First Lead Yourself

I had a conversation with a young leader who was stepping down from a leadership role a few weeks ago. In a moment an incredible self-awareness she said “I can’t lead other people when right now I can’t lead myself”.

If you are any type of leadership culture you will resonate with this and have heard it before.

This time  I heard it, thus got  me thinking. We are all works in progress and will have areas where we are doing well, and areas where we are struggling, so we can’t always lead ourselves well.

However here are some areas where if we can’t lead ourselves we will undermine any leadership role we are in.

So for the next few weeks I am going to unpack some of them. Heres the first one.

Leading Your Emotional World

Leaders can’t be emotionless robots or people who are always up and peppy. However I do believe we need some control of our emotional world.

This doesn’t mean we can’t have a tough day, express grief, anger or sadness. It does mean though that we need to have enough self-control that we can shelve those emotions when the situation requires it.

Leaders need a level of emotional stability so people around you can trust and rely on you.

For me the last thing I want is my team on egg shells wondering what sort of mood I am going to be in today (I am really hoping after this blog I don’t find out this is the case !)

Leaders need to be people who can handle problems and issues without losing control of their emotional world. We also need to understand how what is going on in our physical body affects our mood and brain function. Sometimes the situation is not as bad as your response, you just need food or sleep.

Part of this is knowing what the release valves on your emotions are.

At work if I know I am starting to red line I will go the kitchen at work, make a cup of tea , while its brewing I  go to the bathroom and tell God that I am not coping. Some how admitting it and asking for help is the first step towards gaining control. Then I usually find that either my perspective changes, peace comes or I get a God idea and I can get back into it.    ( Some days I drink a lot of tea)

At peak times I make sure I am walking the dog and praying every morning. I stay committed to swimming laps three times a week – I make sure I have fun times with good friends.

The things you do to release your emotional pressure valve will be different to mine – but you need to know what they are.

The last thing we need is for people we lead to experience outbursts of negative emotions on a regular basis because we are not in control. (We will all still lose the plot occasionally – which requires an apology I wrote about it here Say Sorry ) .Emotional stability creates trust and security in teams.

How do you keep your emotions under control ? What are you release valves, do you know when to use them ?  How do you healthily express emotions ?

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey! )

 

A Challenge for Your Heart

 

IMG_5785
This week for me at C3 College it is graduation week. This week I will mark a mountain of work and some people will pass and some people will fail.

Some people will fail because of dumb decisions, others because of life circumstances and still others because of learning or medical problems.

As I have these tough conversations with people (I have written about why and how to do tough conversations) I will get a glimpse into where their security lies.

When we are faced with a challenge or even a failure it reveals our hearts.

I think about this regularly, and I know it is so easy to slip into having our security in things that come and go, things that are transient and things that are so dangerous to put your security in.

So often it is not like we decide to put our security in something. Things just creep into our psyche and begin to define us.

Suddenly

Our achievements are so crucial we tell everyone about them

Our looks and clothes are way too important

Our roles or jobs become our identity

Our friendship group defines how we see ourselves

Our houses, cars, possessions tell us who we are … and the list goes on.

The problem with all these things is that they can be taken away in a moment, sometimes just through life circumstances, and we found ourselves adrift. We don’t know who we are anymore.

The other problem is that these things become cages, we have to work hard to maintain, because otherwise all of who I am comes crashing down.

We need to constantly be going back to having our security firmly in the One who never changes, the One who always loves us no matter what, the only real security in this life. The One who is for me when it seems like the world (or just the grades and the Assistant Principal ) are against me.

This week I will watch people who have their security in Christ make it through. They may not graduate now, but their foundations will mean they will hold their heads high, they will often re-do work or complete later. Those without their security in Christ will disappear and hide which is such a shame.

I think particularly of three young men who are part of the Class of 2016, who have repeated, changed streams, to find out where their talents and giftings lie. They have done an incredible journey, they have at points humbled themselves and allowed us to guide them. They have gained so much and their foundations are in who Jesus is, Christ in them the hope of Glory !

Enjoy the photos of the students – it’s a sentimental time of year !

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)

 

Three things I Know about Transitions

In the survey I took of you, I was asked to write about dealing with transitions . Coincidentally I have recently had some changes in my own world and watched some people very close to me walk through some major transitions.

