• Andrea is a contributor at:

    BlogBurst.com

    HighCallingBlogs.com

    Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

Housekeeping, Giveaways & What Makes You Tick

Have I told you lately that I love you? I do.

In fact, the plan was to surprise all you email subscribers today with a nifty little gift as a “thank you” for keeping your eyeballs on this blog. (Seriously, I’m digging into my pocketbook for this one and saving the receipt as a business expense.)

Then Google acquired Feedburner and ate up all my subscriber data, so I can’t tell who you are or how to reach you. They promise to get their act together in 72 hours, so we’ll see. Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me soon. [sigh]

Meanwhile, I’ve contracted a kick-butt designer to turn this blog into a super-duper, slick web site. I can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with, and I’m working hard to add new, helpful content and tools here for you. I’m also turning some content into audio for those of you who are iPod addicts like me.

But here’s the thing: If I’m going to go through all that trouble and expense, I want to give you stuff you truly want and will benefit from.

So would you do me a favor? Would you tell me in the comments section below:

  • What your top 3 work-related challenges are
  • What content or tool would be most helpful to you right now

Or, if you prefer, shoot me an email at andrea@espressoshots.com.

Many, many thanks. I really appreciate your time and input, and can’t wait to read your feedback.

Getting angry about the right stuff

*Warning: Today’s post contains whining*

I’ve been getting angry a lot at work lately.

Angry at the customer who gives me final approval on a project, then, a few days later, decides she wants to make “just one more change.” Eight times.

Angry at the team member who gives me the wrong project specifications, forcing me to re-do it all later.

Angry when I must depend on others to meet my deadlines.

Angry when the assignment I’ve spent hours on gets canceled or postponed indefinitely.

And then this two-minute video by Rob Bell shut me up.

Here’s a highlight:

Some people are looking for a fight because they aren’t in one. The people I know who are most engaged with the suffering of the world . . . who  have given themselves to bold, beautiful, healing kinds of causes, they’re generally free from that irrational, petty kind of anger. They don’t fall under the trap of that low-grade rage that actually increases the brokenness of the world.

Amen, brother, I get it. Thanks for setting me straight.


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Related resource: “Be Angry But Don’t Blow It” 16-minute audio by Lisa  Bevere (one of my heroes)

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Coming soon: Complimentary Starbucks gift card and other goodies for our email subscribers (yum)!

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Freaky, Freaky Fresh

(That’s a line from Hannah Montana, for those of you who aren’t “with it.”)

Forgive me if you’ve already seen this video, but I find it fascinating . . .  (I even tried to force my husband to show it to his Social Studies class.) It both excites and scares the bejeebers out of me.

Once thing is for sure: I’m not having any more babies until Jesus comes back — it’s way too wild out there.

Peace out.

Redefining Significance & Impact

lady-smacking-forehead2Every now and then we need someone to remind us of the obvious, and then it hits us like a brand-new revelation.

Kinda reminds me of the time I met with an executive and, upon realizing a mistake she’d made, she smacked herself on the head and said, “Duh! Should’ve had a V8.”  I think you and I could use a little forehead smacking right about now.

Earlier today I discovered the following text by an unknown author. The questions posed below were just the kick in the pants I needed to re-examine my motives and definitions of success and career significance.

And you know what? I’m breathing easier now. Because I realize the assumptions I’ve been operating on lately were just plain wrong and, frankly, sucking the life out of me.

I trust you will also benefit from the following exercise:

Take this short quiz — it will make you think!

  • Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  • Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  • Name the last three winners of American Idol.
  • Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  • Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  • Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-raters. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are forgotten and buried with their owners.

So here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one.

  • List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  • Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  • Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  • Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  • Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  • Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier?

The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care.

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It’s all about Whom you know…

sweetsuccessI’m a list junkie. Dig through my purse, laptop, desk or whatever book I happen to be reading at the time, and you’ll find about a dozen lists: some typed, some neatly written in my planner, others scribbled on random pieces of paper.

During the past few months, I’ve compiled a long list of personal goals, mostly new habits I want to establish in various areas: business, family, health and spiritual growth. Although I made some progress in developing those new habits, I lacked consistency (plus, the number of action items on my lists was hardly manageable).

Then one day, the clouds parted. It was one of those Holy Ghost revelations that hit you right between the eyes.

“Forget your list,” I sensed the Lord say. “I want you to focus on one — only one — goal for now.” He then reminded me of Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV).

So I put my “new habits” list aside for the moment and kept only one: To start each day by spending time with Him, no excuses. You see, in an effort to get all of those list items done, my daily time with the Lord had been rushed. I would often sandwich it between appointments, unable to focus as I should, or I’d multi-task, splitting my attention between God and some other activity, like housecleaning or watching my daughter babble on about SpongeBob.

