chasing the wrong goal?

I am a recovering perfectionist. Not fully cured, but getting better every day. I recently made some noticeable progress when I read about the dangers implicit in perfectionism. The article explained that when I try to be perfect, I have believed the lie that I could actually accomplish that goal. I have somehow convinced myself that, with enough hard work or practice or knowledge, I could truly eliminate all mistakes and errors in my life.

Who am I kidding?

I am never going to be perfect.

No matter how hard I try, I am not ever going to do or think or speak perfectly – not ever. To appear perfect, I need to hide my mistakes or lie about them or defensively deny them or isolate myself from anyone who might see them. ( = everyone) The perfectionism goal is very exhausting and basically impossible.

Perfectionism 3Instead of trying for perfect, maybe it makes more sense for me to become more comfortable with being imperfect. Not so surprised or shaken up or shamed by my (continual) missteps. The full acceptance of failure and fallibility would allow me to apologize more easily and offer grace more quickly to others when I see the same mistake-making reality in them.

I still want to grow and improve in certain life areas, but I have determined that growth ≠ closer to perfection. It just equals greater maturity. Maybe a bit more wisdom. Maybe a little nicer. But not closer to perfect.

It is actually a great relief to take the perfectionism burden off of my shoulders. I feel better already.

What wrong goal(s) do you chase after?

29 years and counting!

IMG_0266Wind-blown.

Sand-blasted.

Sun-burned.

What a great way to celebrate a 29 year anniversary! It was a beautiful, relaxed afternoon on a gorgeous, almost-empty beach. A real treat…

Not all our anniversary days have been this pleasant. The wind, sand, and sun help describe our 29 years of marriage:

Wind-blown

When the winds are in your face, you have to work harder at whatever you need to do. The winds of life are the challenges, the stretching times, the growth areas, the new endeavors, the learning curves. Through the years, Steve and I have learned hard truths about ourselves and each other. Some times this required grace, other times forgiveness. We struggled with trials beyond our capacity as parents and as professionals, and we often had to lean on each other. Even when we were learning something good, it was often exhausting or stressful or hard. I am grateful for a husband who is a life-long learner – never complete, never a know-it-all, never too good for one more faith step.

Sand-blasted

Fast flying sand hurts when it hits. In 29 years of marriage, we have been hurt – by out-of-our-control circumstances, by other people, and by each other. Pain is a part of love. We protect each other from pain when we can; some times our selfishness causes the pain. I have cried for Steve, with Steve, and because of Steve… and he has wiped away my tears, and helped to give me hope again – to believe in myself, in him, in others. I would avoid pain and hurts if I could, but the resulting scars are a precious reminder of healing, redeeming love, and second chances. After 29 years, I am so thankful for a man who never gave up, never walked away, and never stopped loving me.

Sun-burned

I love sunshine! It warms my heart and soul. (I often joke that if I didn’t know the Lord, I might worship the sun!) Sunshine reminds me of the good times, the passion, and the love. OH, the fun we have had! Steve makes me laugh all the time with his silly jokes. He brings music and dancing into our life together. We have four of the coolest children (and now a son-in-law too) in this world! We have adventures – living in foreign countries, travels to the world, great friends from everywhere… and we make memories whenever we can! 29 years have given us so many good times – a faith and job that we get to do together, a family that we can never get enough time with, and a never-ending desire to keep holding hands as we walk (close) through this life together.

29 years are so worth celebrating, but they are just the beginning of what is still to come! Wind, sand, or sun, I love you, Steve Morgan, with all my heart.

_______

How do you view marriage? What helps you make it through the hard times? And enjoy the good times?

_______

**Check out Steve’s blog at: LeaderImpact

how I write… a blog hop

So… I accepted an invitation to try something new – a blog hop! One of the best things about blogging is meeting and interacting with new people and this blog hop is an example of that…

vivian (2)An inspiring lady, impressive writer, and new-and-growing-deeper friend, Vivan Mabuni, introduced me to the idea. She has recently published her first book, Warrior in Pink, about her cancer battle. She is authentic and passionate and wise. You will want to read more from her!

