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Don’t forget to laugh!

A fun experience from Belgium last week.
Departing our hotel room, on the second floor, fully loaded down with all our luggage, we arrived at the lift.
Our unspoken plan was to take the lift to the ground floor reception and checkout.
The visual indicator showed that the lift was on the ground floor “0.”
We both looked at the lift call buttons and independently of each other, we pushed the call buttons.
One button pointed upwards, the other button pointed downwards.
One of us pushed up, the other pushed down.
Quizzically, we looked at one another, thinking “Why did you do that?”
Do you remember the classic book on communication styles, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray?
The book highlights the key differences between how men and women think, act, and communicate.
I must admit – that was my first thought as we stood waiting on the lift to arrive.
We turned to one another again and laughed!
It was a silly moment, but one that highlighted the simple differences between our thinking.
Stepping into the lift, we did finally arrive at our destination, after a short detour upwards, to the third floor!
After 28 years of marriage, our conclusion is this…
No two people ever see all things precisely the same!
Understanding and appreciating one another’s differences is the key to healthy relationships.
And don’t forget to laugh – often!! 😅
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡?

Are you being tested?

Many things look good until they are 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝.
Many theories look good until they are 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝.
Many software applications look good until they are 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝.
Many people look good until they are 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝.
Any piece of rope will hold when there is no weight on it, but we also need to know that we can count on it, when the heavy weight it was designed to carry, actually holds.
We have to test everything that we produce because things can go wrong.
And like things, we too are frequently tested in all kinds of ways in life.

Life is the field of tests.

We are living in times of great testing. No one is exempt from life’s trials.
I do not believe that it was intended that our earthly experience would be a smooth and easy one.
It is my experience that tests always come.
Accidents, illness, old age, the loss of a loved one, death, unhappiness, depression, tragedies, financial loss etc.
How do you see you life now?
Sometimes it may seem that life will bring some unexpected challenges – almost daily at times.
Tests are designed to show our strengths and our weaknesses.
We cannot choose most of the tests we face in life, we can however choose how we’re going to face them.
Facing up to every challenge, every test, is a chance for you to become the person you are meant to be.
These moments truly define us and prove what we are really made of.
Personally, I know that when you face the tests of life, when you learn from them and grow with them, you can become that person you are meant to be.
Always remember to put things into perspective, tests always eventually pass.
I am grateful for well proven guiding principles of faith, obedience, work, morality, honesty, persistency, integrity that always prove themselves when they are tested – when they are required to perform.
Turning to a family member, a friend, a work colleague or to your faith can help.
Who do you turn to or what principles do you follow, to help you through your tests in life?
#tests #life

Scaling

“On a 𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐞 of 1 to 10, where do you currently rate yourself?”.
As a coach and mentor, frequently I use the 𝒔𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 approach to measure progress.
As the coach, it can provide me with some really valuable insight into the coachee, their thinking and where they are at a given point in time with any specific situation.
Here are some examples:
On a 𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐞 of 1 -10…
…to what degree have you made progress towards this goal?
…how satisfied are you in this area?
…how determined are you to take this action.
There are always powerful benefits of 𝒔𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 too in turn for the coachee, by helping them to assess their position in relation to their ideal outcome i.e. their 10/10.
Many follow up questions usually follow on, as I probe further in any given situation where someone is trying to progress…
For example here is one situation to consider:
• You said that you were a 3 in regard to your confidence when providing feedback to your team member.
• Tell me what makes it a 3 for you, what is your experience?
• What does it feel like being a 3?
• What are you thinking about as a 3?
• What are the reasons for a 3?
• What feedback have you had to suggest you might be a 3?
• What are the reasons you are a 3 as opposed to a 7?
• What’s the difference for you?
• …….And many other questions follow on too!
It is more important to focus on the differences and then on the progress that can be made.
I have found 𝒔𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 to be a particularly helpful tool and use it frequently…
It’s great to try it out!
How can you apply this tool in your coaching conversations?

Discouraged?

𝐖𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲 – 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭?
Yet, sometimes life happens and it can be discouraging.
At times things we hope for and dream about just don’t turn out that way.
– the pay rise didn’t happen
– you didn’t get the expected exam grade
– the relationship you worked hard at didn’t work out
– you didn’t get the job
– the house purchase fell through
– redundancy became a reality
– ill health sets you back
– you just can’t understand that new language
– its just been a really tough day
When things don’t turn out the way you expected, then discouragement can settle into our minds and can make us feel sad.
None of us are immune from discouragement and especially in these difficult times, reality frequently does not conform to our wishes.
Discouragement does not have to mean defeat!
See it as it really is and don’t blow things up out of proportion.
Overcoming discouragement is absolutely critical for all of us if we are to bounce back and move forward in life.

