Friday, February 26, 2010

getting sucked in

there are far too many sites to interact with/watch/see pictures of/stalk other people. strange. very.

and yet.

i'm getting sucked in.
wholly and completely.
and quickly.

it's rather frightening.

it all started with email. darn that new internet thing. back in the... whenever it was... moving on.

then came facebook - and i held off. it got huge while i was in college, but i didn't really care. heck, i hardly checked email that much, except when i had to for class stuff. suddenly, it was how i stayed in contact with my couple friends from high school, and those who had graduated from college - i believe it began with staying in touch over the first summer. i graduated, email was part of everyday life, like phone calls. no biggie.

and then.
i caved. it is now part of my life - like email. although it seems to be dwindling in many ways - especially with people my age. it seems to still be pretty big with high schoolers and with parents who keep family and friends updated about their kids and such. i must admit, i love being able to see pics of my sweet niece whenever my brother or sister have time to post them. i also am thrilled with the fact that i can keep updated with friends and family who live out of town, out of state, even out of the country. fabulous. even if it's getting 'old' it still serves a fairly decent purpose.

ok. so. recap: email - check. facebook - check. twitter? youtube? blogging? others? not so much. yet.

sure, i used youtube to look stuff up, i watch videos. i do not videoblog. i don't have a youtube channel. although, thanks to mrboyproductions, i started check their youtube channel (and now a few others) from time to time. great videos. example here.

then my brother stepped in.
he uses the internet in a way i hadn't even thought about (really) before. he gets to know people. part of this is because he's just cool like that. when he was in edinburgh, he met some of these people. but he 'knew' several of them before. crazy. he plays chess. he makes up riddles. they converse, trade ideas, jokes, favorite beers. he met this one guy from scotland. well, before that he sent me this video (very funny) to watch, that a friend had shared with him. and he kept following this scottish guy and shortly thereafter found and sent me this one (yes, we're Doctor Who fans...) and then ... he (my bro) met him when he was there for a year. they're actually friends now - at least from what i can gather.

then i began this blog. it's been a year and a half already - what??!?!? - and this (woah) is my 100th post (woot!). crazy.

when my brother was home for christmas he showed me all these sites - the chess ones (yup, more than one), the discussion forums, twitter, dailybooth, etc.

two days ago, i joined twitter.
i'm still not sure how i feel about that.

i think i'm secretly stalking my own brother.
and i may not even know it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Impact of Interactions

It's been a crazy couple weeks, and the last couple days have packed quite a punch. I've been thinking about leadership and spiritually deep subjects from time to time, but not as much as I had been lately. I've been so busy that by the time I get home and *ahem* have time to think, I'm too tired. All I can think is: food, something-to-dull-my-brain-from-thinking-about-work (tv/movie), read, and sleep. Sometimes that doesn't work, and I don't sleep enough and thus, have a rough day the next day. Today was especially tough. So, I came home more exhausted than ever, and ate some junk and spent time watching a kids' movie to cheer me up (ironically, I watched Disney's UP). Then I got a tiny wind and decided to make a few notes about the things that have been on my mind: interactions and connections with others, and how they affect leadership.

This thought from my friend Mike (see my last post for more) is very true: "...don’t network just for the sake of 'building a huge number of connections.' Provide value, add to the conversation, help people without expecting anything in return." I don't necessarily agree with everything Mike said, but there was a lot of good in there. Too many people don't think about "connections" this way -- they just like the numbers. "I have X,000 friends on Facebook, myspace, Twitter, etc." It doesn't seem to matter how often they really connect with those people, or how sincere or impactful those connections are at any given point in time. The number is what matters most. Sometimes it's the only thing that does. And that can't be good - for anyone. And, it doesn't matter that you "get something" back. It's about doing, not getting. Don't just be there to be there. Do something. Make a difference - even if it's small. Our culture isn't inclined to think that way enough, if at all.

Then today, I had some negative interactions. Most of them originated from others. The ones that came from me were (mostly) in response to those that were directed at/to me. I am fairly confident that these folks did not intend to act negatively toward me; but they did. They caused a busy day to become more stressful, to overload my already slow mind, to cause me some emotional upheaval. Now, I will take ownership of my reactions. I know that I am a very emotional person, even for a girl; always have been. It is something I strive to keep in check every day.

However, when stressers and such interfere with whatever it is I am trying to accomplish/think about/do, I lose some of the control over my emotional reins because I have to divert that energy into roping in that other situation. Somehow, someday, I hope to overcome this problem better than I have thus far, and to be able to keep those emotions in check more easily, and let them out only when necessary. [I feel the need to note that I truly believe God has created me in a way that causes me to have emotions that are more affected by outside situations/people/stimuli than most other people. When I see someone hurting, I often hurt with them, and don't always understand why. When I feel like I haven't done my best, or have let someone down, I have an emotional response. It isn't very pleasant. (Yes, some of that is a self-esteem problem, we'll tackle that another day.) Often, this helps me sympathize with people in a way others may not be able to do. Other times, it causes issues with my emotional stability.] But when my emotions "act up" there isn't much I can do to hold them in check, hard as I try. This can mean I'm exceedingly giddy and happy, or very depressed and feeling useless and unwanted. How can leaders be missing what needs to be watched for, so that people who follow them (those who are like me, and those who are not) do not end up in these jumbled, crazy states of mind?

