fiction · Teamwork

Together

Once there was a land where the great rivers flowed from the mountains onto rolling hills and across fertile plains. Blue skies, red sunsets, amazing vistas and abundant wildlife abounded. Freedom loving, hardworking people came and for a hundred years and they worked together and built upon the land. The tilled and seeded, raised livestock and built cities and more freedom loving hardworking people came to join them. They mined, felled, drilled and dug the bountiful natural resources and built a strong caring community. A community where cowboys cared for children and city dwellers supported farmers. A community where each person accepted responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbours grew. If a barn was razed, it was rebuilt. If a road was impassable, it was cleared. If someone was troubled, they were lifted up. If a barrier was identified, it was overcome – together.

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There was a bounty shared by all who cared to join the inhabitants of the land. The blessings of opportunity, promise and hope teemed in a measure equal to the material blessings that were created. Hope was born out of industriousness and inclusion. As hope flourished, unimagined opportunities manifested themselves and unexpected forms of providence appeared.

Neighbours didn’t always agree but they lived together with honour and respect. They debated passionately but held space for the opinions of others.

A man came into the land and saw all that was good and he was jealous. Envy and despair grew in him and he set out to undermine and destroy what the people had built.

Saying to one here “you deserve more” another there “ why work so hard” and another “ that isn’t your job” At first his prodding was ignored and the people kept living together in community but the man’s voice was joined by many others with the power of print, radio, and TV. Their message began to take root. “Why worry about your neighbour. Was he there for you?” “Leave that for the next guy to do. You have done your share already”. “Let’s hire someone to do our work and we can relax in the sun”.

After a few dozen years or so, the passion and purpose that built the land was forgotten and the language of self-reliance and responsibility was erased and replaced by delegates and servants hired to look after every need. The sky darkened and neighbours built fences of fear. Trust evaporated and was replaced by rules of entitlement. People still came seeking liberty but they didn’t find freedom and opportunity and the sweat of their brow or the power of their skills wasn’t appreciated. A community turned into a group of individuals who happened to live in the same place. The man and his ilk said ” Our economy is strong”, ” we have too many freeloaders”, ” we need to protect ourselves”, ” we can’t let more people come here”.

Soon neighbour threatened neighbour. Disagreements were handled by the court. Prisons were built and filled and more prisons were needed. Debate became vitriolic rhetoric full of untruths and logical fallacies. Distrust turned to disgust and then to hatred. Hope evaporated and opportunities disappeared. People stopped coming and started to leave. The man and his bloc were satisfied that their jelousy had poisoned the community and they packed their carpetbags and moved on to infect another place with their economic arguments, their prejudice, and their fear.

This story is written by someone who observed the shift – a child born in the midst of abundance and caring who now nearly 30 years old, sees scarcity and greed. Her great wish is for a return to ‘the good-old-days’ but realizes that fear has its foothold and is gaining strength. It would take leadership, commitment and comp[assion to restart the journey towards hope. She can’t do it alone but she can do her part with a challenge; “I leave you this story, how it continues is up to you ..”

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Receiving and Giving

Day 2 Towards Fulfillment

In the list I made yesterday (I imagine yours too), there were things that I want to do, things I want to have, things that I want to be known for, and things that I want to share.

We are innately wired  to receive, sometimes with grace and other times in selfishness. most of us aren’t really great at receiving. We either take it for granted, don’t accept it as sincere or are blown away by the generousity. Our culture has convinced (or is trying to convince) us that we have a ‘right’ to stuff, either physical or emotional. But what if fulfillment started in not what we receive but in what we share?

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What if our lives are better, bigger, bolder and beautiful when we share our time, our money, our gifts, our love with those around us? In relationships we shouldn’t ask “why aren’t you doing those little things you used to do” but instead become the doer of all those little things. In community we shouldn’t be the one standing on the sidelines waiting for a neighbour to ask for assistance but rather we should be the guy who leans over the fence and says ” I’ve got a couple hours, can I help you with that?”.   With strangers we shouldn’t wait to receive a smile but … With servers we shouldn’t wait for their courtesy but rain courtesy on them. We can be the bringer of joy, assistance and value to almost everyone we meet.

The door to fulfillment opens a crack every time you are a giver without an expecttion of receiving.

 

Make Today Remarkably Giving,

B

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Make an Impression Immediately

In good times and not so good, we meet new people who have sources, resources, ideas and contacts that can add value to our lives. We meet men and women who we may never see again and some who may become a close confidant. Being intentional about how we approach these encounters is hospitality at it’s best.

Lolly Daskal of Inc offers 13 Hints to improve the chance meeting.

Here are my favorite 4.