So, what can you do?

First and foremost – you can change your attitude. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do.
Secondly, find something that you are good at right away, get on with it and dispel any negative self-talk, feelings or emotions that may be impacting upon you.
Thirdly – don’t compare yourself with others, remember you are on your own unique path in life.
Fourthly – turn to a friend.
Fifthly – count your many blessings, name them one by one.
Finally – pray about it, to understand and find the lesson.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:9).
To receive comfort and guidance from our Father, we simply need to reach out to Him. I know He is always listening.
It is through the experience of disappointment and discouragement that great treasures and pearls of wisdom in life frequently appear.
What do you do when you feel discouraged?

Do you care?

Do you question your motives?
The crux of my personal philosophy in life, the nucleus of my personal motivation, is centred upon a core belief that “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” a phrase attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and crafted so purposely by him.
In thousands of coaching conversations, I have learned a little.
As you….
𝐋𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝
𝐀𝐬𝐤 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬
𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞
𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞.
Showing interest in others is about being yourself,
being genuine
and sincere in your interest in another person.
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐃𝐨 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐌𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞?

Slow Down.

Did you miss anything?
Every day, I try to learn a new Dutch verb and place it in a sentence using the different tenses.
Today’s verb was “haasten” – to hurry.
For a short moment, as I practiced the tenses out loud, I laughed a little.
One of my key messages over the last few months, including yesterday, is the complete opposite – to 𝐒𝐋𝐎𝐖 𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍!
We often move too fast.
One route into our home here in the Netherlands, brings us along a road with several speed bumps.
For the optimum experience, I have learned that is it best to reduce my speed, slow down and steady my course.
It is a simple, but critical lesson to learn.
We all know the uncomfortable consequences of a high-speed journey over a speed bump!
I have concluded that speeding up isn’t the answer.
And so, it is with life.
Choosing to slow down, over obstacles and challenges in life is the answer.
In addition, for a much deeper examination of a course of study or to give consideration to a particular challenge, spend a little more time exploring by slowing down.
It will in the long run allow you to speed up elsewhere.
It takes effort.
Sometimes great effort, to catch ourselves and slow down.
My experience… slowing down helps to prevent you from missing anything!
How will you slow down today?

Being heard

Have you ever met someone who not only listened to you but really tried to understand you?
How did you feel about the person?
Have you been heard recently?
I mean, 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒅.
You may have to think long and hard about that question.
It may have been quite a while since you feel that you have been heard.
Can you remember what it felt like?
What words come to mind?
We can all seek to be heard beyond simply the words that we are speaking.
As a coach, frequently I find that coachees want me to know and hear the feelings of their heart.
Sometimes that can take a few sessions to achieve.
My experience has taught me that if you have been heard, then you are much more willing to listen.
Real listening can’t happen unless we have a sincere desire to understand what we’re hearing.
Sometimes – that isn’t easy for many of us, including me too!
Why? Because we also need to suspend our judgement.
You know that voice in your head that says – I know better.
Or that frustrated impatient feeling in your heart which says – I already know how.
When actually – we don’t know better or how at all.
We may think we do, but we don’t!
Listening to someone means getting out of your own head and trying to understand another person’s mind.
It’s all about empathy.

Here are some tips…

1. Slow down.
2. Let go of your own thoughts and opinions
3. Listen with your whole body, not just with your ears, eyes, and head, but by mirroring their body movements (without being too obvious.)
4. Be genuinely curious, by focusing all your attention on the other person and being present.
5. Become comfortable with silence, allowing the other person space and time to access their inner wisdom.
6. Don’t interrupt and wait until the other person is ready for you to speak.
Listening is crucial to presence.
Why not take a moment, reflect on the tips above and help someone to be heard today?
#heard #presence #listening #empathy #silence

Mission Service

Recently, I have been asked this a few times; “What do you do as Mission Leaders?”

My response was “Many things!”

One of our key responsibilities that Monic and I share is for the well-being of our missionaries.

Let me explain further….

Mission life is segmented into a 6-week transfer cycle.

Each cycle starts and ends with arrivals & departures of missionaries.

In between our days are regularly filled with preparation, planning, training sessions, conferences, leadership meetings, travel, medical issues, phone calls, zoom sessions and much more, not forgetting of course, our precious regular catch-up time with family time too, via Zoom!

