Unmotivated

I suppose it’s gonna happen. There’s gonna be those days. A case of the blahs. You just don’t want to do a darned thing. Today is one of those days.

It’s not that I don’t have any energy. Physically, I feel fine. Emotionally and mentally, I feel lethargic. I could easily waste these three hours before work on Facebook or Instagram. I could surf the web reading stuff that could be helpful, but more than likely I would find something negative, and that would rile my emotions up, and I’ll be mad at the world, and then latter scowl at customers, thinking, “Why are you bothering me? Go away! Shoo!” I’ll then hear my co-workers complain, and I’ll join in. We’ll create a symphony of cacophony.

There are a thousand and one things I’d rather be doing. Even organizing my sock drawer seems exciting. I could go get that root canal that I can’t afford. Maybe there will be a summons to jury duty in my mail box? I really just want to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away….and that thought is what wakes me up.

You see, I hate the idea of wasting a day away. I don’t know if it’s part of a mid life crisis thing, but knowing that I’m well over the other side of the halfway point in my life definitely shocks my senses. I want my waking life to be about something, anything but regret and remorse. I’m not one of those who feels like he has to purchase a sports car or go skydiving in order to feel alive. A walk in the park will do fine. So will a meal with a friend, or two hours in a movie theater. I’m kinda low maintenance like that. There are definitely bigger things I want to accomplish, and the reflecting one does at this time of the year definitely speaks to that.

Some days it’s kind of hard to connect the smaller things you do over the course of a day to the bigger things you have hope for. The ten minutes I spent meditating this morning were scattered, my budget I corrected seemed insignificant, and even the words I’m typing now seem like a self conscious pity party rather something uplifting and inspiring for others.

So, I say all of that to say this….there are going to be those kind of days. More than a few. The trick is not to change the course of momentum, or go back into resting inertia. More than likely, I am numb to the effect any steady drip is having on my life in these moments.

In the spiritual arena, these days are called Dark Nights of the Soul. There are days that one just does not “feel” the presence of God, any awareness is null and void. that doesn’t negate the presence of God. it just requires a faith to move on despite the feeling. It takes a bit of faith to get moving. You cling on to a sliver of hope.

Thirty minutes ago, this was a blank page with not an inkling of an idea how to proceed. A little bit of faith and some movement…and there you go.

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The Absolute Necessity of Trust and Faith

I have mentioned three important values many times in my posts. What are they?

Trust. Respect. Love. All three of them are essentials if you want to influence people. Today we are going to focus on trust, and trustworthiness. Trust is defined as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. When you are placing your trust in someone, you are placing a little bit of yourself into them. It’s an investment. There’s some risk involved. You are being vulnerable. But when it pays off, the payoff has a synchronistic effect. The sum is greater than its parts. The relationship is strengthened mightily. You now deem that individual as trustworthy, or able to be relied on as honest, truthful, reliable, dependable.

It is important to have faith in the people you are working with. If you are responsible for the development of your constituents, then at some point in time, you are going to have to release them. You give them responsibilities, you let them go to do their work, and you trust them to get it done. (Of course, this assumes they have been properly trained to do those responsibilities.) Once you let them go, keep your hands off. Otherwise, you are betraying your trust. If by chance they fail, unless it is a moral failure, don’t sweep your trust under a rug. Provide the constructive criticism they need in a respectful and kind way. Help them fail forward. Evaluate where they went wrong. Help them discover their strengths so they can develop them properly and put those strengths to work. Help them leverage their weaknesses. And let them try again. Do all of this feedback in a corroborative way. Ask questions and listen. Get their take on what happened. Guide them to the best solutions and course of actions after they have learned from their mistakes.

At the outset of a working relationship, instill confidence in your people. Help them envision their future optimistically. And help them develop a growth mindset, a mindset that says, “I can do this. I can adapt. I can hustle and work hard until this is accomplished.” Also, help them see their past wins, and work on some smaller wins together.

In the religious arena, specifically Christianity, there is an acronym used to explain faith…

Forsaking
All
I
Trust
Him

….the idea that you repent and turn away from everything you used to depend on for salvation, and entirely trust in Jesus for that salvation. Not intending this to be a Sunday school lesson, I think this is a beautiful picture of how it works in the realm of influence, too. You have to let go of controlling your people, let go of trying to micro-manage them, let go of trying to force their work into your preconceived notions of how things must be done, and trust them for the results. You do that when you get on a plane –  you let the pilot fly it, and navigate it, and all those other elements of what’s involved in getting from here to there at 25,000 feet in the air. You do it when you elect to have surgery – you let the surgeon cut you up in unforeseen ways and then patch you up and let you walk out of the hospital in the same day, (quite miraculous these days, if you ask me.) So, let you your people go to do awesome, miraculous things. And when they succeed, they will return the trust to you. And when this happens consistently, you will be building influence in your people.

Amazing You

My post yesterday was kind of harsh. I flat out said that you suck.

Well, it’s true. Think about it. You goof up a lot, don’t you? I’m not trying to make light of that, I’m right there in the same boat with you. A lot of times, we think it’s healthy to suppress the idea of our mistakes, flaws, and transgressions, as if hiding them or not acknowledging them makes them magically go away. I’ve written more in detail on this subject in other posts on another blog, you can read about that here. But for now, just take me at face value when I say that looking your flaws straight in the eye and admitting them is beneficial.

Let me also, in the same breath as I say, “You suck!” say, “You’re amazing!”

I hold to some not so fashionable beliefs. I believe in God. I believe in a Creator. (Exactly how he created and or creates is hotly debated and beyond the scope of what I’m trying to accomplish in my writing, we’ll leave that for another, time, okay? Ok.) Because I believe in a Creator, I believe He created you and me in the image of himself. Page after page in the holy writings of Jewish and Christian traditions, God is described as beautiful. (Again, there are arguments here, that’s for another time.) During the passages of Genesis, It is said that God created the world, and all that is in it, and declared it Good. He then created humanity, and declared it Very Good. As in Good to a Superlative degree.

