Got Skills?


Skills, that have little to do with creating my business, yet have everything to do with it, can be game changers for us personally and professionally. Naysayers, wait and seers, and discouragers can squelch a person’s dreams faster than anything else. As much as the technical skills and knowledge are advantageous in the practical side of creating a business, there are other skills that are invaluable in overcoming discouragement or simply advancing ourselves on any level.

I am on Pinterest occasionally these days, for both of my businesses. I saw this quote: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” I want to send it to a couple of people. You know those moments when you want someone to get a message that you hope will change their mind, their thoughts, their position, their life? When we’re younger, I think we all do that. We’re certain that the message we send is going to make the difference in someone’s behavior or attitude. That if they see “this” or hear “this sermon” all will be well. Then after a few years of discovering that your insight wasn’t the conduit that changed a person, that it’s people who change themselves, we begin to understand that there is more to a person’s transformation than the bible verses or beautiful quotes we send. That’s not to say we shouldn’t send our friends uplifting phrases. I love to give and receive them. But over time, a lot of relational experiences, and through reading our bible, we discover that these phrases or a powerful sermon is only one piece of a bigger puzzle.

We all have those interactions that we wish never happened. The kind that, in the exact moment it’s occurring, you wish you could run away, hit them and make them go away, or everything in you wants to give in to the tears that have made their way up and are ready to burst. I’ve had two of those moments in the last couple of months, and after each experience I realized that during the conversations, I was keenly aware that I’d used my skills. I didn’t run away or hit, and I postponed the tears.

We tell kids all the time (especially in the school environment), to use their skills. But I think we adults live as if that message is just for kids. The lessons were left behind with the David Cassidy posters, or for my younger friends, Back Street Boys. Okay, I’ll include Frankie Valli. Most of us have the capacity to engage our better selves in the heat of the moment. Admittedly, I’m at an advantage, simply because I’m older and have had more opportunity of experiences and learning. It’s not easy to overcome emotions that flare up when someone speaks unkindly or critically of us. Our heart hears them first. It jumps ahead to the finish line and kicks our brains back to the start, limping along, almost helpless to catch up.

Almost helpless… I read the bible a fair amount. It is my “go to” for comfort. My friends are a necessary and invaluable component to my well being, but their comfort must be accompanied with the healing words of hope and compassion my savior provides to me in the bible. I love to listen to leadership and management books and podcasts. I listen to sermons on hope, forgiveness, and God’s kind of love. Kate Bowler, Timothy Keller, Brene Brown, and many more. You can see that I am fully equipped to handle the most gruesome situations. But we never know our capabilities until we’re put to the test, of which I’ve been so fortunate to be able to do.

In the midst of a recent conversation, I was discouraged and misunderstood. My heart was predictable and the first to respond, immediately seizing my body. But thank you, brain. It kicked in and I remembered that I do have control. I thought, “I cannot give up in this moment. I must turn this situation around.” My brain managed to somewhat listen to the words. It had a lot to consider,  and with its partner the heart doing laps around it, in thundering strides, it was no easy task. So, I listened with a polite ear, yet not a completely analytical one. I conjured up how to respond as best I could and salvage the situation. I determined I would find words of affirmation, combined with sincerity.

I can’t share the details of the conversations, yet if you know me, you know I’d love to share every word that was spoken. But as I listened, I considered what positive thing I could glean from this, and how I could recite it back to the deliverer. I considered what truth had been said that I could acknowledge, and what emotion of mine that I could reveal. I was able to find something to affirm, and offered my sincere response by sharing that I was surprised at their perception, but that I took it to heart. I said that I didn’t see things the way they did, so I wanted to think about what they’d said.

I used this strategy for both conversations, but one in particular was much harder, because the person means so much to me. The criticism was delivered with a tone that didn’t come from thoughtful delivery or of God’s will. My heart wanted to unleash itself, but I knew that if I allowed that, I could jeopardize the relationship completely. This particular conversation wasn’t nearly as smooth as the first, but throughout it, my mind stayed present and we did our best. My heart flailed while my brain worked overtime. After the conversation was the time for heart and brain to collaborate. That would be time for contemplation, tears, education, and friends.

I so want to send messages of clarity and inspiration by text, by email, or by pigeon. I want to fix a situation by convincing the wrongdoer. I want to say that a thousand failures have occurred, before success happens, and I want to illustrate my point until I’m blue in the face. But I know that the best messenger is God, and in that truth, I will keep on hoping.

Practically speaking: My side biz is taking a slight pause as I take advantage of the holiday season and create items I’ve made to sell. This is keeping me very busy, for which I am hap hap happy! More on the practical side of my biz, soon.



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