What a great word… and what an overlooked emotion and tool. Rather, I should say an emotion/tool often misapplied in our lives, which creates stress but accomplishes little. We are busy, very busy, without an understanding of what urgency is really about. Urgency is all about achieving success, no matter the area of life.
Grace is unmerited favor or kindness, for instance, when you do something nice for someone for no reason at all you are being gracious. Mercy is unwarranted forgiveness, or at the very least, unwarranted forbearance. Accountability is the process whereby an individual is held responsible, to an expectation. Let’s face it, finding the right balance in showing grace and mercy, while holding people accountable can be challenging.
Bob Dylan, a singer and musician, in one of his songs says” you’re gonna serve somebody, it maybe the Lord, it maybe the Devil, but you’re gonna serve somebody”. He is right on target: you are serving somebody whether you know it or not. This is an unavoidable fact of life. Joshua from the Old Testament said to the nation of Israel after they entered the promised land:
We tend to think expressing gratitude is appropriate at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but not necessarily in the workplace. This notion may explain why, according to one survey, Americans are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else. Such an attitude, however, ignores several research-backed reasons why gratitude can make leaders more effective and improve workplace culture and productivity.
Sabotage is setting into place forces, usually concealed, which lead to destruction. Self-sabotage is the setting into place forces, which lead to my own failure. Self-sabotage is almost always unconscious. It occurs when I behave in a way that undermines, or totally blocks, my ability to reach my goals.
Check out this short video for more on Self-Sabotage:
Putting first things first is likely one of the most important and most difficult challenges we face as adults. There are so many pressures and all of them come with the insistence that they are the MOST important. When everything is the MOST important, paralysis ensues and nothing gets done.
Earlier this week I was speaking with a student in the elevator about her day. She commented that it was a busy day, but that she was there to finish a degree she had delayed years earlier. She went on to explain that when she had her daughter, she stopped school to focus on her daughter with the intent of starting back when her daughter started Kindergarten. Her daughter started Kindergarten this fall and she started back on her degree, determined to get it finished. She obviously knows how to prioritize her life and understands how to put first things first. While her choices may not be the same for you, it is still up to you to make conscious choices about your priorities.
While you are in the season of getting your degree, don’t be easily pulled away. Jesus, in talking about the cost of discipleship in Luke 14:25ff, urges those listening to count the cost with the realization that following him will be costly, but will also be worth everything.
The same concept applies, although with obviously lesser consequences, regarding the pursuit of your academic goals. You have counted the cost and started your degree. Don’t treat this casually by missing nights unnecessarily, or coming late unless unavoidable, by not completing your homework, or plagiarizing your work. This is YOURfuture; Put first things first.
Everything is not of equal importance, and the importance of different priorities changes over time. Keeping the first things first is the surest path to success. Take the time at least yearly, but preferably once a quarter to evaluate the different priorities in your life. You can always find an excuse to delay your goals and procrastinate, but the one who suffers when you do that, in the long-run, is you and potentially your family. Put first things first.
No one wants to be labeled a “quitter,” but there are times when EVERYONE has felt the pull to quit. It could be a job, a friendship, a project, an educational program, even a marriage. If you are human, you have fell the temptation to quit. Sometimes quitting is the right answer, but most of the time real victory and growth take place when you are willing to persevere; to stick with it, in spite of the temptation to quit.
I’m sitting at my desk this morning and receive a phone call. It was from a student. She was surprised that I answered the phone and was prepared to leave a message, so it caught her off guard for a minute. We chatted a bit and then she got down to what she called about.
It seems she received a letter in the mail from me yesterday. She picked up her mail and pulled into her drive and pondered whether or not to open it, thinking it was a bill or some other kind of bad news. She has been going through some difficult challenges and didn’t know if she could handle another piece of bad news. Still, she steeled herself and opened the letter, only to discover it was a congratulatory letter for her making the Dean’s List. She said she sat there cried happy tears and has read and re-read the letter several times.
All I did was send the letter, she was the one who put in the hard work to achieve this honor, but she was so appreciative of my acknowledgment of her effort. I have to be honest I got a little teary listening to her.
The faster we go the less there seems time to give a compliment or recognize the efforts of those who are truly giving their best . . . and the more these kind of encouragements are needed. I know I like to feel appreciated, and I suspect we all do. So, be a Leader, let your people know you recognize the work they are doing and make it your goal to be an encourager to someone every day. We don’t have to allow our culture or society to drive us to be cogs in some machine determined to use us up and leave us empty. We are created in the image of God and that is all about relationship. Relationships are built and nurtured when we take the time to value each other.
This seems obvious, but you can’t really be a great leader until you have learned how to be a great follower. There are several types of followers: the actively disengaged, the slacker, the confronter, the “yes” man and the fully engaged. Each one has specific characteristics, however, it is the fully engaged Follower who rises to become the great Leader.