He Leads, So We Can Be Brave

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Be Brave.

That’s the entire title of the speech I’ve been giving this past month as I travel.

The how I often have to leave unsaid

How?  Because He’s got it.

The Bible is clear on this point.  All the stuff, the external metrics we’re so obsessed with living up to every day even though they keep changing, becomes irrelevant in light of the Scripture.  Once the measuring stick is gone, it’s tremendously freeing for a leader.

I couldn’t be free, or brave, without the cornerstone of my faith.

This is where I hang my metaphorical hat:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to doEph. 2:8-10

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Phil. 1:4-6

Did you catch that?  Three simple, freeing, promises:

1.  We are His work.

2.  He created us to do good works that He already has PREPLANNED.

3.  And He will carry out His good work in us.

External forces will always tell us there is a new barometer by which we must measure success.  Right?  Facebook changes its publicity policy faster than anyone can track.  The networking technique of today turns changes to the branding yourself tool of tomorrow.  That six figure salary won’t put a single kid in private school while you juggle your mortgage and car payment.

The money is never enough.  The promotion doesn’t buy satisfaction.  The plastic surgery, social media, luxury handbag or SUV, the front page headline, the publication, the big award, they never provide freedom.  They just provide more pressure.  To do the next big thing.  To surpass your last achievement.

But. God.

Endless freedom.  Stable assurance.  They form the foundation for a lifetime of brave leadership.

God wants you to succeed more than you do.  He just wants you to succeed differently.  {===> Click To Tweet}

He wants you to see that you are beautiful and loved and forgiven and a conqueror because HE created you.

He wants you to fulfill all the good works He has preplanned and stored up for you.  He’s just waiting for you to ask the simple question:

What God?

Where God?

When God?

How God?

Then He will carry out that good work to COMPLETION.  That’s right, all those good works will be done beyond anything we could have imagined for ourselves (Eph. 3) because He’s doing it.  We just have to go where He says.

Do you know how bravely you can lead when the pressure is off of YOU?

The pressure is on Him.

You just get to say, “okay, let’s roll,” and everything else is up to Him.  We follow where we’re supposed to go even if it feels NUTS.  Even if it’s antithetical to the way everyone says we’re supposed to do it.  The world says, “write a blog about only one topic if you ever want to succeed.”  God says, “mmm, no, I want you to write about a dozen things, none of them related, and any one of which might turn off the people who read the other thing.”  Crazy, right?  But SO freeing.  The world says, “speak more and more and take the bigger promotion and salary and do it bigger and bolder.”  God says, “why don’t you just stay quiet for a while, and wait on the promotion, and hang out with neighbors instead.”   Are you kidding me?  Oh, but how much more fun is it to do it the crazy way.

A girlfriend recently said, “I can’t get over how fun this is.  This following Him in the ways He takes me and doing the things I used to be way too scared to do.  Can you believe how He is using this simple act of obedience?  It’s nuts.  And so fun!”

If are ready for a wild brave leadership ride, then spend a little time each morning asking God those simple questions and then head out wherever He leads.  It will be scary and fun and nerve-racking and breathtaking and unexpected.  He’s leading, so we can be brave!

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.”

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?