We would like to think that transitions are like the photo above took of  Narabeen Lake at dawn. Just darkness receding and the sky moving through beautiful colours to bring a new a new day.

The reality is quite different here is what I have learned as I have stumbled through many  transitions

  1. Transitions are awkward

They are in between phases and so by nature they are awkward. You are not yet gone from one place, and not yet in the next. Instead of a beautiful sunrise – it is more  like having one foot on a slow moving train, one foot still on the platform – it involves lots of awkward hopping around, and hoping you won’t fall into the gap!

There are awkward situations and awkward conversations in transitions.

2. Transitions need lots of communication

In order for transitions to be smooth they require lots of communication to make sure everyone is on the same page and to give everyone a road map to navigate the transition. So much better to over communicate in this process. This is the most obvious time where in an absence of communication people assume the worst. Expectations in these phase can be so difficult to manage and the only way is through open and honest communication.

Transitions require conversations that can be tough.It will help to try to keep even serious things light and not too intense if you can do it. I would say I have a 50/50 success rate on this – I am hoping to get better at it.

3. Transitions are an emotional roller coaster

For the people making the change there is a mix of excitement for the new thing, doubts about the decision, fear and sadness of what is being left behind etc, etc, etc For the people effected there can be there can be a whole range of emotions from peace to anger and everything in between.

It is an emotionally charged time, lots of grace is required, and some good self care. Many times in the last few weeks I have told myself “you are not that upset/angry/ worried about this – you are just emotional stretched because of  the changes in your world”.

Knowing you are on a roller coaster doesn’t make it any less freaky, but it does mean you can prepare and be aware of what is happening.

( Really hoping this helps tomorrow night as I watch my little nephews walk through immigration to go to the African Mercy for a year- must remember the tissues)

These are the things that I know about transitions – they are tricky – but a normal part of our lives. Hopefully understanding them a bit better can help us hop through them with as much grace and dignity as possible.

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)

 

 

 

5 Tips to Juggling

One of the things I was asked in my recent survey is how I do the juggle. The juggle that many of us do – balancing family, friends, work, second jobs, church commitments  and looking after ourselves.

To be honest this week I have failed badly at it. I almost missed a dear friends engagement, I messed up some dates that I booked people for and I tried to pray for new students for 2014 !! I blame it on a migraine, a move and inhaling too many cleaning products last week.

Normally I do manage to juggle quite a few things and enjoy it – so here is a few things I have learned about doing the juggle

  1. It takes planning – I spend time at the beginning of each week figuring out where all the pieces are going to fit in. I use my outlook calendar to put everything into – find a calendar tool you like and use it.
  2. I pretty much do what I have planned to do – no matter how I feel. Too much rescheduling causes lots of stress.
  3. You have to be in the moment – if you have a full life you have to enjoy right where you are at that time. I try to be totally present and enjoy right where I am. (The photo above is from the College Ministry Trip. Had a week with these crazy kids and loved being with them – enjoying too many great moments)
  4. I make sure that there are certain things that I don’t juggle – they are fixed and don’t move e.g. I walk and pray in the mornings, no matter what else is going on in a day. I always have one day off work a week no matter what. (If you have read my blog before you know I am passionate about the Sabbath -I wrote about it here 7 Tips to keeping a Sabbath)
  5. I allow margin where ever I can. Deliberate gaps in the schedule which allow for unforeseen interruptions. These interruptions are always people and people are always more important than any tasks, and worth the interruption.

I am not perfect at the juggle by any means and I don’t juggle as many things as many of you do – but I do have a full life and these are some tips that have helped me. Please comment if you have any great tips that could help us all

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)

Learnt 4 Things from 1 Conversation with a Leader

Some leaders have the power to shock you . I had a leader shock me a few weeks ago and I keep thinking about it

A very Senior Leader in our church called me to tell me she wouldn’t be attending an event I had invited her to. She told me she had no excuse, she just wouldn’t be coming.

Here is why this shocked me

1. She called

She took time  to call and actually speak to me. She didn’t send a text, write an email or just ignore the invitation. She called – and in so doing she took a risk. She had to deal with my reaction to her call. We actually had to have a conversation about this.

2. She was honest and told me she had no excuse

She said normally she really liked the type of event I had invited her to but this night she just wanted to go home. She did not give me the whole” I am so busy and so important that I need a night off ” line . I happened to know she had  a big week but I brought that up she did not.  She just said I really don’t have any excuse I just want to go home. I love that !

