discover and develop your strengths

coreclaritybannerI have a new passion. No doubt about it. I love coaching people through discovery of their talents and strengths. Absolutely love it.

Successful people
understand
their talents and strengths
and build their lives upon them.

My husband and I attended a CoreClarity training last spring. That week prepared us to explain Gallup StrengthsFinder results for individuals and groups. This summer, we had numerous opportunities to coach family members, individuals, and couples.

Every time we talked through top talents with people, I watched eyes open wide in recognition, hearts soften with greater understanding, burdens of frustration and self-condemnation wash away, and hope reappear in the soul. 

It was amazing actually.

It is an encouraging experience to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance, but it is even more powerful to grow in understanding and appreciating the important people in our lives. 

Successful marriages (or teams)
dont just accommodate differences in each other,
they capitalize on them.

If you have never done the StrengthsFinder assessment, I highly recommend it. There are specific assessments you can choose for adults, college and highschool students and even middle school students. After you receive your top five results, find someone trained in CoreClarity to review your results with you. You can do this for yourself, as a couple, for your family, or in a seminar format for your whole team.

You will learn :

  • why it is more important to develop your strengths, rather than focus on improving your weaknesses
  • how to develop your talents into strengths
  • to correct the myths that everyone thinks the same way we do or that everyone has the same talents we do plus what we see in them that we do not have
  • how your top talents affect each other and how your combination creates the unique you
  • how different talents intensify, combine, or collide with other talents
  • how talents understanding helps build and repair relationships, improves problem solving and teamwork
  • how to use your talents to enhance your career

You might also want to attend a facilitator training so you can coach others!

Do you already know your top talents? How have you applied that knowledge to your life and relationships?

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about CoreClarity or StrengthsFinder. I’ll be glad to help in any way that I can!

who will he be today?

Old Man 14037671409_bbb2f90095_cOne day he seems almost normal – making jokes, telling stories, expressing gratitude, communicating lucidly.

The next day he feeds animals that don’t exist; is irrationally paranoid and fearful, freezes in the middle of thoughts and sentences, and cannot remember how to accomplish basic life tasks, how old he is, or even his daughters’ names.

I do not know which father I will greet each morning.

That is dementia.

I have decided it reminds me of living with a teenager – one moment “almost” mature and grown up: making wise decisions, communicating with confidence and respect, interacting as an adult peer. The next moment acting like a child again: thoughtless of action consequences, emotional or surly, insecure and overly dependent. A roller coaster of crisis and climax.

That is dementia.

I am learning again how to help. Stay calm and do not escalate the situation by attempting to reason or argue. Use a quiet, clear, slow voice, respect, and a gentle touch. Do not let his response trigger my past father/daughter issues; do not react defensively, with anger, or with impatience. Do not surprise him with a change of plans or expect him to learn something new or hope for consistency from day-to-day.

I long for a standardized to-do list that I can follow faithfully each day. A defined cause and effect that I can rely on. A “2 + 2 = 4” dependability.

Dementia does not offer that.

Instead I need to face each day with grace, flexibility, prayer, and love-motivated sacrifice of my wishes and desires.

Unlike rasing a teenage, there is no chance that this situation will improve, that he will grow out of this stage, that he will get better. I can only anticipate more of the same or something worse. He is not making progress; he is declining towards the end.

That is dementia.

Who will I greet in the morning? An elderly man. A child of God. A test of my character. My father.

How do you face the challenges in your life that will not get any easier? 

_____

**If you are a person of prayer, please pray for my father and my family… wisdom for future decisions, strength for daily choices of love and sacrifice. Thank you.

“Ok, my dear. Thank you.”

terry and dadMy dad has never before called me “dear”.

That word brought tears to my eyes. Such a little thing, and yet a such big emotional impact.

We are spending a few weeks living with my dad – helping him with daily care, giving my sister a few moments of respite from her herculean job of care giving.

I was initially nervous about staying here with him. I was not sure about his abilities to function and interact. I worried that he might not want my help or that I would not know what to do. I haven’t lived close to my elderly grandparents or parents, so am not very comfortable with their lifestyle and needs.

My dad suffers from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and alcoholism. My dad who was always the extreme self-made-man, strong character and body, intelligent, and absent of affection has become a very dependent, weak, forgetful… sweet and appreciative old man.

He certainly has his moments of confusion, frustration, and stubbornness, but in general, he is not the rough, tough, intimidating father he was before.

