Leading with Light: Propel

I am so honored to have had the opportunity to share a little bit of my changing mission field over at Propel Women, the amazing women’s leadership initiative launched by Christine Caine.  Their mission is, “Helping women internalize a leadership identity & fulfill their purpose, passion & potential.”

Excerpt from Leading with Light:

My father and grandfather were preachers.  I remember mission Sundays where I would hear the visiting missionaries recount stories of sharing their faith in forests and deserts.  In fact, as a girl in elementary school, I felt called to the mission field and even walked down the aisle one mission Sunday to commit my young self to that path.

Little did I know.

Won’t you join me over at Propel to read the rest of the story?

Fashion Fridays: And the Gala Winner Is…

Y’all were so AWESOME to vote on all the gala dresses I suggested last time.  I got seriously candid feedback in the form of comments, Facebook remarks, emails, recommended links, etc.

It’s like having hundreds of sisters weigh in on what I should wear.  (This was great in this case – maybe not so great if I’d been trying to settle on a wedding dress.)

So……I did try on a couple of the ones I wrote about.  Plus numerous other dresses at Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s, and then I ordered more on line.

I didn’t like anything.

Out of sheer desperation, I wandered into a mall and walked by a Cache.  I don’t shop there but apparently they’re going out of business and they had mark downs!  At the back, were evening gowns.

I tried one wacky dress on because it caught my eye.  I left the store without buying it but thought about it for a whole week.  A floor length pleated blouson navy dress with oversized gold leaves was not what I had in mind’s eye.  But it felt so unique and it looked so lovely.

So a week later, I went back, and they STILL had my size and another 15% off.  A $300 dress I got for the bargain prize of $126!  Score.

The gala was tonight and was a lot of fun despite the fact that I was exhausted (I flew in straight from Montana, had a four hour flight delay in Denver, landed to rush hour thunderstorms, but we still made it to the event before 8  – whew!).  I went for Grecian goddess styling with long lean gold dangling earrings, hair pulled back (ponytail still damp from shower), smoky eyes, and gold strappy heeled sandals.  It wasn’t quite as formal of an event as I originally thought, so the beaded dresses would have been too much.  Here it is, and my cute date (thanks for your help!):

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Leading with Optimism

It’s so fun to be in Wyoming this week speaking.  What a beautiful place.  I can’t wait to share more next week about my journey.  In the meantime, since I missed our Leadership Tuesday because of travel, I offer this Thursday installment from June 2013 where I share about the  importance of an optimistic leader:

If you worry about everything that can go wrong, you would never do anything.  You’ve got to be able to focus on the things that really matter and not lose too much sleep on the rest.  Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister Australia

Today, we look at another pivotal leadership strategy: Optimism.  How you frame your story, and the energy you exude, enables you to walk more fully into your leadership potential.

Optimism has several perks – a  positive attitude not only motivates you but also motivates those who follow you as well as provides you with an ability to bounce back after a set-back.

First, what can you do when faced with set-backs?  Start simply. Accept that failure from time to time is going to happen.  In fact, failure is often the catalyst to more fully develop your leadership skill sets like coping, rebounding, learning from mistakes, and pressing on.  Optimism helps you separate the person, you, from the end result. This is where you can become more resilient.

I heard a former CEO say, “I’m suspicious of somebody who’s never failed, because you don’t know how they’re going to react when they do.  Everyone is born to fail.  Everyone is going to break down.  What matters is not how often you have been on the canvas, but whether you get up, how you get up, and what you learn from it.”

An article I read, Mandating Women at the Leadership Table: Why the Time is Now, spoke to this optimism-fueled resilience: “Women leaders show a higher degree of resilience and assertiveness than their male counterparts. This coupled with their flexibility and interpersonal connection helps them shake off negativity and setbacks, learn what they need to from the experience, and use the setbacks to fuel their drive to succeed and overcome challenges.”

Next, is the important ability to cultivate a baseline of optimism in order to effectively lead and encourage others.  You can have a transforming effect on your team by encouraging others that they have the ability to achieve levels of performance beyond those they thought possible. Leaders can paint an optimistic and attainable view of the future for their followers.  With a well-communicated, optimistic vision, you can move people from “how things are done around here” to “how things could be done better.”  Personally, strong leaders learn to rise above petty thoughts and self-defeating inner dialogue.  Leaders that have control of these strategies and skills are more likely to remain cool and in control in a crisis, not let negative influences bring them down, and not find themselves spinning in self-defeating cycles that can cripple the best of leaders.

