What happens when you put together a humanitarian organization that serves the needs of the children of the world, a dynamic advertising agency, and a leadership development consulting firm? You get the trip I am on right now. I’m in the Dominican Republic with a team from the Seattle based ad agency… known as HL2 to serve with Children of Nations. This is one of the coolest things I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in as it’s a team effort between HL2, Children of Nations, and RTDS. We are here to respond to the need in the DR and Haiti, and in the process, help this team be intentional about learning from the experience. The members of my research team have been involved from the start, devising a strategy for understanding how an experience like this impacts a team of businesspeople from the US. In the process, it has taught me so much.
For more information, read on.
If you haven’t been following the events on facebook, here’s the link.
So far the lessons for me are many, but here’s a sampling.
Lessons about myself.
More later. I will see you all soon. Lead on. I apologize for the typos….
As you are now deep in the season of writing your applications to graduate school, I just wanted to touch base and say hello. I can still remember that process like it was yesterday. Before there were electronic applications, you had to create piles for each school just to keep it all straight. I had lots of piles in a room in my house, that each represented a school, my essay about why I belonged there, my letters of recommendation, and the basic applications. It was a challenging process, but at the same time, it taught me so much about myself. Both the application process and the weeding out process (for me and the schools) taught me a lot about how I show up when something matters to me, what I value in graduate school, how I view research in the context of organizations, and how I deal with both acceptance and rejection. It was a challenging time, but a really important time. I remember celebrating the acceptance letters I wanted, rolling my eyes at the acceptance letters I didn’t want, being frustrated by the rejection letters I didn’t want, and being equally frustrated by the schools that rejected me that I didn’t want to go to anyway (because maybe they should have known betterJ).
In all the feelings that will come to you over the coming weeks and months, I hope that this will be a time of great insight. Insight about the schools to which you’ve applied, insight about what you want, insight about what you would sacrifice, and insight about who you are, where you excel, and insight about why you are.
Whether you end up at Seattle Pacific University studying Industrial/Organizational Psychology, or somewhere else, may this be an incredible time of blessing and learning for you and for those close to you.
Today I’m heading in for a two level spinal fusion….for anyone who’s interested…it’s a fusion at L4-L5 and L5-S1. While it may seem extreme, I’m pretty excited about it. A good friend of mine had a similar procedure 2 weeks ago, so I’ve had a chance to learn from him and also watch him maintain his own spirits as he gets better.
Even though I hate taking a surgical option, I’ve learned so much along the way. Here are a few of those lessons.
1. Make sure you invest in other people, especially when you body or your brain is telling you it’s all about you. So many people have invested in me, even people who didn’t know me that well. Some have prayed, some have mowed my lawn, some have just made the time to ask how I’m doing. Amazing people…I want to be more like them.
2. Our bodies will fail us. I have never been more aware of the fact that my soul resides in a body that is, and will, fail me over time. This isn’t a grim reality, just a reality.
3. My wife is unbelievable. I love her more today than I ever have. She’s scary great. She loves me in spite of my little stupid things, and she is such an amazing mom.
4. My boys are becoming little men. This morning I had the chance to tell them that they are the men of the house while daddy’s in the hospital next week. They have taken the charge and get it. (we’ll see about that one…they are 6 and 7).
5. My friends are generous and my friendships to them are deep. I am blessed. They have my back.
6. It’s hard to take things from people when they offer help. Not because it’s so hard, but because sometimes the help offered creates more work…..most of the time it doesn’t, but you know what I mean. It’s complicated. We all just need to help each other more and be fine if we can’t too.
7. I have a great job. I just do. For as long as I have it, I have a great job that is made up of people who you just want to be around.
8. God is good. He just is.
I’m so excited to be on the other side of this. Back pain has been a part of my reality for 20 years (unbelievable). That’s not a sob story, it’s just a reality. I don’t know anything different. It’s going to be good.
The Hero’s Journey
Why does life have to be so darn hard? It seems like we end each phase of our lives only to find ourselves unprepared for the next one. The lessons we’ve learned were great, but they don’t provide nearly enough guidance to help direct our journey into the next unknown. We are Lewis and Clark who reached the headwaters of the Missouri river ready the short trek over the continental divide. Instead, they found themselves looking out over the Rocky Mountains stretching into the distance as far as the eye could see.
Sometimes, we reach the horizon abruptly, staring into an unplanned future that wasn’t our choice. The company is re-organized and we end up in a job we hate. We find ourselves working for a really, really bad boss. The company downsizes and we are laid off. We feel like we’re stuck in a dead end job. Attaining our dreams leave us feeling no more prepared. We get the perfect job and realize that now we have to live up to our own expectations. We get a promotion and realize we are waaaaay out of our league. Even in our personal lives, we find ourselves at the edge of the horizon completely unprepared. When my daughter was about to be born, I found myself thinking, “This is too much responsibility for anyone – where was the training class for this?!”
