Being Vulnerable Yet Grounded – the one-word journey of Purpose

self reflectionSo the one-word journey of Purpose continues for me and it continues to be unlike anything my mind and heart can recently recall. It continues to teach me things each day, most recently about as a dear friend spoke to me “being vulnerable yet grounded”. For much of the past few years I kept to routine and to schedule. In the work that I do as a meeting professional I definitely need to plan my work and then work that plan. Clients are counting on experience and execution of things to ensure their program or special event happens within their vision. I enjoy being able to put my gifts and passions to work each day, yet I realized there was more I could bring to the table. It involves being vulnerable yet grounded. It involves embracing that approach and the balance it causes you to learn and embrace.

Along the one-word journey I have had moments where I have been called to open my heart and mind more to things. I have been told I have a big heart and I thought I had seen the layers and depths of it in the years of life I have walked. When your lens is focused and different however, you not only see things differently, you feel them differently as well. This has caused me to approach things that were common and simple for me differently, whether to bring greater efficiency to them or just to refine them. Where I would often be critical of myself in things and situations, I am finding myself pausing and being open to what each encounter and item can teach me. It is all part of being vulnerable yet grounded. The by-product is a more well-rounded understanding of yourself and seeing areas you might have even been afraid of yet didn’t want to admit it.

By being open and approaching each day with the Purpose lens, it has helped me go into those scary places and see in the end they are not that scary at all. Much of what is there makes up the whole person that is me. Being grounded in the foundations that I know and how I am comprised as an individual opens the door and sometimes the window to being vulnerable to what is meant to be more. I continually remain humbled at the work happening in my life and heart each day. The key is to remain open to what each day will show me. Sometimes there are big things to see and embrace, whereas there are days when it comes in small and still ways. Both are teachable moments and both involve a certain degree of vulnerability.

Let’s see where this journey continues to take me….


A full week reflection on the one-word journey of Purpose

purposeSo we have all logged one full week into this new year of 2015.  For many it meant a return to work and to some form of routine they may or may not have had a break from.  For me it was getting back in the pace of my work and preparing heart and mind for four client programs to prepare for between now and the end of February.  I will admit it was a bit of an adjustment given I had been off work on a recent holiday break.  Choosing the one-word journey for 2015, and more specifically the word Purpose, did make things feel and play out differently.  Keeping that word top of mind and having opportunities to share about it helped keep the lens clear and the focus sharp.

When I awoke in the morning there was a pause and a breath to remind myself about the focus of the day.  My interactions with others were different as my heart and mind were more open to things than they normally are.  In the past I could easily get on the bandwagon of complaining, worry, and negativity.  The Purpose focus and lens helped quell the all to easy choice to fall into those things.  I also felt that emotions I would experience prior were heightened, and thus my heart was impacted easily and at times tears I would have held back or stuffed were allowed to well up and flow along with smiles that would be small grow to be larger.  It really has been a journey to discovering more and more of my true self, simply by making a choice to be more purposeful in mind, heart, and ultimately actions.

I look forward to what this journey and choice will continue to teach me each day of this new year.  Not every day will be amazing and impactful, but I am seeing that there are lessons I can learn as long as I stay open.  Oftentimes it is the small things, whether a word spoken or a sign in nature, or even in the simple choice to be more aware of those around me.  I appreciate the many of you along for the journey and I welcome your comments and insight for we are all in this together in life.

The past four months and the year ahead – the journey is ongoing

storytelling-photography3It has been four months to the day since my last blog post. I feel as if I am returning from a sabbatical of sorts, but also returning to rekindle a place where I am able to put my journey into words. A lot has happened in four months, and much of it involves the growth of my heart, soul, and mind. I am nearing the end of a run of time off from my job and nearing the end of another year.

