Saturday, April 11, 2015

How To Make Corporate Business Meetings Fun

The question, Join me for a cuppa joy? is synonymous with collaboration with colleagues.

Colleagues, friends, sisters. Entire families. It's all the same.

It just is. It's always been this for me.

And our meetings? Of course, there's usually coffee or tea. And ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. Some of them earth-shattering, world-changing, genius stuff. Sometimes it's a little more ordinary. The meetings are almost always full of inspiration and laughter. Yeah, sometimes we cry. Because sometimes, life is super hard or disappointing. Or both. So we bear each other's burdens. Right? And we share resources. Sorta like donating vacation days when someone in the company goes through a crisis.

I know a couple of colleagues who, when I visit their corporate office, I feel as though I just stepped into a world-renowned spa. Their easy-going manner, tell-me-all-about-you interest in my life, gourmet lunch (I'm so serious! Every woman ought to be spoiled with women like these in their lives!!), vision and professionalism are profoundly challenging and inspiring.

Because I'm so passionate about this responsibility, this corporate gig known as parenting, I actively seek out and stay open to teammates who are gifted and skilled in areas of expertise in which I need to lean in and learn.

Oh goodness! Now I'm rambling. And I'll keep on rambling if I don't force myself to stop right here. Anyway, we spent the day yesterday collaborating/hanging out with some of our people (who I so completely adore). The conversation was thoughtful and invigorating. The food satisfying, (Israel's homemade coffee cake is melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!). We shared stories. We laughed. A lot. I mean, a lot. We problem-solved. We dreamed. We discussed ideals. We went for a walk with our daughters to the park and watched them roll down the hill.

Then we joined them.

Annnnd I realized that it's been way-too-many years since I've rolled down a hill...

And, well, that was long overdue.

There are way too many women who are lonely (one is too many in my opinion). Moms who are experts at a gzillion different things. Moms who are gifted, skilled Artisans with life-giving wisdom and knowledge. So, what if we invited one another over more often? What if we collaborated and gave of our resources and cheered for each other and cried together and held hands during chemotherapy and encouraged each other's kiddos? What if we gathered in the boardrooms (aka: the kitchen, dining room, backyard...) to exchange recipes and marriage advice and child training tips and fitness goals? And what if we lingered long to imagine what could be, to pray, to offer a hug when there are no words? 

Do you have friends who you're sharing life with? Friends who love you no matter what? Real life, show-up-on-your-doorstep, here-let-me-get-you-a-cuppa-joy friends?

Will you leave me a note in the comment section and tell me about your friendships? What would encourage your heart most regarding friendships? (Oh, how I wish you were sitting here with me in my living room or at my dining table right now! I'd get you another cuppa and we'd eat chocolate -- or salad... whichever one fit the week -- and we'd figure out together how to run our corporations... and make the world a better place!)  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Let's Throw Fuel On That Fire!

The breakout workshop ended and the 60 or so women gathered their notebooks and bags and slowly shuffled toward the back door. A woman had occupied every seat, leaving a handful standing in the back for the duration of the session. Now I watched as the speaker removed her microphone and the wires connected to the small receiver attached to her belt and I waited for a path to the front of the room.

"Thank you." She looked up from the notes she was gathering on the podium and smiled as she tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear.

"Oh! Sure! I love doing this! I'm so glad I get to be here!" Her enthusiasm, infectious and hospitable, also made her approachable.

"I mean," I paused, trying not to stammer, wanting her to know the depth of my gratitude, "thank you for speaking powerful encouragement over us." She smiled wider, sliding her papers into a brown suede tote, her eyes meeting mine.

"Of course! Listen, let's keep in touch. Email me anytime." She looked around for a pen, reaching for one in her bag. I handed her my notebook and she wrote her information across the page.

My friends stood in the back, engaged in lively conversation, as I approached them. My heart was pounding and my mind raced as I thought about all that the speaker had just shared. "Oh. myword! What is it that keeps you awake at night and gets you up in the morning?!" They stared at me. "I mean, what she said... aren't you so inspired?"

"Yeah, she was really good. I enjoyed her. But I really try not to stay awake at night. My insomnia is already bad as it is. We're trying to decide what we want to do for lunch. Any ideas?"

For lunch? Or for how to live a legacy?

Many years back, (when I was mostly all passion and little else), three women who are those let's-throw-gasoline-on-this-fire-and-watch-what-happens kind of friends, asked me to lead MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) as the Coordinator for the group. It ended up being three years of priceless leadership school that did, indeed, fuel this burning desire inside me to see parents train up their children with purpose and passion. (Cindy, Donna, & Penny, I love you forever!! A thousand thank yous for believing in me and entrusting me with responsibility that was far out of my comfort zone and abilities, yet mentoring me through and graciously allowing love to cover over all the foibles.)

Friend, whatever dreams, whatever impossibles you're preparing to surmount, may I speak courage over you?

Whatever battle you're fighting, may God give you His supernatural strength and discernment.

And as for those inspirations? The ones in which you desire to be a difference-maker? Yeah, I'm praying buckets of fuel over those, too. That you'll step into the thick of it all and choose to live larger than yourself. Uh, yeah... I'm praying this for me today, too... 

Might there be someone in your life today who could benefit from the fuel of encouragement you pour over their dreams?

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Oh! That glorious emotion that sweeps over you when you're struck with epiphany! I love it. To live for those moments of profundity.

There's a word for that feeling. It's shchekotiki. "The feeling you get when you finally figure something out." We're not a hundred percent sure how it's pronounced but we're loudly proclaiming, "Shek-oh-teekeeeee!" anytime there's a revelation over something we've puzzled about together.

