Archives For Leadership

SILVER & LIGHT from Ian Ruhter : Alchemist on Vimeo.

“Life grants us a series of opportunities, and those opportunities come with a price.” ~ Ian Ruhter

So here’s the first thing to finding your purpose: You have to discover what you love. This can take a long time, or can happen in a single day. But you have to put your heart out there and let something take it. You have to experience things. You have to let yourself be vulnerable to life. What will break your heart? What will set it on fire? What will make it soar? To know these things, you have to let life happen to you. As you do, ask yourself, always be asking yourself, “What do I love? What do I want to give my love to? What do I want to give my life for?”

“What do I love? What do I want to give my love to? What do I want to give my life for?”

Once you know the answer to this, the next thing is to give yourself over to it. There is a threshold, a point of no return for every passion. Until you go all in, you are just dabbling. There’s nothing wrong with dabbling. Just be clear with yourself about the fact you’re doing it. Ask yourself: “If this really is something I truly love, what am I willing to sacrifice for it?”

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“Beauty is not a luxury.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

There’s just so much beauty. It’s everywhere. There’s so much, it hurts. If you look at it for too long, your heart will break. It will break wide open like the husk on a grain of wheat, and you’ll be utterly undone.

Maybe that’s what we’re all here to do. Train our eyes to see the beauty, then let it break our hearts. Maybe that’s the way the whole world gets healed.

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Perseverance is Ugly

February 22, 2016 — Leave A Comment

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Per – se – ver – ance (pərsəˈvirəns): continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition; steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Synonyms:
persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability, steadfastness, purposefulness, diligence, dedication, commitment, doggedness, tirelessness, stamina, intransigence, obstinacy

I’ve heard it said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can do in five. That may be true. But the deeper truth is we’ll never accomplish anything we truly want without perseverance.

I have a strong tendency to clean that word up in my imagination, to make it all sparkly and romantic, like the prince who “perseveres” in holding to his integrity even when tempted to evil, or the queen who “perseveres” in governing her people with wisdom and patience even when they so often wander off the path of the good and true.

But it seems to me that real perseverance is a gritty, desperate, ugly-looking thing. It’s that wearily determined and resolved look that haunts the eyes of those who have been beaten down by life and by all accounts stopped winning at anything quite some time ago.

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“What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” ~ Henry Miller

Now coming into my 14th year of coaching, one of the key lessons I’ve learned is this: The greater part of happiness and joy in life comes not from circumstance but from choice. One man looks at the mountains before him and sees an impossible task. Another looks at those same mountains and sees nothing but beauty and adventure. The only difference is in how they choose to see their lives, but that subtle difference makes all the difference in the world.

I remember a six-day hike through the high country of southern Colorado a few years ago. I remember the biting cold rain that never left us alone on that trip. And I remember the unbelievable beauty of the land, the magic of a shepherd’s appearance to show us the way forward right at the moment of our need, and the massive sheltering tree that kept all of us dry and laughing on the wettest night of the journey. (The photo above was taken on the trail, during one of the few breaks from the rain that week.)

I remember how all of it was a lesson for me, Divine training to help me see how the path I walk can be hard and dangerous and rarely as easy as I wish, but how it’s also so rich with immense beauty, serendipity and adventure. Which one I chose to focus on will determine the quality of my experience and either feed or starve the faith that gives me life.

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What is it to “have heart”?

It is the passion, the faith, and even the stubbornness to stay in the game even once it seems certain that all is lost. It is the resolute refusal to ever quit or give up, regardless how grim the outlook or how certain the defeat. It is to believe beyond all hope or reason for a turning of the tide ~ what J.R.R. Tolkien called a “eucatastrophe,” a “sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.” (He believed there ought to be a word equal in strength to catastrophe, but opposite in effect. So he coined one. Gotta love that guy.)

To have heart, then, is to never stop hoping for the eucatastrophe to come, and even if it does not, to rip and tear at the darkness until the very last drop of blood drains from your body.

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Simpson Web Friendly-6I’m honored to welcome my friend and former coaching client Amy Simpson to the blog this week. Amy is the award-winning author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission and Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry (both InterVarsity Press). She’s also a certified life and leadership coach and a frequent speaker. You can find her at AmySimpsonOnline.com and on Twitter @aresimpson. Welcome, Amy!

Schizophrenia was a member of my family before I was—but while I had a name from the day I was born, my mother’s illness went unnamed for decades. In fact, it went largely undetected until I was 13. A year later, at 14, I made my first visit to see my mom in a psychiatric hospital. At 18 I still thought Mom was simply going through a rough patch. At 22 I began to understand a bit about what I, and the rest of my family, was going through. At 30 I realized my mom’s illness still had the power to hurt me. At 35 I realized it would always hurt. I’m still learning that God can heal us without closing our wounds. And I have begun to understand how much God can use pain when it’s placed in his hands.

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Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
~ Psalm 139:23-24

(This is part 5 of a series on essential prayers for faith leaders. You can find part 1 here.)

In my experience, the number one problem faith leaders struggle with as leaders isn’t lack of money or resources. It isn’t lack of good people to serve on the team. It isn’t resistance from outside forces or relational strife within the ranks. It isn’t a lack of good strategy, or a shortage of people with the skills to carry it out. All of these are important. All can be greatly helped by working with a leadership coach. But none of them is the root problem.

I believe the root problem all faith leaders struggle with is this: Lack of self awareness.

It’s the thing the leader doesn’t realize he’s doing that gets in his way. It’s the unintended impact she’s having on her team that undermines her effectiveness. It’s the blind spot in his personal development that eventually sabotages all the good he’s working to achieve.

This is only one of the reasons why the Prayer of Self-Examen is so important. But it’s a really good one.

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