Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Authentic Self-Reflection

Over the last few months, I have been in several discussions with several peer groups I belong to and the concept of self-reflection is ever present.

Not because they've all said it to me (although both my executive coach and couples counselor have told me I am the "most self-reflective person" they know in the last week- interesting, eh?), but because as we discuss the various topics that come up - I am always looking at them from a unique perspective in comparison to the group.

The dictionary does not really define "self-reflection" - it merely shows "self-examination or introspection" as its definition. However, you put "self-reflection" in Google without quotes and more than 1.1 million references are instantly noted.

My favorite is from a web page on leadership competencies that defines self-reflection "as a process of examining the impact of personal values, beliefs, styles of communication and experiences". This comes pretty close to my definition and application.

In my world - I self-reflect 100% of the time and about everything....

my role as a mom to Emma and Evan

my role as Isael's wife - notice I did not just say a wife

my role as a marketing leader where ever I choose to lend my talent

my role as a Kindergarten/1st grade ministry leader at Willowcreek

my role as a big sister to my siblings

my role as a daughter

my role as friend,  colleague and even casual business acquaintance 

Self-reflection is just like speaking or breathing for me. And honestly - this is how I view it:

In every situation, I take in all that occurs and pass it thru a lens of my values, my priorities and my goals - then I act. On the slight chance that I act before doing that (see blog from Nov 23), it is very shortly after that I self-reflect and course correct. Amazingly, my self-reflective abilities enable me to apologize or say I am sorry for something and truly work to never repeat the action.

Additionally - I find that my self-reflection allows me to not have many regrets in life. It has also allowed me to move seamlessly between jobs and industries, only building on my core talents rather than taking away.

It is allowing me to be the parent - I'd only dreamed I'd be,  raising confident, polite and compassionate little people.

It is allowing me to maximize my talents to juggle a full-time job, this blog, my side career as a motivational speaker and soon to be politician (on the ballot in the first or second position vying for one of three village trustee spots out of a field of six candidates, including two incumbents - EXCITING - I promise to keep you posted).

Today, I ask that you stop and self-reflect on where you are in your many roles in life.

Are you where you want to be? doing what you want to do? interacting the way you know best? 

If the answer to any of those questions is No - I encourage you to dig into that question and look at how you can impact a different result. 

Now, not later.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Authentically Good Day

You know it is a good day for you when...

you ask God to take your anxiety away and he quickly does

you get a prime parking spot everywhere you go, no matter how many stops.

you get to pay $20 for a designer dress that was once marked $118 or buy snowsuits for $18.99 that 8 weeks ago were marked $69.99

you get to play Wii with your favorite people 

you have fries and an Egg Nog shake at the end of January (almost as good as a gingerbread latte on this date) 

you stay up super late and still feel like getting up for the am basketball game

your gadget is not lost and it syncs up quickly

you have a deliciously good time with the one you love on a whim

I am not sure what could be better.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Authentic Disappointment

Interesting title for a blog on a day that should make my heart sing with joy.

Make no mistake - My joy and hope comes from Jesus Christ alone. I am certain that He allowed the leader He wanted to rise up for such a time as this. 

I am also excited at the possibilities that this accomplishment opens up for all people who have unparalleled determination, vision, self-motivation and humility to lead in any capacity.

However - I am authentically disappointed by statements and the tone that the Christian community is taking with our new president.  From the K-Love  (Christian radio station that I support financially) marathon of prayer where every other caller points out how much President Obama needs God's wisdom to the chorus of Facebook disses by many in my network - I am shocked, disappointed and offended by the the insinuation.  The insinuation that President Barack Obama needs more prayer than any other President in the past.   I do not recall this outpouring of prayer support for our outgoing President in 2000 or 2004 after the elections. Especially in 2004 with the nation sorely divided and  the issues we faced as it related to the Iraq invasion. So then, why does the community rise up in a tone of discontent and patronizing prayer support to hide its true feelings?

