Whether in a personal relationship or a professional setting, maintaining boundaries is necessary in order to guard and protect a person’s reputation and integrity. A concept that I learned from Nicolas Ellen is that many relationships follow the natural progression of the 5 T’s. Being aware of this transition is an important tool in guarding your heart.
Time- Time is typically already a factor in most professional relationships. In addition to time spent inside the work place, also consider travel time or time alone in a vehicle with a co-worker of the opposite gender. As a rule, I never travel in the car alone with any female other than my wife. Taking this precaution will keep you and your co-workers above reproach.
Talking- Again, in most work environments communication is necessary. However, we are always aware and in control of the subject matter that drives our conversations. Ask yourself if your conversations are work related. If not, it is important to watch out for phrases like, “I feel like I can trust you with anything.” This type of comment made during a professional conversation may indicate that your co-worker has a blurred perception of the boundaries in your relationship.
Transparency- After a lot of time and a lot of talking, some professional conversations can cross into the realm of transparency. Warning signs of this sort of boundary being crossed include phrases like, “I have never told anyone this but…” or conversations that become extremely emotional and are confidential in nature. This sort of conversation may include discussion of family problems, troubles with a spouse or significant other, and other conversations that are shared with discretion.
Trust- After the previous boundaries have been crossed, a sense of trust forms. This is not referring to a professional trust, but trust of a personal kind. This sort of trust allows a co-worker to feel comfortable confiding in another, without regard to the appearance of the interaction. Often time’s men and women interpret this stage of the relationship differently. A woman might realize that she is in this stage of “trusting” another person, while the man might think that they are just participating in conversation. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to, “avoid every appearance of evil.” It is our obligation to guard our hearts.
Touching- It is my hope that through the awareness of this progression, one would be able to properly navigate professional relationships, and avoid compromising their reputation through this stage of the relationship progression. Remember, “A good name is to be valued above great riches.” –Proverbs 22:1.
Have you ever thought about the Ascent of Money?
Money can be an elusive element in the society around us. This ever present aspect of our lives can be the source of happiness, a measure of success, or the cause of major frustration and stress. Money is a part of our daily lives whether it includes buying or selling services, borrowing and lending, investments, and many other actions that permeate our daily lives. It has become commonplace to carry currency in our wallets or purses, whether in the form of cash or electronic cards, but have you ever considered the history and evolution of currency as we know it? In Niall Ferguson’s book, The Ascent of Money, the history of finance and trade is explained. In a particularly interesting section of the book, the evolution of currency is closely examined
The section starts with the story of the Inca Empire, which existed about five hundred years ago, and essentially functioned without currency. While the Incas did find value in precious metals like silver and gold; labor was the typical unit of trade. Their Empire closely resembled a Communist society, but failed after an explorer named Francisco Pizarro discovered the land and desired to monetize the precious metals that were found in abundance there. This great empire is now the land of Peru.
During Pizarro’s conquest, he and his army were able to collect over 13,000lbs of gold and 26,000lbs of silver. Shortly after Pizarro’s death, an Indian named Diego Gualpa discovered a mountain that contained solid silver ore, and made a decision that would change economic history. The mining of the silver in this area was a strong industry and lasted nearly two centuries. Of course, his natural response to finding such large amounts of metal, particularly silver, was to manufacture coins and currency.
Even before silver was discovered in Peru, currencies were made from several different materials including clay, bronze, silver, gold, and any other material that held value for trade. Unfortunately, whether with precious metals or with the modern dollar, the intrinsic value of any currency fluctuates with its availability in the market. For example, if a market is flooded with currency, the value of that currency tends to drop due to its high level of availability.
Currency has come a long way from clay tablets and coins made of silver. Now on a daily basis trades occur with a currency that is not even tangible. With electronic transfer of funds, investments and purchases can occur internationally in a matter of minutes. Goods and services can be purchased online without either party making contact with cash. Ferguson reminds us that in the end we are always placing our trust in another party to deliver quality goods and services that meet our expectations. No matter what the form of currency may be, there is a certain level of faith involved when an individual is expected to pay their debts, deliver products, and offer the consumer a quality experience.