Caring for my dad is not easy. It requires patience, flexibility, research, and a lot of new perspective. It means different standards, norms, and routines that would have been unheard of in earlier years. Lucid conversations mixed with confused anxiety. Time, worry, initiative, firmness, creativity, and continual second-guessing and questioning decisions and choices.

Dad’s care is the epitome of living with tension – giving respect and still enforcing new restrictions, allowing for independence and restricting freedoms, offering choices while simplifying options, providing quality of life and ensuring safety, protecting privacy and dignity while also hovering with care.

I do not have any official training for the role of elder care-giver, but care giving is training me. I am learning to slow down… lowering my accomplishment expectations for each day, choosing my words carefully and enunciating as I speak, walking protectively at his side, moving with tenderness and intentionality. None of that is easy for me.

The most important lessons are a repeat of earlier experiences – living fully with the realities of each life-stage and finding contentment there. Just as I learned to overcome fears, serve others, and treasure special moments with infants, toddlers, teenagers, and adult children, I can do the same with my dad.

Every person is important. Every life is valuable. I consider it a privilege and a joy to care for him. I am willing to help my dad without expectation of getting anything in return, but every now and then, I receive a special gift – a “thank you” or a “dear” – from a special person who has nothing more to offer. It is enough.

What has been your experience is caring for elderly loved ones? Do you have any tips for me?

how to reach Mars

IMGP9160In all of history, only 12 people have walked on the moon. A lifetime of study and preparation, many years of training and practice, teamwork, and the perfect performance of gazillions of rocket components and wires had to synchronize exactly to make those outer-space steps possible. It was inspiring and challenging to hear about the missions and visit the Kennedy Space Center with my team. Many of the principles that enabled those amazing accomplishments are also relevant to the big goals we attempt today.

Which of the following can you apply to your next challenge?

DREAM THE DREAM

No one had ever put a man on the moon before, but dreamers believed it could be done. They envisioned it, and then they figured out how to make it happen. Today, we must do the same – look ahead, see the future, consider the possibilities. Lane Arbuthnot, an engineer for the Apollo 11 flight, encouraged us to imagine ourselves five years into the future: What is your dream? What do you envision for your life/family/work/mission? How do you want the future to look? and then ask “What will we need in order to reach the goal?” IMGP9162

SACRIFICE

Astronauts gave their lives in pursuit of the mission. We may or may not have to pay the ultimate price, but a great dream will cost us something. I am asking myself these questions: What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to risk? Financial security? Reputation or ridicule? Comfort or convenience? Time? IMGP9169

FOCUS

When we visited the Launch Control Center, it was interesting to observe that all the work stations faced away from the huge windows with a view of the rocket and launch pad. Each person’s concentration and attention were vital for the success of the mission – they were not mere spectators. Are there things in your life you need to re-arrange in order to better concentrate on your dreams and goals?IMGP9197

OPEN COMMUNICATION

In the Launch Control Center, the “Public Affairs Officer” desk sat right next to the “Launch Director”. That openness provided honest communication of launch attempts – successes and failures. Today information and truth is powerful and necessary for alignment and accountability. I know that I often underestimate the need to communicate vision, expectations, feedback, and gratitude. How about you? What could you communicate more often or more clearly?public affairs desk

PEOPLE VALUE AND PRIORITY

Although the rockets and spaceships are definitely impressive, the tour guides consistently emphasized how important the people were to the mission. Over 400,000 worked together on the Apollo 11 flight! Human Resources played a crucial role on the leadership team; hiring, developing, and even firing when necessary…ensuring that all collaborated well. Every person counts when accomplishing an incredible mission! How are the relationships on your team or in your family? Do they know they are uniquely important? Is each person maximizing their strengths?

For NASA, the next goal is Mars! Many people working together will apply these principles to make that dream come true. What is your dream? What will it require?

What was it I needed to do?

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Have you ever gone into a room and forgotten what you went in there to find? Ever forget someone’s name? Ever spend time looking for something because you couldn’t remember where you put it?

These are normal events for most people. At my age, however, they are becoming more worrisome. Some days I worry about losing my memory.

My dad has Parkinson’s and dementia and it saddens me to watch him struggle. I am reading books about dementia and memory loss diseases to learn how to help him, support those who do his care-giving, and understand some of his challenges.

I am also learning how to prevent or at least diminish the potential for my own memory loss. This past week, I read a great biography about a daughter caring for her dementia-affected mom: Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir. Besides communicating honesty, empathy and encouragement, the author, Martha Stettinius, offers great appendices of resources – one contains suggested antidotes for dementia.

This is a summary of what she writes:

Exercise

Studies show that thirty minutes of daily physical activity (housework, walking, weight training, etc) may be our strongest weapon against Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates growth of new brain cells.

