Sunday, June 26, 2011

“Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Dr. Liz Selzer

Four generations are currently represented in the workforce: Traditionalists, Baby-Boomers, Xers and Millennials. Each generation comes from different backgrounds and sets of experiences, which have shaped their perceptions and consequently their outward actions. What I have found is there is often miscommunication due to the different perceptions, life priorities and frames of reference held by each generation.

Because of this, women report multiple issues arising when the four generations work together, whether in vocation, church or home. Older generations feel the younger ones can seem entitled and lack respect for “paying dues.” Younger generations often see the older generations as intolerant of new ideas and unwilling to share leadership.

No wonder we have trouble getting along! Organizations are faced with the struggle to appropriately include all generations in leadership, decision-making, strategy and innovation. How can we move to a place of not just tolerating each generation but actually maximizing the offerings of each generation for the kingdom of God?

Let me offer several key points based on Mission: Momentum’s webinar and included in my book, 3G Mentoring.

When you can learn about each generation and understand how and why people think and act the way they do, you can move from irritation to appreciation and respect, from complaining to championing. Appreciating each other leads to greater productivity. It is critical to empower and encourage each generation to contribute what only they can.

Key strategies include:

Promote a learning culture where people are approached with a genuine sense of curiosity instead of judgment.
Support clear open and authentic communication.
Help each individual find a path for their individual contributions and place for leadership.
Equip people to find flexibility but with accountability.
Encourage passion and vision as a connecting point.

As for me – I find these principles work in my vocation, in my community and surprise-surprise! – in my family, the land where so many generational realities hit extremely close to “home!”

Dr. Liz Selzer is the President and CEO of the Mentor Leadership Team and the author of 3G Mentoring. Click here to comment and/or find out more about how to order her book.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Slow Down

By Arloa Sutter

“Your book changed my life!”

My heart jumped out of my chest! Yes! I thought. It’s what every writer wants to hear.

“Tell me more,” I urged. “What was it that impacted you?”

I assumed he was responding to my challenge to get involved in serving the poor. Or perhaps it was my chapter on stewardship. Maybe it was the theological perspective I wrote about or my call for churches to be “compassionate to the core.” I awaited his response with nervous anticipation.

“It was that part where you said your kids knew they could find clean clothes by looking in the clothes dryer.”

I have to admit I was surprised and mildly disappointed. Laundry?! I had connected with him over LAUNDRY? THAT was what he remembered? I have been interviewed on many radio and TV shows about my book, The Invisible, but no one has ever brought up my dirty laundry!

I had written about a season in my life when my kids were young and I was overwhelmed, on the brink of burn out. “The house was always a mess,” I wrote. “I had stacks of papers everywhere. I was eating too much of all the wrong foods and feeding my young children crackers all day long. The laundry was never folded and put away. The kids learned they could find clean underwear in the clothes dryer amid wrinkled shirts and slacks. Time alone with God had become nonexistent.”

I knew it was more than laundry he was relating to. We had connected because in the harried busyness of life, things like laundry, overflowing sinks, messy basements and disorganized closets become symbolic of our chaos. He resonated with the lessons I learned about not taking on too much, about making sure I scheduled time for reflection and solitude, about taking notice when my stomach tightens with stress, about learning to step back, to say no, to focus on what God is calling me to do rather than rushing ahead with my frenzied activities.

I wish I could go back to those days when my girls were little and relive them. I’m a grandmother now and I see my daughter under the same stress. I want to say to her, “Take your time. I know life is chaotic with young children in the house, but these days will pass so quickly. Slow down. Relax. Ask for help. You have all the time in the world to do what God wants you to do. Take time to cook a great meal. Do some creative art projects with your kids. Read a book together. Don’t let these days pass you by in frenzy. Somehow carve out time alone to listen to that still small voice of God.”

I know… it’s easy for me to say now that I’m a Gramma, but I earned this wisdom from my own hurried mistakes. Sometimes the best way to live out our influence is to fold those clothes gently and put them in the drawers while our kids sleep.

Arloa Sutter is the founder and executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries and the author of The Invisible: What the Church can do to Find and Serve the Least of These

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Spiritual Rest

By Nicole Unice

I’m an exercise adventurer; boring workouts do nothing for me. So I’m always up for a new wacky class, race or experience, and last week I wrangled a friend into joining me in a hot yoga session. Who knew I’d be sweating my way into some new insights about leadership?

