relationships

Letting Go Is A Process

Funerals are always times I reflect on life, particularly the time that has flown by. Eulogies are told and memories of days-gone-by with lifelong family and friends run through my mind. It’s a time when I realize the inescapable finiteness of my human existence. I’m in one of those “seasons of funerals” that tend to come, more often, as I grow older. Besides the corpus in the casket, many of the mourners are aging and/or terminally ill or have someone dear to them in those situations. The reality of mortality weighs heavy in the church. I believe it’s how God prepares us for our own ending—through the experience of the death of others.

Those are moments when everyone in the room deals with the question: “Do I really believe what I say I believe—that I will be swept into the arms of the Lord when I, too, face that threshold?” It’s difficult to let go of who we know and love even though we believe in the eternal presence of God. The pastor’s role as spiritual leader is to remind us of that truth.

If you pause to think, our lives are filled with moments of dying and grieving, and those experiences train our spirit to accept death and move through it to resurrection. It’s the letting go of the familiar--what we know and love—what we can see and touch—with the assurance of a better outcome.

So, it is with our businesses. What we know and love can be projects, employees, processes, assets, or clients that we well know are beyond their useful life. Yet we protest, we cling to memories of vitality, and refuse to let things go.

In his excellent book, “Necessary Endings,” Dr. Henry Cloud explains that endings are necessary for growth—some things die and some must be “killed.” He distinguishes between real and false hope; false hope is when more effort will not bring about different results.

As a Christian business owner, you are the spiritual leader and steward of the company whose role is to navigate through these decisions of life and death to ensure the legacy of the organization.

At Convene, we help by bringing perspective, wise counsel, and encouragement around those decisions—the decisions that can be so hard to let go, even though we know there’s a better place on the other side.

Lessons From My Father

Some days, my dad and I had a rocky relationship. I remember a conversation he and I had while he was at the top of the stairs in my new home. I was 26, married, had a Biola degree and a good job, and was convinced I was a pretty wise young man. We’d just had a major disagreement about how I was not happy with his involvement in writing about whether or not UFOs existed.

Creating a “No Losers” Mindset in Your Marriage

One of the biggest causes of marital breakdowns … and in business relationships … is the inability to resolve conflict effectively; and every married couple runs into conflict because … Conflict is inevitable … two people who are in love … want each other to think and feel the same way about things … how to deal with money … how to deal with children … free time … and more!

The problem is … too many of us have come to believe that conflict is a bad thing … and that we should avoid it at all costs … but that’s not true … nor is it healthy for your marriage …

The truth is … conflict is a sign of connectedness … it says we have a vital relationship here … Remember – we rarely have conflicts with people we do not know or like.

But the most important thing we need to know about conflict is that it does not have to be negative!  When we learn how to successfully resolve conflicts with our spouse … we discover new things about him or her that we didn’t know before (which is why we’re having the problem) … and that helps to deepen our intimacy.

To make conflict a productive force in our marriage we have to establish a “No Losers Policy.” 

If you are “one,” a house divided against itself can’t stand.  If you are a “team” … it is impossible for one member of a team to win while another member of that same team loses!  You either both win … or you both lose … but there should never be an “I win – You lose” mentality allowed your marriage!

You both “win” when you both feel good about and agree together on the solution to your problem.  Maybe one of you came up with the solution … that’s OK … as long as both of you willingly agree that it is the best solution … you have a win-win scenario!  What will break down any marriage is the “my way or the highway” mentality!

4 Domains of Strengths Based Leadership and Teams

Imagine dog sledding in Canada for the very first time. You're holding onto the back of your sled for dear life as you whip around steep curves at lightning speed. Up ahead of you is a sharp turn and you notice that your sled is teetering on the edge of the mountain. You are riding the thin line between falling off the mountain and creating momentum behind your dogs. This was my wife and my experience when we went to Canmore, Canada a few years ago. We had a dog sledding adventure—a first for both of us. (I highly recommend the experience.)

Dog sledding in Canada taught us so many things about leadership, teamwork, and strengths. On our trip, we met a young man named Jereme, who I call “the dog whisperer” because of his expert knowledge of his dogs and how to communicate with them. He was our guide and he took the time to teach my wife and I all about his team.

During our dog sledding adventure with Jereme, I couldn't help but think about the four domains of leadership, each containing a sampling of the thirty four talent themes as outlined in Gallup's Strengths Based Leadership book.

Lead Dogs – Executing - Work Harder

“Follow me, Brent.” He said commandingly and Rhonda and I did just that as Jereme led us to meet the first two dogs on the team.