For this blog hop, each person answers the four questions below for their readers about how they write, so here we go….

1) What am I writing or working on? 

I write posts on life and leadership. Sometimes work themes have the most influence on my thoughts and writing, sometimes M.A. studies trigger my brain; sometimes my personal life circumstances are what weigh most heavily. Many times topics are interwoven, because they are equally affected by character and growth. No matter what the context, those areas are important – hence my blog title “Maturitas Cafe”… maturitas means maturity in Latin. (I also like to add a post about coffee now and then!)

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I think that my experience of almost 20 years living in another country gives me a unique perspective on much of life. I have also traveled to many parts of the world, led in a multi-national organization, raised four children, been married for almost 30 years, and believe that my faith is integral to it all. I love the interaction of many ideas and points of view, and I want leaders from all walks of life to feel welcome in the community here.

3) Why do I write what I do? 

I verbally process my ideas, and my husband encouraged me to start a blog. I have since recognized that when I write, I connect with the life ideas, struggles, challenges, and joys of many others. I do not intentionally teach on my blog, because I am also learning. I do not lecture, because I am often writing from my pain or failures. And I do not preach, because we are all on the faith journey at our own pace. I do love to hear that I have encouraged someone or given them hope or that they are going to try a new idea. I write because it helps me – and others – learn and grow.

4) How does my writing process work?

I do not consider myself a “writer”, but I do understand “writer’s block”. Actually my block is usually my busyness. I write when I have time to think and process… and I feel inspired with an idea. Occasionally, I force myself to write something for the discipline of having a weekly post. I write after I have ranted on about something to my husband, and he says, “You could write a post about that”. I write when I have a new resource to share. When I sit down to write, I usually write fast and furiously, so I don’t lose the idea. Then, I often ask my husband to check it before I post, so I don’t say something I will regret later! 🙂

So now you know a bit more about me and my blog… maybe you will decide to start a blog sometime! I hope you will continue to visit and read and comment. That is a great encouragement to me!

The last step of the blog-hop is to pass the baton on to others… so I have the great privilege of introducing you to three more writers that I think you will enjoy. They will answer these same questions next week. Stop over to their blogs and say hello! 

dayle (2)Dayle Rogers is a gifted writer. She is vulnerable, honest, and hilarious at her blog, Tip of the Iceberg! She says of herself, “I’m a true foreigner in this world, a storyteller trying to make sense of the journey I’m on. I’m a Jesus follower, a passionate participant in the life I’ve been given, always looking for how the eternal impacts my temporal. Everyday life fascinates me because there is always more there than what I can see. And I want to learn to better celebrate what crosses my path daily. I’m a wife, mom, nana, sister, friend, daughter and aunt. Laughter makes sense to me because all of these relationships provide so much of it. I’ve been told I’ve got many words, so writing is a means to let some of them go.”

ilonaI have never met Ilona Hadinger personally. We became special on-line friends through our love of the Lord, writing, and living in Mexico. Ilona is a magnificant artist with words and photography and she shares them both on her blog: Calling and Creativity. She describes herself this way: “Wife, mom, missionary. In that order. An American born with Hungarian blood living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, I have four kids, one husband, a lot of interests and a few gray hairs. I blog at http://www.ikhadinger.com. I’m also a member of the Redbud Writers Guild (www.redbudwritersguild.com) and a Founding Member of LACWriters Guild (www.lacwriters.com).

Julie Sanders (2)I met Julie Sanders last year. She impressed me right away with her quick smile, full laughter, and sensitive spirit. She writes with her whole heart. Julie describes herself as “a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and friend of Jesus. She loves good food, a good book, and talking with good friends late into the night. She admits that she’s a huge fan of her husband and her three boys. Her house is filled with their music, legos, books, and artwork. So, if you ever stop by, you’re liable to experience all of it.” You can connect with Julie on her blog Along The Way or on Facebook.

rainy day – muddy heart

photo

This rainy morning is my heart today – gray, foggy, cold, muddy, and deplete of any desire to do productive work. I want to return to bed, wrap myself in the comfort of soft blankets, drink coffee… and forget about the real world.