The ninety minute class is a hardcore exerciser’s dream. With the room a sweltering 100 degrees, the instructor alternately cajoles and commands participants into twenty-six pretzel-like poses, resulting in drip-off-your-nose sweat.

The series of standing poses, moving up in intensity, were right up my workout alley—breathing heavily, sweating profusely, working hard, getting through it.

When the standing poses ended and our instructor took us to the floor, we were forced, er, began, to add a rest pose between every demanding activity. After gripping my ankles and forcing my body into a crooked boat shape, I was told to rest: the savasana pose. Lay down. Be still. As I laid there for the longest twenty seconds of my life, I had time to feel. To feel my heart pounding in my head. To feel fatigue in my muscles. To feel weak. And I hated it. I didn’t want to stop and feel. I wanted to push—push through and push on.

But the resting poses continued and after every exertion, I was reminded, again about the discipline and effort it takes to rest. To feel. To embrace the weakness and actually listen to what Christ wants to say in my spirit.

Similar to my workouts, intensity is where I thrive as a leader. When it’s time to push, to go, to perform and make it happen, I’m your woman. I love action, intensity and a new challenge. I thrive in the pressure. But resting? This is not my style. Choosing to rest, to take my body and soul from working hard to being still? This does not come easily.

In fact, I am often far away from this balance in my leadership. I choose to serve and give without observing a sabbath in my soul. I sometimes ignore and avoid God’s voice by staying really, really busy. Instead I must choose to be aware of this unbalanced tendency and discipline myself to rest.

When I rest, I feel my weakness. And when I feel my weakness, I am reminded that I live in a body that is wasting away (2 Cor 4:16). But the strength of Christ renews me. Each day is a choice: a life lived by listening and keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25), or a life lived pushing forward with my own timing and agenda. I don’t naturally choose to rest. To choose to rest is to die to myself and embrace the true Way, the way of surrender and God’s control, but I do know it’s necessary if I truly want to thrive.

I still do not like this pose in yoga – hot or otherwise. When I think about my next class, I am already dreading that heart-pounding, forced-rest feeling. Yet I know in the deepest places of me, it is just the pose I need to take--in hot yoga, in leadership, and in my posture toward God’s work in my life.

Does work or rest come easily to you? What do you do to cultivate balance in your leadership and life?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Through the Leadership Maze

By Elisa Morgan, Publisher, FullFill™

Most of us feel stuck at some point – whether in life or in leadership. Recently Mission: Momentum, the umbrella organization for FullFill™, hosted a webinar with Carolyn Custis James and me where we purposed to propose questions we can ask ourselves in order to get unstuck. You may have joined us? It was called “Through the Leadership Maze.”

We started off the time together asking one question of the participants: Where are you stuck – and why? The answers ranged from seasonal issues (like a needed focus on kids at home) to leadership quandaries of how women can serve in the church and how to move out of an area we’re really not very good at in order to minister in one where we shine. Carolyn and I felt connected to the honesty and transparency of women just like us!

Together then we asked four questions to offer a crowbar out of mired spots and were then deluged with requests for those questions again and again. Each question focused on an element in moving further and farther to invest our influence. So here they are:

Recognize: Where do you have influence? Can you name people you are influencing RIGHT NOW?

Utilize: How are you ready – or not – to invest your influence? Are you holding on to what YOU NEED yourself to invest or are you draining out your influence in codependent relationships?

Maximize: Where do you need more faith in order to invest your influence? So many of us disqualify ourselves before we ever get going.

Mobilize: How are you doing what you could (see the concept of She Did What She Could at to mobilize others to invest their influence – in the daily?

Getting unstuck is often a matter of simply answering the next question. Not all the questions. Take a look at the list above again. Which element best represents where you are stuck: recognize, utilize, maximize or mobilize? Answer the question that goes with the verb. The next question.

PS – Click here to register for our next Mission: Momentum webinar on June 15, 2011 with Dr. Liz Selzer on mentoring entitled “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: Mentoring Four Generations.” It’s FREE for the first 100 women