Showing up and Connecting

Drive-through ashes on Ash Wednesday.  Really?  I have to admit my level of cynicism has been heightened lately.  I expected people to be driving through the parking lot of our church, in a hurry, looking for a quick “fix” to their holy obligation.  I worried that it could be perfunctory, perhaps even a bit trite.  I was amazed and humbled that it was anything but, it was holy, it was precious, it was uplifting and it was profound.

Many found their way to us because they had seen on the news that we, along with other churches, were offering the “ashes to go” and drove quite a distance to participate.  Others simply saw the sign and impulsively decided to turn in. Once they arrived and rolled down their window I simply asked them to take a deep breath with me and slow down.  They needed a moment to summon their full presence and I needed a moment to gather myself and be fully present to them and not allow my prayers or our short liturgy to become rote.  We stopped, we breathed, we opened our hearts and once we were ready, we began to pray.

For two to five minutes I leaned over to share a quick prayer with total strangers while they sat in their cars and received the imposition of ashes.  For two to five minutes the world stopped, our eyes met, our hearts were touched and our spirits were lifted.  Sometimes it was for longer because that prayer and those ashes “undid” something, let loose something and stories poured out, tears poured out and ultimately joy.  Deep gratitude was exchanged in those moments.  I was grateful for their presence and they were grateful for mine.  We all showed up for one another.  We showed up with intention and granted one another our full presence.

Isn’t that what it means to be Christ to one another?  It just goes to show you that when we take the time to show up with our full presence and with shared intention it doesn’t take that long to establish deep connection.  We didn’t discuss politics, or work, or what we watched on TV.  We just emotionally pole vaulted over all that trivia and into the deep well of our being – one that was shared. In that moment, we experienced unity and I am profoundly grateful.

Articulate Values to Guide Behavior versus Assuming Values and Regretting Behavior

core-values

“Take care of it!”

“Get it handled!”

“Make it happen!”

“Sure, I can do that – the end justifies the means,  right?”  Or does it?

At some point in our careers we have been the recipient of some sort of ill-defined directive.  And we’ve probably all felt uncomfortable not knowing exactly how to go about “taking care of it.”   The person issuing directive may think they are empowering us.  But unless these directives are embedded in a culture of specifically articulated values the consequences may carry a high price.  I’ve seen this happen in good companies, with good people trying hard to do a good day’s work.  They came up against a challenge and sought out guidance from the leadership and the leadership said, “Just take care of it.”

So what does that mean, “Just take care of it” Does it mean that I can do whatever I want as long as I don’t bother YOU with it?  Does it mean that I can do whatever is easiest for ME?  Does it mean I can do whatever I need to do to “make it happen” even if what is required is illegal or unethical?

Assumptions are made on the part of leadership that when they issue an open directive like that the receiver will operate in a way that is consistent with the corporate values and the known rules.  Well, you know what they say about assuming – don’t do it.  Don’t assume they will do what you ask in the way that you would do it.  Don’t assume that they share your values and concerns.  Don’t assume they have the full context of any given situation.  Don’t assume.

Rather than assuming, leadership should be leading in such a way that the corporate values, intentions and their priorities are known and understood.  Not assuming requires an up-front investment but the pay-off is tremendous.  Because if you take the time to inform your team of your values, your intentions and your priorities AND ask them to come along side you and share those same values, intentions and priorities, only then have you empowered them to act on your behalf.  If you don’t do that you may well end up with a big mess on your hands; the kind of mess that may have legal ramifications, cost you a lot of money or perhaps adversely impact your reputation and business.

Make the investment in your business.  Empower your team to work with intention and purpose and in alignment with your shared values and vision.  Need some help getting that done?  Contact me, I can help.

Let’s talk about creating conversation

We are surrounded by noise, internal and external.  After a while it just seems like a cacophony of sound and it becomes harder and harder to discern what I need to listen to.  At the same time, it seems like it is more important than ever to figure out how to listen to one another and come to some sort of mutual understanding.  How do we do that?

As a facilitator it’s my job to make sure that everyone in the room knows what we are trying to accomplish, that everyone has a voice and that we have some ground rules in place to keep the lines of communication open while honoring our intention.

Sounds easy enough, right?  Where this breaks down is often due to a lack of transparency in any given process or conversation.  If the participants come to the table with different expectations, opposing agendas and with a defensive mind-set they are set up to fail.  Creating a safe space is the first task of the facilitator in such a situation.

My personal cocktail for these types of situations is a blend of vulnerability and humor.  Start with the easy, less personal questions that create some laughter, releases tension and helps to pave some common ground.  Momentum is built and used to propel the group to a deeper place, holding that vulnerability and transparency that is required for authentic communication.

When this type of authentic communication can be achieved – things change.  A discerning process creates a container for movement from the surface, where our differences separate us, to a deeper place of unity. The individual stories are told and woven together into a new story that is bigger, more open and able to hold it all.

Have some high stakes conversations in your future?  Let me help you create a safe space for you and your team to gather and discern, together, the next steps for your organization.

A new journey begins…

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gayle_teaAfter years of wading into the wreckage of one medical practice after another I’ve decided to literally get ahead of the game.  No more disaster recovery for me – I want to be in disaster prevention!

Today I pack my bags and head up to Austin for the CHUG 2016 meeting and I am filled with excitement.   What is new about the journey is that even though I am attending and presenting at a computer conference for healthcare providers – my area of consulting expertise – I’m taking a jog to the left.  Yep, my presentation is entitled “Thrive – creating and maintaining a healthy practice.”   My presentation is about laying the foundations that allow a practice to create a culture of wellness and balance.  We all conduct our business in a world of fast-paced change.  Without a firm foundation that grounds you to what you are and who you are and why you do what you do – it’s easy to lose your way.

As practitioners of healthcare we are learning more and more about the benefits of leading a balanced life focused on wellness and prevention.  We literally write prescriptions to assist our patients in creating that lifestyle.  But do we take our own medicine?  Do we create organizations where our providers  and staff can thrive?  Is our practice culture about wellness and prevention and balance?  If so, let me know how you do it and join my campaign “Cura te ipsum” – HEAL THYSELF!

If you are like so many businesses you haven’t been intentional about creating the foundations that will allow your organization to thrive.  Oftentimes we are focused on simply surviving.  But you can do it – you can create and maintain a functional, thriving business place.  Come along with me as I explore the pathway to a thriving business – let the pathfinding begin!

I’m interested in your thoughts –