Vision

Sorrow

Rejection is one of the most brutal experiences you and I can face.  To say it hurts like hell may not be far from the literal truth.

Psychologists have learned some things about rejection…

Research tells us that rejection travels the same neural pathways in the brain that physical pain does.  In other words, otherwise-unexplained physical pain may have been triggered by the experience or memory of rejection.

Rejection isolates us from people who didn’t reject us, unless we take steps to reconnect.

Rejection causes surges of anger and aggression (gangs, anyone?).

Finally, rejection makes us temporarily stupid.  It literally lowers your IQ and makes you unresponsive to reason for a time. (Translation:  Don’t make vows or major decisions – especially with the word “never” in it – after being rejected.)

In the biblical story of Joseph, you can find the roots of rejection, as I explored in the previous post.   Joseph lived a very uncertain childhood, marked by the death of his mother and the preferential doting of his dad.  He was a dreamer and, to his brothers, something of a goody-two-shoes. All of this set him up to be the objected of their jealousy and hatred.

What no one knew at the time, however, was that rejection can serve as a trap door, straight into the arms (and plans) of God.  And that’s where Joseph learned the truth about rejection. [click to continue…]

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Loneliness Concept - 3D

What did rejection look like to you on the school playground?  What about Junior High?  College?

What did rejection look like after you got married, or started a family?  What does it look like today in your workplace or your worship space?

Describing your experience with rejection is like describing an encounter with a snake.  Each experience is a little different, and the beast appears differently in every scene.  But in each case the result leaves a story to tell and an emotional experience to re-live or respond to.

I’ve had my own experiences, of course.  And I’ve seen it played out in countless lives…

Like the 59-year-old woman who said of her then-76-year-old mother, “Just once I wish I could hear my mother say I did something right.”

Or the only-child high school student who was rejected by his friends because he had a helicopter mother before the term was ever invented.  She meddled, and her son, whom she was trying to help and advance, was hated all the more.

Then there was the businessman who was rejected in the business world because he was part of a revolutionary approach to financial services, but was obnoxious about it.

I knew a pastor once who was rejected by the deacons in his church. After years of service, they felt that it was time for a change. So they gave him a deadline and asked him to find somewhere else to go. When he was unable to, they cornered him about resigning, and he turned the rejection tables back on them. Unbeknownst to them, he showed up one Sunday morning with has car packed, he got up at sermon time, explained that he’d been asked to resign, and walked out the door.  Ouch.

It may surprise you to know that some of the most memorable and powerful success stories in history are people whose lives arose from the ashes of rejection.  [click to continue…]

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Leading the Team Out of a Maze

Nobody talks about the life-changing leader who helped them raise their umbrella at the beach.  Influence happens only rarely in comfort zones or times of ease. Vision is not the starry-eyed product of Monday morning quarterbacks or couch potatoes. Adversity was made for leadership.  And leaders were made for adversity.

Seth Godin puts it this way: [click to continue…]

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Sequoia 1Seventy miles above the earth’s surface, a satellite captures the image of a single majestic sequoia tree, rising 300 feet above the barren wasteland that once was California.

Okay, just kidding.

About California, anyway.

It really is a sequoia tree.

Not 300 feet tall, yet.

More like 3 inches. [click to continue…]

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Your Purpose Green Road Sign

Welcome back to the tour.  Hope you enjoyed the break, and I hope you have a good, roughed up version of a personal mission statement.  We’re ready to move to the advanced part of the lab.  Before we go in, remember, this is MY lab and it’s still messy.  Also remember that this work was done because of a felt need for change.  If you are absolutely satisfied that your personal mission statement is something you can organize your work and life around, with conviction and passion, leave it alone.

Oh… and if you haven’t taken the time to do a little soul work and put your mission statement together, back up to the first part of the tour and get caught up.  Otherwise, we may hijack your tombstone and just say, “He (or she) was too busy to wonder why.”

Ready to go in?  Let’s to this. [click to continue…]

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Old compass on the beach with sand and sea

President Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forgot the errand.”

Have you forgotten the errand lately?  Maybe it’s time for a look under the hood.

At least it is for me.  And maybe for you, too.

I’m involved in some pretty big initiatives lately (you’ll be seeing more of that soon).  And those initiatives are added to an already-very-busy life. Never a day goes by when I don’t lay my head on the pillow with plenty more to do tomorrow that I left undone today.  Most days I’m fine with that.  But lately in the middle of all the time and resource challenges I’ve found myself frustrated, more tired than I should be, and actually feeling anxious about some things that should have me feeling excited and hopeful.  And in the middle it all is this nagging question:

Is this really what I’m about?

That brings me back to something I’ve been pretty passionate about for a long time – a clearly-defined sense of personal mission or purpose. [click to continue…]

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Misty november morning at lake

Hey… you on the treadmill or the carousel.

Yes, you.    I have a question for you.

Remember the time you had an idea that would make a difference in your world?  Remember when you aspired to something better?  Something richer?  Something gloriously possible because you imagined it so?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that idea?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were on a mission – when you had a sense of calling and clarity, and you even gave the G-word as your source?  Remember when you stepped out in confidence because God told you to?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that calling?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were enflamed with passion or infused with hope because you could see it, taste it, enjoy it even before you experienced it?  Remember when you were so excited you could hardly sleep at night?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that passion?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were determined to get something done – to solve a problem or meet a need or advance a cause?  Remember when you swore that you were done with idle living and wasted time?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that determination?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were surrounded by can-do people who spoke into your life with encouragement and faith and offered to help you get where you were going? Remember when they convinced you that you had what it took to get it done?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that connection? Whatever happened to your dreams? [click to continue…]

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Diaper Derby

I never laid eyes on you before.
Never had dreams come true before.
But there’s always a time for a new beginning.
Our multiplied sorrow now is through.
And all of the waiting’s over, too.
And it’s been worth it all, for this new beginning.

And who is like the Lord, who turns my mourning into dancing,
And holds all things together, in His hands?
He whispered, “Let there be…” and He began the world all over.
But this time He laid its future in my hands.
(Unfinished song I started 30 years ago today, when my baby girls were born)

Your life is an adventure in starting over.

You may prefer maintenance mode.  You may want to pretend that you’re in perpetual motion.  You may claim to be too old, too successful, too far along, or too [insert excuse here], but the fact is, your entire life is a collage of cycles and rhythms.

And that involves starting over. [click to continue…]

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Vision (2)

Years ago, when corporate giants Shearson-Lehman and American Express merged, they ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal with the headline, “Vision.”  Then they gave my favorite definition of all time:

Vision is having an acute sense of the possible. It is seeing what others cannot see. And when those with similar vision are drawn together, something extraordinary occurs.

Something in my soul still comes alive when I read those words, written about 30 years ago.  Nothing in leadership is more vital to the energy creation of an organization or its leaders than vision – that “acute sense of the possible.”

Over the years, of course, as with anything vital, I have also seen plenty of posers – people who used the allure and “sexiness” of the idea of vision as tools of manipulation, ego promotion, or cotton candy management (all flavor and no substance).

Having just had a great consulting experience with a wonderful church congregation in South Carolina, where we did some serious vision creation and casting (still a work in progress there), I have some ideas flowing about vision in leadership.  Take a look, and consider how these may apply to your leader or leadership and your organizations. [click to continue…]

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Leadership TestIn his profile of University of Alabama quarterback A. J. McCarron, John Wertheim describes a scene that took place when the record-setting quarterback first arrived and joined the team as an 18-year-old freshman.

At his first intrasquad scrimmage McCarron was grouped with walk-ons, facing the defensive starters.  He was sacked early and often, and wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t even remove his cleats before marching into Coach Nick Saban’s office afterward.

“I need to talk to you,” he snapped.

“O.K.,” said Saban.

“You want me to show you what I can do, how I can play? Well, I can’t do s— when you put me with walk-ons who can’t even block. I don’t understand why you don’t put me with the [starters].”

“Why? Because today we were testing your leadership,” Saban said, barely looking up. “And you failed. Miserably.”

Life is filled with little tests (and big ones), and they aren’t always what they seem. Tests of faith. Tests of skill or knowledge. Tests of character.  Tests of performance. And yes, tests of leadership.

Most of these tests reveal themselves in the rearview mirror, not in the windshield. It’s only after the fact that we can truly see them for what they are.  What we can do, however, is use hindsight to identify when others faced tests of leadership and learn from their successes or “miserable failures.”  Here are five ways to recognize when your leadership was being tested: [click to continue…]

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