Mental Stimulation

Add social community and mental stimulation to exercise and you have a great combination. Work, join a club, volunteer, travel, play games – especially crosswords or puzzles, learn to speak another language or play an instrument. Do these things in relationship with others and your brain continues to make connections too.

Eat Right

Nothing new here right? A good diet helps with a lot of things! Eating dark veggies and fruits, cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) also decreases the risk for memory loss. Vitamins E, C, and B12 may also help. Cut back on sugars and carbs wherever you can.

In addition, Stettinius suggests that you get checked if you have vision problems, sleep apnea or an infection that damages neurons. Researchers consider each of these as possible catalysts for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This all seems pretty basic and these are health tips I have heard before. I am just a bit more motivated to take them seriously each time I hear about someone else caring for a loved one who suffers memory loss… and that is often. There are 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide today and analysts expect that amount to almost double by 2030 to around 66 million and double again by 2050 to approximately 115 million.

I am going to do what I can so that I do not add to that number.

How about you? Do you need to change some habits? Or did I already ask you that?

¿Qué es lo que iba a hacer?

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

¿Alguna vez has entrado a un cuarto y olvidado de lo que fuiste allí para encontrar? ¿Has olvidado el nombre de alguien? ¿Talvez perdiste tiempo buscando algo porque no podías recordar dónde lo dejaste?

Estos son eventos normales para la mayoría de la gente. A mi edad, sin embargo, son cada vez más preocupante. Hay días cuando me preocupa la posibilidad de que voy a perder mi memoria.

Mi papá tiene la enfermedad de Parkinson y demencia y me entristece verle sufrir como resultado. Estoy leyendo libros sobre enfermedades de demencia y la pérdida de la memoria para aprender cómo ayudarle, apoyar a mi familia que lo cuida y comprender algunos de sus desafíos.

También estoy aprendiendo cómo prevenir o al menos disminuir el potencial de mi propia pérdida de la memoria. La semana pasada, leí una gran biografía, Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir (Dentro de la Epidemia de la Demencia: Memoria de una Hija), sobre una mujer que cuidaba de su madre quien estaba afectada por la demencia. Además de la comunicarse con honestidad, empatía y estímulo, la autora Martha Stettinius ofrece grandes apéndices de recursos – uno contiene antídotos sugeridos para la demencia.

Este es un resumen de lo que escribe:

El ejercicio

Los estudios muestran que treinta minutos de actividad física diaria (tareas domésticas, caminar, pesas, etc) pueden ser nuestra arma más fuerte contra el Alzheimer y otras enfermedades de pérdida de memoria. El ejercicio aeróbico aumenta el flujo de sangre al cerebro y estimula el crecimiento de nuevas células cerebrales.

La estimulación mental

Añadir comunidad social y la estimulación mental con hacer ejercicio y tienes una gran combinación. Trabaja, unirte a un club, ofrece servir como voluntario, viaja, entretenerte con juegos – especialmente crucigramas o rompecabezas, aprende a hablar otro idioma o tocar un instrumento. Haz estas cosas en relación con otra personas y tu cerebro sigue haciendo conexiones también.

Comer Bien

No hay nada nuevo aquí ¿verdad? Una buena dieta ayuda con un montón de cosas! Comer verduras y frutas, peces de agua fría (salmón, atún, caballa) y nueces (almendras, nueces china y de Castilla) también disminuye el riesgo de pérdida de la memoria. Las vitaminas E, C y B12 también pueden ayudar. Reduce el consumo de azúcares y carbohidratos donde puedes.

Además, Stettinius sugiere que vayas con un doctor si tienes problemas de visión, la apnea del sueño o una infección que daña las neuronas. Los investigadores consideran cada uno de estos como posibles catalizadores para la demencia y el Alzheimer’s.

Todo esto suena como básico y estos son consejos de salud que he escuchado antes. Yo estoy un poco más motivada para tomarlos en serio cada vez que oigo de alguien cuidando a un ser querido que sufre pérdida de memoria… y eso es a menudo. Hay 35.6 millones de personas con demencia en el mundo hoy en día y los analistas esperan que equivale a casi el doble en 2030 – alrededor de 66 millones y que duplique de nuevo en 2050 a aproximadamente 115 millones.

Yo voy a hacer lo que puedo para no añadirme a ese número.

¿Y tú? ¿Necesitas cambiarte algunos hábitos? ¿O ya te pregunté eso?

grief comparisons

sadness

Photo credit: Wendy Longo photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

It has been three months since my mom died. Sometimes it feels like years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

I have not been able to write a blog post since that day. My mind has been foggy, scrambled, gray, and unclear. Some days my heart felt heavy, sad, and lifeless. Other days, I have sensed the warmth of her memory in the flowers and sunshine that she loved so dearly.

During the past months, some friends have asked how I am doing and others have kept an awkward distance, unsure of what to say.

Family members have all processed their grief uniquely, sometimes drawing close to each other, sometimes pulling apart because of tensions, anger, or a desire to process pain alone. Some have cried; others held their emotions in check; still others could not find tears even when they tried. Some went right to work arranging details; others were paralyzed by their loss.

In these three months, numerous other friends have also lost loved ones – children, siblings, parents, friends. Sometimes the deaths arrived as expected, peaceful, a long-awaited transition to a better place. Other deaths came suddenly, violently, shaking family foundations of faith and security.

Some of my friends experienced death much like I did… at the bedside, providing care and comfort, counting the minutes as they turned into hours. Other friends had no opportunity to sit nearby at the end or intentionally chose not to go there. Some appear unaffected by their grief; others are clearly rattled, and others experience a bit of both depending on the day.

I have found myself occasionally comparing my particular experience and my emotional response with others. However, I am learning that we cannot compare our different experiences with death any more than we can compare our different experiences with life. 

There is no right or wrong way to do this. There is no standardized approved amount of time, feelings, involvement, or impact that death brings to a person. Each birth, each person, each death is unique.

And so, for me and for you…

Take all the time you need.

Feel whatever it is you feel.

Do what you can and leave the rest.

Give grace, especially to yourself.

Chose safe people and safe places.

Sleep. Cry. Dance. Work. Laugh. Yell. Remember.

Don’t judge.

Don’t compare.

It is grief and so it will be.

∼∗∼

comparaciones de luto

sadness

Photo credit: Wendy Longo photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

Han pasado tres meses desde que mi mamá murió. A veces se siente como hace años. A veces se siente como si fuera ayer.

No he podido escribir un post desde ese día. Mi mente ha sido de niebla, revuelta, gris y poco clara. Algunos días mi corazón sentía pesado, triste y sin vida. Otros días, he sentido el calor de su memoria en las flores y el sol que tanto amaba.

Durante los últimos meses, algunos amigos han preguntado cómo me va y otros han mantenido una distancia incómoda, sin saber qué decir.

Cada uno de mi familia ha procesado su dolor de forma individual, a veces acercándose el uno al otro, a veces alejándose debido a las tensiones, la ira o el deseo de procesar el dolor a solos. Algunos han llorado; otros sostenían sus emociones bajo control; todavía otros no pudieron encontrar sus lágrimas incluso cuando intentaron. Algunos se fueron directo a trabajar en la organización de los detalles; otros fueron paralizados por su pérdida.

En estos tres meses, muchos otros amigos también han perdido a seres queridos – hijos, hermanos, padres, amigos. A veces la muerte llegó como se esperaba, pacífica, una transición anhelada a un lugar mejor. Otras muertes llegaron de repente, violentamente, agitando fundaciones familiares de la fe y la seguridad.

Algunos de mis amigos experimentaron la muerte como yo… acompañando en la cabecera, proveyendo cuidado y confort, contando los minutos que se convirtieron en horas. Otros amigos no tuvieron la oportunidad de sentarse cerca durante el final o intencionalmente decidieron no estar allí. Algunos no aparecen afectados por su dolor; otros están claramente sacudidos y otros experimentan un poco de ambos, dependiendo del día.

Me he encontrado en ocasiones comparando mi experiencia particular y mi respuesta emocional con los demás. Sin embargo, estoy aprendiendo que no podemos comparar nuestros diferentes experiencias con la muerte más de lo que podemos comparar nuestros diferentes experiencias con la vida.

No hay una manera correcta o incorrecta de hacer esto. No hay una cantidad estandarizada ni aprobada de tiempo, de sentimientos, de participación, o de impacto que la muerte lleva a una persona. Cada nacimiento, cada persona y cada muerte es único.

Entonces, para mí y para ti…

Tómate todo el tiempo que necesites.
Siente lo que es lo que te sientas.
Haz lo que puedas y deja el resto.
Da gracia, sobre todo a ti mismo.
Elige a personas y lugares seguros.
Duerma. Llora. Baila. Trabaja. Reirte. Grita. Recuerda.
No juzgues.
No compare.
Así es el luto y así será.
~ * ~

chess not checkers

I don’t even know how to play chess, but I loved this book! chess not checkers

In typical Mark Miller style, he writes the book as a story, weaving humor, wisdom, care, and pragmatism in a quick, easy-to-read format. The main character, Blake Brown, takes a new CEO job in a struggling organization. Work is frustrating and drudgery, teamwork is non-existent, morale is weak, and customers are going elsewhere. The game has changed, old strategies aren’t working, and losing is miserable for everyone.

