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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Believing Takes Courage

I've been through a lot and learned a lot throughout my professional life. At 16 years old, someone believed in me and gave me my first chance to be in charge; it was at McDonald's and I was in charge of "calling the bin"--which meant telling the grill staff what I needed in order to prepare for upcoming orders. I hadn't worked there long, but I was a quick study. I wanted to succeed and I believed I could do it as did the manager who gave me the opportunity. It was that single opportunity and the faith he had in me that bolstered my own faith and belief in my abilities. It made me want more of that. I have always been one to desire to do well because that usually meant praise or recognition or the like, but it was my belief that I could that always made the difference.

We can be the single BIGGEST barrier to our own success. When we lose faith in ourselves or others, as I explained in a post at the end of January, it can shake us. For me, it was a new part of the onion I hadn't yet exposed or even realized was affecting me. I thought the weather and all this other stuff in my life (or lack of some things) was the culprit for my current falling off the wagon. It isn't. It may be a contributing factor, but today my eyes were opened to what was really happening.

I have been sitting at the same weight (+ or - 3 lbs) for weeks. I have been struggling with poor food choices. I have been exercising on occasion, but it's been mostly an occasional walk-weather permitting-for the last 2 weeks. I have made excuses to myself and I have put so much CRAP into my body--ice cream (a whole container--though not at a single sitting), mini Oreos (a whole bag - 3 of the 4 servings - in a single sitting), baked goods - that I baked, pizza (not the whole thing, I shared, but had more than my share!), onion rings (baked), french fries (not baked)...ok, I could go on, but I am sure you are getting the picture--stuff I hadn't eaten in a long time--not because I don't allow myself to, but because I am not good at controlling myself when I have it in the house. I REALLY wanted a Big Mac two days ago (really bad day at work), but I knew that I would have had that and still eaten dinner with the kids. I am trying to AVOID having an early heart attack yet my choices these last two weeks were not indicative of that goal!

This morning, the switch was switched off. Something happened to me that has rarely if ever happened to me at work. Someone did something so selfless, so filled with belief and faith, that it immediately moved me. My eyes filled with tears (as they are now again as I type this) and I exclaimed that his gesture was going to make me cry. It was not something this person did for me personally, but for our company. He wants to be a part of what we are doing. He believes in where we are going and knows we will get there. I watched my CEO last night open his heart earnestly with this person as I looked on in amazement. Don't get me wrong, our CEO is often doing this with us individually and as a company.

The CEO's approach is different than my own and I had an opportunity to learn from him. I have used similar approaches in the past, but never within the context of what we had to do yesterday. As I told this individual and the CEO, I have been with brand new companies just getting off the ground, adding a new or expanded offering or service, been through due diligence as a company was acquired, been there as that same company went IPO, and been in many situation where I had to conduct RIFs (reductions in force). Where we were in that moment and what we've been through over the last 15 months was as new to me as it has been for everyone else. And this uncertainty makes me uncomfortable because as much as I believe in this company, our leader, our people and myself, I have seen the reality and the reality makes it hard for me to have faith. Until now...

I struggle with this same thing in my spiritual faith. When I cannot comprehend, see, understand, BELIEVE that something can be because of my own barriers--previous experience, what I am seeing and have seen in the industry, FEAR of the unknown--I am not "all in". I have a toe or a foot in, but I am ready for the "what if" even though I don't know what is on the other side of that either. I was stirred last night in my spirit. I was reminded that I was not asked to do what some others were--and I know why I was not asked and am thankful for that blessing--and in that my belief that I was right where I was supposed to be and all the reasons I believe I am here have been said out loud by both of the people I was in the office with during these difficult discussions. After the individual was thanked, the CEO kept me in his office. He asked me what I thought and how it had changed things for me. I explained that I learned two things:
1. Speaking from the heart matters!
By understanding a person's needs and speaking to them with that in mind (something I learned in a training course I participated in a number of years ago that termed this as "The Platinum Rule"), you show that you care and that matters to people.
2. Especially in times of change and uncertainty, keep the communication alive!
Even thought we are talking, it doesn't mean we are saying things that matter. We need to remember that everyone wants to feel valuable. This individual no more so than anyone else, but remembering that and acting on it frequently can make all the difference in keeping the belief alive and the faith deepening!

Since Sunday, Joshua 1:9 has been waking me up to what God has for me. Here is what it says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV). He has never abandoned me, yet I lose faith often. It is not because I don't believe, it is because I fear. Courage is doing something in the face of fear. I choose to be courageous and to stop eating my fear!

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