Encouragement

No matter how strong or independent we might think that we are, we all need encouragement. When we have kids, we encourage them all of the time; whether they are walking for the first time or going through potty training. We start our lives with so much encouragement only to watch it fade away into cynicism. After encouraging comes guiding and directing, which is followed by a little criticism before we simply stop doing anything. “They’re adults, they will have to figure it out” is how we justify doing nothing. Sure, as adult children they may push back and resist and we (as parents) will eventually just stop. This attitude also takes over at work with us. We rarely encourage co-workers or hear encouragement from others. I would suggest that our human soul needs it, otherwise we become so cynical that we can seem negative.

Sports teams are full of encouraging moments on the bench. Watch a team score a touchdown or a player hit a homerun and you will see encouragement at its peak. Supervisors have a responsibility to encourage their people along the way. Not every hit is a homerun but sometimes the only thing driving people to try harder is just a little encouragement. For me, I’d been working about 12 years before I heard someone say, “great job”. Perhaps it was the first time I actually did something right 😉 but I was on a pretty successful career path. Supervisors at that time simply didn’t acknowledge good work. We need to change that. I often use restaurant servers as examples because I watch them as they work and they work hard! Tell them what a nice job they did for you. An extra tip says one thing but taking the time to tell them how they did will mean the world. Then, take that concept and start spreading to multiple aspects of your life, watch people’s reaction and sit back and smile.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Have you ever had one of those crazy experiences or maybe even a horrible string of days at work and then, when it was over, wonder how you made it through it all? Where do you find your strength and inspiration? Some of us can be motivated or inspired by other people while others are motivated by greed and winning.

If you are reading this blog, my guess is that the latter doesn’t do much for you. Sure, people can be motivating and we can be inspired by the strength or wisdom of someone but, behind it all is the Lord Himself. He goes before you to light paths and order things so that those people are in your life. They may be put there years before He needs to use them, but He knows that you’ll need them. Stop and think about all of the really horrible things that have happened in your life and then think about the places, people and circumstances that kept you going. At the time they seemed random but if you carefully look back, you will see God at work. He promised to never leave you so do not be afraid or discouraged; God right there with you – every step of the way.

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Orbits

I’ve said for a long time that most people function in orbits when it comes to their attitude, motivation, drive or simple ability to get along. If the peak of our performance where to be at the top, our attitude can be found somewhere in an oval shaped orbit. Sometimes we are very close, while other times we are far away. When we are far away from our peak, things get a little troubling. We are crabby or we don’t feel like doing anything. Our motivation and drive are really hard to find. When we love what we’re doing, we are in close orbit and when we loathe what we do, we are farther out. Sometimes our orbit even grows in size pushing us father away and sometimes it shrinks and we are always close. No matter what your position in life is: supervisor, employee, executive, line staff, mom, dad, brother or sister; you have to know what keeps you going or what makes you peak? Lisa finds her peak at the gym. It’s what gets her up at 4am, everyday. Some people find it in their work because it gives them satisfaction while others find it in their friends. The important thing, is to know what does it for you. It’s when people lose their focus or their drive that trouble begins. Find your focus and ask yourself where you are in your personal orbit, and then get close to the peak. Smiles and satisfaction await you.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Some people live near their focus point all of the time. These are the people that ALWAYS have a smile and kind word. They are the ones who can inspire. Do you have people in your life that inspire you and do you inspire others? It’s harder to know if you inspire others but I would guess that everyone does and they simply don’t realize it. Our human nature is to be social; we were not intended to be solitary creatures, God gave Eve to Adam to keep him company. This Old Testament verse asks us how can we help each other live Godly lives of love and goodness? It is meant to be a question whose answer lies in being social. If you accept the orbits concept, you will know when you are at your peak, which is when you should be helping those around you. When you are in deep orbit, you should seek those who will bring you back through positive encouragement, love and good deeds. When people are in deep orbit, they can become lost and that is when the devil steps in to lead them astray. If you are losing sight of your center point, surround yourself with those that can spur you on toward love. The bible is a place of inspiration and is filled with God’s love. If you are at your center point, share your joy with others and become a source of positive influence.