While many in the Christian community are still smarting from the defeat of John McCain  or better stated -  the lack of candidates that truly represented their views, it is clear that suddenly the venomous rhetoric that permeated the campaign has turned into a false outpouring of prayer support.

It sort of reminds me of when we gossip in church communities about people's hurts in the name of "praying for their needs." 

C'mon brothers and sisters - we must do better. If not us, then who?

Remember, the world has long abandoned looking to the church (us) to do the right thing in many issues as it relates to race and race relations in this country - which I do think plays a big part consciously and unconsciously in this discourse.  Fine - then admit it. Be real. If you are uncomfortable with this President because he is pro-life or WHATEVER - then say it - don't mask your true ill feelings with "let's pray for him".  Let's get out the core issues and discuss them and how we can rise up and make a real difference vs. a passive-aggressive posturing.

By the way - the answer to the abortion crisis is not in a presidential candidate or a law  - it's in the church stepping up in all communities (affluent and low-income alike as they abort their unborn equally)  and helping solve the core issue of the rampant sexual activity without love or commitment that often leads to abortion. But that is another post. Let's stay focused.

The biggest losers in all this is the next generation in our churches. We are displaying huge lack of grace in this moment that could really be used to unite the nation. The spreading of the vicious propaganda pre-election (I am referring to personal emails I received as well as a letter from Focus on the Family pro-McCain and filled with fear mongering and subtle hatred towards Senator Obama) to the insincere words and tone now is not uniting our country but further dividing it. Additionally - it adds to the insensitivity that the church already displays towards race relations and racial reconciliation in this country. WE SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO REACH ACROSS RACIAL LINES - I am not going to act like I said that - I am quoting my pastor Bill Hybels. This presidency offers us a huge opportunity to lead the country in a healthy constructive discussion about race and any other issues that are tough to discuss.

So - I am not above overreacting - see blog from Nov 23 - I am human and could be misinterpreting these people and their intent.  I will leave you with this.

We are called to not even be associated with something the looks evil. 

That said - Is this community sincerely wishing the best for our new leader and praying from a heart filled with grace and humility? 

If not - then we should start a new prayer marathon for ourselves.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inauguration Alternative

Since late night November 4, I have been scheming to figure out how I can attend the historic inauguration next Tuesday January 20. I started thinking of my good friend who lives in N. VA. (you know who you are, clue: LoungeLizard) and has offered to house me and family many times.

I priced flights, looked at the time off in relation to my other vacations I want this year and all in all - it was on!

Six short days later - it was off.

I wanted to be there to witness history.

I wanted to be there with others celebrating the glorious day.

I wanted to bask in triumph as I contributed (on a very small scale) with money and canvassing 

I wanted to bring my kids, especially my little boy Evan to watch this mixed race man (my kids call themselves Blaxicans - Black and Mexican - I am not making this up) take the highest position in the land.

I wanted to honor President Barack Obama and Dr. King by making the trip as family and enjoying this as a first step to many more triumphs toward fulfilling Dr. King's dream.

But alas, we are not going.

I will honor President Obama and Dr. King  a different way next week.

On Monday Jan 19, I will file my paperwork to become a candidate for one of the Village Board Trustees vacancies in Lake in the Hills, IL. 

I will bring my kids with me to the office to see their mom get on the ballot.

I will remind them that local government is where it all starts. 

I will show them by my example that we make things better by stepping up and stepping out to serve our community. 

Not everyone can or wants to run for political office but we can all serve our community. 

If you are going to the festivities in Washington next week - good for you. You will be showing support and in many cases I am sure,  great sacrifice to be there. 

For those of us who are not going but want to contribute another way, give yourself the challenge to use the Inauguration 2009 as a kickoff to your heightened awareness of what you can contribute to your own community. Volunteer to coach kids at the Park District. Tutor a young student at a local school.  Join an Adopt-A-Street movement in your area. Run for office. Join the PTA. 

Let's not just watch history next week. Let's make some.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Do you trust yourself?