Do you ever have days like this?

Intellectually I battle my mood… We need the rain. It is good for the plants. We’ve had such a drought – I should feel grateful. The rain will end soon, and sunshine will cheer me up again. I can DO this. Just get up and get moving.

My reasoning doesn’t really help much. I am simply out of sorts today.

There are legitimate reasons for my mood. The rain really is p.o.u.r.i.n.g. down, the mountain dirt road is truly very m.u.d.d.y. and not conducive to driving.

My husband’s father is dying in another city, and our conversations center around hospice decisions, flight options, keeping family informed, and the schedule implications for my “other” life and future international trips. The emotions in my heart and the thoughts in mind are as gray, and foggy and muddy as the world outside my window.

Understandably so.

Some days are not full of sunshine. Some days are gray and sad and not my favorites. Some days are not productive… or are they? Sometimes doing less means time for quiet reflection, soul-level conversations, nourishing prayer, healing grief, needed rest… 

I am normally an active, optimistic, sunshine-loving, type-A person, but I am learning to accept my rainy days and foggy thoughts too. They are a part of my life, inevitable and unavoidable… even purposeful. Cleansing and new growth come from the rain… for the earth and for me.

How do you handle the gray days in your life?

____

*Update: My father-in-law died on Saturday, Sept. 14. My husband flew to be with him in his last hours. We appreciate your prayers for the family.

creating more leaders

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters

ID-100162328 foto76 freedigitalphotos.net

New leader training is essential for our organization. During the first year or so, mentors have the privilege of imparting vision, identity DNA, and confidence into our new leaders through a teaching, training, and coaching process. This training sets the attitude, knowledge, and skill foundation for many years ahead.

Every few years our organization revamps our training programs so they are attractive in the current context, relevant for our constantly changing world, and effective at preparing new leaders. Last year, my husband and I were part of a global task force to determine new core desired outcomes for our training programs worldwide. This year, we had the exciting job of helping our area leaders around the globe implement the changes.

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made.
And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.
And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

– Vince Lombardi

Change is not easy. Each area contains many countries, each with its own culture, language, human resource, time, and financial challenges. Leaders are very busy, and many priorities and crisis vie for attention. At times the biggest challenges are the attitudes of loyalty to the “old ways” and fear or resistance to change. Sometimes pride gets in the way when a leader was the creator or director of the prior system.

Some area leaders invested a lot of time in the valuable task of aligning others to the new ideas. Communications, visits, and sharing of materials help others to engage and involve in the process. Other leaders gathered a task force together for the project. Working towards change as a group or team shares leadership and ownership of the effort. Many are busy preparing translations for their countries. This is all part of the investment in our future leaders.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

One of the best aspects of the process is seeing the leaders get excited about the new paradigms they discover as they work: more interactive learning and creative delivery, more emphasis on coaching, and more sessions focus on the heart, servant leadership, character, and stewardship… As the leaders learn, they become enthusiastic about championing the new materials and methodology in their areas.

“The more seriously you take your growth,
the more seriously your people will take you.”
– John Maxwell

Those who help train and mentor our new leaders are building the future of our organization. They set an example with their lives; their attitudes, words, and actions reflect their values and greatly influence the new leaders. We desperately need trainers and mentors who prioritize the new leaders and invest in their development. Such a privilege. Such a responsibility.

How can you contribute to a culture that creates new leaders?

What can you do to continue learning to improve your leadership?

life is a story

maskEvery life is a story… Comedy. Drama. Action. Horror. Newscast.

My favorite part of our meetings this year is when each person took a few minutes to tell (a very brief version of) their life journey. Many made us laugh. Others made us cry. Some left us with our mouths open in disbelief. Each story was unique.

