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Label-Makers vs Change-Makers

I dread that question — the question that leaves you with a label.  The question that for whatever reason leaves the questioner sizing you up in a way that misses the essence of who you are.  You know that question?  

My Identity is on the line. The chore of taking someone day by day through years, experiences, moments of triumph and agonies of defeat in order to understand that label doesn’t fit me feels too daunting.  So I don’t.  I don’t make myself known.  I don’t choose to step in.  I don’t work at real relationship.  I leave the label in tact and find myself unknown.

Our choice to accept the disconnect often feeds more disconnect.  Humans long for connection.  Connection is at the center of our design.   When you actually see me — no assumptions, no accusations, no misunderstandings — it’s invigorating, energizing, confirming.  It’s not difficult to confirm each other’s worth but for some reason we’re not in that habit.

Labels are quicker, easier, save us time and allow us to put people in nice, neat categories.  You probably recognize that you don’t fit in a nice, neat category.  Neither does anyone else.   

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Last week, I sat around the table with some friends who purposely took some time to affirm a comrade. We highlighted qualities and characteristics in her that impacted us — not because she was in a bad place and needed encouragement, not because she was feeling fragile and we wanted to prop her up, not because she was focused on her weaknesses and we wanted to promote her strengths — just because.  Being at the table, affirming a friend took all of us to a new level of connection, even though only one of us was being affirmed.  Looking for the strengths, the positive impact, the value another person brings and verbalizing it to them elevates everyone.  

As change-makers, let’s stop letting the labels stick and start looking for the value every person we meet brings to the table. What would that look like for you?  What are the tangible steps you could take this week to turn the tables? 

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On the Road Again

Over the next few weeks many of us will be on the road traveling to Grandma’s house for the holidays.  The fun side of road tripping is the anticipation of the unexpected.  What will you see that you didn’t plan on?  Wildlife in the road?  Picturesque scenery?  Babbling brooks?   License plates from Canada?  Horseback riders? 1950 vintage cars?  People giving out free apple cider?  Even better than the suspense of the unknown is the expectancy of arriving at the final destination.  It’s so much fun to know you are going to see your Grandma and Grandpa at the end of the journey.  It’s worth the long, hard road.

As a child, every Christmas we would take a road trip from the almost southern tip of Texas all the way to Kansas.  We would drive for an entire day and still be in Texas.  Then we’d drive another full day before arriving at our final destination.  People who can sleep in vehicles love to travel.  Have you ever noticed that? I’m not a good traveler.  

On these long road trips as a child, I would bring a bag full of games, books, activities to pass the time.  (Remember: this was before you could watch a movie in a car or hold a device in your hand that provided endless entertainment.)  My mother would lay her seat back into my lap before we pulled out of the driveway and would be snoring by the time we got to the end of the street.  My sister would make it all the way out of town before she’d ask if she could put her head in my lap so she could take a nap.  There was just enough room in my lap for a small head between the front seat and my torso.  And then I would get my book out and begin to read.  It was important for my sister to sleep because she gets car sick.  Have I mentioned, I am not a big fan of road trips?

One summer during junior high, my family of four took a trip up the east coast in a small two door hatch back that didn’t start with just a crank of the key.  It’s worth noting that my sister and I have not to this day grown any taller than we were in junior high.  For all practical purposes, there were four grown adults in this little hatch back.  Back to the car that didn’t start with just a turn of the key: if you got behind it and pushed it for a short distance, the cranking of the key would then get you off and going.  On this particular trip, my sister was too sick to help push!  Another important note about our traveling etiquette is we had one rule: we must stop every two hours to get out and move around. After the first three days, I lost track of how many days it took to get to Connecticut. Yes, I pushed the car a few feet every two hours so that we could get it started again.  I am not fond of travel.  I prefer just to be there.

If you’re like me, as you approach 2016, you may feel like you’re getting on the road again. We are all starting a new journey to new destination with unexpected detours along the way.  

Walking into the unknown can be the most daunting part of a journey.  

The best way to combat doubt is to just start.  Was the engine going to turn over in that little hatch back?  We didn’t know until we started pushing.  So just start!

Don’t underestimate the impact you have on the people around you.  

The way in which you show up every day in 2016 can inject meaning and inspiration for everyone.  So ask yourself: Is there a way I can bring more satisfaction, more significance, more encouragement here?

Encourage curiosity.  

One of the best things about a road trip is following a new trail.  Follow your curiosity and encourage others.  Having the right answer isn’t the objective.  Finding the right question is what will bring creativity and imagination.  

So I’m encouraging all of us to start the new road trip called 2016 armed with this map: just start, pay attention to the way we show up, encourage curiosity.  This is going to be my favorite journey yet!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you will do to encourage curiosity.

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