3. She chose to build our relationship with transparency.

By being transparent she allowed me to see her for who she really is. She is a leader who values relationships and makes the call. She is a leader who is honest and real. She is a leader who can take care of herself in the middle of a big life.

4. She showed again how to lead without people pleasing.

She was confident in her decision, not afraid to tell me she was not coming. It was a real, clean conversation and there wasn’t any need for her to people please by coming up with any excuse or reasons.

We laughed, I thanked her. I already loved her leadership style – now I am even more of a fan. I bet she has no idea how much I learned that night.

I want to learn from every person in my world and I learnt something wonderful from that conversation. I learnt leadership that is real, honest and clean can be shocking and it is so wonderful.

 

(P.S Thanks to this of you who filled in the questionnaire asking you what you wanted to see in my blog. I am having a week off next week – and will be going through them all to find them and start answering your questions )

What Do You Believe ?

A few months ago a thought took root in my mind. It started as a seed and was soon on its way to becoming a fully grown tree. It was a tree that was covered in thorns and was choking many other trees and my joy.The thought said that my value was linked to a negative in my life circumstances. It took me going on holiday and climbing a mountain to meet with God to get rid of that noxious weed.

It reminded me how important it is to know what we believe – the thought that had taken hold was based on a lie, and I should never have let it take root.

Here are a few areas where we need to know what exactly we believe. (I am sure you can think of so many more)

1. Who God is

I am reminded of the parable of the talents – if we believe, as one of the men did , that God is a hard task mater, it will influence everything about how we live life. It will cause us to bury our talents and live in fear. If we believe God is a goof Father, we will live in confidence and rest in the knowledge that we are loved.

2. The Value of Human Life

If we honestly believe every person is made in the image of God – it will mean that we will value every person we encounter. It means that prejudices and favouritism should not be part of our world. It means that the life of a homeless person is valuable, the life of a disabled person is valuable, the life of a person who has nothing at all to give us is valuable.

3. We can make a difference 

In this media soaked world it is easy to get compassion fatigue, feel overwhelmed and do nothing. Alternatively we can believe that every act of kindness brings a change, that every word can shift an atmosphere – that we can be the light of the world to our family, friends and neighbours.

It is so important to know what we really believe and to keep digging up the seeds of wrong beliefs that we all have . That’s why I love studying theology – it keeps me in a place of seeking to understand the faith I profess. Its why reading the Bible is key to life. We start to see the areas that our beliefs are going to paralyse us or cause us to treat people or ourselves badly. Then we can dig out those noxious trees and live the fulfilling life we were meant to!

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)

5 Benefits of Turning Your Emails Off at Night

IMG_4673

I love technology. I love being connected to friends near and far. I love access to all kinds of input that enriches my world.

However since I got back from my Long Service Leave two years ago I have started turning my emails OFF on my phone at nights and weekends.

Before this I was known to have my emails permanently on – and reply to emails all times of the day and night. I did this mostly because that’s what everyone was doing. I thought it meant I could get ahead of the game and save myself some time at work.

Here are 5 benefits  I have found since I decided to turn Emails OFF at night.

1. It gives me an actual break from work – turns out if I keep emailing at night I am effectively working 12-14 hours and this is exhausting. I need mental and physical rest in the evenings and especially on my sabbath day on the weekend.

2.If I return emails all hours of the day and night people will expect immediate turn around time and I will create an expectation I cannot sustain.

3.  Checking emails at night makes me feel like I am never OFF work and this leads to staleness in the work place. This means that I am actually less productive and creative during my work days.

4. It means I give full attention to my family and friends – instead of giving them a distracted Pam who looks at her phone every time it bings. This gives us all more meaningful connections.

5. It reminds me I am not that important ! Pretty much everything I do can wait until tomorrow to get a response. When something is really urgent people will text. However even this is very rare. When I feel the need to email people back in the evenings it creates a false sense of how important I am. This is a dangerous place to live. I need to be comfortable in my identity as a daughter of God – not as some-one who works all hours of the day and night.

I am hoping I am the only crazy one who had their emails on all hours of the day and night (when I was checking email when I went the bathroom at 2am – I could have guessed I had a problem)

If you are on email at night – I would suggest for the sake of your health and longevity -you turn EMAIL OFF.

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey!)