The Power of Baby Steps

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What change have you been putting off, assuming it would be too difficult, too challenging, to different?

Recently, I “bit the bullet” and started taking action in an area that I knew would move me in the direction of my BIG goals.  I don’t think I expected dramatic results; I just knew I was desperate for a change.

Imagine my surprise when I started making great progress towards my goals due to opportunities that popped up separately from the action I was taking!

This is not the first time I’ve experienced big results from just small, simple steps.  Last fall, small changes in my diet and physical activity made a big difference in my health.  It seemed too big a change for the small effort I put in.

If you’ve been looking at a change you need to make and keep thinking it would be too small to even make a dent in your goals, I would encourage you to stop judging the results before you take the action.  Sometimes the solutions to our challenges are so much simpler than we think they are!

One of the biggest, most complex challenges facing us today are the many divisions separating us from each other – conflict of race and ethnicity, worldview, vision of the future, path to justice, reactions to injustice.

Sometimes I feel foolish for thinking that teaching people to form interpersonal relationships with people who are different from them could really make a dent in this ginormous problem, but what if it really is that simple?

If you want to learn to bridge these differences, I want to teach you!  I will teach a course on these very skills starting next Thursday, and I want you to join us.  The course is free at this time, and it is entirely online delivered in 6 live weekly sessions.  The sessions will be recorded and made available on the course website.

You have no excuse to not join.  Find the details and register at Troy Communications.

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What on earth is happening on the National Mall?

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This weekend, it appears the National Mall has been overrun by a music festival of sorts, a “harp and bowl” music style. 


There were over 50 individual tents, one for each state in the US as well as several regional tents.  It really was something to behold. 

When I stopped by the tent for my home state of Missouri, I discovered something about our state flag. The Missouri motto is “show me,” but on our flag it says “United we stand, divided we fall.”  I found this interesting considering my city’s history in race relations. 


St. Louis was the location of the Dred Scott case, the court case before the Civil War that declared Blacks to have no rights (understand that this is an oversimplification). More recently it has been the location of the Ferguson shootings and protests. 

Racial reconciliation seemed to be a recurring theme at this event, and the crowd was a mix of ethnicities. I was especially stirred to hear J T Thomas speak about his vision and hope for the Black community. 

I know people are tired of hearing that victims of violence are “in our prayers,” but from what I saw tonight, heartfelt prayers lead to action. Be encouraged – there is a grassroots movement that wants to see injustices righted and reconciliation accomplished. 

If you want to learn more about this gathering, look up Awaken the Dawn. It was pretty incredible. 

Is Getting There Half the Fun?

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I am thrilled that it is officially fall – my favorite season of the year!  (Though it hasn’t felt like it here with daytime temperatures in the 80s.)

Like many, I am in the midst of a season change in my life, as well.  Do you get as impatient with change as I do?  I’m ready to be; I’m not so excited about becoming.  In fact, I tend to pretend the change is finished and am frequently confronted with the reality of being in the middle of change, not the end of it.

To be honest, I struggle with taking the time to sit and reflect on this season of transition, what I’m experiencing and learning through the process.  I have always been a future-oreinted person.  However, when I do take that time to sit and quiet my mind, I find I am more at peace with myself and those around me.

In her book Unglued, Lysa Terkerst talks about “imperfect progress,” the idea that movement in the right direction is progress, even if it isn’t completely where we want to be yet.  I am learning to embrace the imperfect progress I am making in my life and relationships, even if I’m not yet ready to celebrate it.

What about you?  Are you the type of person who can celebrate small wins and enjoy the journey?  Or are you more like me, ready to arrive, not so excited about the process?  What keeps you grounded in the present instead of longing for the future?

A Passion to Connect Across Differences

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A memory popped up in my Facebook newsfeed this morning – it has been 2 years since I traveled to Haiti with a small team to do construction work and children’s programs in the countryside.  It was the first time in a long time that I had gone on such a trip, and it reminded me of what I loved, and what I didn’t love, about being in another country.

About 3 years ago, I made the decision to join the John Maxwell Team.  The clincher for me in this decision was knowing that John Maxwell had gone to Guatemala with a number of the team members to do transformational leadership training.

Their work impacted a nation, and I wanted to do that too!

Very soon, I will have that same opportunity, to go to the nation of Costa Rica with John Maxwell and other team members.  I can’t wait!  I know I was born for this.

Have you ever experienced that certainty before?  If you have, you can never be satisfied doing something else, no matter how noble.  That is largely how I’ve felt these past two years – dissatisfied.  I am hungry to live out my purpose – to train and challenge others into reaching their potential, not only in learning English but in learning how to build and maintain strong relationships that can move them forward towards success, however they choose to define it.

If you’ve ever wondered what it is that I do, what I’m so passionate about, now is your chance to experience it firsthand!  In just a couple weeks, I will delivering a live 6-week online course based on John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.

Of all John’s books that I’ve read, this one is special to me.  The first time I read it, several years ago, my first thought was, “This is my teaching style; this is how I manage my international classes!”  By teaching this course, I will be sharing with you the lessons I’ve learned through 20 years in the classroom, working with students aged 5 to 65, teaching grammar and vocabulary, presentations and negotiations.

Normally, I charge $150 for this course, but because I am so grieved by the disconnection I am seeing in the world around me, for this time only, I am offering the course for free.  I long to help people find ways to bridge the differences that are threatening to tear this nation apart.

If you are interested in the details or would like to register, you can check out the link at my website:  Troy Communications.  I would love to have you join us!

 

 

Connecting Takes Two 

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I talk a lot about being able to connect with others, but sometimes it’s simply not possible. 

It is possible to do all the right things – connective listening, asking questions, putting others first – and still not truly connect with the other person. 

I find that when the other person is so engulfed in their own perspective, it is impossible for them to see things from your perspective, no matter how good a connector you may be. True connection is a two-way street, and if there is no reciprocation, there is, at best, an incomplete connection. 

What should we do in these cases?  Do we just walk away? If the relationship is important, absolutely not!

For myself, I have chosen to play a long game. I know people can change and mature, and I look forward with hope to the day my connection efforts are reciprocated. 

An Oxygen Mask Day 

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Tonight I’m tired. I had an intense weekend with a family event and facing a recent loss afresh. 

Sometimes I have to step away from the troubles in our world and regroup. That was today. When I don’t take that time for myself, everything I put my hand to suffers. 

However, I often feel guilty for setting aside my outrage for the wrongs I see and for not pressing into the fight. 

I have learned that the troubles will be waiting for me when I’m ready to take them on again. The world won’t crumble if I take a day for myself. Do I really think I’m that important?

Instead of changing the world today, I cleaned out my closet – and to an extent my mind and soul. I’m now better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. 

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remember the airplane safety talk – put your own oxygen mask on first so you are able to help others. 

I can’t stand by …

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If all you do is pay attention to the news, you might think that the forces of division and hate are winning, but I don’t believe that’s actually the case.  I simply believe that most people have never learned the skills and principles needed to connect with other people across differences.

I find this state of affairs saddening and frustrating because those skills and principles aren’t terribly complex.  They simply require intentional application.

My career has been all about building connections

  • across cultures
  • between generations
  • with different political persuasions

I have developed the skills that we as a society need.  Guess what?  I’m also a teacher!

I have decided to teach a class on these skills, principles, and practices we need to develop in order to begin coming together as a nation.  It will be free and open to online participants, and it will begin on October 19.

Since I decided this just today, I don’t have any more information to share with you, but as the details come together, I’ll be sure to let you know.