Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Tag

A Pause   Leave a comment

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This week I will be making my annual trek to the Iowa State Fair.  It is always a wonderful ten days of enjoying the hard work of many individuals.  Staying in the campground has also given me the opportunity to form relationships with individuals who I camp near and see every day.  My volunteer time at the Fair has also created some great relationships with those whom I work with sometimes every day and in other times a few days each year.  So this week is a kind of homecoming for me.

I have come to understand the importance of taking pauses in life.  These pauses allow me to experience things outside my normal routine and normal environment.  My schedule is different.  My focus is different.  My sleeping arrangements are different.  During these pauses I am able to refocus.  I am able to get a different perspective.

So, my blog posts will probably be a bit more erratic and briefer.  I will try to share significant aspects and experiences which I have during the Fair.  Keep checking in, you will not know what I may discover and share.  Afterall, it is the Iowa State Fair, the greatest state fair in the world!

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Limitations   1 comment

Photo by HM Photography

Photo by HM Photography

This morning I have been pondering the following question:  “Do we limit ourselves too much?

The question came to mind during a conversation over coffee with some friends.  We were discussing trying new experiences such as new foods, new travel opportunities, new locations to live, and similar new experiences.  As the conversation continued we talked some about why people choose not to try something new.  During the conversation, the question I listed above came into my mind.

I think that there are a lot of reasons that we place limitations upon our lives.  Some of those reasons are very valid and have to do with safety, personal responsibility, and our values.  However, I wonder how many times we create excuses why we cannot, or do not want to, experience or do something.  I think many of these excuses come out of fear of the unknown.  We become worried about possible failure.  We become worried about rejection.  We become worried about our inability.  So we create an arbitrary limitation based on an excuse that we trace back to safety, responsibility or value conflicts.

However, we were created to live life and that life in abundance.  The writer of the letter to Timothy in the Bible tells us:  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)  We are to live life not in fear but in boldness.  Another passage from the Bible quotes Jesus as saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10b, NIV)  It seems very clear that our creator expected to have us live life fully.  Yet, I think we rob ourselves of that because we place limitations on ourselves that are often based on misperceptions and misunderstandings.

So maybe today we need to work on reducing the limitations in our lives that we create and living the life that we have been given to live with joy.

Little Surprises   Leave a comment

GemsYesterday I participated in a Skype conference call.  I am part of a group who is trying to vision the future direction of an organization.  We are using a process that continues to push me outside my comfort zone.  The process is designed so that you spend time in contemplation as you prepare for and while you answer a series of questions.  After everyone has done this independently, the group gathers and each person shares their responses.  There is no discussion while the responses are being shared.  It is a process that I would regularly describe as spinning your wheels.  However, the two phases that we have completed so far has generated some little surprises for me.  I have found that while we are individuals that are scattered across five states, our responses have some common themes and thoughts.  I have also found that while I have concerns as I work on the next phase, by the end of the discussion I see some common directions that our work seems to be taking us.

This has led me to realize that I need to be open to doing activities which on the surface I do not want to do and also to be open to possibilities that I cannot see at the beginning.  I have learned that I have no way of truly knowing what little surprises may occur as I venture into new territory which I may even describe as undesirable for me.  If I would have only done the work of this process half-heartedly or not at all, I would have missed out on the treasures that were hidden from my view.

So all of this reminds me of the importance of being open.  It is so easy to shut down or to say that the proposed method will never work.  Too many leaders and individuals tend to choose not to be open.  Sometimes our structures and our environment make it difficult to be open.  However, we need to constantly be working toward opening ourselves and our structures up to opportunities to try activities or processes that we may not be comfortable with at the start.

Another Busy Week   Leave a comment

Minneapolis has the largest concentration of N...

Casting for the future. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week has been one of those crazy weeks.  I had a meeting Tuesday morning and then traveled to Minneapolis for a meeting that was most of the day on Wednesday.  The greeting of snow in Minneapolis on Wednesday made the commute back a bit more stressful.  I am in the office this morning and a little this afternoon before I lead to take a group later today and this evening.  The really exciting thing is that I had a wonderful experience yesterday.  I wanted to share with you a few observations that I took away from yesterday.

