to which brand of cereal you are (don’t know, don’t care). A “reputable” assessment (you know, one that’s not necessarily found on Facebook) can give you some pretty encouraging information, like things you’re good at that you didn’t even realize could be a good thing. Just don’t take an assessment without a qualified person walking you through your results (remember the value of unfiltered perspective from someone else?).

Princess Fiona showed Shrek that his “weird” habits and tastes were really not that weird at all. She appreciated him for who he was and helped him to see that he was lovable. Sometimes the things we are strong at are not always the things that we are proud of. For example, if your family is made up of quiet and submissive individuals, your charismatic and bold personality might not have been valued much when you lived at home and now as an adult you’re not so sure your personality is a strength. What if it was? BAM! One limiting belief down, one or two more to go.

QUESTIONS: What limiting beliefs have you overcome? How do you help people around you overcome theirs? Are you more of a Donkey or more of a Princess Fiona? Please comment below.

To learn more about me and the coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while. www.coachamydevries.com.

 

Posted in Personal Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Should I? The Importance of Intentional Focus (Post #3)

High Wire Nik Wallenda

PHOTO CREDIT: http://abcnews.go.com

Exactly one year ago (June 23, 2013) a professional high wire artist named Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a two inch thick steel cable. America watched his nearly 23 minute crossing live via the Discovery Channel. He was 1500 feet above the ground with no safety harness and no net. Far below him was a Ranger, a paramedic, and two members of a film crew. (one can’t help but wonder why on earth they had a paramedic… )

How did Nik keep his balance during this treacherous walk? Here it is in his own words, “It took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time.”  He purposefully and intentionally gathered his strength and resources to remain focused. Purposefully and intentionally.

What is the big deal about Intentional Focus? Nik Wallenda’s story gives us some great insights.

Don’t look down!

Wallenda told interviewers that his secret to great focus is that he doesn’t look down and he keeps his eyes on his destination.

What is our destination? Where is our focus? Are we looking down at our obstacles and distractions, or are we looking forward toward our goal?

Watch out for simple distractions

Unexpected wind and distractions are perilous, to put it lightly, for high wire artists. Nik Wallenda has trained his whole life for these events. When he was a child walking a cable that was two feet off the ground in his backyard, his parents, also renowned high wire performers, would shoot him with BB gun pellets. He also trains regularly with air machines that blast up to 55 mph winds at him as he practices.

Yet, with all this training, the item that distracted him on a previous high wire act and nearly caused him to lose his balance was a piece of tape that didn’t belong on the wire. That hardly seems fair.

What unexpected distractions are keeping us from our goals? We might be on the lookout for the “big winds” but can get completely sidelined by things that appear innocent. What is my “piece of tape” that traps my eyes and distracts me from my focus? What’s yours?

Remember our source of inspiration

Nik recalls a moment when he lost his balance on his famous walk across the Grand Canyon. “I knelt down and I thought of my great-grandfather and that everything I do is to honor him,” Wallenda said. “It took my mind off all this movement underneath me … and I was able to focus on him and regain composure.”

What motivated us to choose our destination to begin with? Who or what inspired us? If we take the time to connect with our “source of inspiration” we will find strength to refocus when the wind pushes against us.

Connect with real PEACE

Besides being a highly trained (get it? highly trained?…nevermind) professional high wire artist and daredevil, Wallenda is also a committed Christian. As he walked across the Grand Canyon, he repeatedly (for 23 minutes) praised Jesus and vocalized his trust in God while all America watched and listened. “That’s really where I get my peace,” he said. “I have confidence that if something were to happen to me, I know where I’m going.”

QUESTION: Which aspect of Intentional Focus grabs your attention today? Please comment below.

To learn more about me and the coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while. www.coachamydevries.com.

 

Posted in Personal Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments