Through a window

door-windowMisunderstood? Left confused? Don’t feel like your point was well taken?

Every conversation is complex in nature. We have moods, influences, and circumstances they play a role in our communication. And that is just our side. The other person has a whole set of those from their side. Complications only increase with each addition person involved.

Taking an inventory first of our own helps us approach communications with a better possible outcome. Even then things can go sideways. What do we do then?

One of the hardest things to do is to take responsibility and reassess not only our state of mind (the results often of the above inputs) and try a different method. The other person could be at fault but is easier to make adjustment ourselves and if possible express how they may adjust as well.

It may be easier to walk through the front door but good communication often takes a climbing through the window.

Story and choice

nature-sky-sunset-manWhat kind of story are you living? A question like that can change everything if you are honest. It changed mine.

It was the summer of 2001, and I had taken a break from “valley life”. I was running in between my job as a fisheries biologist on the Oregon coast and the evening hatch on my favorite river. My sister’s house in the mountains for much of my 20’s was a perfect launching spot for many adventures. As a new dad, I knew I needed to get out into the woods to recharge. I had a lot of demands on my life, but at that moment, I had fishing on my mind.

As I went past a coffee table, a book caught my eye. It was normal to see new books scattered about the house. Some often were yet to be published. My brother-in-law was a consultant for the publishing world and received early copies all the time. My niece was sitting there and I she saw the book I had noticed. On the cover was a man jumping between two rocks in what had to be a wilderness landscape. It was the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. “That could easily be you, Uncle John,” she said. I stopped for a second without picking it up and though “interesting”. It would be two years later until I read it after my mom gave it to me as a gift. I had already become hooked on Eldredge a year before after reading his book he co-authored with Brent Curtis called Sacred Romance.

Reading Eldredge’s work change my story for good for so many reasons. Most of all I started to live within a larger story, one that had an impact far beyond my trials.

So this May I am looking forward to seeing Eldredge, Dan Allender, Jon Dale and his three sons on the big screen. For one night the film they shot about their latest great adventure will be on big screens across the country.

I had a chance to ask Eldredge a few questions about the new project. You can read those on the Huffington post here.

Story: Power tool

Close FriendsSharing our story can be one of most powerful tools we possess. People reflect on their lives, dreams, struggles and trails when we share our own.

Every story is not for everyone. Many are too fresh to share. We may still be in the middle of one, and while there may be lessons already learned, those lessons need time to ripen into solid narratives.

Other stories are for trench mates, those trusted friends, and allies who know our story thoroughly.

And if our stories are truly our most powerful tools we should treat them with the same care as a craftsman does their finest tools of the trade. We need to sharpen them, know them well and most importantly when to use them or not.

Wait for it

“It Looked Like A Normal Saturday, But Wait Till You See What Happened”
“What Happens When A Duck Finds An Empty Drink Bottle? You Won’t Believe It”
“A Man Loses His Temper In Public. What Happens Next Will Make You Cry”

These are clickbait headlines. Ones I made up.

picnicWe are falling for real ones like this every day online. Why? Because we are curious.

The best stories are not the sites associated with these headlines. The best stories are the ones people will tell us if we ask.

Today I met a young woman who is about to embark on a Parisian adventure for nine weeks this summer. This alone lead me to ask at least a dozen questions. She and her cousin have been saving since they were 7 for the trip. I was left amazed, inspired and curious to know more. And I WILL be following along as her adventure starts.

Most people have learned to keep their heads down, hide, and never trust their story to others. Too many have suffered from doubters or even those who were too busy to listen and care.

That is where we have the power. Our curiosity fuels it. We are meant to connect.

Will you join me? Instead of falling for that next click bait headline lets put down the phone or tablet. Let’s close the laptop and start asking questions.

In the silence

conversation between friendsThe modern world abhors silence. It is something to be filled. But in silence, there is time to think, formulate, and measure. Lately, I have been enjoying podcasts on longer drives. Some of my favorites include interviews. Something I have noticed is that the better more meaningful episodes have guests who pause before answering a question. Often these pauses are long. To our modern ears, they feel foreign.

Did the app die?
Did I lose connection?
How many bars do I have?

That part of us that wants the next thought fast, the quick replies in our conversations, gets terribly uncomfortable. We squirm until the silence ends.

My grandad told me once to think everything over twice before it is said. See how it sounds in your head before anyone else hears it. This practice goes against our fast paced age.

How many things said but later regretted could have been avoided? Could we have better formulated that statement?

Our conversations might take longer, but they will be richer.

Responsibility for the taking

I hear a lot of grumbling (even my own) as the political parties approach picking their candidates for the 2016 presidential election.

What we need innovative responsibility for real change in our country.

Are looking for the next president who promise through authority to “make america great again”, “Heal + Inspire + Revive”, “reigniting the promise”, “rebuild the american dream”, put “people over politics”? On and on they go (you can see all of the 2016 slogans here).

But what is needed is not authority. We need responsibility. And the great part is we already have it if we are willing to take it.

Here is a list of 25 ways that today through taking responsibility we can make ourselves and our country better.

-Visit a veterans hospital once a week and hang out with a vet.
-Ask someone over 80 to tell you their story, then (with their permission) tell it to the rest of the country through a vlog, short film or blog.
-Hold a meetup on a hot topic where everyone is invited and they agree to some civility. We have a lot! (gun control, marriage equality, health care, mental health crisis, homelessness…)
-Get your passport and use it.
-grab a coffee with someone who has the opposite beliefs as you.
-Volunteer to be tutor so an adult can learn to read.
-Take a class on the American political process
-Vote (this little action set you apart from half of those in the US)
-Read more and talk less
Learn a new language
-Visit washington DC
Go offline once a week.
-Find something remarkable to do and ask others to join you.
-Educate yourself on all the candidates and issues (start at Project Vote Smart.
-Resist road rage
-Get to know your neighbors
-Watch less TV
-Learn to code
Get out of debt (stop using credit today)
-Take a history course (or pick your choice from free Stanford classes)
-Be inspired by past stump speeches
-Create your own media and news plan
-Make a campfire or patio fire and invite friends over with one rule: no gossip
-Don’t take yourself too seriously
-Tell others your own story (know your own story).

None of these need authority. All of them take responsibility. So take it.

Over the next month some of my daily posts (including this one) will be assignments from a leadership class I am taking from Seth Godin.

Warding off the sweet stuff

A proverb caught my eye the other day. “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” Proverbs 18:8

fireGossip is an easy snare to fall into. And like fast food it is readily available today. Magazine racks survive on it. Daytime television and talk shows would lose their luster if it went away.

I love camp or patio fires. Some of my favorite conversations have been had around them. The really good conversations while looking into the flames and embers are those that turn toward personal story sharing and conversation, not the easy fuel like gossip or talk about others behind their backs. And we have all partaken in those.

But choosing to ask the harder questions or simply listening to what a good friend will share if given time can result in a banquet of fine hours. It is delicious because it was not cheaply gained by bringing others down or delighting in the mocking of others. Stories are told and desires to make new grand adventures are birthed.

I’ll end with another proverb on gossip. “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” Proverbs 26:20

So here is to long lasting fires made from connection.

The prickly ones

ouchIt isn’t the best friend or people we would choose to be stranded on the desert island with that help us grow the most. It is the prickly ones.

I am sure you have heard this one.
Q: How do you pick up a porcupine?
A: Very carefully.

It is the same with the prickly person, those who are just not easy to be around or are always someone who upsets us. They take care. No one hacks us off quicker. Blood pressure easily rises and we are tempted to dismiss them all together any time we interact with them. Worse yet we avoid them at all cost.

Turning things around we find that we may be just as prickly to them as they are to us. Also, we can take apart our reactions and see many things that we could easily change. Just a small movement toward this issue can result in tremendous forward movement in our relationships. And if we can handle the small actions we gain bravery to tackle the bigger ones too.

Here is are some places to start.

Earlier posts: Taking ourselves too seriously and Yourself removed

Our relation styles (From Become Good Soil)

Pose revisited

maskAround this time of year I begin to prepare for some talks I give at a men’s conference I have helped lead since 2005. One of the topics I usually speak on is posing (how men will begin to take on a persona, even at a young age, to cover up, survive and get through life). It is a topic I think a lot about. I have seen in my own life how freeing it has been to realize my own poses. Living in a pose keeps me from creating from my heart and giving to others from who I really am.

This morning I was thinking of another aspect of posing. It also has a great impact on those around us. Depending on the depth of the pose we can both isolate those we should be drawing closest to by pretending to be something/someone else. If a pose works well we will live in it for years and eventually lose our true identity completely. Every one does it to some degree. The more we can see this the more we can become free of it.

Here is some more exploration I have written about on the topic.

Striking a pose

Yourself removed

As a continuation on this topic of not taking ourselves too seriously a great practice is removing ourselves completely from something we have deemed extremely important.

rocketFor example, that team project, mission, initiative that you have worked so hard on has an important word in it.Team. What would happen if you were removed suddenly?

If it all goes off well, even better than you imagined, then you can bet you did not take your role too seriously. Now I am not saying your role wasn’t critical. If you lead well, the critical part was built in already. I am sure the team would have missed you but a well trained team who has been given permission to break things, make the big decisions, cut things, innovate, will easily fill the gaps.

It s a great test of both the team and the leader.

Go ahead, call in sick and see what happens.

Over the next month some of my daily posts (including this one) will be assignments from a leadership class I am taking from Seth Godin.

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