3 Things To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.
Virgil

I have always seen God’s word to be easy to understand when it comes to the hard things in life that we are going through. Whether it is a divorce, a death of a loved one, bankruptcy, job loss, God has already pre-planned a course of action to help overcome those things. For our minds to comprehend, we tend to believe that God just shouldn’t allow that to happen anyway, right? Unfortunately, we live in a world that has fallen from grace. We witness that in the book of Genesis with the fall of man.

Adam and Eve had taken a bite of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Honestly, I wonder why God put that tree there in the first place if He didn’t want the man to eat of it. Truthfully, I believe that God wanted to have a relationship that was honest, open, and trustworthy. He didn’t want a relationship with His creation that would make them be robots. He wanted a relationship that was a two-way street that allowed them to make decisions on their own. Knowing what God had already told them, they still disobeyed God’s direction. With that, God cursed the ground in which they lived on. Every action has a consequence whether it be good or bad.

The tide turned on the earth when evil prevailed. The man was no longer the sinless creature that was created to roam the earth. Now, sin had entered. But with God, He always has a plan in place for when things unravel. Through the word, He gave us three (3) steps to overcome those troubles;

1. Always be joyful. No matter what we are going through in life, God has called us to be joyful. Like it says in Proverbs 17:2, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Find something that you can laugh at or write a gratitude list. No matter what you are going through, there are things that we can do to make ourselves joyful. For example, while I was going through unemployment, we watched M*A*S*H. I used to not really like this show, but as I have grown in “maturity” I have grown fond of laughing at the antics of these surgeons of the famous 4077.

2. Never stop praying. I grew up believing that we should only come to God one time with our request and it is done. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. We find in the book of Matthew 7:7-8, where Jesus directed His disciples to “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” This changed my paradigm with how I believe when it comes to prayer. While you are going through the storm, ask…and keep on asking. That is pretty neat to see that God has given us a standard to communicating with Him and wanting to have that deep relationship with Him.

3. Be thankful. There is a change in our heart that occurs when we find ourselves being thankful. When we find something to be thankful for, it opens our heart to receive what God has in store for us regardless the circumstance. The fact of the matter is that when the heart is thankful, it is not hardened to the miracles that could occur.

There are a lot of examples that you can find out there to overcome during a struggle. These three are just a small way to get through the day and overcome the moment. As we get through these things, we are more opened and available to get through those issues.

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Why I Cut Ties With Most of My Former Co-Workers

With every job that we have, we create new relationships and friendships with those that we work with. At a certain point, we tend to allow them into our inner circle. Then you have those that you work with that are acquaintances.  There is nothing wrong with them, but you simply don’t mesh as well as you do with those in your inner circle. There are even those that you don’t like. Face it, not everyone gets along even at work. Shocking, right?

When I departed from my last job, I felt guilty. Though it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t get a final goodbye, I felt like there was not an opportunity for closure. What I decided to do was to make a video and put it on social media to express my gratitude and my goodbye to them. All the while, I kept seeing updates from many of these co-workers about how awesome their job was and how amazing this company was. I struggled for a short time with it. Every time I would see it, I would have a heavy feeling hit me. I mean, I had dedicated a long time to this company and was discarded like I didn’t matter. The pain was real.

What I decided to do next was unexpected. I began cutting ties. I began unfriending people. I began removing emails. I began cleaning the plate. I wanted…no I needed to start over. Those that were not part of my inner circle, I made an attempt to clear the plate. Those in my inner circle that I worked with knew the pain I felt and understood what I was going through. I didn’t tell them I was doing this because they were not on my “cut list.” But they understood the pain.

Is it wrong to cut ties? Absolutely not! For me, it was causing feelings that were not healthy and I honestly did not have a close relationship with those I cut ties with. Why put me through the pain of bitterness? That is not to say that I should not forgive and move on. I have done that. But I don’t need to allow myself the opportunity to be bitter.

Should you cut ties with former co-workers? That is up to do you. For me, it was a refreshing opportunity to start over with my professional life.

Have You Forgiven God?

 

        It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?  We all know that when we ask God to forgive us, we have received His forgiveness.  But what happens when God does something to tick you off?  I know what your spiritual mind is saying, “I would never be mad at God because God is good.”  Let us be honest with ourselves and think about the last time that we were mad at God for doing something that we didn’t like or didn’t do something that wanted Him to do.  Sure, it is all in His will and in His timing. But our flesh cries out in anger when it doesn’t get what it wants.

I was taken to the book of Ruth for this question. Everything in life as they knew it was grand.  Elimelech and Naomi took their family and moved to the land of Moab.  It was there that their children would marry the Moabite women and begin their lives.

Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.”
Ruth 1:3-5

Naomi was left with her two daughter-in-laws alone in this place.  All that Naomi had longed for and lived for was snatched from her hands when her husband and children died. So bitter, that she changed her name from Naomi to Mara which means “bitter.” Why was Naomi so bitter? Let’s read.

“So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me? So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.”
Ruth 1:19-22

Going through changes always raises the eye brow of the unexpecting passerby.  You know what I mean?  You try to quit smoking and so now, you have decided to have only gum at your desk.  Next thing you know it, you are the Super Bubble King of the world.  That person who used to bum a cigarette off of you now feels awkward and abandoned by your treason.   The past several years for me have been marked and marred with changes.  For you, a change is just something you find in the seat of your car.  For me, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s more like Jon Acuff’s Quitter, I have become a serial changer.  I may have to adapt a Change: Closing the Gap between your Cushion and Your Checkbook. I have discovered the art of frugality.

      Since 2006, I have found myself going from single, broke, confused, and daunted to married, making ends meet, enlightened, and daring. But I have had to make changes in my everyday life to serve the purpose to which God has put into my heart.  In order to do that, I have to change relationships, change jobs, change houses, change lifestyles, etc.  To the average Joe, I am a changer.  I constantly am going through change and probably will do so until the day I go home.

Something that struck me is that without change, my life would be boring and I would be broke.  Change is the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit that lies within me.  Without change, I would find myself wandering alone on a deserted road wondering what to make out of life.  It’s not just me who is addicted to change.  Ask the average Christian and we will tell you that we are addicted to change.  We change churches like we do clothes.  We change music styles to cover the real music we like.  We change our clothes because we would hate to be seen wearing a Camel’s shirt.

This thought was brought on by a book I am reading called Developing the Leader within You by John Maxwell.  In that, I read “to be a leader you must preserve all through your life the attitude of being receptive to new ideas.  The quality of leadership you will give will depend upon your ability to evaluate new ideas, to separate change for the sake of change from change for the sake of me. –William A Hewitt.”

For the sake of you; change is vital.  We must change to better ourselves as a society, as a people, and as a person.  God did not develop the human mind to stay the same but to change.  How so?  In Galatians 6:15, we read “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. God doesn’t so much care about your denomination, your cross, your Jesus Juke, etc.  What they want to see is that change in you.

With that said, have you forgiven God for allowing the doors of these difficulties to be opened instead of closed? Have you changed your name from Naomi to Mara? Or have you taken that sorrow and made the change of heart towards something greater?

3 Ways to Effectively Train Your Team

 

Over the years, I have found myself in a position of teaching and leading others. One of the things that I have learned quickly is that training is not a one size fits all. I would see people leaving these training seasons that we would have to go to with glazed over eyes. After a few of these training events, I began to ask the question – what is the big disconnect?

The major connection that I found about these courses is that they are geared to teach all people one way. The problem with this is that not every person learns the same way. Some learn by visual. Some learn by doing. Some learn by both, Some learn by different methods. I believe that we are doing a disservice in how we train our employees.

After seeing these souls go through the wringer with the way we were trained, I was determined to find a way to help resolve this issue. I was given an opportunity to lead 40+ co-workers into a training program regarding a new software system that our company was launching. This would be no easy feat. Not only do you have the different learning styles, you have the generational gap that we were embracing in our culture. From ages 20 to 80, there had to be a way to connect each of them with this new system in a methodical way.

First, as a team, we would conduct a group training which is standard for these types of events. As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of glazed over looks. There were comments on how this was counter-productive and a waste of time. There were even comments from those who trained, “Less is Better.” You know the drill, right? I approached our team with a new method to add; the three-step program.

  1. Team Building. Cliche, right? Listen to this one. Our department was set up with rows that had between 5-9 people in them. I would take each row for 60 minutes at a time and go over the steps to the new system (There were multiple components to this new system which means we took an hour for each of these components). I would break the ice with a joke (I know – not professional but very effective) and proceed with the things that we had to cover. This time was split into half; 30 minutes of talking, 30 minutes of doing.
  2. Smaller Group Training. We would take groups of 3 people in 30-45 minute increments. I would find out what their learning styles were, write them down, and we would talk over the blockages that they were having. Each group was from the initial Team Building exercises that were still struggling with the concepts before the main launch. They were given time for hands-on for 30 minutes to an hour following our time together.
  3. One-on-One. These were sessions that were requested by individuals that were still struggling. The team member had to specifically request for this time and they were allotted one hour at a time to ask any question without fear of being made to look stupid. They were allowed to voice their frustration without fear of retaliation. They were able to walk through with me, hands-on, with the issues that they were running into. I was able to give them techniques for remembering how to work through the system and encouraged them through the process.

