Saturday, 21 October 2017

You: the greatest gift you can give


Do you ever get frustrated by a limited bank account that stops you giving to all the things that stir your heart? I have felt that time and again. I felt that again listening to some inspiring stories this week at the Global Leadership Summit and having my heart moved by the organisations presented. Then a truth struck me from all of the stories. Each of the people didn't give money, or certainly not just out of their own bank accounts. They gave of themselves. It was who they were as a person and the connection with other people that brought about the changes and inspiration. 

Do you realise that YOU are the greatest gift you can give your family, children, friends and communities? Your passions, strengths, time, listening ears, smile and hugs are all at your disposal. Instead of feeling stifled by a lack of money, let's look for ways to have an impact locally and globally using exactly what we have. Let's give ourselves. So often we put so much energy into accumulating wealth or on our own projects and what seems urgent and important. Will those things be what leaves a legacy? 

What do have available right at this moment? Who are the people around you right now? How can those match up?

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: give. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.





Friday, 20 October 2017

Who is responsible for burn out?


The concept of burn out is something that I have been pondering for the past couple of years. I saw a culture of burn out in an organisation I was part of and wanted to know how to change that. When multiple leaders are burning out in one organisation, who is responsible for that? Is it the fault of the organisation or the people themselves? Who needs to work at resolving it? Maybe you have found yourself at that point where you have hit a wall and cannot keep pushing any longer. Maybe you have seen people around you reach that point.

The conclusion that I have come to is that it is both the person and the organisation who are responsible. Each has a role to play in what leads to burn out and in resolving it. The organisation has a responsibility to assess the expectations they place on their members, the culture that is set up, the support systems that are in place and what the upper levels of leadership are modelling. The person has the responsibility to be taking care of the!selves, seeking support when it is needed, speaking up when changes are needed and taking action. In general, neither party is wholly to “blame”.

I have felt the weight of the responsibility to evaluate our organisation and the way we do things. This is an ongoing process. I wanted to know if the expectations we place on our leaders was realistic and manageable. What circumstances make them less so? What are the differences that make one group of leaders thrive and another sink under the weight? I also became aware of the responsibility I have to call out signs of burn out when I see them. I naturally avoid hard conversations and confrontation but I am learning to be better in this arena in ways that still feel true to me and who I am. So often burn out is evident to others before the person recognises it and yet it isn’t discussed. Let’s be on the look out for our colleagues and fellow leaders. Be close enough with them to notice warning signs that they aren’t coping so well. Ask them how they are coping. Ask them the tough questions about how they are taking care of themselves. We all have a responsibility in this, not only the policy makers in an organisation. Culture is built with each of us doing our part.

An organisation can have all the right procedures and supports in place and yet a leader can still burn out. Each of us as individuals has a responsibility to be taking care of ourselves too. Do you make self care a priority in your life? Do you regularly reflect on and re-evaluate how you are coping, your schedule, your headspace capacity and the demands of family, work and everything else? Do you accept help and support when it is offered? Do you place unrealistic expectations on yourself that no one else is actually expecting from you? So often it is the internal dialogue and lack of healthy boundaries and even lack of self esteem that cascade into burn out situations. I speak from authority on this as these are all things I have to continually work on myself. I remember being completely devastated as a primary school student because I only got 90 something percent on a maths test and it didn’t meet up to my own standards. My parents had never once even hinted at these expectations and they worked hard at bringing some reality to those expectations. We are our own worst enemies and we often don’t see it until it is too late. Let’s become more self aware and learn that we aren’t superhuman and no one expects us to be. Let’s learn to accept help and not see it as a sign of weakness but of strength.

Giving ourselves permission to be human, to make mistakes, not to be able to do everything, gives those around us permission too. We can unconsciously have an impact on the burn out levels of others if they see the expectations we try to meet for ourselves as what they should be doing too. The little eyes in our lives are particularly susceptible to this but it is true for our fellow leaders too. You need to be imperfect so that others can be as well. It is a matter of authenticity. Let’s learn to be vulnerable with our community.