Yeah, we're not sure if our revelation is spot on or skewed. So, after the initial burst of shchekotiki, we're serving up a large glass of milk and the proverbial humble pie, ready to make hypotheses, test assumptions, experiment with ideas.

I met a woman on an airplane not too long ago. She was seated next to me and I would describe our meeting as most serendipitous. (We're still in touch, exchanging business and marketing ideas!) During the course of our conversation she told me about her membership in a Mastermind group. Now, I had heard about these groups that typically cost anywhere from a couple thousand to as much as six thousand dollars. Nevertheless, I still had a bit of sticker shock when she shared that she paid $10,000 for about eight months of membership into this group.

Intrigued by this concept, I did some research. The idea of a Mastermind Group was introduced about 75 years ago by Napoleon Hill in his book, Think And Grow Rich. The thought is that two or more people meet on a regular basis to brainstorm ways to conquer challenges, colloborate to accelerate success and achieve huge goals.

Huh. That sounds like friendship.

Come to think of it, it sounds like that first Mastermind Group... 12 disciples... assembled by Jesus. And the cost? Heh. It must be some kind of crazy successful, world-changer deal because it's this all-in thing where you surrender all your earthly ideas in exchange for... stuff that stretches clear into eternity.

I'll tell you what. You're invited over. I'll make you a cuppa and we'll collaborate. We'll call it a Mastermind Group. We'll dream together. Hey! We'll even draft out business plans. We'll discuss analytics. We'll make marketing decisions. We'll talk psychology and technology. We'll mull over the present state of the world and brainstorm ways to make an impact. We'll exchange information. We'll challenge the status quo. We'll question why and ask what if. We'll identify the mountains that need moving. And we'll cover it all in prayer.

We were made for this. For purpose. For collaboration. To bring about justice. To reach out. To inspire.

And, sure, we'll relish those moments of shchekotiki. We'll smile and give each other one of those trendy fist bumps. But goodnessgracious! Let's keep moving forward! We have Resurrection Power living inside us! We have work to do!

Who are you collaborating with these days? Who is in your Mastermind Group? Who are you pouring into, investing in, inspiring and challenging? Who is investing in you, asking you the hard questions, calling you to accountability? Who is praying with you?


Grateful for...

289. ...relationships that won't let me settle.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Last Opportunity! Only 48 Hours Left!

There are a few things that I'd love to know I only had 48 hours left: signing papers on the sell of our house, a nagging sinus infection, the finishing touches on a major writing project. But mostly, I want time to linger. 

The whole world seems topsy-turvy these days and here in our home, we have this sense of urgency to live "on mission." To seize every moment as an opportunity. To do meaningful work. 

"One question for you," one of our people in our Life Group scoots to the edge of the sofa and leans forward, "what is something your family can do to change the world?" He's 10-years old and his question leaves us all quiet while we absorb the possibilities.

Yes, to change the world. "Last chance" to seize this moment and make it count. And the next moment. And the next. 

There's a new book out. It's creating quite the buzz. (To say that everyone is talking about it sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, but, goodness, my blogger friends, Claire*, Carol*, Ruth*, Michael* list a few, are all promoting this book.)   My friend, Jeff*, wrote about living your life's calling. The book is, The Art of Work and you can get it practically FREE right now. All you have to do is send him your name, address, and pay the shipping and he'll mail it to you.

The Art of Work  is "about discovering your true calling -- that thing you were born to do." In typical Jeff Goins style, he engages readers with stories from his own experiences as well as stories of others who have found and embraced their callings, are doing meaningful work... and are changing the world as a result.

I'm almost half way through the book right now. One of the coolest parts of this offer is that as soon as you order the book and pay the shipping, a downloadable PDF version of it is available immediately. 

Anyway, this is the season our family is in at the present: 

LeRoy loves his job as TAP (Transition Assistance Program) Manager, assisting military in the transition into civilian work life... helping them discover their calling! 

I'm working on writing projects and home educating the children. 

Eli came home from the International ALERT Academy for Christmas break and was advised by orthopaedic surgeons not to return to training until he makes a full recovery on his shoulders. He dislocated both shoulders at different times while going through Basic Training and his shoulders are wonky ever since. Prognosis: one year to 18 months of physical therapy with the possibility of surgery somewhere in that timeframe. 

Isaiah still works at Cinnabon and is getting ready to pursue training at ALERT Academy. He leaves on March 27th for Basic Training. 

Ezekiel just got his first job working at Starbucks and is having a blast. He plans to work on getting dual credits for the next couple of years as he simultaneously pursues a high school diploma and a Bachelor's degree. 

Israel is chasing her dreams of entrepreneurship and is inundated lately with jobs for caring for children. She's studying leadership and pursuing her love of theater.

I admit, we're in a rough season. We're pursuing potentially daunting projects. We're stepping into our respective callings. Wanting to change the world. Writing a story worth telling. We try to rally for one another but have way too many moments when we give in to the daunting and turn on a movie, watching someone else's story instead. 

I keep hearing Eli's encouragement, "Remember, Mom, it gets harder before it gets easier."

I'm super excited about Jeff Goins' book. The rally cry to discover your calling and live a great story.

With the opportunities we have. In the next 24 hours. And 48 hours. And all the hours.

*These people are my friends, not because we hang out and have coffee together, but because I like them -- literally... on their FB page, or we really are FB friends, or they send me emails with the greeting, "Hello there, friend," or they've noted somewhere either in their blog or their website that they consider me their friend, or we've communicated via email, Skype, or I've taken a course they've offered or read their book. And since I believe them...

...Now to get back to work on my forthcoming book on what happens when you believe (nearly) everything you hear...