I’ve been studying the idea of vulnerability and how that plays out in our relationships. Brene Brown has some incredible insights on this tough topic. Much of this post is based on her research.
One of the things that keeps us from being vulnerable is shame. Shame thrives in secrecy, silence and judgement. However when we introduce empathy, shame cannot grow. So in order to be open and vulnerable we need to be around people that are great at empathizing and we need to learn how to be empathetic with others. Learning how to be empathetic is one of the most powerful ways to improve your relationships.
In order to be empathetic we need to be able to see the world as others see it. This is all about perspective, being able to take the perspective of another person and not our own. It’s being able to listen to someone and not interject our own experience but to really what to hear it from them. It’s not one upping the person by sharing what you did or how you messed up. It’s being able to realize that our lens of life and our experiences are different than others and being OK with that.
Empathy also requires that we are nonjudgmental. Most of us are judgmental and we are usually judgmental in areas where we are vulnerable to shame. We tend to judge people that are worse than we are so that we feel better about ourselves. We do that because we are looking for validation that at least I’m not as bad as so and so.
Empathy is not our default or natural mode, it’s a skill that must be worked on and developed in order for this to happen naturally. Empathy is usually very subtle, it can be just a knowing look or going to be with someone in a time of crisis instead of calling to express sympathy.
When we empathize with someone, we go to that dark place with them, we don’t flip on the lights and try to cheer them up and fix the problem or make light of the situation. It’s like walking up to your friend that is in a hole and going down into the hole with them, but knowing how to get back out of the hole because it’s not your hole. Sympathy is walking up to the hole and asking what happened. When they tell you, you express that your sorry to hear that, that’s a terrible thing. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. There is a big difference.
When we empathize with someone, we are creating a safe environment for people to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is one of the most accurate measures of a persons courage. To be vulnerable takes bravery, because it is walking into uncertainty, it’s taking a risk and it’s exposing your emotions. It takes courage because the reality is you can get hurt when you do this with someone that is not able to empathize or keep things confidential.
However if you live in secrecy, and silence you might feel safe, but are most likely miserable. When we are vulnerable we are our true self. We are showing that we are imperfect, messed up, awkward and goofy. The greatest relationships are the ones where you can be all of that and the person loves you even more.
So if your looking to improve your relationships, first learn how to empathize better with the people around you. Work on those skills of listening and trying to understand their perspective. Don’t try to fix them or the situation, but let them know we can do this together. Then work at being vulnerable with the people in your life. Expose yourself emotionally by being honest about your struggles and your shame. When we do that there is incredible freedom and life when we push past our fear.
One of the questions that runs through our minds is; am I good enough? Am I good enough feeds our need to perform, please and pretend. Am I good enough pushes us to prove ourselves and show people that we matter. This can be very dangerous to our emotional and mental health. It also damages our spiritual lives.
We all grow up with dysfunction. There are certain values that you grew up observing and statements that were made to you that have affected your life. If you only got attention or approval if you did something good or achieved something then you will continue to think your only worthy if you perform and are productive.
When we experience conditional love it feeds this question of am I good enough?
The truth is in God’s eyes we are good enough. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love for us in truly unconditional. We are good enough. When we can step away from this question and say yes I am good enough our focus can be on the right things. We know we can improve, but that does not make us more worthy or valuable as human beings. Our worth is not found in our achievements, its found in our character.
Being good enough is the wrong question because it causes us to question our value and worth. We all have stories that are undesirable, painful and shameful or embarrassing. When we can walk into those stories and accept them as part of us, we can experience the power of our worthiness. Those stories don’t define us but we can use them for good. That’s what God does every day, brings good out of the bad. When we can love ourselves despite those stories and see our worth as a human being then we can love others and encourage others along the way.
God says that we are good enough just as we are, dysfunction and all. He loves us unconditionally and desires for us to grow and connect with Him every day. So stop asking yourself if your good enough, God created you and planned for you to be a part of this world at this particular time in history. You are enough simply because you are you.
I found this in my leadership files and wanted to share this. Not sure where I got it, but some great reminders for everyone that has influence and is leading other people.
15 Leadership Tips:
The greatest leaders in history are the ones that had a mindset to serve others. There has been a lot written about servant leadership and many today try to practice being a servant leader. But just how practical is that in the real world. When you have to get things done, ship your product or close the sale, how can you serve?
It can be hard when the heat is on to be thinking about serving others. Yet if you want to be great you must learn the fine art of serving others as a leader. Here are just a few things I believe are important in having a servant leader mindset.
A Balanced Life
Are You Courting Burnout?
What do you do to keep your life balanced?
THREE STEPS TO BALANCE:
When you know your purpose it brings better focus to your life. It determines the patterns in your life and the disciplines you pursue. Finding your life purpose is a process that everyone should go through. It will take some time and effort but it’s worth the time and energy. A great place to start is to answer this question: What would I want my family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to say about me at my funeral? Not what would they say now, but what would you want them to say. Think about that and start writing down some things.
When we understand our purpose better, it helps to simplify our lives. It allows us to eliminate the things that distract us and say yes to the things that further that purpose. I my own life I’ve developed a purpose statement of Leading myself and others to grow in Faith, Character & Leadership. That statement drives what I do at work, at home and in my spare time. It’s what I write about in my posts, it’s what I talk about with the people around me.
Balance in life is possible if we practice life according to a single priority, and that single priority is our purpose.
FOUR DIMENSIONS IN LIFE
Balance is achieved when we establish, build, and maintain capacity in each of the four dimensions of life. How much time and energy do we give to each of those areas of our lives? That will only happen if we are intentional about focusing on each of those areas of our lives.
Reflect and rate yourself on the four dimensions in your life:
Couch Potato ………………………………………………………………………………………………..Cross Fit Freak
Take this quiz to gauge whether or not you’re headed for burnout. (Pay attention not only to your answers, but also the way you react to the statements.)
1) Despite getting adequate sleep each night, I wake up tired.
2) Lately, I’d define myself as moody.
3) Increasingly, I see the negative, or what needs to be fixed, with my work and others’. Positive comments and thoughts are rare.
4) My vision or purpose is becoming blurry, or harder to focus on, despite being clear in the past.
5) If I were totally honest with myself, I’d say I’m going through the motions at work or home, rather than contributing everything I can.
6) I shorten (or wish I could do so) my workday just to leave work or get away.
7) I lengthen many workdays to get the job done, instead of delegating or managing my time or mindset more effectively.
8) I cut down or stop other activities (such as hobbies or other rejuvenating activities) in order to keep up with work responsibilities.
9) I don’t have time to reach out to connect with colleagues,mentors or friends on a regular basis.
10) Relationships within and outside of my work are not as strong as they were.
1-4 “True” answers: You should be in the normal ebb and flow of business ownership, or work. Continue to find ways to improve.
5-7 “True” answers: Burnout is rearing its ugly head. Within the next week, schedule two days away from work to reconnect and clarify your vision or purpose, and identify at least 5 action items that you can do to change the course and refuel your engines.
8-10 “True” answers: Stop, your in trouble. Stop everything and take a deep breath. In the next week get away for awhile to revisit your vision and purpose. Reconnect with colleagues and mentors. Write out your vision and an action agenda to get you back on track in doing what is important.
TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING BURNOUT AND INVITING BALANCE:
Where do you need to focus more and be more balanced?
NewPointe Community Church is currently in a series called “Life Verse”. A life verse is a Scripture that someone keeps coming back to over and over again and that guides them in their life. As I thought about that several passages of Scripture came to my mind. As I thought about which one I should write about I realized that this Scripture is the one that I often quote and talk about. I’ve used it at weddings and funerals and in mentoring sessions with individuals and couples. This Scripture is challenging to me and a constant reminder of how I should live my life.
It’s often called the Love chapter because it gives us a very clear description of what love is. It’s not just one verse, it’s actually 4 verses. So here it is:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.”
I’ve often put my name in place of love, which makes it personal and very humbling, because I realize that I have a ways to go in understanding and living out this idea of love. So here are some points about this powerful passage of Scripture.
So here is the challenge. We can all grow in this area of love because non of us are Jesus. Love is the key to life because when everything else is stripped away love remains. Whether it’s loving other people or loving God, that is what changes lives. When we allow God’s love to penetrate and take over our hearts, our behavior starts to change, our thoughts start to change and our perspective starts to change.
