Thursday Sucked and Friday Didn’t

How can two days back to back feel so different?


8:30 am – 2-hour meeting with two colleagues in a different department and a consultant I had hired.

10:30 am – Stop in for tail end of quarterly staff chapel and chat with staff I don’t see very often

11:30 am– Rush off to a 2-hour awards luncheon where I did not know anyone

Afternoon – back-to-back meetings with no time to even check email

4:30 pm – crash


7:15 am — 3.5-hour breakfast and presentations for a leadership program I’m in where I have gotten to know some of the people who were at the event (and I got to get on stage for 5 minutes to talk)

11:30 am – lunch with someone trying to figure out what to do with his life

Afternoon – working back and forth with my staff on projects

5:30 pm – catch up on emails

7 pm – leave work with energy to go to dinner with a friend

How is it that I worked a longer day Friday and left feeling good? If you looked at my calendar on Outlook, the schedules would not appear that different. When we think about working in our strengths, it’s the nuances that really matter.

On both Thursday and Friday, I went to a long breakfast/lunch. The difference was that I knew people at one and that I got to be up on stage, which I love!

On Thursday, I was in meetings all day. As a slight introvert, that drained me. (For a colleague of mine, this would have been her dream day!) On Friday, I was around people all day, but it was people close to me like my staff (I didn’t have to “be on”).

How can you shift your schedule just slightly to make sure you are not ready to crash at the end of the day?  Look closely at how you book your calendar, and book some slots for things that make you feel strong and energized every day. Don’t book the draining activities back to back in one day. It’s pretty simple, but easy to overlook if you are not paying attention.

June 16, 2011 at 8:32 am 4 comments

Workplace Cafe

Our faith and work ministry held a very cool event a few months ago, and I finally got around to creating an amateur video of the evening. There was no speaker, no formal program. Just people with good ideas in one room. Modeled after the “World Cafe” idea of shaping the future through conversations that matter, we addressed the question:

“What can you do that would change your workplace FOREVER?”

Check out what happened when great minds came together:

And if you are in San Diego, join us for our next event on June 7 where we will discuss trust issues in the workplace.

May 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm 2 comments

Entrepreneurs: Undertaking more than business

While the editor for PLNU’s alumni magazine was away on maternity leave, I got to manage the production of our fall issue. One of the perks of being in charge is that you sometimes get to push your own agenda. And, well, my agenda is helping people make a meaningful connection between faith and work. I encouraged the executive director of our Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, Randy Ataide, to pull together some of his thoughts on entrepreneurship, faith and culture. He had been writing along these lines in the academic arena with lots of big words and complicated concepts. He was kind enough to write an original piece for our magazine that is very personal and puts some complicated concepts into easy-to-understand terms.  Check out the article.

In the article, he shares his personal reflections on the opportunities for connection between the church and the entrepreneur, as well as the mischaracterization and misunderstanding that he has personally experienced. His article explores some exciting connections that entrepreneurs can help the church make in the world, including the ability to critique the dominant culture, serve the poor and do justice, and reach the lost.

I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I enjoyed getting it printed for 40,000 alumni to read!

January 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm 2 comments

Just get out of the way

I am pulled in too many directions at work. Maybe you can relate. One minute I’m in a meeting about fundraising appeals, the next minute it’s a brochure for the MBA program, and then there is the alumni magazine, science building campaign, campus signage (ick!), website, the latest video production, and 100 other jobs our office is working on. And don’t get me started on the barrage of emails.

I was bemoaning my dilemma to my boss the other day, and he asked a simple question: “What can you do to get out of the way and let your staff step into some of the roles you are filling?”

I must admit that I tend to have a strong sense of self-importance – if I’m not involved, something is bound to be missed. I am the one with the “big picture.” I can protect my staff from the mean people. If I give up CONTROL, everything might just implode.

You don’t have to tell me twice – well, ok, maybe you do.

One of my staff members recently kindly let me know that my helpfulness was impeding her ability to be effective and efficient. I typically serve as the go-between between my graphic designers and our internal clients. I thought I was saving her from the headaches of the back and forth. In the end, she had to interpret my interpretation of the client meetings. She had to wait for me to call the clients with questions. I had taken away her ability to manage her own projects.

Training up of the 12 disciples

We don’t have to look too far to see a model for how to handle this sort of leadership challenge. Consider how Jesus went about training his disciples. For the first several months, the disciples followed Jesus around and observed him. Through their observations, they learned about priorities (prayer and time with the Father); they learned how to have boundaries (not healing everyone); they learned how to respond with compassion to sinful people and to question the status quo of the religiosity of the day. They were with Jesus, sitting at his feet and learning best practices, so to speak.  

