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Misunderstood? No Way!

Everyone does life from a little different perspective.  Just like we all have unique fingerprints or hair follicles, we all see things from our unique vantage point.  As a result, we communicate with each other from our perspective.  It seems so clear and obvious to us when we say it.  It’s unbelievably surprising when we realize that someone has misunderstood us.  In fact, we are so deeply entrenched in our perspective that it is difficult to even uncover that someone else has misunderstood us.  

I found myself consistently angry with a boss I had for a couple of years until I realized that I misunderstood him.  I finally wrote myself a note in big red letters, “If it doesn’t sound like a good plan, if you feel angry about it, you have misunderstood him.”  I went into every staff meeting with this note in front of me, so that I would not react to whatever he had communicated.  His perspective was different than mine and I was having trouble seeing things from his perspective.  


When we understand other people’s perspective, we are better equipped to communicate well with them.  I have a friend who is detail-oriented, logical, reserved and has a high need to be accurate. (By the way, she’s a bookkeeper.  That style of hers is a perfect match for keeping the spreadsheets organized.)  Her biggest fear is being wrong.  Disorganization stresses her out in a big way.  When she is dealing with someone who is enthusiastic, talkative, all about people — not the task, she cannot expect facts and she needs to find a way to be encouraging.  No one perspective is better than the other, they’re just different.  When an outspoken, competitive, quick action, strong-willed boss, who needs control and fears being taken advantage of communicates to a friendly, sympathetic, agreeable, considerate, listening employee, what could go wrong?  Right?  The more we can understand those four different styles I just described, the more communication will flow with ease.  

As we begin to think about the other person’s perspective, their fears, their needs, the things that stress them, we will have the insight we need to communicate in a way that makes sense to them.  If you’d like more help with this, contact me at


At the End of the Road

Big Bend, I’ve always planned to go there. It’s something I dreamed of, thought about, considered but never made happen.  Last week, I arrived at the long anticipated Big Bend National Park. Before my departure to the desert, a friend of mine said, “Way to make things happen!” Dreaming, considering, thinking about things is not the same as making it happen. “It” only happens as a result of action.

Photo by Johnathan Gooch

Photo by Johnathan Gooch

Even after a long drive and unloading at an airbnb in a nearby town, eighty miles separated us from the park. In the park, our winding road rose over two thousand feet above the desert floor. After an hour of driving through the park and a series of hairpin turns, we arrived at the trail head.  In life, even after it feels like you should be there, a long series of actions are still required in order to arrive. It’s easy to get discouraged by the long list of things that need to be done before we can even get started on something.  

I was giddy with excitement as we started down into the Chisos Basin. A wise choice to start on a trail that is going down, leaving the uphill climb for later.  The drive through the Chisos Basin is breathtaking, but walking it is an up close and personal experience unlike any other.  Seeing the lines and patterns on the erosion formed peaks and watching the critters scamper across the trail leaves you awestruck.  The trail down was taken at break-neck speed, all the time passing those coming back up.  Their faces red, breathing shallow and pace slowed to a crawl.  Still we persist.  After some weaving and climbing, we arrive at the Window. At first glance, it’s stunning.  Then you move a little closer and words escape you — only moans and groans pass through your lips. The views of the vista peaks cannot be captured in photo or words.  The realization that I’m standing in a place were less than .000002% of the world have stood this year, overwhelms me. It’s hair-raising and heart stopping to take the road less traveled.

Photo by Johnathan Gooch

Photo by Johnathan Gooch

Once you get to the window, there is no alternative but to climb back out.  One women going up said “I’m a wimp!”  Another said, “It’s so hard.”  Some used trekking poles and others stopped often.  Certainly, I took a completely different pace on the way up, than I did on the way down.  In life even after “it” happens, there is hard work to be done.  To stay the course, it’s important to remember: this is worth it.  Making “it” happen wasn’t easy but so worth it. Going all the way to the end of the road can take you to a splendid place, few experience.

Let’s go make things happen!


The Measure of a Man

As we reflect this week on the life and impact of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  I wanted to look at a handful of his quotes.  

          Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

When we hear Martin Luther King, Jr saying this we think of big huge moments, like organizing marches or protests.  Consider practicing it in the small places, like family dinners and staff meetings and community groups.  There is never a good time for silence about things that matter.

          True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.

Taking the easy way out is void of compassion, not to mention dehumanizing to the receiver.  What makes us feel better, may not be what makes someone else better.  Finding solutions, not things that appease us, usually involves significant engagement.  That can be applied to all areas of life.

          We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

In the daily moments of defeat, disappointment, failure, we can be completely derailed by focusing on what didn’t happen.  Accepting that things will not be perfect or go exactly as planned, prevents us from getting stuck.  Keeping our focus on what’s still to come, the hope of what can still happen is what keeps us moving forward.  

I’ll leave you with this final word from Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who changed the course of history against all odds.  

           The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,

           but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.