Tuesday, November 03, 2009


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Join me there!!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Emotional Intelligence: self-awareness

From the earliest age, we learn a lesson that easily defines our lives – it’s all about ME! Yup, that cute, cuddly little bundle of joy that you bring home from the hospital is all about one person (and it’s not Mommy or Daddy). At that stage of life, it’s to be expected. But we rarely stop there…we often grow into selfish kids, teenagers, and adults.

Selfishness is not self-awareness. As a matter of fact, though they can be confused, they are really worlds apart.

Selfishness asks: How do I get what I want?

Self-awareness asks: What am I experiencing right now?

See the difference? Selfishness is about getting. Self-awareness is about understanding.

Self-awareness can become unhealthy when it’s distracting or obsessive. But when developed in healthy ways, it’s actually the foundation of healthy emotional intelligence. Without healthy self-awareness, we will miss several things:

- how and why we react the way we do in certain situations

- the ability to control our fear, pride, or anger in potentially/perceived threatening situations

- how our reactions impact others around us (to now care how our reactions impact others is to bring us back to a discussion on selfishness)

There is a danger here – as there is with almost every aspect of life. That danger is that in our attempt to become emotionally self-aware, we get self-obsessed. Not good. Went too far in that direction.

How can we cultivate a healthy self-awareness?

1. The Bible actually teaches us a ton about ourselves. We learn that fear is real. We learn about our ability to deceive even ourselves. We learn that each of us was created by God to reflect His character.

2. Look for flags – those moments when your reaction to something or someone is stronger than the situation seemed to call for. For example, when someone critiques your project with honesty, but you blast them back defensively. It’s a sign that there is something deeper going on in there. Unfortunately, the things that trigger us the most often take us by surprise – it’s part of the “fun” of learning.

3. Ask the tough questions. Why did I blow up like that? Why did I shut down when she said that? Why do I feel the need to control this person?

4. Process with a trusted friend or Godly counsel. Sure, sometimes it may need to be a good counselor who helps you process what triggers you. But it can often be a trusted friend or comrade who can help you get to the bottom of the situation.

5. Pray for insight. Who knows you better than yourself? God does. He has thoughts about how you live and He actually delights in your growth and development. Ask Him to show you more about you – the journey will actually help you get to know more about Him.
Psalm 139:1-18

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Emotional Intelligence: what is it?

I had a great breakfast with a couple of guys who are a bit further down the leadership road than I am. An important part of our conversation was about "emotional intelligence." It's an intriguing notion that I'd like to explore for a few days.

Thanks to Facebook, we've got a number of IQ tests available to us. For the most part, we're trying to measure how smart we are. Emotional intelligence is measuring something different. It would seem that there are 2 pieces to EI:

1. how well we know our own selves
2. how well we read and understand the emotional selves of the people around us

Why does EI matter? Let me toss out a couple key reasons:

1. for most leaders, EI will become their ceiling - their effectiveness at leading others will hinge less on the leadership skills they develop over time and more on their ability to "know thyself" and others.

2. our personal emotion (and I'd even say spiritual) health rides on our capacity to know ourselves - our faith journey cannot be distinguished from our journey toward emotional adulthood. It will impact our perspective on God and His role in our lives.

Do a quick little test for yourself...ready?

On a scale of 1-5, rate yourself in these ways:

1. I take time to reflect on how I respond to others or present ideas during a meeting.
2. I eagerly invite others to give me their impressions of my motives and growth points based on our interactions.
3. I know when I'm reacting in fear or pride during a conversation.
4. I consistently take the emotional temperature in a room and tailor my response accordingly.
5. It matters to me how my interactions impact others during a meeting or conversation.

Add your score and see where you fall...

5-7 Have you ever read Dilbert? You know the manager? Yeah...
7-14 There are probably some great growth steps for you to take in the area of EI.
15-22 You're growing in this area and are probably eager to grow some more.
23-25 Yeah, right...have you ever read Dilbert? You know the manager?

The great thing about emotional intelligence, is that we can all take some steps of growth, if we determine to. So where are you? And do you want to grow your EI IQ?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friendship (Part 6)

A final reflection on friendship. There is a dynamic that makes friendship strong and powerful. It's a dynamic that many in our transient culture miss...history. Knowing where another person comes from helps us to speak into and share the journey of where that person is going.