This is not a hypothetical question. Nor am I trying to dig into your psyche for some deep seeded revelation.

I am asking you the simple question - Do you trust yourself?

Over the last few months - I've been confronted with this on two fronts, both personally and professionally. I must say that each time, while I second-guessed my initial thoughts (as I always do) because of the swift nature by which they came to me, I always moved upon those first inclinations. I have not failed me. My gut has not failed me. In fact - I would go as so far to say that trusting myself has become my sport of late and I am getting very good at it.

It is like a sport. If you do not practice your craft - whether it be tennis, golf, basketball, futbol (or football) - you will be no good at it. The more you practice the better you become.

Dictionary says trust is the "reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc, of a person or thing. Confidence."

So I ask today - Do you trust yourself?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Inspiration Services - My New Industry

In the last few days since posting my objectives for 2009, I've had many folks ask me what I am focusing on.

Is it going to be marketing?

Politics? (you are running for public office)


Work/Life Balance for working moms?

Faith in the workplace?

Personal Branding?

I love my network because I had some connections go so far as to tell me that they think I'm biting off too much and that my "lack of focus" may cost me. It's interesting because I was not doing anything for many months last year trying to decide where to focus my energy. I blogged proudly about my lack of focus in November.

As much as that felt and sounded good then - I must admit that it was a bit contradictory to the way I normally operate with a plan. Honestly,  until I had a string of days off to truly devote to concentrating, I would list the many things that I was focused on when asked, when all along I just needed time to name my new industry. After five full days off and lots of sleep, it rolled off my tongue... Inspiration Services.

Without question - this is my gift. I have an ability challenge people in a non-threatening way and inspire them to be better.

Better marketers

Better leaders

Better women, better moms

And all my motivational talks - my park district class have all centered around inspiring people to do something differently than they are doing today.

So - for those of you who wonder what I am focused on - it's Inspiration Services - inspiring everyday people to do extraordinary things.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My 2009 Objectives

Resolutions are sooo not my thing.

Not sure why, but long ago I decided to never make new year's resolutions. It seems to me like resolutions lacked the plan to make them happen.

Dictionary says resolution is "the act or process of resolving" or "the act of determining"

Instead, I've made objectives each year.

Dictionary says objective is "something toward which effort is directed; an aim, goal or end of action"

That is more like for me - while the "plan" isn't necessarily spelled out - just by definition, there is much more action in objectives versus resolutions.

So my objectives for 2009 are big...

1. Take time off work to just hang with my kids - not travel related time, just plain ole at home time with my babies

2. Set and keep a date night with my husband every month. We've done this off and on over the years but he does not think it's that important - someone call this man for me.

3. Do Emma and my nails more often - even if it means outsourcing the work

4. Win my municpal election for Lake in the Hills Village Trustee Board

5. Book my first regional/national conference speaking or facilitating engagement.

6. Finish writing my first book and have it manuscript ready by end of 2009. (I have many outlines and ideas and more than one book in my head. That is why I added "manuscript ready" - I want the book in an actionable form before 2010)

7. Hire a new cleaning lady. The final quarter of the year, I'd taken this on since I don't travel for work anymore thinking I'd get some satisfaction out of cleaning my own house. Yeah - that lasted two months and by now, I can't even keep it up. I am certain this service is better outsourced for our family

8. Do one Beth Moore bible study a quarter. I did this for the last half of 2008 and it must be done every quarter in 2009. Her writing style and technique for challenging the reader to dig and understand the Word is amazing and really helped in 2008 with my challenges.

9. Teach my kids to ride their bikes as soon as it thaws and ride my bike with them regularly (this must be once a week). I know - bad Mom - Emma is 7 going on 8 and not all that confident with bike riding and Evan is 3 so I have a chance to redeem myself with him and her this spring. Plus - I could use the exercise.

Man - just looking at that list make me want to go back to bed.

But I won't. I actually need to get started on the list.....