For more info on the history of money and finance, check out Niall Ferguson’s book, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
In the summer of 1976, I was 15 years old, and vacationing with a friend’s family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My friend needed to stop by the Roxanne Motel to pick up money from his employer (Who also happened to be my Uncle Junior Biggs). Uncle Junior was vacationing with his friends Allen & Carnell Gillie. When we arrived, Junior suggested we stay for awhile and hangout with my cousin Kim Biggs and the Gillie’s two granddaughters (Sheila & Sherie) who were spending the day in the motel pool. As we walked into the pool area, I was taken aback by the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, Sheila Lovell. Her appearance rang true to the original meaning of her Irish name, “blinding.” I was definitely blinded by her beauty and what was supposed to be quick trip to get some cash turned into a week’s worth of activities. Little did I know, that week would become foundational for my future marriage. Read more
As I finalize the “Leadership Thoughts” series, there is one term I would like to clarify. In the past three posts I have mentioned the term “Servant Leadership” many times. Although I am sure this term isn’t foreign to most, few can simplify the concept quite as eloquently as Mark Miller. Through his blog greatleadersserve.org, and his book “The Secret” Mark provides the perfect tool to help leaders SERVE.
Leadership concepts are abounding. A student of leadership could effortlessly uncover theories to support any style. For instance, the autocratic leadership style will find the leader as the ultimate source of power and authority. This sort of leadership might be attractive to a new leader as they test the boundaries of their ability to influence. At the other end of the spectrum there are organizations developing the concept of self-directed work teams. Within this concept there is no appointed leader, and each team member has the opportunity to step into an influential role. Read more
I have always been an avid reader. Many people enjoy hunting, fishing, or golfing, but I have found my hobby in reading books. My love for books is not only in reading (although I can be found reading up to five books at once), but also in browsing bookstores. I enjoy exploring the shelves to stay up to date on popular books, both old and new. Because of my love for books and reading, I would like to offer 10 book recommendations for 2014. Of course, as a person who loves to read books, I can’t help but mention the importance of reading the Bible. It’s not worthwhile to read any book if I’m not grounded in “The Book.” My first recommendation is a Daily Bible that sets the pace to read through the entire Bible in 365 days. Be sure to share your thoughts and comments on these recommendations!
The MacArthur Daily Bible: John MacArthur @johnmacarthur
On July 18, 2014, I will have read through the Bible every year for 15 consecutive years. During those 15 years I have used several different One Year Bibles. I have found The MacArthur Daily Bible to be the most enjoyable because of its added daily commentaries. It is a great tool for personal study, as well as small group discussions.
A Passion for Souls: Lyle W. Dorsett
A Passion for Souls is one of my favorite biographies. This book follows the life of D. L. Moody, from his salvation in the back room of a shoe store, to the legacy of five ministries that still exist over a century later. This testimony is inspiring to read as it illustrates a life that was completely surrendered to God’s Will, and has been an encouragement in my walk with the Lord.
I love God’s Word. He has used it over and over to change my life through reproof, correction, and teaching. Although there have been many verses that have impacted my life, I have narrowed the list to ten of my favorite Scriptures:
Isaiah 66:1-2 1Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
These two verses have always reminded me that God created everything and owns everything. The whole universe is His dwelling place and He is most interested in my heart becoming a place of worship for Him. He dwells in a heart that is tender and broken, and in the heart of the man who takes His Word seriously. Read more
Many of us have a dream or a goal that we are striving towards. So what happens when we fall short of our long term goals? Maybe you have been focused on one goal for so long, that you have become disappointed with the lack of results. It seems that many young people get discouraged by this process as they work through high school or college. It is easy to list the traits of the perfect job, spouse, or home, but getting from square one to “perfect” can prove to be quite the challenge.
If you find yourself or someone you know in this situation, I suggest the following:
1. Calibrate your expectations. Occasionally our expectations are simply unrealistic. Ask any college freshman what their plans are after graduation, and they might respond with a six figure salary and a full time job (all without having previous job experience). Many of them are not considering the unemployment rate, the competitive job market of their field, or the availability of jobs in their area of specialty. Once a student graduates and is smacked with this realization, they easily become discouraged.
