Making the Impossible Possible

It’s Here!

Well, it’s finally that time…it’s a full two weeks after the start of 2014.  And the year that began with us telling ourselves that this time it would be different…it probably isn’t.

Our resolutions to change our lives in small or large (or possibly very large) ways have been replaced with very rational reasons why we really can’t achieve those goals. Another definition of our rational reasons, is simply put, “Making Excuses.”

ImageThe real problem actually lies somewhere else. We have to understand that we all have a strong immunity to change, because change hurts. (However, assuming that the changes that we resolved to make were positive ones, change does not hurt nearly as much as the ultimate consequences of staying where we are.)

Change is actually our natural state. For example, our bodies are changing every day whether we do anything to change it or not. Approximately 98% of our body is completely renewed every year…new skin, new hair, new cells, etc.  But these changes are involuntary, The trick is to make voluntary, willful changes that will make our lives better, and then stick to it.

There are strong competing forces to voluntary changes. We may make a statement of resolution to lose twenty pounds, and in the next breath exclaim how much we love to eat. These two competing commitments are at odds with each other and will drain us of energy. Another example is wanting to start your own business and wanting the security of your current job’s paycheck.

You logically know that you need to change some things, that’s your analytical brain speaking. But then your emotional brain interrupts and provides those rational reasons why it is easier to remain the same. In my corporate consulting, I tell business leaders that culture trumps strategy every time. The same thing is true in personal growth an development. The emotional brain trumps the analytical brain. The opposing attitudes cannot coexist. Eventually, most people will succumb to the emotional brain, the path of least resistance…and stay where they are – unhappy, but temporarily comfortable.

Winning this battle of countervailing forces requires a strong support system. Our humanistic culture says that if you simply have enough will power, enough internal fortitude and strength, that you can do it on your own. This is simply put, “not true.”

First, we need to understand and acknowledge that we can not do anything in our own strength, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Remember, those competing forces…we cannot do all things at the same time…we can’t lose twenty pounds and continue to eat the way we like. Seems difficult, doesn’t it? We make it far more difficult than it needs to be.

The way to get past the analytical brain’s defenses is to come to a different kind of resolution regarding the concepts causing our analytical brain to bristle.  It is through self-directed learning that we develop moments of self-awareness or insight (in coaching, we call them epiphanies.) These moments of self-awareness are as soothing to the analytical brain as the unfamiliar is threatening to the emotional brain.

Self-directed learning helps you to discover an ideal vision of yourself and feel motivated in developing the abilities necessary to get you where you want to be.  That is, you see the person you want to be—living with the capability necessary to create and sustain the new you. This personal makeover becomes the source of the energy required to work at the difficult and often frustrating process of change.

Decide who and where you want to be. Next look in the mirror to discover where you really are today—see how your habits are making you act, how others view you and what comprises your deep assumptions and beliefs.  Some of this reflection will represent gaps between where you are and where you want to be.

The realization of the gap prepares you for developing a plan of action needed for the detailed guidance on what new rituals to try each day to make the new habit sticky while you build your strengths and move closer to your ideal self.

Here our some steps to simplify the process of achieving your goals.

Begin with a support system. Start professing your values, establishing priorities, writing out your S.M.A.R.T. goals and developing an accountability to God and to someone other than yourself for your actions. Make your resolutions known to people who are supportive, join a support group that will help hold you accountable, get a mentor, get an accountability partner or a coach.

In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley writes. “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when somebody is watching and evaluating us.”

By now your emotional brain is probably giving you very rational reasons why you don’t need to change. And, you don’t.  Remember, “change is not required, because survival is not mandatory.”

Who is helping you hold yourself accountable for your growth and development?

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7 Competencies for Christian Leadership Success

ImageIn case you haven’t noticed, the world has changed. To be successful as a leader today requires specific competencies.

First, as a believer desiring to lead ministry, you need to work through your relationship with Christ to be obedient to God’s call on your life.

With that in mind, even Christian leaders need to think about how to best succeed in a changing world. Here are some “requisite competencies” to develop and fine-tune in order to achieve personal and professional leadership success:

  1. Identity – Know who you are in Christ, identify your calling, discover and develop your gifts and talents, and allow the Holy Spirit to operate in your life.
  2. Self-Confidence – Successful leaders achieve results because they confidently and willingly initiate and execute their responsibilities without someone telling them, persuading them or forcing them to take action.
  3. Connected-ness – Today social media is no longer an option. It is the way networks are built. Yet these social networks are ONLY a virtual reality, an imitation or substitute of the real thing. It is only in real human interactions that trust, integrity, cooperation and heart connected-ness occur.
  4. Visions and Plans – To influence people to follow your leadership, develop a vision of where you want to go, and why they should want to help you get there. Developing a plan in conjunction with them creates an environment of mutual respect and generates support for the vision/plan.
  5. Innovation & Creativity – Today’s best leaders have ideas of their own, but they also know how to foster creativity and innovation in others to achieve desired outcomes.
  6. Collaboration – Be willing to humbly submit to others and participate in a team environment. Be likable and work well with others. Collaboration is a key function of today’s successful organizations.
  7. Flexibility – Change is the only guarantee, and it is desirable. Change is an opportunity for growth. When we stop growing, we begin a descent into becoming irrelevant. Today’s leader must remain flexible to a changing landscape and maintain a wiling spirit to adapt and make quantum leaps when its necessary.