Some used pictures. Others told stories. Some communicated with confidence and creative presentations. Others simply read from their notes. Some were so nervous that their voice cracked and their knees literally trembled as they spoke… but they did it, and it was powerful.

I could relate to some of the stories; others were very, very different from my reality. Either way, I felt more connected to each one as I came to know them just a little bit better. Through our vulnerability, we were building community.

Pain permeated many of the stories; loneliness, illness, rejection, death. Some told of shame or fear, lost dreams or broken hearts. For a few the pain was fresh and raw; a story being told for the first time. For others, the sting is gone now, and they are living a new life. I often heard a thread of grace, redemption, and hope.

Although I have always been a “people person” and have enjoyed meeting many different types of people, I feel like this year I have come to appreciate each person’s unique story more than ever. I have especially treasured those people who are open and real with me, allowing me to see their brokenness and their imperfections… and those who have invited me to share their new adventures and their joys.

It is sometimes more comfortable and natural for us to compare, or hide, and isolate ourselves from others, but I recognize each life is valuable and lived to be told. In a safe place, with a commitment to growth, our lives are a priceless gift when shared with others. As our lives intersect, they are like the threads in a beautiful tapestry… not to be hidden, but to bring warmth and beauty and richness to our world.

Do you share your (real) life with others? Are you a safe place for others to share their story?

truth matters

road sign for the town of Truth or Consequences, NM
© Alamy-Jonathan Larsen

Henry Cloud, in his book, Integrity, writes that many people lie… actually most of us do, in some form or another.

How about the little “white” lie answer to, “How are you doing?” Do I say “fine” when I’m not really fine? Or if someone asks me, “So… how did I do?”, do I give them honest feedback or do I respond with a generic, “Great”? What about when someone wants me to “fudge” on a recommendation letter, or a stats report, or a financial designation? Do I “help them out, or do I tell the truth?

Cloud states, “People of good character are people who can be trusted to tell the truth.”

  • Truth about myself – I’ve heard many times to consider reality as my friend. It doesn’t help to hide, avoid or deny reality – especially about myself. One powerful element of leadership is self-awareness, understanding my strengths and weaknesses. If I don’t contend with my weak areas, others will. I don’t want to be the fool who’s not really fooling anyone except myself. Although it is not easy for me, I am learning to seek out truth – ask others (husband, co-workers, boss, friends) for an evaluation, request feedback about my leadership, apply what they tell me, and seek help where I am weak.

      Will I pursue the truth?

  • Truth about others – I’ve written before about my desire to please others and be the “nice guy“. It is hard to tell people the truth when it may hurt them, but there is a big difference between a surgeon who causes pain while saving a life and a murderer who causes pain when taking a life. The pain itself is not bad – intent is what matters. I am learning that I sometimes have to tell someone a painful truth in order to help them mature, change, or make a wise decision. If I use tact, care, empathy, and respect when I speak, the truth pill is easier to swallow. The temporary pain is for their good; if I withhold the truth because of my fear of rejection or negative reaction, I have put my comfort ahead of their well-being.

      Do I care enough to tell the truth?

  • Truth about my world – In our ministry, we used to do an honest evaluation of our progress every school quarter. We would look at the stats numbers and consider the brutal-truth information they provided. We would celebrate where we were doing well, and we would prayerfully adjust our plans and activities wherever we were missing the mark. Cloud calls this assimilation and accommodation.

The world is changing at breakneck speed. If I am not willing to let go of the “way we’ve always done it”, or if I mislead investors with a sugar-coated story that conceals the real numbers, or if I intentionally tell my teammates only a partial truth about my actions, I – and the organization – will never be able to grow to meet the demands of our reality. No growth = death.

      Am I willing to respond to the truth?

___________

Do you struggle with telling the truth?

What helps you remember that the truth matters?

it’s a process

Get back in your chair.
Eat your food.
Chew with your mouth closed.  
Stop goofing around.
There will be no desert, if you don’t eat the vegetables.
Just try it – you might like it!