The first is that it is great to gather with other leaders who are willing to be on the edge of life.  Our group was tasked with trying to discern the future direction for an organization.  Anyone that has been given such a task realizes that this is not necessarily an easy task to accomplish.  What makes it even more difficult is that there exists a huge variety of opinions, aspirations, and senses of purpose.  The group itself is very diverse.  However, what created energy and excitement was a shared opinion that anything is possible and many of the possibilities have not even come to mind yet.  This was the first truly introductory meeting of this group and so we spent a considerable amount of time hearing one another’s backgrounds.  This was extremely important to help us understand one another’s perspectives.  We also found connections that we had no idea existed between us.  Then we spent some time working with some contemplative approaches and a beginning of opening ourselves to discover new possibilities.  This leads me to my next observation from yesterday.

I tend to be a task/accomplishment-driven type of person.  When I gather with others, I usually desire that we “accomplish” something and have a clear next step.  However, I was forced yesterday to spend time in silence (anyone that knows me would say that is a challenge) and spend time opening my mind to thoughts that at first may seem very random.  This was a huge step for me and lead to some meaningful learning.  After we had time to write down some thoughts, we shared them with one another.  In the sharing we discovered connections within our thoughts.  We also discovered other questions that need to be explored.  I would tell you that when this process was first introduced I was skeptical at least and more leaning toward resistant.  After having experienced this, I would definitely encourage any group that has been given a future-looking task to use this as a launching point.

There are four more phases that we will be using to do our work together.  All of them require some time of contemplation, silence, and exploration of questions.  We will then use Google Hangouts to gather three more times to share and reflect together upon the thoughts that we arrive at alone.  The final phase will lead to us gathering face-to-face as we prepare to present our recommendations/discoveries/thoughts with a larger body of the organization.  I will keep you informed on my experiences throughout these phases.


Redirection   5 comments


Redirect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I am back.  After having been gone for over a week, I now am trying to refocus and redirect myself.  However, I cannot forget the discussions that I was a part of over the last week.  My thoughts often return to those discussion and to the decisions that took place during the week.  I find it hard right now to redirect towards the daily activities that are the norm for me.  I guess that means that in some ways I was changed in the events of last week.

I do not view the possible changes from last week as a negative.  I find growth in these thoughts.  Over the last week I was exposed to many different voices.  I also had opportunity to reconnect with voices from my past.  The combination of all these voices helped me to grow and to view many directions my life has taken and new ones that are possibilities.  These voices will resonate in my mind for some time to come.  My goal is to hear in these voices, the voice of the Lord.  By sorting through all the voices to find the Lord’s voice, I am confident that I will find affirmation, challenges, redirection, and hope.

I think that it is very important for leaders to have experiences such as these.  As leaders, we can easily get into routines.  Even if we faithfully read and explore other ideas, when we are able to interact with voices which are different from our own or from settings different from our own, then we can truly experience a breath of fresh air.  As a leader, I must always strive to grow and to expand my boundaries.  Having an opportunity like I did last week is such a blessing.

But alas, like I mentioned at the start of this blog, it is time for me to redirect my thoughts and resume my duties in this location.  Yet, even as I redirect, those voices will continue to resonate in my mind and will challenge me to move forward.  I believe this is a good thing!

Getting Back On Track   1 comment

English: A coach and 4 horses retreats into th...

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Okay, I realize that I have not been faithful in blogging over the last couple of weeks.  It seems that when I returned from vacation, I became busy with catching up and preparing for two separate retreats that I was leading.  Then while on those retreats I did not post on my blog.  Returning from the retreats, it was time to catch up again.  But this week does not have me scheduled out of the office so I should be able to settle back into a somewhat familiar routine.

As I reflected on the last couple of weeks, I am grateful for the experiences at the retreats and a change of focus.  However, I am also grateful to get back to routine.  I think this applies to life in general.  It is very easy in our lives to get on a track  that is different than our normal one.  There is value in that since it allows us to experience life from a different perspective and to grow with these new experiences.

Sometimes it is also important to have some accountability for us to either get back on track or to stay on track.  So I am encouraging all of my readers to keep me accountable.  If you see that I am failing to post on this blog at least 4 times per week, please send me a message or comment to remind me that I need to stay on track.