powerless

IMGP1826The irony of it.

I chose my word for 2015 – empower – just a few weeks ago.

While we are still in the first month of the year, I found myself in a situation where I had no power at all.

My mother was on hospice care, and I had joined my siblings and my aunt in her end-of-life care giving.

It was a sacred time – simultaneously a sweet privilege and a suffocating responsibility to accompany her on her journey.

We wanted to beg her to stay, while at the same time we pled with God to mercifully take her quickly because she was so very ready to finish living.

We laughed with her sense of humor, we debated the best choices for her care, and we wept as we watched her suffer.

Her lucid moments provided us precious memories; her confused thoughts and agitated actions forced us to struggle for understanding and responses of grace.

Both her body and her mind were failing, but her faith, her gratitude, and her fighting spirit continued strong.

We imperfectly attempted to give her peace, encouragement, and comfort. We told her we would miss her, but that we would be ok when she chose to go.

There was nothing else I could do. I could not control the process. I could not choose the final moment.

I could only remain present, serve, pray, and love.

Those days there was One with great power in charge of the time… and it was not me.

(My amazing mom left us to live eternally with her Heavenly Father on January 19, 2015.)

There are times when power is a gift, and we are accountable for our strength and our influence. There are times when our greatest power is in submitting to another.

It may be that one of the most important elements of empowering others is helping them to discern the difference.

What has been your experience with power or empowering others?

 

do nice girls finish last?

Lean InI am making my way through Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and chapter three made me stop and think a bit. The chapter is called “Success and Likeability”, and Sandberg starts out with a Harvard Business School case study based on the experience of an entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. Sandberg writes:

The case described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality… and vast personal and professional network [that] included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector”. [The professors] assigned half of the students to read Heidi’s story and gave the other half the same story with just one difference – they changed the name “Heidi” to “Howard”.

[The Professors] then polled the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent… their accomplishments were completely identical. Yet while students respected both Heidi and Howard, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” The same data with a single difference – gender – created vastly different impressions.¹ (emphasis mine)

Sandberg argues that the case study further proves research that,”When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”² Sandberg explains that from early on, girls learn that intelligence and success are not the path to popularity. In addition, socially acceptable behavior allows men to claim credit for achievements and assertively negotiate for higher salary, whereas a woman is perceived as arrogant and self-serving if she does the same. Women are expected to help without reward, and care and advocate for others.

The ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate different attitudes and treatment based on stereotypes, but until then Sandberg offers a few suggestions for women. I’ve re-written them in my own words here:

1. Pay the price – Women need to accept that there will be unfair biases and criticism. Sandberg suggests that we allow ourselves to feel and work through the emotions generated by the criticism, but then move on and do our job.

2. Play to your strengths – Some of the common “nice” characteristics ascribed to women – caring, communication, community – greatly improve teamwork. As women smile and appreciate others – while focusing on the task – productivity increases.

3. Position yourself communally – Women will have more success in negotiations when they use “we” vocabulary as context for their requests. Petitions couched in common interests and concern for the common good are more readily accepted from women than those that appear self-centered or self-promoting.

4. Purpose to become comfortable with power – It will take concentrated effort to change mindsets and perspectives based on years of habit and feedback, but as women work to become more comfortable with their power, they will also lean in with greater confidence.

Have you ever struggled with the “nice” girl dilemma? What do you think of Sheryl Sandberg’s tips for overcoming that stereotype?

For my men readers… what do you think? Are women held to a different standard than men?

______________________

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. Chapter 3, para. 2-3. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

² Ibid. Chapter 3, para. 4.

are you dangerous?

I first saw this Creed in Judy Douglas’ post: Are You a Dangerous Woman? on her blog:  www.inkindle.wordpress.com              (Thanks, Judy!)

It was written by Lynne Hybels, writer, speaker, and wife of Bill Hybels.  She wrote it as the “Dangerous Women Creed” and it is presented below as it was printed in 2008 Synergy Program.

Although it was written specifically for women, I believe it is powerful for any person!

Dangerous Women Creed:
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow,

and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot

speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us,

and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women. Amen.

I want to be dangerous.  How about you?

want to be a hero?

Julien Tromeur – stockvault-superhero113321

Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. Spider-man. Have you ever dreamed of being a hero for someone?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as: A person of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in suffering; a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person.

A hero is also described as someone regarded as a model or ideal, or someone who fights for a cause.

Walt Emerson said, “Each man is a hero and oracle to somebody.”

Being a leader today provides us with many opportunities to be a hero.  There are enemies and suffering in this world of all types; there are battles to fight, needs to meet, people who hurt… God has called us to make a difference in this world and there is so much to do.

Being a leader “hero” today requires:

COMPASSION – God has given us the ability to care deeply about people and situations. I get a an aching pit in my stomach or energetically pound the table because I feel strongly about something… What is it that causes you to want to DO something? …lost souls, abused children, human trafficking, orphans and widows, injustice, pollution, teamwork?

Think about it… consider it… it doesn’t matter what it is, but if God has put the passion in your heart, I have learned that He will also give you the opportunity to get involved, and you can be a hero to someone (or many!) in that area.

ATTITUDE – Phil Collins describes a “level 5” leader, one who will leave a legacy, as one who has the right combination of humble modesty and confident will and resolve. Our world needs more people who are willing to give, to serve, and to go… and who can work hard and hang in there to get the results needed.

Most superheros didn’t go looking for their job; some tried desperately to avoid the responsibility… but eventually yielded their own desire for a quiet life of anonymity to meet the needs of others. I want to be the kind of leader who does not “lord-it-over” others, but who is strong in character and willing to persevere to get the job done. I want to honestly evaluate any growth area that might get in my way. How about you?

POWER – All superheros have a special source of power… and so do we! God has promised that when He calls us to something, He will also enable us with all that we need. We have His Word; we have His Spirit; we have an amazing variety of resources in His people. We have no excuse!

The trick is relying on His power and not my own, working together with His people and not alone. I remember that the hero usually gets in trouble when he forgets to use his special power – I need to remember who is in charge.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE – Superheros take on the enemy and trans-form their world. Nothing is too big, too scary, or too hard for them. They know that people are “worth it” and that people can make a difference. We are created for a purpose; when we let God work through us – even in seemingly small ways – we can make an eternal impact in someone else.

I want to see challenges from God’s perspective and remember that He put me here for a reason. I think there are too many negative role models in our world today and too many huge needs for any of us to sit on our thumbs and not get involved in the supernatural adventure of being a “hero”.

What do you think?  Do you want to be a hero with me?