Granted, because we suck, it’s sometimes hard to see that Very Goodness in ourselves and others. But it’s there. But the sucky part overshadows it. (Let’s get this out of the way right here — that sucky part of ourselves is called sin, and that simply means “missing the Mark”. Sin is a word that carries a lot of drama with it, and is sometimes misused, but it’s necessary to use it because it’s fundamental in how we describe our nature before God and how he resolves that nature.)

The sucky part and the amazing parts live side by side in ourselves simultaneously, and that’s kind of a mystery. But I wholeheartedly believe that we don’t have to let the sucky part reign over our lives. As I have written in other writings on other blogposts, the sucky part can be and should be, and, if one wants to live a life of clear conscience, must be dealt with. Without turning this into a preaching session or Sunday school lesson, faith, belief, and trust are central in how we view ourselves and this world. Our worldview and mindsets matter.

I’m not speaking of a Pollyanna, do-gooder mindset, nor a television-evangelist name-it-and-claim-it mindset. But a mindset that is realistic and optimistic, full of faith, believing the true and best things about ourselves. It’s ok and imperative that you believe that you are amazing.

Just think of all the gifts and talents and dreams and hopes and skills and that are within you. If you can’t see any of that, that’s where faith comes in. If you say that none of that exists within you, it’s never been there, well the I call B.S.. Are you saying that every day you’ve been alive, there’s not been one good day, not one good moment, not one good instance where you’ve shined ever so slightly, even if for a brief moment? Not one pleasant thought, not one exciting dream, not one uplifting hope? Even as a child? So you’re childhood was a nightmare? Every day? Not one isolated moment when you saw or read something that made you temporarily happy, if even it lasted a few seconds? Are you saying you’ve never been kind, never been a friend, never been reliable, never been creative, not once? You can think of something. And whatever that something is, take hold of it, grasp it for dear life, and never let it go. Ponder it wholeheartedly, stake your claim on it. And, with faith, multiply it. Know that because of this one morsel of goodness within, that you have within yourself a sliver of Goodness that can be declared the Image of God. Small as it may be, that is what you have to work with. And just like a mustard seed, faith even that size can move mountains.

I declare you amazing.

a·maz·ing

əˈmāziNG/

adjective

causing great surprise or wonder;

astonishing.

synonyms: astonishing, astounding, surprising, stunning, staggering, shocking, startling, stupefying, breathtaking, awesome, awe-inspiring, sensational, remarkable, spectacular, stupendous, phenomenal, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, mind-blowing,
jaw-dropping, wondrous, startlingly impressive.

Certainly Uncertain

There is one thing we can be absolutely certain of — that we will have times of uncertainty.

I like to think of myself as a person of faith. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 24 years this month. I can say that I have had seasons of listlessness, frustrations, and yes, doubts. Not in the overall premise of the tenants of the faith, but more so in its practices, platitudes, and politics. But I would be amiss if I did not also confess that sometimes when I am laying in bed at night, that an alien though enters my mind that whispers, “Is this for real?” Maybe not those exact words, they might be much lengthier. Or it might not be words, it’s more like feelings, or just the unformed words of an idea. To have these thoughts, in whatever manifestation, are quite unsettling.

Our brains hate uncertainty. The unknown triggers a threat response in us, causing fight or flight instincts. Meaning that in order to avoid uncertainty, we sometimes shut down our more cognitive functions and use baser elements of our repertoire of responses. As a result, faith traditions have sometimes, well, more than sometimes, shamed the premise of doubt when it rears it’s “ugly” head. If you have doubt then you are not a true believer. Or, as an alternative, for the gatekeepers and vanguards of the faith who secretly have doubts, they inverse the symptom. They seek out those who believe differently. And if you believe differently, then YOU are uncertain, there is conflict. You are painted a certain color or labeled in hushed tones as a heretic. Conflict abounds when uncertainty surfaces.

Maybe we should fully embrace uncertainty and doubts, not only in faith traditions, but also in society as a whole. The whole idea of exploration and living on the frontier is bathed in the idea of uncertainty. I, for one, do not believe science and faith have to conflict. (I am not speaking about creation science, which, in my opinion, bastardizes both faith tradition and science.) Science is all about embracing the unknown, and the curiosity that embraces it. Faith, too, can be about embracing the unknown, and simultaneously embracing faith and doubt while penetrating the cloud of uncertainty. This is when these faith traditions evolve and mature. It’s reasonable to say that the faith and understanding of most modern persons who hold to religious traditions, both of conservative and progressive stripes, is considerably more evolved and educated than tribesmen who sat around the fires listening to the elders recount the oral traditions of Moses, Abraham or other religious patriarchs.

I think a big fear that we have about doubt and uncertainty is that we think if one acknowledges it, then one thinks their faith will be shattered or rendered nonexistent. But I think that is an unwarranted fear if an individual has the courage to explore the doubt from different angles. To be curious about its origin or its source of influence. To determine what questions are arising and trying to explore them in their proper contexts. A question begins with a quest, and a quest involves exploration.

Certainty seems to be a bit more unstable than uncertainty. At one time inhabitants of this globe were certain it was flat. To believe otherwise invited shame, scorn, accusation, and sometimes, death. So much for stability. And the “faith” that sometimes influenced these responses, although imperfect in its practice, did over time survive and transform into something much more viable due to its adherents who dared to questione it. The doubts and uncertainties of those brave enough to explore the other angles led the world and the church and other faith traditions into a new era. And I believe we are all the better for it.