Monday, February 20, 2017

From Idea to Implementation

Is it just me, or do you ever find yourself waxing eloquent on some subject only to hear at the end, the sound of slipping record needle, rrrrrrzz, instead of the climatic wwwaaaaahh of earth-shaking enlightenment?

You know, that rousing, emotional oratory where you find your heart pounding and you're ready to jump all in?

"Never, never, never give up!"

I'm sold, Mr. Churchill. Where do I go to opt in for your email list? I want to receive weekly newsletters reminding me to persevere. To stay the course. To keep my head up and press on.


One second.

How??? Now that you've sold me on the importance of something, what's the next step?  

Guys, that's me. On both sides. Just ask my children if I wax eloquent on things I'm passionate about.

If only we'd recorded some of my speeches, I'm sure we'd find a few nuggets of gold which we'd then go to one of those artsy websites and find an emotive background, put my quote in some italicized script, and post it on social media where it'd inspire greatness in the masses.

Then again, my children will tell you that for all my eloquence, too often I fail to make my points actionable. They listen respectfully, smile, and go back to whatever they were doing before I felt it my duty to share my flash of insight with them.


This is why I believe in the inestimable value of truth-telling friends, mentors, and coaches. How often I've found myself at the end of what I felt was one of my more brilliant discourses, [I know. Right?], when the person across from me responded with, "Huh. How does that work? Can you make that practical?"

Then it's my turn. "Huh?"

If this is you, I have actionable counsel for you.

Write in a journal. Invest in a coach or a counselor. Take a mentor to coffee. Surround yourself with truth-tellers. Get accountability.

The act of writing down thoughts and speaking our ideas out loud to someone who gives honest feedback, is a great way to find out whether we're simply inspiring others, (which is awesome, too), or helping them transform their lives. There's nothing like being asked questions which lead to breakthroughs. People who brainstorm strategies and plans with you. It's remarkable.

It's how to move from an idea to the actual event or thing worth making a remark about.

For me, right now, it's writing a book... and my brilliant editor who writes in the margin next to an entire section where I've described in beautiful, poetic, epic literary composition, "What's your point? This doesn't connect or tie together. Try figuring out what you were trying to say." [cue record needle slipping]

It's taking all those ideas on sticky notes and sheets of paper and dry-erase inspirations on window and turning them into something that might actually help others.

And, yes, I'm unimaginably grateful for the feedback.  

What about you? What ideas do you need to take action on? Art, a project, a conversation, or something else that you've been talking about but not starting?

Who do you need to get help from to form a plan, a strategy? And accountability?
The world needs your brilliance.

Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear what you're working on.

Monday, January 2, 2017

"You Are The Average Of . . ."

You know the saying. You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.

Last night, we spent the evening with an extraordinary family. Before they arrived, we were mere acquaintances. Yet, from the moment their coats were hung and the salad and side dish they brought were set on the table, the conversation volleyed creativity and ideas and possibilities.

Although dinner time was early in the evening, our conversation went late. These people cultivate a no excuses culture in their marriage and in their home. (Yes, please. Surround me with more of that.)

Encounters like these are oxygen for when the journey is long and our creative brain starts to get a little foggy. Here's a bit of motivation . . . at one point in the conversation, the husband said, "My work doesn't bring its' own reward, so I need to find ways to bring the intensity."

Bring the intensity. I smiled. I told him I hadn't heard that term used in at least three weeks, ever since Isaiah moved back to the States.

People who look for ways to bring the intensity are typically people who also take extreme ownership for their lives. They're always upping the ante, for themselves and whoever has the privilege of sharing their space. It's refreshing.

Later in the evening, we got on the topic of our personal websites. I told them about the website I've had for three years -- which only four or five people know about. His response was classic.

"Wait. You have a website no one visits? You don't share it?"

I cringed. Without an ounce of shaming, his question challenged me to face my pride and ego and move forward.

So, here it is. My website:

One of the ongoing projects in my life.

And thanks to our new friends, (they're brave, daring, audacious folks who foster undaunted faith and passionate mindsets), I'm rolling out the red carpet and inviting you in.

Please excuse the dust, the mess, and the noise. Hardhat recommended. We're in the process of figuring out what it means to bring the intensity.

How about you?

Do you have any projects right now which might be challenging you to take a daring step of faith? To bring the intensity?

Who are the people in your life who energize and inspire you? (Have you told them thank you?)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Meet One of My Coaches

This business of serving and leading those in our sphere of influence . . .it's not for the faint of heart.

"We're in the middle of a corporate restructuring and I sure would love it if a professional consultant or coach would come to our headquarters to help us." I said it completely serious, our friends knowing that by "corporate" I mean our family and "restructuring" means, we're going through a season of transition. But when I say, "...a professional consultant or coach," I mean exactly a professional consultant or coach. 