Burn out is a complex issues with so many factors. I by no means want to assign blame or shame anyone who has been or is going through it. I have been there myself. I simply want to acknowledge that we all have a role to play in preventing this. I long for the day when no one leaves our organisation because they are burnt out but only because it is the right season for them to move on. There is still work to be done at an organisational level. Part of that is encouraging all of our leaders to be doing the work they need to do themselves to be caring for themselves and developing the resilience needed to prevent burn out. Maybe one of the questions or thoughts in this post have triggered something within you. Maybe you need to find a safe person to talk it through with or carve out some time to spend reflecting and evaluating. Let’s spur one another on in love.

This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.



Thursday, 19 October 2017

Is fear your decision maker?



Do you have this idea of being brave as being the same as not being afraid? I realise that I sometimes still have that belief deep inside. Bravery is something we talk a lot about in my house. Fear and anxiety are daily companions for my daughter and I know their companionship well myself. I know that being brave is not about how I am feeling most of the time. It is about not letting fear be the decision maker. There may be many valid reasons for a decision not to do something. I don’t ever want fear to be the deciding factor for me or my girl.

I give a talk for MOPS groups called “Do It Scared: lessons from my journey with fear”. It is in essence about bravery. Most of the seemingly brave moments and decisions in my life have been made despite fear. I have battled panic attacks and nausea to get through to what I know is a good choice and the right next step for me. If I allowed fear to make that choice, I wouldn’t be in the positions I am now, I wouldn’t ever get up in front of groups of people and speak and I certainly wouldn’t be writing for the world to see.


How is fear stopping you? Have you allowed it to be the decision maker? I pray that you will be brave and not let fear rule.


Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: brave. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.




Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Wellness Wednesday: Get creative


What does getting creative look like in your life? When was the last time you did anything creative? I know from personal experience that it can be the first thing tossed aside when life gets busy. For much of this year, I have thought to myself and even said to others that I don't have time to write. Here I am publishing every day in October. I made the time. And what I have cut out to allow time for writing was not even important or life-giving to me! I spend less time on social media or in front of Netflix for the most part. I use those little in between moments to write.

What gets in the way of you being creative? Do you recognise the importance of it? I know so many don't consider themselves to be creative. We tend to label only a small handful of pursuits as being creative. Let's think more broadly. I loved Emily Freeman's book "A Million Little Ways" as it talks about how all of us are artists created to live art in so many different ways, many of which that we may not even see as art. 

Being creative is vital for our wellbeing- reducing stress, feeding our souls and allowing us to be more fully ourselves. Children seem to know this instinctively and spend their days creating in so many different ways. Maybe you need to find a little person who can mentor you in how to be creative without being critical. When did we forget how to do that? Are your own expectations and impossible standards keeping you from accessing the benefit of creativity in your life?

Find a way to be creative this week. I would love to hear about what you did and what the experience was like for you.



This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Seasons of growth and seasons of being dormant


Have you ever thought about how in order for a plant to grow, it needs seasons of being dormant, especially at the seed stage? So often I think of growth as this continuous push forward and yet that is not the picture we find in nature in many ways. I have experienced this in my life too. There have been seasons where it has felt desolate and like there will never be growth again. And yet here I am today.

Do I allow myself the time to be still and recharge to let the growing time happen? We talk about children having growth spurts. We know that they grow fairly constantly but there are seasons of marked changes with little to no visible change in between. That is what my spiritual and soul growth has been like. I am certainly in a growth spurt season and it stretches and even hurts at times. The trick is to build in those times of stillness as well.


What areas of your life, soul or spirit have you demanded constant growth without the stillness and times of being dormant? Maybe you need to build in that down time and allow those seasons to change. Are you in one of those dormant seasons? Take heart. They don’t last forever, even when they seem unending at the time. They are necessary times that will build growth in the future.

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: grow. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.



Monday, 16 October 2017

How can I lead myself?


In the series I wrote last year, I talked about this concept of leading ourselves that I had been coming across in my reading and exploring of leadership skills. It is an idea that has continued to stick with me that is both challenging and encouraging. In leadership, we seek effective influence over those under our leadership. (Whether you hold a titled position, a voluntary position, are a parent or simply have people in your life who look up to you-you are a leader.) What becomes increasingly evident is that the person I most need to influence and the only one that I truly have control over is me!