“These are my lead dogs,” he explained to us, “Lead dogs are not necessarily the smartest, and they're not necessarily the fastest, but they're the best listeners, and they follow commands well.”

Jereme emphasized that it was important to know your lead dogs names so you could communicate with them frequently. After all, they are the leaders of their team. The other dogs respect them and follow them because of their leadership strength.

Lead dogs in dog sledding are not so different from what Gallup calls executing leaders. These domain of strengths are all about production and working harder.

A leader with Arranger – Achiever may work tirelessly to create the perfect configuration of systems.

Point Dogs – Strategic - Think Smarter 

Jereme pointed to the next two dogs directly behind the lead dogs. “These are the point dogs. They have vision and help navigate the direction of the team towards the destination.” These dogs apply just enough pressure to steer the lead dogs.

Point dogs, like those of us in positions of strategic leadership, are the thinkers, the heady intellectuals who tend to strategize and point us towards the future. They help the team to think smarter.

Leaders with Context – Strategic talents are exceptional at reviewing the past and finding the best route to grow their organization.

Swing Dogs – Influencing - Motivate Faster 

“It's very interesting,” Jereme said about the next two dogs. “You take an old dog and a young dog, pair them together, and you have swing dogs.” The older dogs have been around the mountains for many years, trekked endless trails, and accrued their share of bumps and bruises along the way. Of course, they have lost a bit of their zest, their energy, their pep.

But then you pair this older dog with a younger dog who has loads of enthusiasm, energy, and ability but lacks experience and wisdom and they influence and bring out the best in each other so that the team accomplishes its goal. This pair of dogs helps the team handle change and sharp turns.

The swing dogs fall into the influencing domain. These are the leaders who use their strengths to influence, sell and motivate others faster.

An influencing leader may shine with Communication – WOO drawing in new clients with likeable entertaining stories.

Wheel Dogs – Relationship - Care Better 

“These are the strongest dogs and biggest hearted dogs,” Jereme pointed, “and they're called wheel dogs.” The wheels dogs just want to please the driver. Easily the strongest dogs on the team, they love to pull, they love to work, and they love to do their job usually with very little recognition.

The wheel dogs have relationship strengths. They are the people adept at social - emotional intelligence, relating with others, and showing empathy and love. They help teams care better.

Leaders are like stars. The have unique edgy points that make them standout differently than anyone else. Teams need to be well rounded. Incorporating all types of talent and strengths for greater effectiveness.

Dominant relationship oriented leaders with Relator – Developer will build long term loyalty and mentorship.

Would you and your organization like to better understand your strengths based leadership styles?

Bring GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach and Convene Resource Specialist, Brent O’Bannon to your Forum Day or organization. Learn more at http://brentobannon.com/strengthsfinder-keynote-and-workshops/

Building Passport

I have dozens of passports, and I need to renew them constantly. No, I’m not James Bond or Jason Bourne. I don’t fly from country to country using alternative identities to evade the NSA, CIA, or MI6.

I just love people. I enjoy meeting, understanding, encouraging, and working with them. And for that I need a lot of passports.

One for my wife, two for my children, over thirty for my relatives and close friends, and dozens more for coworkers, clients, and the other people I engage every week.

A passport is an authorization to go someplace you have no inherent right to be. In relational terms, it is the permission that people give to others to enter into their lives, to learn their secrets, to know their struggles, to offer advice and correction.

If you want others to allow you into their lives—including your employees and customers—you must earn a relational passport from each person you engage. The best way to do so is to relate to others in such a way that they would answer “yes” to three key questions, each of which encompasses a variety of sub-questions that roll around in people’s minds when they are thinking of opening up to you:

  • Can I trust you? Will you keep your word and follow through on your commitments? Will you guard confidential information? Will you continue to respect and value me if I allow you to see my mistakes? Can I trust you with the “fine china” of my life?
  • Do you really care about me? Will you look out for my interests as well as your own? Will you take time to listen to me? Do you sincerely want to serve me? Why? Do you care enough to push past my outer defenses and patiently help me sort out things I myself don’t yet understand?
  • Can you actually help me? Are you able to deal with my concerns and needs? How are you doing with your own challenges and struggles? What kind of experience do you have? Do you have a track record of successfully solving relational and business problems? If this problem is beyond the two of us, do you have the humility and wisdom to help me find another person who has the experience I need?

Let these questions echo in the back of your mind as you relate to others. Ask God to enable you to answer them by engaging others with his humility, patience, compassion, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, honesty, and wisdom (Col. 3:12; James 3:17). If you do so, you’ll be well on your way to having more passports than you ever dreamed.

Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360 and the author of numerous books on biblical conflict resolution, including The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.