I think he was half-joking, but Mark chuckled and raised his hand, "I'll do it." I looked across the room at him.

"You're on."

*Side note: He's 11-years old.

After Life Group, he and I stood in the kitchen, looking at my calendar. His mom stood off to the side as he glanced up at the ceiling as though his schedule hung there, invisible to everyone but him. 

"I believe Wednesday at 1:00 will work." His eyes met mine and then we both glanced over at his mom for affirmation. Yes, 1:00 then.

On Wednesday, one of my board members, (my son, Ezekiel), and I knocked on the door of their temporary lodging facilities, the short-term apartments for families about to re-locate to another military base. His parents apologized for not being able to stay, "We just have so many errands to run and last-minute preparations to make . . ." She hugged me and closed the door behind her. 

"Have a seat," Mark gestured toward the sparse furnishings. "So, tell me what you're working on." He sat across from us on a swivel recliner and watched as I took a notebook and pen from my bag.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Mark asked brilliant questions, challenged me to dig deep, discover underlying motives, prioritize, break down goals into doable action steps, and even helped me come up with a "stop doing" list. He brainstormed game-changing ideas with me. He listened. 

In fact, he didn't really talk much at all except for the questions he asked me. Sometimes, I rambled. (That might be an understatement.) And still, he was able to take my ramblings, form a concise, coherent summary, and use it to lead the conversation forward with another intelligent question.

The meeting was professional and effective. In fact, I credit that coaching session for the breakthrough in our family over the next couple of days.

Takeaway: Are you training your employees, supervisors, children, colleagues, teammates . . . to lead through coaching? 

Are you cultivating a culture that values listening, asking great questions, and engaging in meaningful conversations? 

The value of a coach cannot be overstated. If you have goals, make sure you also have someone to hold you accountable, challenge you, brainstorm ideas with, and leverage strategic and actionable problem solving techniques. 

**Mark's mom is a co-founder and Management Consultant at Overt Resolutions Group helping companies with conflict resolution and strategic problem solving. 

See where Mark gets his influence and training? ;) 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How To Create Your Own German Spa Experience

Sometimes, you just need to take the day off.

That's what I did today.

I woke up at 4 o'clock this morning, my head and face throbbing from sinus pressure. You ever been there?

Then I checked email, drank water, took Alka Seltzer, looked through my Facebook newsfeed with Israel, (the video of our friend, Macee's, post-op drug-induced delirium from the removal of her wisdom teeth had us rolling), took a little nap thinking I could sleep off the pain . . .

At 2 o'clock this afternoon, Israel ran me a hot, hot, (as in, I had to add cold water before I could get in), eucalyptus aromatherapy bath. After about 20 minutes, with my face drenched with sweat, and my heart rate accelerated by a lot, I got out and dressed in a fresh pair of pajamas.

Now, at this point, I realized I had the perfect makings of a German Spa experience. All I had to do was stand under an ice cold shower for several seconds. Or, the other option is to go outside in the freezing air for about 10 minutes.

At real German spas, you sit in a sauna with the heat so high, you're sure you're being cooked from the inside out. (Actually, I kinda felt like that in the tub of water Israel filled for me.)

Then . . . (and this is where the medicinal effect takes place), you exit the sauna and immediately dip down into an "ice bath," which is literally a cylinder tub with steps down into it where you submerge up to your neck. Do this for a few seconds and then step out.

At this point, you either go back into the sauna you were in before or you choose the one across the hall which is much hotter, (I stepped in there and found it was so hot I couldn't catch my breath), sit there for about 10 minutes, and repeat the ice bath. Or . . .go walk outside for 10 to 15 minutes.

Oh. And the dress code in a German spa is naked. So, there's that. Fortunately, they give you a big, fluffy bathrobe to wear around the spa and thankfully you're allowed to wear your bath towel in the sauna. Of course, if you're going to dip down into the ice bath, you can't wear either.

So, if you're not comfortable with the concept of al naturel, (which I'm not), you can wrap the cozy bathrobe around you and go sit outside in one of their oversize Adirondack lounge chairs.

Repeat the process three or four times to increase blood circulation, which promotes health and well being. :)

Which is what brought me to the realization that I had all the makings of a German Spa today. Because after my soak in extremely hot water, I went and sat outside where the temperature was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. I took my water bottle and the book I'm currently reading, but then found the fresh air to be so rejuvenating and relaxing, that I ended up just sitting there. Grateful. So. Extremely. Grateful.

My girl, who was downstairs working on making gingerbread for the house she plans to build, came up and checked on me and took a photo.

My head feels tons better. And I'm excited to get back to work.

How about you? How are you feeling today? Be extra kind to yourself. Maybe take the day off? What is your version of a German Spa experience?