How Remarkable Women Lead, emphasizes how important it is to practice optimism.  Psychologists believe that you can learn optimism, particularly if you learn where pessimism comes from so that you can stop the downward spiral.  “Every woman leader we met was an optimist, and it really doesn’t matter who was born one and who developed the skill.  With a little bit of practice, it will be your skill, too, and not just one to deploy at work.” While a happy disposition can be largely hereditary, you can gravitate toward the top of your own bandwidth of natural tendency.  More importantly, if you can find things that you liked as a child, things that make you passionate, or recent activities that gave you tremendous fulfillment, then you can begin filling your life with things that are more inclined to provide you with an optimistic and energetic disposition.

To Take Away: Whether you are naturally an Eeyore or a Tigger, you can train yourself to positively frame your life messages.  Optimism does not translate to delusional for those of you natural pessimists looking at this section quizzically.  Nor does it mean idealism, as some skeptics suggest (though a measure of idealism may help you lead).  It means you do not allow failures and setbacks to derail your trajectory.  After allowing yourself to feel the sting of not reaching the achievement you set your sights on, move on.  Find out what lessons you learned from the experience and explore the next opportunity.  Optimism also means you get back to doing things that bring you joy. Find how to incorporate those things that brought you joy earlier in your life into your life today.  True joy and fulfillment are attainable, and they are also contagious and will allow you to build a base from which you can lead.

Take time out this next week and listen to yourself interact with those around you.  How do you speak about things?   Do you see the negativity from a overcome challenges.”

Pray Anyways

She was so sick.

We had walked through days of fevers and lethargy with her and she was wiped out.  At five years old, days strung together with fever is too much.

So Monday night we kneeled down by her bed for bedtime prayers and asked our God for help.  {I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121}

We boldly asked for His hand to hold her and to relieve the pain and the fever and the exhaustion.  We prayed believing.

Then she woke in the middle of the night with another 104 degree fever.  We dosed with medicine and ice packs, and she limped into bed with us.  When we woke that morning, I told her how sorry I was that she was still so sick here on day 5.  She looked up at me, weakly smiling, and offered, Well mommy, we’ll just keep praying and praying and praying until I get better.

She teaches me every single day.  She teaches me about bravery.  She teaches me about persistence.  She teaches me about deeper faith.

And so I crawled out of bed and got on my knees and we offered up another offering of prayer to our Heavenly Father.  {Your prayers have come as a memorial offering to God. Acts 10:4}

Sometimes that is what prayer is: an offering.  Given with every ounce of faith you have.  Or beyond.

Tonight, just one week later, I found myself on my knees at the door of another child.  With an even bigger offering.

Praying beyond any wisdom I possessed but trusting in a God that sees and knows and can answer in ways I can’t even see to ask.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LordAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…  Proverbs 3:5

I don’t know what you are up against today.  But there is an answer.  Maybe one you can’t see your way to through the hurt or tears or anger or frustration or confusion or exhaustion.  God sits exalted above all of the dust and din that surrounds us.  {For everything in heaven and earth is yours…You are exalted as head over all.  Chronicles 29:11}

It may take everything in you to get down on your knees and beg for answers or healing or a reprieve or restoration, but find a way.  And after crying out in the evenings, when the morning comes, and you still don’t see a way out, you keep praying and praying until it gets better.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:18

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Fashion Fridays: The Work Dress

Today’s post is going to be pretty short because I’m writing this after 10 pm and have a big speech I’m waking up early for BUT I couldn’t miss another Friday.

This is what I bought this week to spruce up my summer work wardrobe:  The Work Dress!

Too many women think they can’t pull it off because of their legs or their middle or whatever, but you absolutely can if the style is right.

Take these two acquisitions I recently made:

1.  This irresistible dove gray dress is sophisticated and simple but interesting.  The tulip hemline is unique and it actually detracts from my knees which I don’t love.  It’s summer weight and has beautiful pleated cap sleeves.  The belt slenderizes my middle and I recommend pair it with Spanx stockings and the coordinating blazer if you want to make it more formal for work.

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2.  This bright but classically cut popover sheath is super versatile.  I wore it to a conference this week with stockings, stilettos, and pebble-colored blazer but you could just as easily wear it to a shower or church with bare legs and sandals.  The bright pink geometric pattern makes it an interesting twist to freshen up your work ensembles.

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Let me know what you’re buying these days.  What’s your must have summer work wardrobe piece?