Every Step of the Way

No matter how strong or independent we might think that we are, we all need encouragement. When we have kids, we encourage them all of the time; whether they are walking for the first time or going through potty training. We all started our lives with so much encouragement only to feel it fade away into cynicism. After encouraging comes guiding and directing, which is followed by a little criticism before we simply stop doing anything for our kids. “They’re adults, they will have to figure it out” is how we justify doing nothing. Sure, as young adults we keep trying and they keep resisting and we eventually just stop trying to “help”. It’s not this way for all kids, but most. This attitude also takes over at work with us. We rarely encourage co-workers or hear encouragement from others. I would suggest that our human soul needs it, otherwise we become so cynical that we can seem negative. Sports teams are full of encouraging moments on the bench. Watch a team score a touchdown or a player hit a homerun and you will see encouragement at its peak. Supervisors have a responsibility to encourage their people along the way. Not every hit is a homerun but sometimes the only thing driving people to try harder is a little encouragement. For me, I’d been working about 12 years before I heard someone say, “great job”. Perhaps it was the first time I actually did something right. Seriously, I was on a pretty successful career path at the time but I don’t know what motivated me. Supervisors in my life simply didn’t acknowledge good work. We need to change that. I often use restaurant servers as examples because I watch them as they work and these people work hard! Tell them what a nice job they did for you. An extra tip says one thing but taking the time to tell them how they did will mean the world. Then, take that concept and start spreading it to multiple aspects of your life, watch people’s reaction and sit back and smile.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Have you ever had one of those crazy experiences or maybe even a horrible string of days at work and when it was over wonder how you made it through it all? Where do you find your strength and inspiration? Some of us can be motivated or inspired by other people and others by greed and winning. If you are reading this blog, my guess is that the latter doesn’t do much for you. Sure, people can be motivating and we can be inspired by the strength or wisdom of someone but behind it all is the Lord Himself. He goes before you to light paths and order things so that those people are in your life. They may be put there years before He needs to use them, but He knows what is best for you. Stop and think about all of the really horrible things that have happened in your life and then think about the places, people and circumstances that kept you going or helped you know how to manage it. At the time they seemed random but if you carefully look back, you will see God at work. He promised to never leave you so do not be afraid or discouraged; God is right there with you – every step of the way.

Give it your all

I had a conversation with my 16 year old son this weekend about his grades in school. He is a really good kid and we are very proud of him. He excels at anything he puts his mind to and there in lies our problem. What 16 year old likes school? We discussed that our high expectations about his grades are simply because we know he is smart. When pressed, he admitted to not really caring this year. The worst grade he is getting is a “C” so we’re lucky there but I like to make my point. He knows that this lasi-faire attitude won’t fly next school year. Ironically, I also heard this weekend from someone whom I had helped prepare for an upcoming promotional process. When he initially asked, he told me that a number of people encouraged him to test because he’d been on the job long enough so he figured “sure, why not”. Based on the sound of his voice, I could tell that he wasn’t really committed to it. When I spent a few hours with him, I knew he hadn’t mentally committed to the promotion and he seemed barely prepared for the rigors of the process. I offered a few tips to get ready, discussed confidence and competence and, wished him well. When he contacted me via e-mail, I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t score high enough to make the list. This grown man and this young man (boy) had in one thing in common – a failure to commit. Neither of them committed to doing the work needed to be successful. They both figured that if they put in some time that they would be okay. Doing something only half way gets you exactly that, half the reward.

“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

The moment I read this verse, I knew that I had to write about giving it your all, not doing things half way, especially worshiping God. I had no good idea how to tell the story of giving 100% until these two things happened this weekend. I started to think about what does giving less that 100% to God look like and then I realized the example was me! Sin keeps me from giving God all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. I didn’t mean to be, but I was lucky to be a “C” student. No matter how hard I try, work or school demands get in the way. Sometimes, I’m too tired or simply lazy to break out the bible and start reading my daily devotion. I’m too busy to stop and pray or give thanks, besides God knows. These are the same reasons why my son’s grades are weak or why my friend didn’t pass the test. God knew our struggles would be greater than we could handle so he put a plan in motion to save us from ourselves – He sent us Jesus. He is the one who told us to give our all to God. He knew that He would have to intervene on our behalf and take sin away from us. Jesus left us so many great examples and stories but He took all of the sin out of our lives. God knows that we will not be perfect and he doesn’t expect it, but we can show Him our love by diving in a little deeper, spending a little more time and showing what the love of Jesus means in our lives. Give it your all!

Opportunities Abound

Nothing motivates a group of employees like a shower of praise for good work. There is an old saying that “one ‘oh no!’ will wipe out a series of ‘atta boys’”. This does not have a place in the progressive leaders being. Everyone fails or makes significant errors at some point and leaders need to recognize these as opportunities for development or encouragement. There is a story that many have not heard that comes from IBM. A working group was given a 5 million dollar budget to create a new software program. The group worked tirelessly, overcoming obstacles along the way and stayed within budget. The senior management of the company was brought together for the presentation on their final results and the program failed to meet any of the expected results. Following the meeting, the CEO was asked approached by a senior leader and asked “that was a complete disaster, when should we get rid of the team leader?” The CEO replied “why would we get rid of any of them? We just invested 5 million dollars in their education.” As that message spread it told people that it was okay to fail or make mistakes which caused morale and creativity to pick up. Indirectly, they sent the message that they praise good, hard work.

Ezekiel 34:26 – “I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season, there will be showers of blessing.”

God has also blessed us with showers from above. He created everything that we can see and those things that we can not. How blessed are we to see a sunrise or sunset?  The majestic colors that they create and the shades of light that are cast are unmatched. The showers of blessing that rain down on us each second of every day can not be counted. Human beings are incredible creations that fight off sickness, repair injuries and respond to the environment around us. We are however condemned to death because of sin. No mater how many “atta boys” we have, we will still die because of sin. The ultimate blessing we have is the gift given to us through Christ; the gift of eternal life. God blesses us here on earth but the real blessing is that we have Christ in our lives today and will have eternal life because of it. All of our “oh no’s!” are wiped out by His one act of accepting the punishment for our sins. God invested His only son in our education, He won’t let us fail.