Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. The holiday season whilst essentially over now, is a great time to reflect on things & a recent thought I had was about lots of days over my career when I wanted to hide out in my office & not have to deal with anybody. As I suggested last week, there have been plenty of times when the people I work with were not on my heart, but they sure were on my nerves. I wonder how many of you reflected exactly what I am talking about.
Every single week people walk into your life & for the most part they seem to have it together. They make small talk, they dress appropriately, they participate congenially, they listen politely, & at the end of the meeting they file out quietly.
This common scene is replayed over & over in our business world today & can be deceiving. It can create the illusion most people generally have it “together”? But beneath the veneer of their well-behaved lives is often a swirl of brokenness, fear, & chaos.
It reminds me of going to the airport. You check in at the counter, get your boarding pass & then you head off to the exit for the plane fight. You know the drill. Show your boarding pass, show your ID, pull out your laptop or mobile phone, take the change out of your pocket, show your boarding pass, pull off your shoes, take off your belt, take off your watch… FINALLY, you put your carry-on bag through the scanner. Unless you have a defibrillator like me & the situation changes, but only a little ~ they do not put you through the machine…
There is an employee sitting there peering into your baggage. This can be an uncomfortable feeling. The bags going through the scanner come in all different sizes, shapes & colours… much like the people in our world & daily lives. The thing these bags all have in common is they have zippers. These zippers are to ensure whatever is inside the baggage stays there. We want to keep the contents private & safe. We do not want our stuff exposed.
I think this is most probably how people feel much of the time. They want to keep the contents of their lives private & safe… zipped up tight. It reminds me of a reading from Frederick Buechner:
A college student home for the holidays, who is there because he was dragged there, slumps forward with his chin in his hand. The senior executive of a bank who twice in the last week has seriously contemplated suicide places his file on a desk. A pregnant girl feels the life stir inside her. A high-school math teacher, who for twenty years has managed to keep his homosexuality a secret for the most part even from himself, creases his newspaper with his thumbnail & tucks it under his knee… The stakes have never been higher.
Let this phrase sink in: ‘the stakes have never been higher’.
If somehow we had a scanner allowing us to peer into the lives of the people, I am certain we would be shocked & overwhelmed.
I think one of the most powerful things we can all do is to be “real”. People do not expect you to be perfect but they do expect you to be “real” & credible. People want to feel they can relate to you. Nothing accomplishes this more than a story from your own life, like a magnet drawing people to you & to your message. Do not be afraid to unzip the baggage of your own life & honestly share some of your own struggles & challenges.
I remember growing up & hearing hundreds & hundreds of lessons. I would summarize a good majority of them by the words “be more committed”. But usually what was missing was the “how”. Rarely did those messages include practical next steps I could take on the path to being more “committed”.
Often I would ask the question YBH? Yes, but how? People will often hear something & agree, but are desperate to know “how” to live it out in their everyday lives. What does it look like practically? How do I manage my finances? What next steps do I need to take to resolve a conflict? In learning, HOW do I get started? I fear in the haste for advancement today, no one wants to share this knowledge.
We need to be practical & specific. As we stand before people, with greater awareness than ever before what kind of baggage they are carrying. In concluding my article last week, I asked the suggestion: May the people you lead always be on your heart. Have you considered this question ~ yet?
Remember, the stakes have never been higher.
I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.