Professionally, as a coach and counsellor, one of my favourite things to do in life has always been 1-1 coaching sessions. During the 6-week cycle, every missionary in the mission (currently 51) has personal 1-1 time with each mission leaders. In mission lingo, they are called interviews, but essentially, having sat through thousands of coaching sessions, that is exactly what they are.

The last few days have been filled with these sessions.

Each interview (mini coaching session) begins and ends with prayer.

In between, we slow down, talk, laugh, cry, catch up, share, consider, counsel, challenge, soften, teach, learn and ultimately, we listen.

Listening

In fact, we listen a lot.

Then we listen a little more.

Some time ago, I shared a thought about the word “listen”.

The word has six letters. Rearrange them and the word “silent” is formed. In Dutch the six letters become even shorter, with only four “stil”

Frequently, I find as I listen, oftentimes a missionary will suddenly go quiet. Years ago, I used to feel a little awkward when the first quiet spell sets in, but now I understand that these are the moments of real inspiration, when they are thinking.

I don’t know what they are thinking, only that they are thinking!

Experience has taught me that it is in these very quiet active times, when the least seems to be happening, that the most is actually happening.

In those quiet moments one missionary recently shared this verse of scripture, found in Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” Regularly, we hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to guide each of us in our missionary work. It is beautiful, reassuring and fills our hearts with love and pure knowledge.

Learning to be still

To listen and to be silent (still) are inseparably connected.

These short interview sessions are by design an opportunity to learn, to listen and grow.

What I have learned most in my life has come in many ways, but the largest part has come from listening to those with much greater experience than me. Generally, it tends to be those who have lived longer and learned many important things that I needed to know – one of which is learning how to be quiet, to be still and to listen.

Now however, we are being taught frequently by those much younger than ourselves. Daily we find, tender mercies from the Lord, as He has prepared these young people (18 to 26 years of age) to preach the gospel to the world. Indeed, it is a mighty miracle.

We are off to do some more mini-coaching sessions.

Please choose to slow down, be quiet, learn to listen, listen to learn, then you too will hear the whisperings of the spirit of the Lord.

#HearHim

Change 6 things!

Facilitating a meeting earlier this week with our Mission Leadership Council, I used one of my favourite little change activities. I paired each participant up with a buddy, had them stand back to back and then invited them to change 6 things about their appearance.
I always love running this activity as it is such a great little icebreaker. It went very well and everyone had some fun together.
There were also some great points made by the participants and some very positive in the moment learning takeaways…
Two points I want to make today about this little activity.
Firstly, I always change something about myself. It is always very difficult for them to spot. When they are all busy changing various things about themselves, I simply sneakily remove my wedding ring. Eventually, after several guesses, someone always identifies the change. I then explain how difficult it is to remove my ring. Its been there a long time – 27 years! And it has great sentimental value, which brings back many memories too.
𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝟏- Change is sometimes difficult because we have been doing things the same way, for a long time. Little things, are often BIG things!
Secondly, after the activity, everyone changed their appearance, back to how it was. I didn’t ask them to do it, yet every single one of them did!
Why did they do that?
𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝟐- Simply stated, because that was the way they were before and frequently its much more comfortable there!
Two simple reasons why change is sometimes difficult to achieve!
William Bridges Transition Model, is a great place to start to understand more about change.
What change are you facing today?

Understanding

“Do you understand what I mean?” he asked.
In many relationships, one of the big barriers to understanding is a lack of communication, a lack of talking things out, a lack of keeping things in the open. Oftentimes whilst counselling, one half of a relationship will sit in brooding silence, hugging any grievances close to their heart, rather than being open and honest.
Pressures can mount, small things are magnified and frequently much more than is true can be imagined in their minds by either party. Fragmentary listening, misinterpretation of ideas, and mistaken meanings of words can cause misunderstandings. And so there is much not knowing, much mistrust, much heartache, much unhappiness and sitting hurting, in silence. Happiness will not survive in pent up places.
So how do we strengthen these relationships?
We need to engage in meaningful conversations.
It all starts with the greatest of all the communication skills, and that is being an effective listener. That means slowing down. Being listened to is one of the highest forms of respect and recognition. Really listening is not about gaining information, rather it is to gain understanding.
Some years ago Marvin J. Ashton said “Communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally.”
Regularly setting aside time to talk where there are no distractions can help to solve problems.
Why not start today and resolve to listen a little more.
When will you set aside time to communicate and really listen?