This are often touted as “new” skills and tools for today’s rapidly changing world, but successful leaders have had these competencies for thousands of years.

If you want to develop your competencies or those of your team, contact us for a free consultation: www.ignitingyourfuture.com

How to Keep the Flame Alive

The new year holds an air of excitement and opportunity for some, while for others they are experiencing uncertainty due to the economy, world conflict, political issues and personal tragedy.

Copy of 2 Tim 1 6-7

Trials come to us all, in fact they are promised to us.  In the past five days, I became aware of three friends who are facing extremely challenging circumstances. One, although highly educated and with significant high-level executive management experience, has been unemployed for eleven months. Another friend suffered a major heart attack and is struggling for survival as I write this post. And just this morning, I learned that the spouse of a high school friend died last night.

When we are faced with seemingly overwhelming circumstances, it seems like it would be easier to just simply “give up.”  Some people tell us to “never give up.” My friend Bob Hamp, a pastor at Gateway Church tells people who are considering giving up, that he highly recommends it.  Too often we are fighting our troubles all by ourselves.

When we wrestle with flesh and blood we are in fact fighting ourselves. Think of it as of arm-wrestling with yourself. (It’s really hard to win that battle.)  We were never meant to fight these battles alone. We need to remind ourselves that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”   Ephesians 6:12

So, what do we do when faced with great tests of courage? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The Apostle Paul, writing in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 said “For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift that was given to you by the laying on of my hands, for God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Keep in mind that Paul was writing to Timothy, whose qualifications were significant, his education and training were second to none, his resume read, “Assistant to the Apostle Paul,” and yet Timothy’s fire was dying and needed to be stirred up.

So I recommend that your stir the flame of purpose in your life. Discover what you are passionate about and begin doing something actively with your gift that will benefit others. Find a way to give back to your family, your community, your world.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” Luke 11:33 NIV
Stir into flame your gifts and let then be a light in this dark world.  That is what we are created to do.
(If you are looking to ignite your purpose, contact us for a free consultation at http://www.ignitingyourfuture.com)

The Canary in the Coal MIne

Is your canary dead?

Copy of canaryinthecoalmine

In the earliest days of coal mining, canaries were used in the mines to detect the need for change. Canaries have a very responsive metabolism, and when exposed to dangerous gases like methane and carbon monoxide, they react quickly and obviously. The canary will become quiet, and begin swaying on its perch before falling off. If the miners saw that the canary was dead, or showing these telltale signs, they knew there was gas in the area and that they needed to leave immediately.

So, how do you know you need to change? Like the miners, you constantly watch for the signs you need to change. Simple enough, but change is one of the most challenging issues in almost everyone’s life.

There’s something inside you and me that clings to the status quo, hoping it will work one more time, even if it hasn’t worked in a long time. Sometimes the need for change is obvious. If nothing has changed since 1992, the case for change presents itself.

But often it’s more subtle than that. We spend a surprising amount of time trying to convince ourselves that change “really isn’t necessary.”

We insist that we have seen others who have been devastated by change; or that the perceived risks outweigh any gain. We’ve watched others, who tried to change, suffer as they met all kinds of opposition. We sense the conflict pending in our own environment and in our hearts.

Change needs to happen in our lives in big ways, and it also needs to happen in small ways. Because the need for change almost inevitably means some level of conflict, it’s easier for us to move into denial—to pretend the status quo is not really that bad.

So we ignore the signs that would tell us change is needed.

But, successful people don’t run when they see a need for change. They watch for the telltale signs, embrace it and summon up the courage needed to navigate it. So, what are those signs?

Here are 10 signs to help you discover if you need to change:

1. Your stories are about what used to happen, not what’s going to happen. You need to change because your memories exceed your dreams.

2. You’re no longer experiencing real breakthroughs in your life. Every season has a shelf life. Prepare for the next season before this one expires.

3. You think about the obstacles associated with the future more than you think about the opportunities, which breeds a culture of fear.

4. You haven’t done anything exciting in the last six months. Stagnation starts subtly.

5. You are continually talking about the same problems. You’re stuck, and progress will become increasingly difficult until you start solving problems.

6. Your growth curve has slowed or stopped. The change probably should have started a year or two ago. Analyze and act now.

7. No one would notice if you disappeared. People, who do not serve others, and only serve themselves, miss their mission in life.

8. Your passion level is average-to-low. Declining lives always lack passion.

9. Your talk does not translate to action. Check your progress more than you check your intentions.

10. You have stopped breathing. The day we stop changing is the day we stop breathing, and the day we begin to die.

If your canary is dead or has fallen off of its perch, it is time to change.

For help on your journey to change, go to http://www.ignitingyourfuture.com