Leaders must always be aware of the impact their interactions have on those they lead. That means the interactions you have face-to-face, email-to-email, voicemail-to-voicemail, or even through another person. The impact of interactions (and the importance of awareness) is often lost when you lose the face-to-face. I believe it is even harder when it is through that third party person. There is still human interaction going on (and not through a technology medium) but it is just as severely disconnected for the leader (maybe even more so), and can often result in reactions by the follower and the "go-between" that can be extremely unpleasant for both. Thus, it is vitally important to be aware of the impact you are having through any interaction - personal or impersonal - with a follower. I realize this sounds like a big obligation, and it is. Leadership is an immense responsibility that should not be taken lightly. But it is also a great blessing if done properly - for both the leader and the follower(s).

The way you interact (or don't interact) with others is extremely important - whether you're a leader or not. It says a ton about who you are, how you work, how you think, what's important to you, who's important to you. It affects the way the people around you feel about many things - the situation, the environment you're in, you, even themselves. People who understand the importance of interactions and the tenor of them are often people in leadership (not always, mind you, but often). Think about it; how do you interact throughout each day?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What does leadership look like?

I've been reading a few blogs on leadership for awhile, and today came across a new one - about the decisions and actions we must pay attention to when living our life, so it doesn't just become something we float through. It is written by my friend Mike and today, browsing through past posts, I noticed this line: "Are you 'spending' your time or 'investing' your time?" What a concept. I'm pretty sure I've heard something like it before, but it blew me away.

Then, when looking back over another site I frequent, I came across this post again. The focus of this post is one that hits me deeply. How many kids have I met/interacted with/talked to and never even thought about this? For that matter, how many people in general? There are many times I remember feeling like I was that kid/person. I strive to do what's right, and sometimes, that means you are left to yourself, while those who struggle are given more attention.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound like I need or want more attention. I am not one who enjoys being center of attention. Trust me. I can do it sometimes, when absolutely necessary, or when I can lose myself in the worship, or the character, etc. Otherwise, count me out from the spotlight.

These ideas got me thinking about true leadership. What does it really look like? A leader must be confident, but must also be willing to admit to and show that s/he is working on getting better in areas of weakness. A leader must be decisive, but must also be willing to listen to the ideas and advice of those around him/her. A leader must take action, but also must be willing to wait and weigh their decisions before they act. A leader must make sure that everything is being done well and on time, but must also be willing to trust those who are following them to be able to do those things without detailed supervision. There are many aspects of leadership that seem contradictory, at least at first glance.

What often is seen is that the person calling him/herself a leader is often strong in some areas and very weak in others (as are we all). The problem comes when that person is not willing to take criticism or figure out how to adapt and grow. When s/he thinks s/he has it all under control. When s/he thinks there is no need to review his/her actions or revisit how s/he does things in his/her leadership position.

Worse, there are many people who don't even realize they are in a leadership position. They think they are just being helpful, and whatever else might happen, they do not have the responsibility that comes with being a leader. A leader is someone others look up to. When something goes wrong, or needs clarification, or is getting frustrating, the leader is the one they come to - and s/he must be ready to address whatever issue they are bringing.

What are characteristics, qualities, or actions you would include in a description of true leadership?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentines Confessions

I feel like I haven't posted for awhile... but it hasn't actually been that long. today's post promises to be a bit... well, I don't want to say negative, but for lack of a better word...
Here we go.

Valentines day is coming.
I don't really care about it much.

In fact, I have been feeling... well...disillusioned. lost. frustrated.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to be all pouty or whatever, it's just that there is not a "real" reason for me to celebrate this season of love your special someone - cuz I don't have one. Sure, I could celebrate my love for my family, my friends, but let's be honest, this is mostly a celebration of that special person who has touched your life in a way no one else can. And what's making it all worse is how most of my friends (whom I greatly care about) are in a relationship like that - some newly and *ahem* oldly dating boyfriends/girlfriends, engaged couples, newly married couples, couples expecting babies... and I am very happy for them, honestly. I am glad that they have been blessed in such a special way. I would never begrudge them that.

And I also realize that not everything is chocolate and kisses and roses. I have witnessed the fights. I have seen the frustration. I have been the listening ear. But behind it, around it, mixed inexplicably with it, is the deep purposeful love that cannot even really be explained well - especially to one who hasn't been around it at all. It is making me jealous. Yeah, jealous.

As much as I don't want to admit it, I am jealous. I wish I could find that special someone. I wish I had someone to share some of my experiences with in that way. I have wonderful, caring friends. I have a great family. I have coworkers who are friends - truly. Those are all bonuses. I have a deep, meaningful relationship with my Creator. What else could I possibly need??

But the desire of my heart is to be a wife, and to be a mother. I cannot (despite the times I've tried) get rid of that desire. I cannot convince myself through other things that I don't want that. And I'm getting impatient. (I know, I know - be patient, quit looking, and "he" will "fall into your lap" - trust me, I've tried that many, MANY times, to no avail. And I was good - I really got to the point of being truly complete with myself in God - still feel that way, in fact - and still, nothing, which is frustrating because I can still feel lonely.) That probably means I'm not really there yet, or not really letting go enough yet, but I am not pining away here, folks. Just feeling a bit lonely here and there.

It terrifies me that I may not ever be blessed like that.
Really, it does.
It is such a deep longing, that I don't know how to even really admit that that might be God's plan for my life. I hate that I didn't want to even type the end of that sentence. How could God possibly allow me to desire something so deeply, if it isn't part of His plan for me?

Trust on.
Even if that's not seeming to "help" me right now.
I don't know what else to say or do.