crash and burn

computer crashI’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while now. Not much margin. Not much sleep. Running late. Not remembering all I have to do. Just barely keeping my head above water… sometimes going under.

Last night I sank.

I have spent many, many hours during the last few months transitioning to a new computer. I have a definite love-hate relationship with that process. Its is nice to have more speed, more space, and new apps, but I dread the work it takes to set the new computer up with my programs, information, and personal settings. This new computer seemed more difficult than others before. More frustrations, more questions, more things I didn’t like… but I almost had it working the way I like…

and then it crashed last night! Dead. Black screen. No coming back.

We called technical support, and they hinted that it was probably my fault somehow – that didn’t help my frustration level (just saying). I have to ship it away, and it will be two weeks before I get it back.

Guess what? I haven’t left myself enough margin in my life for a two-week detour! I don’t have enough “free” time to do that transition work all over again. But it doesn’t really matter. I will have to find time to repeat the process.

I have been wrestling with my bad attitudes, panic, and discouragement all day. I am also feeling guilty for having my life wound up so tightly that this kind of bump in the road has me so flustered.

I mentioned my crisis in a Facebook status and received lots of empathy and encouragement – that has helped. I had my data backed up. I actually have an old computer I can use, so I remember to be grateful and not complain too strongly when others around the world have none. And I am wondering what other lessons I might need to learn…

Do I need to make some schedule changes? Am I reverting to old habits of few healthy boundaries? Is this just an inevitable season of life or a result of bad choices? What can I change to handle situations like this better in the future?

Have you been through a crash and burn experience? How do you handle it?

Isolated Leadership: Dangers and Solutions

To my Maturitas Cafe readers… I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this post with you. It combines two of my all-time favorites – Henry Cloud and Dan Rockwell – experts and amazing encouragers in the areas of life and leadership. If you don’t already, you will want to check out Dan’s blog, “Leadership Freak” and follow him on Twitter. Leave a comment on his blog today for the great package offer!
You will also want to listen in on Henry’s free live call today (details in the post) or read some of his great books. I have reviewed some of them (Integrity and Necessary Endings) already in my posts. These guys are the real deal!
What can you do to prevent isolated leadership in your life?

what about results?

Some people claim that results are “cold” or devalue people or are too hard to measure, but I think differently. Especially in ministry, our results are people and results mean changed lives… often for all eternity. At home, I definitely work toward positive results in my marriage and my children. It can be difficult to measure those results, but it matters to me to do well.

Henry Cloud, in his book Integrityrecognizes that there are some results that we cannot control, but claims that in most cases, character affects fruitfulness. He says that many people know the “what”or “how” of the work, but still do not produce good results. He claims that the missing ingredient is in “who” they are.

What I do… is intimately connected… to who I am.

In the 9th chapter of Integrity, Cloud mentions five important character elements for achieving results:

1. understand who I am and what I do well  Successful, effective people do better because they know what they like and don’t like, what they are good at and where they are weak… and they set up healthy boundaries based on their values. They don’t chase an idealized picture of themselves, practice a false humility, or fold to pressure from others… but rather they work well in teams with others who can complement their weak areas.

Am I pretending that I am someone I’m not? Am I trying to do what I am not created for in order to please someone else? Do I work alone?

2. prepare and focus before I act – Cloud describes this as “ready, aim… and then fire”.  Being ready involves discipline, evaluative thought, and delayed gratification. It means avoiding rash decisions, “winging it” and impulsive actions. To aim is to live within reality and limits… not be “all over the place” with ideas and dreams. And fire means actually getting things done.

Do I have a plan… for my marriage, my family, my job? Do I know where I want to go? Am I doing the prep work to get me to my goals?

3. willing to make the hard calls  I already wrote about this is my “no more mr. nice guy” post, but there are a few challenging quotes from this chapter that I want to remember.

      “Past being mean and uncaring, virtually nothing erodes respect in a person                       more than his or her inability to make the hard call.”

“The patient, the company, and the family will be better in the end…” 

Do I have the courage and the ability to make the difficult decisions that some people won’t like, but are for the best?

4. find a way – To achieve results, people often have to persevere through hard times, make changes, accept failures, overcome obstacles. Cloud states that, “perseverance takes courage, stamina, emotional reserves, judgment, creativity…”

Do I quit easily or do I have what it takes to keep going? 

5. learn to lose well – Most breakthrough inventions and ideas have numerous “well, that didn’t work” projects behind them. The keys to losing well are facing the reality of failure, accepting responsibility, and learning from the experience. Sometimes losing is just giving up something good for something better.

Do I take time to grieve and evaluate the loss? Do I blame others or do I consider my contribution to the error? Am I afraid to let go of something that is not the best?

Fruitfulness depends on focusing on who I am and what I do. I don’t want to sacrifice dreams, goals, or mission purposes because of my personal immaturity. I want to grow in character. What do you think about results?