2. Set short term goals. Again, most find it easy to name a long term goal, but have no idea where to start in achieving that goal. In order to create a plan including short term goals, meet with peers or professionals that have achieved similar goals. Many professionals allow shadowing or offer internships to gain insight into their field. You may find that the people you speak with have made avoidable mistakes, or you might end up building a relationship that can support your future goals. Also, a little research can go a long way as many companies post job openings, average salary, and minimum job requirements on their websites. Read more
Have you ever heard the phrase “never trust a politician?” During election season we swim in promises that seem like our last hope, only to find ourselves sorely disappointed once the official is elected to office. Instead of experiencing promises kept, our representatives rarely make significant improvements. It is only a short time before their political term is complete, and we are left with very little evidence of their leadership. Often times their success is measured by changes they have implemented and many times they are left with a lifetime of blame, simply because they did not live up to expectations set by their campaign promises.
As you lead throughout the day, do you find yourself motivated more through positive relationships or positive results? Obviously most leaders want to see positive results in their organizations. For corporations, these positive results may be defined in profitability or efficiency; however other organizations may look to attendance or population growth as a positive result. While organizations as a whole typically measure success through positive results, individual leaders may find that they are more drawn to the relational side of leading. While most leaders aim to influence and lead people, their styles are different when it comes to naturally valuing relationships or results. Even though leaders might be drawn to one side of the spectrum, some of the best leaders are able to find a balance between the two. Valuing relationships AND results is the fourth key in becoming a servant leader according to Mark Miller’s SERVE Model.
Think of relationships and results as the “love languages” of a leader. For a leader that values relationships, having a deep conversation with one of his team members could potentially energize and refresh him. Even better, when the leader sees growth and progress from that individual, he feels recharged and might even find purpose in his otherwise mundane responsibilities. These leaders tend to manage through influence and easily find common ground among the team. Often motivating their team through personal and professional development; this leader can easily make a champion out of the underdog as he determines what motivates each player, and relates that to the common goals of his team.
We have all been there… Your morning has been great. You’re walking into your office and your coworker meets you at the door with a laundry list of drama that somehow materialized between dinner last night and your first cup of coffee. Things you were blissfully unaware of before stepping onto the property that morning. As you are wishing you could go back to that first sip of coffee when all was right with the world; you become inundated with details of a personnel conflict and start brainstorming possible solutions. Maybe every once in a while you wonder how efficiently you could complete your daily responsibilities if you didn’t have to deal with conflict among your family or work team.
Of course, most people have that one acquaintance that seems to create conflict for their personal entertainment, but aside from that person, most people don’t seek out conflict. However, I think the most successful people in life (professionally and personally), realize that conflict is important and even necessary for growth.
In fact, Patrick Lencioni identifies “Fear of Conflict” as a major hindrance to team building in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” It is easy to see the value and potential in conflict when it is quickly resolved and thought of as a learning opportunity. For instance, when it comes to relationships, a conflict with your spouse or loved one may become an identifier of a negative behavior in yourself, or the true feelings of the other person involved. Within an organization, these conflicts may reveal something as simple as lack of training, or something as profound as a lack of trust. In both situations, these factors can only be dealt with and identified once out in the open.
When it comes to team building and leadership within an organization, Tuckman’s Stages of Team Formation shows us that the “storming” phase, or the phase where most conflicts occur, is only the second stage in a team’s development on its way to becoming high performing. The four stages include Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing; each one building on the previous stage. In this model, it’s as if the ability to resolve conflict and establish boundaries becomes the launching pad for growth and performance within the organization. Without this phase, the necessary depth within the team to build trust and work together simply does not exist.
During the storming phase, a lag in performance is always present, and it represents an opportunity for the leader of the team to take initiative and quickly coach the team beyond this phase. Once these necessary conflicts are overcome, roles and responsibilities within the team are defined and performance moves forward into the next phase quickly recovering and gaining efficiency.
Of course, it’s important to pick your battles, because not all conflicts are worthwhile. There is a fine line between healthy conflict and incessant quarreling. Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Because of this verse I would say that difference lies between a calm discussion and an emotional confrontation. If you aren’t able to discuss the issue with a controlled tone of voice, it might be better to revisit the discussion when emotions have settled and the issue can be discussed calmly.
How has conflict built a more effective team in your organization?