Blake begins to meet with a chess master mentor who teaches him four simple – yet essential – principles for playing a new game in today’s complex world:

1. BET ON LEADERSHIP – Identify and invest in emerging leaders. Mark gives excellent tips about developing yourself, your team, and the organization.

“…proactively develop your leadership.
The earlier in their career you invest in them, the better.”

“Leadership growth always
precedes organizational growth.”

2. ACT AS ONE – We know this as alignment, and it requires excellent communication. Mark describes it with a helpful illustration:

“Think of your organization as a car
driving at high speeds down a bumpy, dirt road.
The car will constantly be knocked out of alignment.
Part of your never-ending role is to keep the organization
aligned on what matters most.”

3. WIN THE HEART – Greater engagement happens when you allow people to contribute their unique gifts and work using their personal strengths.

“This is the way you need to look at your people.
When you deploy them thoughtfully,
you create greater value.”

4. EXCEL AT EXECUTION – This involves the important areas of resource allocation, measurements, and systems versus personality design.

“To help your team improve execution,
measure what matters most.”

There is much more in the book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy today!

Any leader who implements these timeless principles will grow personally and improve the game plan for their team and their organization.

Which of these principles is most urgent for your situation? How can you apply new and improved strategy in your context?

Check out the great book trailer video HERE!

You can also find Mark Miller blogging on his website, Great Leaders Serve.

I also wrote a summary and review of some of Mark’s other books: The Secret and The Heart of Leadership. 

merecemos mejor

cincuenta sombrasEl Día de San Valentín no es mi día favorito del año. Ya he mencionado algunas de las razones por esto en un post anterior. Este año, sin embargo, es peor que nunca. Mi página de Facebook está lleno de mensajes sobre la próxima película de “Cincuenta sombras de Grey”, basada en el libro del mismo nombre.

No he leído el libro y no voy a ver la película. No tiene ningun atracción para mí. De hecho, la idea básica del contenido me da asco y me hace muy enojada y muy triste al mismo tiempo.

No puedo evitar hablar en contra de esta película. La mayoría de las películas no me llaman la atención de esta manera – mi familia puede constar que duermo durante la mayoría de las películas. Sin embargo, parece que mi PALABRA de 2015 me está inspirando a escribir este post.

Elegí EMPODERAR para mi palabra del 2015.

Todas las personas merecen ser amadas, respetadas y empoderadas
para todo lo mejor que Dios las creó.

Cada persona ha sido creada con un valor, una dignidad, un propósito y un poder increíble para amar a los demás y tener una influencia positiva en nuestro mundo.

Una de las mayores amenazas contra el poder verdadero es la falta de respeto, la devaluación y el abuso de las mujeres. He escrito sobre la necesidad de que los defensores en el pasado y el poder increíble que se logra cuando los hombres y las mujeres trabajan juntos.

Las Cincuentas sombras de Grey glamoriza la falta de respeto, la lujuria, el abuso, la manipulación y la violencia de un hombre sobre una mujer. La película se degrada tanto a los hombres y a las mujeres por igual, proponiendo actitudes y comportamientos egocéntricos, hirientes y abusivos de poder… y peor aún, la película se estrenará en un día que supuestamente honra el amor.

Si amas a ti mismo, a tus amigos y/o una persona especial en tu vida, por favor, habla en contra de esta película y no gastes tu tiempo ni tu dinero por verla, ni siquiera por “curiosidad”. No vale la pena.

No te ayuda a ser lo mejor que puedes ser.

No va a empoderar a nadie que llevas a verla. 

Me rompe el corazón pensar de la forma en que esta película – y otras como ella – influyen negativamente y distorsionan los sueños y las expectativas de las personas en busca de amor hoy en día. Pienso en mis hijos y quiero una experiencia muy diferente para ellos.

Como una mujer que ha estado casada amorosamente por casi 30 años, te puedo decir que hay formas mayores de expresar el amor verdadero. No te conformes con esta baja versión de “amor”. Tanto los hombres como las mujeres pueden experimentar algo mucho mejor que esta película. Merecemos mucho más.

¿Qué es lo que comunica amor y respeto para ti? ¿Cómo ayudas a empoderar a otras personas?