What has the past four months away taught me, let me attempt to put some of it into words:
People are a powerful part of our lives. I always knew this, but the last months have had moments where I have experienced and embraced it in ways I never knew. I have had loss close to me happen that felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath me and I fell flat on my back. Neither loss was anything I could see coming as unfortunately it involved the taking of one’s life. I felt numb, helpless, confused, and really didn’t know how to process it all. When I learned of the second loss I cried aloud for 20 minutes straight. I had forgotten the power of tears to both release and to heal. I let others around me know of my pain and the love and support I felt was simply remarkable and further underpinned the power of community and how we are not to be alone in this life. We were not created for that at all.
Grieving is a process and has many layers. As I was dealing with loss close to me within a month, I also ended up grieving with the loss of a family instrumental to me in my early days of faith. Their loss was one they could not predict nor understand, and to watch the eulogy given by the father brought me to tears. They reflected on the life and impact of their son who is now gone from them, and embraced the legacy he will leave. I again processed many emotions and came back to being grateful for life, for hope, for the love of others, and the love of my God to me. Resolve began to build in me for the continued journey in front of me each day.
I moved into a new place to call home just before Thanksgiving and it has been a change I didn’t know I needed to make until being in my new home for a little over a month now. I had lived in my old place for a little over three years and the last year was not the best. I felt trapped there and was wrongly accused of things I had no control over by the landlord. I stood my ground and stated the facts as I knew them, only to receive no response from them. That became the final straw and my decision to give my notice to vacate without having a place secured at the time of the notice. It was a leap of faith and trust in a God to provide. It was two weeks of researching, visiting, praying, and believing for what would be my new home. The place I landed is definitely home and I am glad I did not settle and trusted the peace of my heart in the decision. My move out was the smoothest and quickest of any I had ever had happen and I am happy to be on the other side of it all with time in the old place as a prior chapter of the journey.
So I sit here with close to fourteen hours left in this year. It has been a unique twelve months and it is part of the journey of my life. The last four months have held a lot and I am grateful for all I have learned. It has set me on a path for 2015 in a new light and focus. I am not one to make resolutions, but I am one to make goals. For the year ahead I have chosen a one word goal, and that word is PURPOSE. I want to live and walk out each day with purpose. Purpose in my words, actions, deeds, and the emotions of my heart. It will definitely be a year of discovery as I put the word into practice each day. I invite you along to hold me accountable and to be along for the ride as I see what’s in store.

The impact of three hours with Disney

DisneyParksRecently I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour at Disneyworld.  Most specifically it was at EPCOT Center.  As a meeting professional there are times when I am able to see things that help me do my job better as well as things that allow me to see options available to me to present to my clients.  Anytime I am able to step foot onto the grounds of a Disney park, regardless of location, it is always exciting.  I am a huge fan of Disney overall and its approach to service as well as creating memories for the many who step foot into their gates each and every day.  Even though it was Orlando in August and the heat index with humidity before noon was already in the 90s, I still enjoyed every minute of the tour.

The team taking us around at Disney that morning had a plan and paid attention to the details.  I have been doing this work for going on 15 years now, and I am continually impressed and learn when I get to experience Disney in action.  We were looking at some outdoor space to host a group and in the evening see fireworks and then moved “backstage” to a rear entrance of another space.  We saw some exposed things like trash cans and rears of buildings which really didn’t mean much.  The team let us on the tour know that they put up walls to mask things like this so as to ensure a great guest experience.  We then entered the space that was dimly lit and filled with wonderful air conditioning.  A cast member greeted us and offered something simple to each of us, a chilled small towel and a hand gesture towards chilled beverages under light.  Again it was a simple thing, but it reminded me how anticipating needs and feelings for those that attend events can make all the difference.

We sat down and were shown how the space we were in was flexible in both setup and production, making it feel small or large regardless of overall space.  We then learned about the various options across Disneyworld, its four parks and various resorts.  It is always interesting to see how a space that is one way during the day can be transformed into something else for guests of your event in the afternoon or evening.  We were almost done with our tour and our guide let us know that there was a special guest for us to see before we headed out.  The curtain behind us opened and behind it was the mouse himself, Mickey Mouse and a photographer.  All of us were adults, but you could see us all react and become young children again in that moment.  Those emotions were not forced upon us, they just happened all on their own.  Smiles abounded and fun ensued as we each had a short moment and photo with Mickey.  I loved that moment and stood back smiling ear to ear while others enjoyed.20140824_101553