When the time came, Jesus took off the training wheels and gave the disciples all of the authority they needed to do their work. They had the power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Their first assignments were local, and Jesus was still nearby to help if they needed Him. They had all the tools, guidance, and vision necessary to take on their leadership roles. In the end, they were fully equipped to act on their own after Jesus had been crucified.

Training up your team

In this same way, I need to make sure my team is equipped. They need time to observe me and get a sense of what they will be doing on their own. They need a vision. They need me to get out of the way and let them act on their own with full authority for the work to be done. Only then will they gain the confidence they need to take on more and more responsibility. This is the only way to know their real capacity for leadership.

Yes, some people might not step into their new roles with grace. They may stumble. They may actually realize that they really don’t have the capacity to do more than what they are doing. But others might surprise you and step up in ways that you would have never imagined. It’s not until you get out of the way that you will ever really know.

If you left your organization, would everything fall apart because you have not prepared your team members to succeed you? Are there people you are holding back because you are a control freak? Are there higher order things you could be doing if you just got out of the way and let others step up to the task?

December 29, 2010 at 1:45 pm 4 comments

Grace Gone Wild at Work

I screwed up at work last month.

I looked at the calendar and my stomach dropped. The annual report (a giant project) needed to be in hand in less than 2 weeks (it takes up a week to print) and we were approaching the Thanksgiving break (3 days off work). The problem? We had not even shown the client initial design concepts and the copy was not ready.

It’s not that we had not been meeting about it and working on it, but my lack of project management was glaring. Sure, I could give lots of excuses – like the fact that we had just launched a brand new website for the entire university… and my senior writer had just returned from maternity leave… and my designer was being pulled in too many little directions. But the buck stops with me and I screwed up.

I knew I couldn’t cry. I had to push through and find a way to pull a rabbit out of a hat. So I hired an outside designer who could work on it over the break and sent everyone the exact hours at which they would need to be available to turn around feedback within the hour. I had the Vice President for External Relations (my boss), the Assoc. Vice President for University Advancement, and several others working over the Thanksgiving break due to my lack of planning.

My boss is very slow to anger, but I knew that if there were ever a time to give me a good talking to, this would be it. I braced myself for our scheduled catch up meeting – ready to just nod my head and take the beating I surely deserved.

Some friends at church have a little phrase they use for stories that are told of the renewing power of grace that we experience or witness: “Grace Gone Wild Stories.” That day, I experienced grace gone wild at work.

I sat down and my boss just said, “How are you doing?” It wasn’t just your normal intro chit chat. It was different. I knew in the back of my head that this had to be a warm up for the beat down I was about to get. We talked about whether or not I was feeling burned out or under challenged. I finally had to ask: “Are you asking because of the debacle with the annual report.” He responded with: “Well, when you see things going along so well for so long and then there is this blip, you have to check in and make sure things are ok.”

I could feel the grace in that moment. He probably doesn’t even know how much of an example he set for me that day. I walked away experiencing compassion and concern for my well-being after I had been the one who messed up. In his wisdom, he probably knew that I already recognized the issue and would find a way to manage it in the future. He chose to check in with how I was doing. And, in the end, it made me want to work harder for him.

 What is your automatic reaction when someone wrongs you in the office? When is the last time you showed grace instead of anger when someone’s error made you work over the holiday?

I challenge you to find new and creative ways to show God’s love to the fallible people in your sphere of influence.

December 7, 2010 at 8:33 pm 35 comments

Coming back

I stopped blogging for a while because many of the people reading my blog were other faith and work bloggers, and I felt compelled to say something extra interesting. I was thinking, “If I can’t say anything profound, don’t say anything at all.” But my pastor reminded me yesterday that maybe it’s enough to be saying what others are saying just to be an encouragement that there are others out there with the same ideas.

That said, I am putting it in writing to hold myself accountable that I am coming back. Soon. Very soon!

November 11, 2010 at 7:31 am 4 comments

What if God asked you to take a pay cut?

On a recent vacation to Ireland, I struck up a conversation one evening with a guy in a pub while out listening to some live music. Perhaps it was the Guinness that led him to tell me his story, or maybe he had kissed the blarney stone and been given the legendary gift of gab.

He shared with me that he had gone to Oxford to earn his master’s in history, but he had somehow ended up in the wheeling and dealing world of credit and banking. Here he was, traveling all over the world, buying $30K watches just because he likes watches, and paying off a new home in just a few years. As far as anyone could tell, he was doing grand (a word they use a lot in Ireland).

The truth, he confessed, is that he is quite unhappy and unsatisfied. He explained that he makes a purchase, hoping to satisfy some longing, and it always turns up empty. He sometimes wished he could work in the field in which he had studied back at Oxford. He was happy then. Maybe he could be an archaeologist. That would be lovely (another word they use a lot in Ireland). But the starting hourly-rate for an archaeologist is something like $12. [continue at…]

August 24, 2010 at 8:14 am 2 comments

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