1. Neutralize the Fight-or-Flight Response – this is hard to do because some ancestral conditioning flashes impressions and judgment to the front of mind (from the amygdala) that high jacks neutrality. Being aware of this and turning off the first impression gives time to make an honest appraisal.

10. Be Curious, Open-Minded, and Interested – Be curious to understand, be open-minded to engage and interested to be respectful.

12. Have a Personal Statement – Craft your 30 second message, manifesto, before you enter the room. Be engaged in any response you get rather than defensive.

8. Synchronize – This takes awareness and sensitivity to those around you. If you struggle with this, you will alienate and likely feel an awkwardness in the conversation.

Make Everyday Remarkable, by appreciating every encounter,

B

 

 

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Hacking Hospitality

Yesterday morning our pastor stated that the most important issue facing the church is hospitality. She went on to say( as Benjamin Conner does) that ” hospitality is meeting needs and allowing the other to flourish, make choices, be recognized and feel valued.” The challenges facing the church and maybe our world would evaporate if we practiced that kind of behavior.

Sandy Coughlin in The Art of Simple  gives us 7 suggestions to practice imperfect hospitality (my impatient imperfectionist loves this).

Here are 3 I love (you can take another 2 minutes to read the others here)

Be Intentional – don’t let a laisse faire attitude or organic expectation ruin your party.

Cook and Serve the Same Three Recipes Over and Over. – these will become your signature and reduce stress for you and your guests.

Find a Style – You are you. If linen and brocade are you then bring out the china too. If paper plates and napkins work with who you are – go with it.

Make Today Remarkable, by being exceptionally hospitable,

B

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Leadership Hacks

Leaders are born, not as leaders but as wee babies just like the rest of us. Leaders are nurtured by caring and significant adults; parents, caregivers, teachers. Leaders are challenged by the same significant adults – at a very young age the bubble wrap is removed and the budding leaders are allowed to fall and fail. Leaders can arise in any circumstance with the right inspiration.

Carey Nieuwhof has 5 Ultra Simple Leadership Hacks  fo us.

1. Make someone else the hero. While I think we should all put on our invisible cape and hero’s hat every morning, I also believe that we need to be lifting up and celebrating all those around us. Acknowledge your team, give credit where due, encourage and delegate.

2. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Integrity is the most important hallmark of a leader. In those rare occasions when it becomes impossible to ‘do what you said’ then honestly explain and apologize if necessary.

3. Focus on outcomes. Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the three Pinkian motivators to success. Seed purpose, cultivate mastery and allow your team to handle the how.

4. Look people in the eye. I know so many great leaders who are completely present with you in the moment. They give the person they are with all their attention. (This is an area that I need to work on)

5. Smile. Apparently, not smiling is never interpreted as neutral. We are drawn to smiles and confused by the dissonance of happiness and joy without the outward display. Show your glee today.

Make Today Remarkable, by being a leader,

B

 

 

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Hope or Expectation or Cry of Desperation

I was out early this morning to watch a grandson play hockey and made two stops on the way home. We don’t ‘shop’ on Saturday very often and completely forgot that this is the Dark Side Weekend (Black Friday to Cyber Monday). Everywhere there were people rushing from one item to the next, clutching their bounty and praying that the next thing would fulfill them. The icon of stuff isn’t rooted in hope, it is covered in desperation, Meaning doesn’t come from acquiring more, it comes from inside by being more.

Hope allows and urges you to stop piling up stuff you think you need, believe you need, want to need beside the stuff you bought yesterday, last week, last year (that didn’t bring anything more than a fleeting relief from the anxiety and emptiness).

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Seek hope in relationships. Find hope in experiences. Cherish hope in a good book. Delight in hope in a shred meal. Dance with hope, sing with hope, pray with hope – she resides in music and poetry and faith.

I came home feeling sad for all those I saw chasing an impossible icon to fill a gaping hole but writing this gave me hope that someone will read it and begin a new journey to fulfillment by seeking hope, extending hope, and sharing hope.

 

Make Today Hopeful,

B

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Happy Valentine’s Day

I readily and happily admit that my life is so much better because of   my partner, my wife, my beloved.  I am indebted for her patience, amazed by her tolerance and blessed by her caring. She fills a lot of the holes in my life. I love her.

My kids and grandkids let me know that I am loved , in direct and indirect ways. A smile when I enter the room, a cuddle when we  need it, a kind word even when they aren’t feeling well are reminders of how I should behave. I love them.

Good friends have and meet high expectations. I am not always attentive or responsive to their needs and can be disappointed when they don’t meet my unspoken ones. I love them.

As a follower of God, in the way of Jesus I try to live a life he would please him. Every day when I don’t live that life I still feel I am forgiven and cared for. I love Jesus.

“Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”
(originally by The Four Aces)

Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose
That only grows in the early spring
Love is nature’s way of giving
A reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing