Sunday Reflection

Sunday Reflection – Working Through the Fear

Professor Plum : What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?

Mrs. Peacock : No, just death, isn’t that enough?

Clue (1985)

I signed up for a Twitter account this week. I knew it was inevitable. I would like for people to read my blog, but for people to read it, they need to know about it. And for them to know about it, I need to use social media.

But I will be honest. Social media terrifies me.

When I was a child, I learned that raising my hand in class would get me unwelcome attention. The more I spoke up, the more questions I answered correctly, the more I would get picked on. So I learned to be quiet, to keep my head down. This conditioning lasted well into college for me.

It was a huge leap for me to develop into a trainer. To actually stand in front of a room and speak. But even leading trainings seems small when compared to speaking in a platform that contains millions of subscribers.

I know my fears are mostly irrational. At the moment, I am just one tiny little voice amidst the chaos. And if I were to attract negative attention, well…that’s part of the job. There are people out there who are putting themselves on the front line to create change. I’m at a point in my life where saying nothing hurts so much worse than saying something.

I know the fear won’t go away, not completely. But I also know I can get through it. I have before.

So for today’s reflection – when’s a time in your life you faced a fear? What was the outcome? How did you grow from the experience? And has it changed your philosophy towards fear in the future?

Sunday Reflection – What Gives You a Feeling of Value?

This past week I wrote about feeling valued at work (or the lack thereof).

So for this week’s reflection, I wanted to think a bit more on the theme of value. Who or what gives you a feeling of value? How do you express value for others?

When I think about feeling valued in the workplace, I think about my very first manager in my first permanent job.

What I remember is how well she listened. She wasn’t always able to take immediate action, but she always took me seriously and listened to me with compassion. She would take the time to really hear me out.

She also became an advocate for me. My first promotion was thanks to her. She brought me to meetings with high level managers, she encouraged me to work on projects on my own design, and she gave me recognition for my work.

These are all behaviors that I work to emulate, but to me, the key has always been listening. One of my former co-workers used to frequently quote the saying, “People may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve found that truly listening to people is one of the single most effective tools in helping them feel valued. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we need to find the perfect words, but so often, it’s not our words that matter. It’s simply how we make them feel.

Sunday Reflection – Who Inspires You?

When we think of who we want to be, as leaders and as human beings, I often find it enlightening to think of what I admire in other people. What aspects have I seen in others that I would like to aspire to?

So for today’s reflection, think of who has been an inspiration in your life. This could be a parent, a teacher, a coach, a friend. Someone at work or someone in your personal life.

What do you find inspiring about them? What do they do or say that has made an impact for you? And how can you take what you’ve learned from them and apply to your own life?

I have a former co-worker and current friend who was in my team in the training department. She has experienced many of the same frustrations as me, as well as unique challenges of her own. And yet, through everything she maintains a level of hope and optimism that I deeply admire. She has this sparkling positivity that just shines through, even when people with power over her try to pull her down.

I’ve struggled with the level of cynicism that I’ve developed over the past ten years. Some has come from working in positions where I saw the victimization of vulnerable people, and some has come from feeling like a small cog in a large grinding system.

Speaking with her reminds me that I used to be capable of great optimism, and I’d like to get back to that. I’d like to focus more on the helpers and less on the detractors. I’d like to focus on the people making a difference and not the people terrified of change. Being with her is a reminder that we do have control over how we see the world. And I want to see it in a little bit better of a light.

Sunday Reflection – Introduction

In the Leadership program I used to facilitate, we always started each session the same way. We would provide our participants with a question, or a quote, or an idea. And we would ask them to journal for seven minutes.

Now, seven minutes is not very long. Ask someone to wait for a bus for seven minutes, or tell them that the movie they’re seeing will start in seven minutes, and people are fine.

Tell people to journal for seven minutes – they will struggle.

Not everyone, of course. Some people came into the training as journal writers. But a large number of people, after two or three minutes of writing, would start to fidget. They ‘d be looking around, sighing, and clearly desperate to pick up their cell phone (something we did not allow in our sessions).

And it’s not hard to understand why. When we’re scrambling to keep up with things at work and at home, sitting in solitude and thinking feels like a luxury.

But every session, we still asked them to do the same thing. And we did it for a reason. Because if they wanted to be leaders, they needed to self-reflect. And self-reflection takes practice.

Sometimes we asked them to journal after an activity or a presentation, to allow them time to reflect on what they learned. I’ll never forgot the time one of our participants raised her hand after journaling. “I really didn’t get the purpose of the activity,” she said. “But then when I started writing, suddenly it made sense. You got me!”

In some ways, this blog was inspired by self-reflection, as I started writing to delve into my workplace experiences that led me to quitting. And I want to continue that journey, while also hopefully encouraging others to take the time to do some reflection of their own.

So I’ve picked Sunday as a good day for doing some thinking. Every week I’ll post an idea or a  question or a quote. And I’ll be doing some thinking. And I hope some of you do too.

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