If your relationships are not working ask yourself how much love you have in your heart. If there is not much there, then turn to God and ask Him to fill it up with that kind of love.
Verse 8 starts off with this – “Love never fails.” God never fails, he never gives up on us and always believes the best about us even when he knows the worst about us. Love Well!
Summer is a great time of the year. For many families it’s when you take vacation and spend a bit more time together. It’s easier to have social functions with friends, cooking outs, camp fires, camping, outdoor sports and more. I’m on a softball team and love to get away and have fun with some other people.
I remember summer as a kid, not having to go to school and spending long days out exploring my grandpa’s farm. I spent hours looking for arrow heads and flint after the fields where plowed and was even known to go skinny dipping in the creek from time to time.
Summer for me has become a time of building. I try to approach each summer as a time to sharpen myself as a follower of Christ, a husband, a leader and a friend. It’s a time to work on relationships, read good books, plan for the rest of the year and relax and have a little fun.
I try to read a lot, because that is one of the ways I learn and keep my mind sharp. Each summer I try to put together a reading list that I try to knock out over the months of June, July and August. Here is my list for this year:
Have a great summer but remember to include some reading. Even if you are not a reader, try to read one book this summer. Reading helps you to focus, use your brain and relieve stress. Reading also feeds you spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. If you want to change, grow or just get better as a person, then start reading. If your into sports you read all the article about your favorite teams, so you can do this – Give it a try this summer.
If your in any kind of leadership position, whether leading your family or a major corporation, you want to be productive and get results. You want to see your family communicate and grow closer together and for your children and spouse to develop and grow. You want your company to be profitable and your employees to succeed. You want to deliver on what you promise.
There is always resistance to getting results or productivity. Every day we wake up and that resistance is there to greet us. Here are some of things we must face everyday and overcome in order to be productive and get results.
So what can we do to overcome these forms of resistance and be productive on a consistence basis?
Everyone can improve in this area of productivity and getting results. Think about one thing that if you finished it would bring great results or move you further along as an individual, family or organization. Now go do it.
Being healthy emotionally is hard work. It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality and feel like everyone is against you. In their book The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman give some clues on when we are stuck in the victim cycle or living below the line.
So how do we avoid this victim mentality? How do we get unstuck from these destructive patterns and habits. The keys are taking responsibility for your own actions and bringing accountability into your life.
According to the authors you can improve your own ability to remain “above-the-line” by watching for the following clues that indicate accountable attitudes and behavior.
Whether at work or at home staying above the the line of accountability is vital to emotional and relational health. When we are below the line we ignore or deny reality, we say it’s not my fault or my job, we point fingers, we say we are confused, we cover our tails and we wait & see. When we are above the line we see the issue, we own our part, we work on a solution and we take action on what we can control.
Make a commitment today to be more accountable and responsible in all your relationships. Work at staying above the line and don’t focus on things that are out of your control. Focus on your own thoughts and behaviors and own your part of the problem. Get help and counsel from others to help keep you above the line. If you do that you will grow in character and leadership and be much healthier all the way around.
I was watching some video’s on how to shear sheep. It’s pretty interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a try. If you want to watch click here. The reason I was watching the video’s is that I had heard that sheep have to be sheared before summer or they could actually die from the heat. So I started researching this to find out more.
The first time a sheep is sheared it puts up quite a fight and I am sure feels like its in danger. However once they experience what its like after being sheared they are much more cooperative the next time. They soon discover that without all that wool it’s much cooler and they don’t get sick as easily. So the next time they sit quietly while the shearing happens, because they know they are not going to be hurt, but helped.
As I was thinking about that I realized that many of us need to be sheared as well. We have weaknesses that cause us to fail and struggle and overheat/stress out. We need to have the layers of sin, bad attitudes, hurts and hang-ups cut away. But when someone tries to do that we fight and kick and are scared or angry. You see we can’t shear ourselves, we need the help of other people. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That is the point of accountability, caring enough about another person to respectfully shear away the layers of life.
If you want to be sheared here are three things that must happen:
The cool thing about this whole process is that when you allow someone else to sharpen you or shear you, you can in turn sharpen and shear them. That only happens when you you are open and honest. If you hide your stuff it can’t get sheared. Happy shearing!