Doesn’t sound much like leadership advice, does it? I had four little ones, living far from family, and often felt like I was just hanging on by a thread.  Especially at meal times.

I remember reading a parenting book during those days where the author described family mealtimes as a treasure… all the family gathered around the table, telling stories, laughing, enjoying the togetherness… and I thought, “What planet are they from?” I couldn’t even imagine ever treasuring meal times; they were just a lot of work for me.

And those mealtimes were work – for a season.  We worked on basic manners, and we worked on gratefulness, respect, patience, self-discipline, conversation skills, and the willingness to try new things.  Character issues.  Future leader issues.

It was easy for me to get discouraged and tired and lose sight of how the small daily details fit into the big picture. It was easy to compare and feel like others were doing something more significant for the Lord…

I still struggle with that today.

But when I take time to get away with Him, God reminds me that every experience in life is an opportunity to grow and develop… or to invest and build in to others – future leaders. The small things are significant. My life matters. The daily disciplines help develop character. I just have to remember that the spilled milk and the sticky hands are all part of the process.

Do you get lost in the daily grind? What helps you remember that the process is important?

PS: Today I understand. Mealtimes with my crazy, incredible family are a treasure… but I still have to encourage them to eat their vegetables.

a place to belong, a place to become

We are finishing 17+ years of ministry in Mexico; we are sorting through our stuff, passing the baton… and my husband has been putting up (very) old pictures on Facebook. Some of those years of ministry were amazing – incredible growth, excitement, impact. As I reflected on that time, I realized we were living out our values. Those values are still relevant today as we move forward…

Faith: We all trusted God for big things and took steps of faith. We moved our family – with four young children – to a different country and started something new where there was nothing. We led an international team; many of them had also left their comfort zone and moved from their homes. Students took steps of faith to begin a relationship with God even when they faced family and friends’ rejection. Staff and students shared their faith boldly with others, took on new responsibilities, asked God to take charge of their future.

Where is God asking me to take a step of faith?

Development – Growth:  We committed to growing in community and building others to be all they could be. We prayed for our teammates and disciples, and created and followed through with semester plans for basic teaching, experiences, retreats, summer projects, etc. to provide an environment for growth. We worked in teams and shared leadership often. We moved out of the way and let others lead. We invited in teams from other places. We learned from them; they learned from us.

What am I doing to develop personally and those around me?

Effectiveness – Fruitfulness: We cared about results. Effectiveness meant fruit of changed lives – for eternity. We evaluated our goals and progress regularly – individually and organizationally. We asked for feedback from others and willingly changed the format of the meetings, tried crazy ideas, invented new materials. Sometimes we did something different to compensate for a weakness, sometimes to adjust for incredible growth. We did not settle for status quo.

Have I done an honest evaluation lately? Do I need to make some changes for greater effectiveness?

Unity: Our work on campus had incredible unity in purpose and personal relationships. Different cultures, backgrounds, fields of study, ages came to learn and grow together. Our early theme was ” a place to belong, a place to become“. Our teams of staff and students worked hard, side by side to create amazing skits, parties, outreaches, and conferences for a vision and passion bigger than themselves. Students sacrificed their time and money for each other. New people were welcome and deep, authentic, caring, long-lasting friendships came from studying the Word, praying, …and eating and playing together!  

What am I doing to build unity with my team or my organization?  

Integrity: Along with all the fun, there were also tough times. We confronted lying, bribery, immorality, interpersonal conflicts, suicide attempts – temptations and spiritual battles of all kinds. We did not ignore, hide, or excuse any behavior that might be a seed of division between people and God. We taught that God cares about every part of us; we cannot have sin in one area without it affecting the rest of us. We tried to live that example also.

Is there an area of my life that lacks integrity?

How would you respond to those questions? How do you make where you work or minister a place to belong and a place to become?

(**If you were involved in the ministry, please share with us what you remember!)