Purpose and Meaning
I often confuse these words in my speech, but they are actually quite different.
Purpose is where I am headed. The outcome that my actions are building toward. It's why in the future tense.
Meaning is how I make sense of what is going on. What story do I tell myself that makes me choose my actions and direction. It's why in the past and present tense.
I can make meaning on my way to finding purpose, and I can draw meaning from what I choose as my purpose. I can even find meaning in my purpose and purpose in my meaning. (!)
Where are you confusing purpose and meaning?
Authenticity and curiosity are core guiding principles of my leadership. They are at the center of how God made me, and I believe that humbly seeking to live these qualities out each day keeps me close to faith, truth, and purpose.
I have been blessed with relationships of trust, faith, and joy. Authentic leadership requires a constant awareness of where others are coming from individually and collectively; so that the team's engagement is deep, culture becomes intentional, and purpose feels clear.
As a Christian, meeting others where they are coming from does not mean hiding my faith or identity. It means creating a space where everyone can feel comfortable being themselves and asking questions. I have found that leading in this manner creates opportunities for me to show my faith through actions and share my faith in words once people are curious enough to ask.
Curiosity fuels my work and leadership in worldly and spiritual ways. My intellectual hunger makes me a lifelong academic and experiential learner, so that I might be best informed in leadership, strategy, problem-solving, analysis, and communication. My spiritual seeking puts my activity into a context full of encouragement, awe, and wonder. How can my actions as a servant of God bring my life closer to His Kingdom? Questions like this fuel my curiosity to receive, let go, accept, and grow as a child of God.
I am grateful for a life where I have had such opportunities to be an authentic and curious leader. I pray that going forward my own practices of theological study, centering prayer, mindfulness, and deep listening might enrich my faith journey as well as those around me.
What are your core values of leadership?
“Twisted empty sugar sweet center”
A few nights ago I had a dream, from which I woke up and wrote “twisted empty sugar sweet center”. I don't remember the dream, but I have a feeling this phrase was associated with discovering a center that was full of promises but void of truth.
I find a twisted empty sugar sweet center in my life when I buy into my old story of the tragic hero. The mythology goes something like this: Life is difficult, and I'm working hard, but it's never enough to escape the challenges of life.
Perhaps it is the tragic hero who has a twisted empty sugar sweet center. My path to this center is one of seeing myself as a victim. My steps down the path are filled with over-eating, stuffing my emotions, ignoring my faith practices, distracting myself with media binges, and sleeping too much. I've realized recently that these steps also include pushing myself too hard, crash dieting, working out without balance, comparing myself to others, and not sleeping enough. Whether I'm running toward or away from victimhood, the tragic hero story can dominate my days.
Where is the twisted empty sugar sweet center in your life?
Agreements and Truth
I can be a stickler for agreements. Written agreements have brought clarity to confused expectations time and time again in my life. (Especially when work is involved.)
The gold here is that my tendency to form agreements helps to avoid conflict. The shadow here is that my tendency to form agreements comes partially from an unhealthy fear of conflict.
I recently had a contractor on my home blatantly violate our written agreement, so I had to fire him. I like the man. In my heart I didn't want to fire him. I wanted to give him a second chance, even though he had already had a few of those. The contract acted as my backbone, because I didn't have one to show him the door myself.
Funny how I wrote “I had to fire him”. Somehow the contract made the choice instead of me. Truth be told I chose to fire him, just like I chose to write the contract.
Even if somehow there were no contract, firing the contractor would have still been the right thing to do. His actions were out of line. Firing him was the best course of action for me to take.
Are you one, like I am, to hide in agreements instead of standing for your truth? Or are you one to hide in your truth instead of creating agreements?
Boundaries and Lines
Anger rises to protect me, because I am afraid.
A boundary has been violated and a line has been crossed.
My gut tells me that my life is at risk, but it is not.
My emotions say that everything will fall apart, but it won't.
Yet my fear and anger are correct.
A boundary has been violated and a line has been crossed.
How do you know when your boundaries and lines are serving you? When do they get in the way?
Around 8 years of age I got stung near my eye by a bee. When I started crying, my father discarded my pain and told me I was overreacting.
As a man I have been told many times and in many ways not to cry.
Today I cry when I'm sad. Sometimes I cry when I'm afraid and sometimes I even cry out of joy.
I cry because I am free. Each tear is a bound muscle releasing from stories that held it still.
How can you create more freedom for tears on your own face?
I try to live my best life, but I make mistakes.
I try to be mindful throughout my days, yet I catch myself distracted.
I try to take in all the beauty of this world, even though I can't possibly begin to perceive it all.
I try to love other people, and often I end up hurting their feelings.
I try to love God like God loves me, although I am far from capable of such a thing.
I try, and I fail, and I try.
Sitting with those I love
Sitting with those I love, I learn to trust that they love me.
I learn that it's safe.
Listening to those I love, I learn to see patterns that were hidden.
I learn to see what I don't because they do.
Opening to those I love, I learn of emotions beneath the surface.
I learn to feel.
Watching those I love, I learn to accept and care for my flaws.
I learn to grow.
Feeling that which belongs to those I love, I learn how connected we are.
I learn empathy.
Helping those I love, I learn how powerful I can be.
I learn to love.
Projecting onto those I love, I find shadow dancing with light.
I learn how to look in the mirror.
Sitting with those I love, I learn to trust that we share love.
I learn to live.
Reality and Context Stories
I use context stories to describe reality to myself. We all do.
In my recent journey of deepening my emotional self relationship, I found myself imagining a metaphor in which a scoop is holding and carrying my emotions. In my version of that context story, my scoop is growing larger and stronger so that it might carry more and more emotions.
But this context story, like all metaphors, is not an accurate representation of what is going on. It has undertones of emotions being heavy, needing to be carried, insatiable, etc.
I'm not sure how to improve this context story yet. And I know my new story will be as much of an improvement as it will be an imperfection. But I am choosing to set my intention on a new context story for my emotional journey.
Where are you telling yourself context stories with strong undertones? How might awareness of those undertones give you space to create a new story?
I generally hold certain values near to my heart and mind. The list sometimes shifts; but generally they are curiosity, love, faith, authenticity, and abundance.
I've learned over time that some values I hold because they are natural to my being, while others I hold because I'm afraid I might lose them, and others I hold because I feel they are lacking.
Here is where my values currently stand in that sense:
Curiosity – natural to me overall but I want more passion and energy behind it
Love – present with my immediate family, but I want more intimacy in my life
Faith – mine has never been stronger, in part due to recent life struggles
Authenticity – I believe this is an area of natural strength for me
Abundance – this is my newest, and least developed value
Abundance used to be important to me simply out of fear of its opposite, scarcity. But when I hold a value out of fear of its opposite I'm not holding much of anything but the fear itself.
Are any of your values rooted in fear?
Which values are most natural to you and which are growth areas?