The anthropologist Joseph Campbell spent much of his life studying cultural myths from around the world to identify common themes and stories. One of the most common stories that emerged was, “The Hero’s Journey.” Almost all cultures had stories about the hero who had a choice—to stay safe in the village or to venture forth into the wilderness to seek adventure beyond the horizon. In the quest, the hero would invariably meet and have to overcome demons, dragons or other mythical monsters. But, more often than not, the demons weren’t outward monsters, but tests that required the hero to overcome his or her inner fears and weaknesses.
When Have You Left the Village? So, I challenge you to try your own little thought exercise. Think of one of the times in your life when you chose to leave the village, to set out on your own into the unknown. (For some of you, maybe it was a time when you were thrown out of the village!) Then, reflect on the following questions. Better yet, invite a good friend out for coffee and ask each other the questions. After all, it’s usually a lot more fun to hear other people tell brutal stories than it is to tell your own!
· Why did you leave the village? What were you seeking?
· What inner demons did you have to overcome? What allowed you to get through and navigate the experience?
· What did you learn? What did you learn about yourself? What advice would you have for others who are ready to leave their own villages?
The last few questions may be the most important. After all, you have made it this far. How did you do it? What did you draw on?
I have one final challenge for you. Sometimes, it isn’t in our strengths, but in our weakness that we can have the greatest impact on others. After all, when I read great biographies, I’m not really interested in how they handled success. What I’m really looking for is how they got through the tough times! I don’t care about Winston Churchill after World War II, what I really want to know is how he got through WWII!
David Whyte, in his book Crossing the Unknown Sea, writes,
“We have the strange idea, unsupported by any evidence, that we are loved and admired only for our superb strength, our far-reaching powers, and our all-knowing competency…
We have an even stranger idea: that we will finally fall in love with ourselves only when we have become the totally efficient organized organism we have always wanted to be and left all our bumbling ineptness behind…
We try to construct a life in which we will be perfect, in which we will eliminate awkwardness, pass by vulnerability, ignore ineptness, only to find, strangely, that the gateway is vulnerability itself.” (pp. 128-129)
I logged into wordpress today and it read:
4,618,706blogs, 143,340 new posts, 35,172,938 words today.
So….4,618,706 people have blogs today…and 143, 340 people are sharing their thoughts, questions, feelings, life….online…TODAY. And, this is something that really didn’t exist much over a year ago. Why is this important? Read on and I will tell you.
We had our first Alumni event on Wednesday night, It was GREAT to see the excitement at the event! What fun to watch as the alumni gathered in with hugs and happy shrieks to be seeing classmates they hadn’t seen in awhile. It was apparent that they had developed a bond during their time in the program, and have a lot of memories together.
The evening was spent socializing around food, and disucssing what it means to be working in the field of I/O psychology in times when the economy is shaky. They answered the question “What are organizations willing to pay for in these times?”I had expected the conversation to be a bit down, understanding that so many people in the country are struggling with making ends meet, and finding demand for their job. However, it turned into a fruitful brainstorming session surrounding how I/O psychologists can help corporations that are struggling today. It was interesting to hear the voices of graduates and faculty that are each working in different areas of I/O psychology, listen to their thoughts on where they fit in corporations, and how they can use the economic situation to their advantage. They all had great ideas, and were aware of the economic challenge they were facing but also understood how they as Industrial/Organizational Psychologist could make corporations more effiecient, stable, and profitable. I was really taken aback by the ideas, confidence, and critical thinking, while be honest about the challenges each of them are facing.
Dr. Collins showed a video that sparked a great conversation….DID YOU KNOW? I encourage anyone to watch it….because it will probably make you mind spin as it did mine.
This video was made in 2006, can you even imagine where things are now? Just think of facebook!?
After watching the video I think it is mind boggling to think of where our world is today….how we are all so interconnected through tecnology. While we are struggling economically and companies are cutting in places such as traveling for meetings, we can instead meet virtually and still accomplish what we need to. The world is moving faster than I think any of us realize, where will it be in five years? Ten years? Will we even recognize the transition? I can’t help but wonder if there will come a point when we are too technologiclly dependent, or if it will continue to advance us.
….and now I am pausing to think that I am writing about a university event through an online blog that has the capability of reaching people around the world, and this is a very normal part of life.
What do you think of all of this???
…What great conversations and thoughts from the evening. Alumni, it was GREAT to have you all there, and watch you connect and catch up. Can’t wait to see you all next time!
Just a thought….
Here are just a couple pictures from the event….check out the entire album on our site!