This time, I’d give him my undivided attention for a good chunk of time, before I even got dressed for work. In other words, I would “tithe” my time by giving Him the first part of my day.

If you’re in the habit of doing that, you know that the more you feed yourself with His Word and presence, the hungrier you get and the easier it becomes to carve out time for Him. It doesn’t take long to see Him shift your situation, business, outlook, desires, abilities and … oh, yeah … habits.

Since renewing my commitment to seek Him first and not worry so much about the rest, He’s made it His business to take care of that long list of goals. By keeping my eyes on Him, items on my wish list are checked off with less effort.

Whether you’re an ambitious careerist, a workaholic with an unhealthy fixation on getting ahead, or a mom trying to balance your many roles, I hope you remember that it’s all about Whom you seek first.

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New Career Skill: Effective Confrontations

guys-fightYears ago I was promoted above my supervisor, who deeply resented the fact that I leapfrogged her on the chain of command.

The unusual promotion was both unexpected and an answer to prayer. My first reaction was to lock myself in the bathroom and jump up and down for a few minutes, silently mouthing, “Thank you, Jesus.” My second reaction was to sit in the bathroom stall with my head between my knees, silently mouthing, “Help me, Jesus.”

Following the good news, the company bigwig had just given me my first assignment: to discipline my fuming boss-turned-subordinate. The day before, she was the boss of me. Now I was expected to reprimand her for poor performance.

Up to that point, I had been a people pleaser — the thought of offending someone terrified me beyond reason. But I knew if I were to succeed in my new role, I had to develop a bold tongue and confrontation skills in a hurry.

Finding the right balance was a struggle. I had watched “no-nonsense” managers tear their subordinates apart by taking the “brutal honesty” approach. I’d also watched entire departments suffer when the boss was too light on boundaries. I knew either of those scenarios would amount to failure.

I found refuge (and some really kick-butt strategies) in what I considered the top authorities in effective confrontations:

  1. The Bible
  2. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, clinical psychologists and authors of Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding (who, incidentally, base their advice on Scriptures)

“As a consultant,” says Cloud, “I find that the best performers, the best teams and the best work cultures are those that confront well.”

Mirroring the two scenarios I described earlier, Cloud and Townsend state that many of us live in two worlds when it comes to relationships. In one world, we have friendly conversations in which we avoid all disagreements (which was my case). In the other, we have major conflict-type conversations that tear everybody up. “In the first world we have connection without truth, and in the second we have truth without connection,” the authors write. The Bible calls this marriage of truth and connection “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Think about a time when someone told you the truth without love. “You always mess this up,” or, as one of my former co-workers was told, “You’re too immature for a management position.” You probably felt attacked and, no matter how accurate the statement, it hardly mattered, because the hurt eclipsed everything else. In godly confrontations, truth needs to be coupled with grace for the other person to safely receive and digest the feedback.

Now think about a time when you received grace without truth. Like the time someone shared a terrible idea with me, which I knew would be a disaster, and I just smiled and said, “That’s interesting; maybe you could make that work.” It probably made the person feel comforted, but provided no direction, correction or insight into what she should do next. “When you are confronting,” Cloud and Townsend write, “sprinkle in your care. When you are caring, sprinkle in the truth.” And when in doubt, they advise we go for grace: “The damage done by a lack of grace is more severe than the opposite.”

Applying that advice, I summoned my new nemesis to sit down for a talk (which was progress already, considering she wasn’t speaking to me). I poured my heart out and told her how freakin’ scared I was, and how much I wanted us to succeed together. (I think she had built up this scenario in her head that I was out to “get” her and my admission of weakness caught her off guard.)

As we talked, I could see the wheels turning in her head and the muscles on her face relaxing. An hour later – I’m not making this up – she gave me a hug and said, “I love you.”

We eventually parted ways, but enjoyed a good working relationship until she left the company a few months later.

I love how biblical truth is still applicable – cutting edge, even – today.

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If you need help tackling a difficult confrontation, below are some useful resources:

Boundaries books series:

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Grammar Police

(A little something to entertain you while I compose a more thoughtful post.)

This one’s kinda old, but it never fails to make me chuckle (any other grammar nerds in the house?)

So… true story:

Someone calls the local Wal-Mart and orders a cake with the following instructions:

“Write: ‘Best Wishes Suzanne.’ And underneath that, ‘We Will Miss You.'”

This is what they got:

cake

Duh!

You may also enjoy Grammar Girl’s photo album of bad signs & labels. Talk to you soon!