We thought our time was done, but in true Disney fashion they had one more wow up their sleeve.  We left the space and continued backstage towards the rear of a large building.  They brought us inside to learn that we were going to experience one of their attractions, Soarin’.  I have been on the ride many times out west in California so I knew what was in store.  I was able to experience the attraction with those that it was their first time and the ride delivered yet again.  It was onto the bus to head back to the hotel and we were all smiles.  We did experience some pieces of Disney magic, but we also got to see how in the end attention to detail pays off.  Also we saw how taking the unexpected and presenting it in a fresh way encourages wonder and for some dreaming.  I was doubly blessed from those few hours.  I got to be in one of my favorite places and I also was reminded about how the simple things, executed well, are often some of the most impactful and profound.

Lessons Learned from the 2014 Global Leadership Summit – part 3

SusanCainAs we came back from lunch I was in eager anticipation for the next speaker, Susan Cain.  She is the author of the book Quiet about introverts and has one of the highest viewed TED talks on the internet.  As an introvert myself for the most part, I was looking forward to hearing from her  as she herself is an introvert.  Here are some key gleanings from listening to her:

  • One half to one third of the population is introverted
  • The mix of an introvert and extrovert have produced some of the most creative people around
  • Studies have shown that more ideas are produced on your own then in a group – thus we should work towards stopping the madness of constant group work
  • Forget networking and focus on service – how can you help the person or situation
  • Need to restore quiet to our culture
  • Work towards finding your complement, someone good at the stuff you are not
  • Find a role model

The next session was by Bryan Loritts on the topic of Instigating Change Through Personal Sacrifice.  It was a fiery session and here are some nuggets from what I heard:

  • Your vocation can become a viable vehicle
  • Blessings of God are not meant to be hoarded but to be shared
  • Vision has to be more than what will perish
  • In God’s organization, His laws are “get to” and not “have to”
  • You will never be able to work and do enough good things
  • Affluent societies have had a hard time addressing how much is enough

Patrick-Lencioni-HeadshotThe last session of day one was from one of my favorite Summit speakers and also someone who has spoken six times in the 20 years the event has been run.  It is Patrick Lencioni and he spoke on The Most Dangerous  Mistakes Leaders Make.  The message was simple and very impactful.  Here are some key learnings:

Three Mistakes:

  1. Becoming a leader for the wrong reason
    1. The key is to sacrifice yourself for the good of others even without ROI for you efforts
    2. If doing it for ourselves, it can leave a trail of tears
    3. If it’s not servant leadership, it’s just economics
  2. Failing to embrace vulnerability
    1. This destroys trust with the people you lead
    2. Your team knows your are sweating even before you tell them
    3. You can’t be too vulnerable as a leader
  3. Making leadership too important
    1. Easy to lose ourselves in leadership in work and crowd out our identity
    2. Ask the tough question “is my job and workers too important than you?”

Key: In the end it is all about pride and the antidote to that is humility.  Success as a leader is being docile to God.

I left day one with a lot of information in my heart and mind, but also a lot of encouragement and confirmation.  The next post will share how day two unfolded.  I welcome your reaction and input to what I have shared as I continue to process it all a week since attending.

Lessons Learned from the 2014 Global Leadership Summit – Part Two

2014_Faculty_Carly_FiorinaAfter a break following the opening session with Bill Hybels, we moved into our next session.  It was by Carly Fiorina and her topic was Defining Leadership.  Carly had spoken at the summit before when Bill interviewed her about her book chronicling her time at HP.  She shared some simple, yet profound things with us:

  • We learn life’s lessons through living life
  • Leadership is the same no matter what the context is
  • Human potential is the only limitless resource we have in the world
  • Many things can crush potential, bureaucracy being a big one. It causes leaders to turn in on themselves and often forget who they are there to serve in their organizations.
  • Unlocking potential is the highest calling of leadership
  • A leader changes the conditions and positions of an organization – they change the order of things
  • One of the most important aspects of a leader is not their words
  • Re-orgs are an illusion of progress – structure should always follow strategy
  • What gets measured is often what gets done
  • How success gets defined impacts how it is achieved
  • Culture all boils down to behavior – watch the walk to define the talk – leader has to set the tone and the value
  • 20/60 rule: 20% of people are change warriors, 20% of people are “hell no, I won’t go” – remaining 60% of people are skeptics – change never happens unless people are moved to change
  • Leadership is a profoundly human gift – we all have access to it and have the potential to lead
  • True leadership requires faith – love of God makes leadership easier as we are given the gift of humility, empathy, and optimism
  • Like faith, leadership is a choice and we should choose to lead

GE_Jeffrey-ImmeltThe session that followed was a one on one interview by Bill Hybels of Jeffrey Immelt.  Jeffrey is the current CEO of GE and had the following points to share while being interviewed:

  • You don’t delegate the most important thing the company is working on
  • It’s about the work first and then the career
  • Your peers ultimately decide how far you will go as a leader – they sense if you are a giver or a taker
  • Leaders need to be around a crisis early in their career – it is good for them
  • The best leaders go forward and not backward
  • People want to be led and know what they are impacting – give them a sense of the future
  • Leadership has only a certain amount of “shelf-life”
  • Train people to be self-confident and not fearful
  • All old white guys don’t have every great idea
  • In a time of crisis, you play to your team the most
  • When you lead a challenging business life you need a simple personal life
  • You can guarantee process but you can’t guarantee outcomes
  • Train yourself to regenerate as leadership is an intense journey into yourself

I know that following these two sessions I had really been presented with strong lenses by which to view a leader and the challenges before them.  I welcome your feedback on the above nuggets as I continue to unpack the learnings from the two days of sessions last week.  More to come indeed…..


Lessons Learned from the 2014 Global Leadership Summit – part one

GLSAttending the Global Leadership Summit put on by the Willow Creek Association has become a not-move event on my calendar for 9 years now.  This year I went into the event with an open heart and mind as to what I would hear content wise and how it would speak to my heart.  The two days delivered and each session provided applications for many areas of my life.  Like I did last year, I want to share key nuggets and ideas from each session in a series of blog posts.   I begin with day one of the summit and its opening session by Bill Hybels:

Bill spoke on the subject of Hard-Fought Leadership Lessons.  Below are some key points from my notes:

  • Everything that matters in this world rises & falls on leadership
  • True or false: all leadership is intensely spiritual – TRUE – leaders are visionaries by definition
  • Leaders with the highest level of passion/vision often have the lowest awareness of the team and its spirit. Disconnect occurs when the lens of “they don’t care” appears
  • Grunt: someone who works long hours, feels expendable and the their opinions don’t matter
  • Don’t make your people pay because you are so committed to vision
  • Culture can only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be
  • Get serious about training people who manage people
  • Use the start, stop, and continue approach in performance reviews – people won’t give their best until leader challenges them to do so
  • Be ruthless in your commitment to resolving conflict no matter how difficult – conflict is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship
  • True or false: great leadership is by definition relentlessly developmental – TRUE
    • 5 tools:
      • Put leaders in high challenging roles
      • Assign leaders to short term task forces
      • Provide leaders real-time feedback
      • Give leaders coaching and mentoring
      • Provide classroom seminars
    • Develop leaders by making them resourceful – it is the main tool in their arsenal and shows their learning agility
    • Find and develop leaders with a legacy mindset – they are the only ones to ride out rough patches as they are working for a long term vision
    • Legacy leaders leave something beautiful behind and they commit to a grander vision
    • Only get one shot at this thing called life – you have enormous freedom to do what you wish with your dash between your birth and death
    • What is your legacy play – what of value or beauty will you leave behind?
    • Legacy making always comes with a price tag – the great the vision, the greater the price tag
    • Important to set a block of time when you are not responsible for anyone else – allows you to hear God’s voice in an un-rushed way – it is a solitude break
    • Don’t be afraid to call for help and outside assistance

Needless to say the opening session always sets the stage.  I will continue to share notes and nuggets from other sessions this week and welcome your reactions to the many things I heard and learned.  The 2015 dates are going on my calendar this coming week so I can be set for year ten of attending.