This all sounds like it takes a lot of time, right? It wasn’t. As a matter of fact, this process took three weeks total before the release. Yes, you read that right. In addition to this three-step program, we split the trainers up to walk each aisle for an hour a day during this training session to give the users time to have hands-on experience in a test environment. This allowed them to make mistakes, find bugs, ask questions, and feel comfortable with the system. If the user felt comfortable, we would require them to attend the smaller group training sessions.

At the end of this training session, we had a high success rate of understanding. Only a hand full of users were lacking confidence and the ability to use the system which was not at the fault of the training but the user’s level of confidence. Did I give up on that hand full group of people? Nope. I gave them additional One-on-One training in a test environment at their desk, made arrangements for them to ask more questions, to be able to vent their concerns and fears, and began to help them grow confidence in themselves that they could do this.

Today, there are still high accolades on this method of training from many of the employees who went through it. What would you add to make it better or change?

Creating a Culture That is Consistent with Reality

Long have we heard in the marketplace that great culture leads to profits. We have gone so far to say in our employment ads and recruitment efforts that “we are the best because we only hire the best” only to find out…this simply is not true. It begs to question; “Is your organization’s culture consistent with reality?” Let me explain.

In reality, we write out our mission statements and offer incentives on making it happen throughout our workplaces. However, studies show us that most employees…do not believe that the mantra of their workplace culture is accurately portrayed. According to Vital Smarts,

” Overall, the study, which surveyed more than 1,200 employees, managers and executives, found that employees have a much more negative view of their corporate culture than their bosses. And, the more senior a person is in the organization, the more positive their perception of their company culture.” – vitalsmarts.com*

What is the big disconnect? Honestly, I believe that it that, in reality, management isn’t in the seat of the employee on a regular basis. It is easy to make decisions and implement change when you aren’t the one being affected by it. Furthermore, it is easier to make the decision when you do not have to face the people that you make the decision about. Let’s face it, it is easy to make a “great culture” on paper, but far different than making a “great culture” in the actual workplace.

The truth be known, until management of any organization sits down and does the job of the person that they are trying to make happy, the creation of the perfect culture will fall flat. Here are few tips that I believe will help management of any organization to create a great culture;

  1. Don’t fill your team with bull. Pretty strong right out of the gate, right? There’s nothing worse to an employee than hear how amazing they are with your words and in the same breath show you with their actions…you don’t really care. John Maxwell may have said it best – “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Don’t just tell someone you think that they are awesome, prove it!
  2. Don’t talk with your mouth if you aren’t willing to act with your wallet. Yep. If you want a great culture, you have to prove it by the almighty dollar on how much you care about people. Anyone who tells you that they aren’t in it for the money, take their paycheck for a month and suddenly their tune will change.
  3. Don’t expect much if you don’t give much power. There is a very fine line to walk on this. You cannot give your team all of the power. But they need more than what you are willing to give them. They need to know that you trust their judgement when they give you 40 hours a week. They are not your children (see the next point.)
  4. Don’t expect your employees to act like adults if they are treated like children. I have long thought this was true. Why? Who wants to go to work 40 hours a week and let someone treat them like a child? They don’t need you to micromanage them. Let your employees act like adults. No, seriously, stop it.
  5. Do their job. Yep. You read that right. Don’t sit in your office and make decisions for the employee if you don’t even know what they do. Even if you used to do what they do, you need to get out on the floor and experience it again. I don’t mean to sound rude but, get off of your high horse and get in the dirt with them. I love how Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, was known to go on the road with his truck drivers, work in the stock room, walk the floors of the store, and so much more. Why did he do that?

“I’d still say that visiting the stores and listening to our folks was one of the most valuable uses of my time as an executive. But really, our best ideas usually do come from the folks in the stores. Period.” -Sam Walton**

These are just a few things that we can do to help fix the culture in our organizations. There a lot more ways to make it better, but this is just a few thoughts from experience. When you have employees that are engaged, loving their company and their jobs sincerely, and a management team that produces rock stars, there are no ceilings to hinder you from great success.

*Retrieved 28OCT2017 – “https://www.vitalsmarts.com/press/2016/07/corporate-culture-chasm-employees-view-their-culture-much-more-negatively-than-management/”

** Retrieved 28OCT2017- “Sam Walton- Made in America.” Sam Walton- pp 230. Bantam; Reissue edition (June 1, 1993). ISBN 978-0553562835