It starts with self-awareness. Part of leading yourself is getting to know how you operate, what are your strengths, what areas do you need to work on. It isn't about finding areas to criticize yourself about but genuinely evaluating. This allows us to play to our strengths, work in a way that suits us and make a plan to improve in areas that will grow our leadership skills (or find the right team members to delegate to!) Maybe this is the part of leading yourself that you are needing to explore.

Another major area of leading myself that can often be overlooked is taking care of myself. No matter how busy I am, I have to prioritize self-care. I recognise that this is more simple for me with only one child and school hours at my disposal. This has not guaranteed that engage in activities that recharge me though. It is a mindset that all of us need to work on, no matter our circumstances. Self-care can be just as much of an issue for a single person who lives alone as it is a busy mother of four. How do you make time for self-care in your week?

Leading yourself comes down to being just as (or maybe even more) interested in your own development and accountability as you are in the development of people you are in charge of. I'm sure we have all seen leaders who demand so much of their followers and yet never make an effort to work on the areas they need to change. This may even be to the extent of not following their own directives. None of us wants to be that person. It can be so easy to slip into that role. I find this particularly evident in my parenting leadership arena. I expect behaviour from my daughter that I am not willing to work on myself.

The word “intentional” comes up often in my writing. Once more, it applies here. Leading yourself requires intentional reflection on where you are at currently, where you want to be and a plan for how to get there. I highly recommend including trusted friends and mentors in this process. Often others can see things we can't. They may have ideas that you wouldn't have come up with that make all the difference. The journey of leading ourselves will look so different in each case. You never need to compare your journey to someone else's. We need to factor in our current capacity- both time and mental space. We need to consider what will be most beneficial at that time. This is a lifelong process and complete transformation is not achieved overnight.

These are some ideas of what your next step could be:
  • Find a reputable personality assessment to learn more about yourself
  • Get a mentor
  • Listen to a leadership podcast
  • Sign up to a leadership conference or other training in an area you want to develop in
  • Speak to your inner circle friends and family about what they see in you and give them permission to keep you accountable
  • Prioritise self-care
  • Make changes to your eating and exercise habits
  • Find a book that interests you and make time to read it
  • Take action steps to reduce the time you spend on screens

No matter what stage of life you are in and what “level” of leadership you perceive yourself to be at, I encourage you to choose that one next step. It doesn't have to be big to make a difference.


This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Some encouragement from Psalm 73


I know that you know what it is like to have your flesh and heart fail. I do. I have felt that this week even. Frustration over the pain and limitations of an injury, tiredness from interrupted sleep, overwhelm at all that I need to get done, the heartbreak of walking through anxiety with my daughter all added up this week. I hit a low point and wanted to curl up and ignore life for a while. 
And then this verse came up. The whole chapter has some gems but this spoke right to where I am at. I am human. I will have times when I am brought low. What doesn't change is the strength of my heart- my God. Instead of curling up and ignoring life, I curled up in the arms of my Father God. I declare that He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I can rest in that. I can stop striving and trying to make everything happen on my own. 

Where does the strength of your heart come from? Have you allowed God to be that for you?

This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.



Saturday, 14 October 2017

Am I trying to do too much or is this a necessary stretching season?



Am I trying to do too much or is this a necessary stretching season? I have questioned myself this week in the midst of feeling exhausted and discouraged. I am big on sticking to my best yes and making sure that I have margin in my life. I feel like I have failed in that goal this month though. Have I tried to do too much? On an exhausted morning, I came to the conclusion that I had. I was ready to give up writing for this series and maybe pull out of some other commitments too.

I tried to get motivated. I tried to reason with myself. I tried to justify my decision. Then I spent time resting. I spent time recharging my soul listening to Emily Freeman’s Quiet Collection. I used my favourite oils in my diffuser. I decided to try writing once again. I wasn’t sure about what I had written and prayed over every word that was pulled from my brain and heart.

I came to the conclusion that it had been my tiredness talking. I may have said yes to more than usual for this month. It is stretching me. It is testing my self care skills. And yet, it is good. I love using my words to encourage.


When you look at your life in this moment. Are you trying to do too much or do you need to let your capacity stretch?

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: try. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.