When we first moved to IL, that was one of the hardest parts. Everyone in our community was brand new - no one knew our history. And we didn't know theirs. Sure, we shared the stories - that's a good start. But we didn't share the history together.

History fosters great inside jokes and knowing looks. It generates stories of faithfulness and a foundation of encouragement that begins with "Remember when...?"

History - not just the stuff in books...but the stuff on which a strong friendship can be built.

With whom do you share the most history?


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friendship (part 5)

An often overlooked element of a strong and healthy friendship is accountability.

Sure, friendships that lack fun are...well...not fun. But friendships that lack authentic, loving accountability will lack transformational umph.

Think of it this way, is it really loving to watch me make a series of bad decisions and not say anything at all? Or is it really loving to never ask how my marriage is? No, I don't think so, either.

Do you have someone asking you the hard questions? If not, who can you invite into your life enough to do so? Go talk with them today.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Izak - a birthday tribute

In a few hours, my son will turn 7 years old. I remember so much of that night and day. I remember the excitement of having Heidi wake me up and tell me it's time. I remember the adrenaline rush of driving to the hospital in the middle of the night - permission to speed! I remember being excited to meet my child. I remember keeping watch with Heidi while she labored in the store room because all the birthing rooms were full. I remember being so proud of her. I remember the music playing in the background. I remember the world passing me by and not caring because one of the most spectacular events in the world was taking place.

And now...7 years later, I've gotten to know that little critter a bit better. Here's what I've learned about your oldest son:

- We named him well. Izak means laughter and he LOVES to laugh!
- He loves doors. No...really...he loves doors. And anyone who has an automatic door on their van...they are awesome!
- He loves to have his back rubbed.
- He's great at snuggling on the couch while watching a movie.
- He likes to tease by saying, "Red Sox stink!"
- He works so hard to make sure he doesn't disappoint anyone; especially his parents.
- He has a heart that is soft toward God. He eagerly prays each day and looks for opportunities to pray with others if they are hurt or sick.
- He dances a pretty men irish jig!
- He's a good runner - I watch him on the playground and he's got great form...impressive!
- He has a blast playing tag with the girls at school. The little girl who wanted to give him a kiss makes him giggle...keep running, buddy!
- He's got a great ear for music.
- He's so smart...seriously. He gets that from his mother - not putting myself down, just recognizing what's true.
- He works hard to be a good friend to the people around him.
- He's compassionate. He's one of the first ones to stop when someone falls down - he checks to make sure they are ok.
- He doesn't understand why people would be mean or tease other kids. Seriously...it's eludes him.

I never imagined that I could love a child like I do my 3 kids. Not only was my first son born 7 years ago tonight...something in me was born, too...the love of a father. That love is fierce. That love is strong - sometimes overwhelming even to me. That love is rooted in today while looking to tomorrow.

And as I experience a father's love for my children, I grow in my understanding of God's love for me/us. My love for my kids falls short - I fail them almost daily. But the love of the Father never falls short, it always builds up and exceeds expectations.

I am proud to be the daddy of such a great kid. I'm humbled that God gave him to me as a gift. I'm honored that he is in my family.

Happy birthday, Izak. Your daddy is proud of you and of the boy you are becoming.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friendship (part 4)

Presence feeds friendship. Sure, presents do, too...but I'm talking about the "be with" factor of friendship.

There is something powerful about someone who will simply be with you. When you're walking through the fire of life, you look over and notice your friend...just there. When you are celebrating a life milestone...there they are. Sure, there are times for words. But there are also times when simply being present is the greatest gift ever.

I've experienced this from time to time. When my son was taken by ambulance after a bike accident - I got the call at work and raced to the hospital to find my friends were there first. As the evening progressed, a few other friends also come...just to be.

Why is presence so important to friendship? Probably because it reminds us that we're not alone. It may seem like a "duh" statement - but presence is counter-intuitive to most of us. We want something to do, to say...we are uncomfortable just being present. Why? Because it reminds us that we can't fix all the problems in the world - it reminds us that we have limits.

When words fall short. When there aren't actions that can reverse the trend. When there isn't a gift to cover the problem. Then there is presence.

Who has been someone who was simply present with you when you needed to not be alone? And for whom have you simply been present?