Uncategorized, women and leadership

Communication: Parent-Child-Adult

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

 

How we communicate with others often defines our relationships with them. A few words may be all we get to set the stage for the future connections we have or don’t get to have with them. I have been thinking about that a lot recently and my thoughts are not just about adults, but also about children and youth who are just learning how to treat others. This is where my monkey mind has led me:

Last year ago I became aware of Molly Barker, a social entrepreneur who founded the successful international organization Girls on the Run and then left it to start The Red Boot Coalition.

She had written Girls Lit from Within about ten years ago and I wanted to use it in a life skills mentoring program I and some other women are involved in for middle school girls. The little book is so powerful because it is told from her viewpoint as a girl. The communication is somewhat childlike in parts. The message is about getting out of the girl box. Her storytelling allows the reader, even adults, to be in that girl mindset and see the world from a non-adult perspective. The girls and adults loved it. I learned a lot too.

About two years ago Molly decided to create an organization which revolves around what I call civil dialog and active listening done in a manner which is respectful of all involved. She is more eloquent in her description and I encourage you to go to the link for more details. The Red Boot Coalition is simply teaching and re-teaching us the process of communication; not telling us how to think.

Over the last year I have also found myself constantly referring back to a concept I learned in a leadership program which helps me better understand how to navigate these tricky times for communication. Today everyone seems to have an opinion which they feel free to offer without much consideration of how the listener might react. There is clearly an absence of communication by people who “begin with the end in mind” as taught by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The concept is called  transactional analysis and involves three levels of communication. The words seem complicated but the concept is really simple. A short overview is available by clicking here. It gives the basics. How I have adapted the components to be understandable to me is explained below.

  1. Child. When children communicate they often have limited or no filters. They haven’t evolved physically or mentally enough to have learned them yet . Sometimes children communicate with tantrums, withdrawing, being silly, crying and not doing what they are told. They rely on parents or parent figures to teach them how to manage their behavior and communications.
  2. Parent. A parent has some sort of authorized authority over someone. Maybe it is her child or perhaps she is the “boss” at work.  Parents teach their children, help them modify their communications; teach then what is appropriate based on their age and the audience they are communicating with. Parents can be very high directing when needed, especially in a life threatening or emergency. Parent mode is common with those in positions of authority. Sometimes turning parent off is hard for those who are doing it in their work and home every day.
  3. Adult. Adult communication is level, respectful, equal, open, and accepting. Neither party has any control over the other. Adult communication is highly negotiated with concern for the feelings, opinions of all parties and the outcomes are mutually agreed upon.   It is also a different skill and many of us are never taught about true adult communication or it is something we learn later in life. For me, going into a career with a strong sales component where everything is negotiated became my first step in communicating in a more adult style.

My work in financial literacy for girls and women requires me to just listen to what is on our/their minds. Not everyone I meet operates from my background, belief system, or has had my life experiences. So of course we are not always going to agree on everything—or maybe anything. However, if we consciously evaluate what communication style is appropriate for the situation; civil dialog is pretty amazing and possible. More next time!

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Uncategorized

A Woman and Her Clothes

monkeymind

 

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

A young woman is coming from Africa and arriving in San Antonio, Texas, tomorrow.  She is lucky.  A group of  students in the Hill Country of Texas raised enough money to pay tuition for her schooling in Africa  over the last two years.  Not only will she be arriving in Texas, but will leave the next day for a college in Missouri.  So much change and so fast with the support of a collection of people.

This takes me to my clothing dilemma.  A professional organization I belong to is connected to the students who paid for the young woman’s schooling in Africa.  We have been asked to donate used clothing. Once she gets off the plane she will have a “trunk show” to pick clothes before she heads to college.  Think about it for a minute.  This young woman doesn’t have the usual going off to college shopping trips.  Whatever clothes she has are probably limited and not what the “normal” college students wear.  And, Missouri can be mighty cold in the winter (I know I’m from Kansas) .  Imagine facing your first snow storm in flip flops and no coat.

This brings me to my closet.  The days of nice suits and expensive blouses, skirts, jackets, and anything really trendy are gone.  But, I have some things which might keep a young woman warm, look stylish enough, fit (or be too big), and are comfortable.  Those qualities also make me wonder if I really want to part with the 3/4 cream colored sweater, those knee high boots I have never worn, the comfy sweatshirt which fits just right, those leggings I bought and which look better just sitting on the shelf than they ever will on me, and my favorite striped top which is perfect for sleeping.  I ask myself, what if it doesn’t fit?  What if it’s a little long or the color isn’t right?  Will she like my favorite flirty black and red shirt?  Then reality sets in.

Whatever I put in the giveaway bag will cover her body.  Pants that are too big can still be worn, but they can’t be worn if they are still in my closet.  That sweater that I have good intentions of wearing in the winter can be replaced if I really need another.  I can do that.  She can’t.  A jacket that is soft and colorful can be layered if it is too big.  Those boots I like so much, can be stuffed with feet covered in layers of socks.  I don’t need them in Texas, but somebody will need them in Missouri.

Middle class values require some re-working when thinking about the needs of others who are from poverty or countries with different lifestyles.  It took constant internal conversations to remind me that something is better than nothing and things can be bartered or sold if needed.  My criteria for clothing is not going represent what is important for this young woman. So off they go, some of my favorite things to a better owner for a better use.  They are are going to college in a city  about 90 miles from my hometown!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Building a Business is Messy!

Building a business is messy.

 Many women don’t do messy well and that limits their business success.

I heard these honest and unpleasant words spoken by a woman who had great success and a large income in the competitive, complicated, and male dominated insurance and securities industries.

Those words have stayed with me over the years and have helped me immensely.

Today they were etched in my mind when I was mentally celebrating the good news that my Colorado friend, Mary Claire (MCF), has expanded her limousine service by acquiring another firm. This greatly increases her business and income potential, but also brings added work and risk.

redbootslimo.jpg

It only took me one trip with her to downtown Denver and a visit to the public utilities commission to learn that transportation businesses serving the public are messy to begin with. There are lots of rules, laws and regulations along with equipment to purchase and maintain; drivers to hire, train and yes—fire. Customer service is very face-to-face or tablet- to- tablet. Failing to pick up a client as scheduled can mean someone misses a flight, is late to an important meeting, and many things you and I can’t even imagine. Then there is weather and traffic; unpredictable at best.

Limo businesses in her market are predominately owned by men. MCF hasn’t let that stand in her way; she named her company Red Boots and wears red cowboy boots. Not many guys would have the courage to do that!

MCF always thought the perfect job would be driving people around, talking to them, and making money doing it. She would probably do it for free if she could. Personally, I find that just a little weird, I try to avoid traffic whenever possible and building customer relationships at the same time is not in my skill set. She is just incredible. If my car breaks down, it is a crisis. If the mountain roads are covered with snow and ice, I hibernate. For her, these things are just another business challenge.

If you would meet her today and talk about her business life, you would assume this all just happened and success comes easily. Not true.

When she started the limo business she had just left behind a career in commercial real estate management and investing, left the second husband, left the big house on the golf course, given up the Mercedes, and pretty much left a lot of the past behind. Not easy. She moved into an apartment and started driving a taxi. Figuring that was a good experience, but not profitable enough she started Red Boots Limousine which is a black car business. Black cars are most often seen at airports and Denver International Airport is her second home. Clients are driven to various places and in Colorado that includes mountain driving. Along the way she also became a Cross Fit athlete, ran a triathlon and learned to surf. I was on the beach watching her learn to surf. Not for everyone! MCF founded Fit Frog Foundation (a non-profit which promotes fitness and nutrition for women in crisis),became a grandmother, and met people who share her driving dream, even if it involves work!

Was this all a straight shot to where Red Boots is today? I don’t think so. I remember MCF being so busy that she drove us to lunch one day in the Town car and I was in the passenger’s seat interviewing her and dragging information out of her brain so we could do a little business planning. She talked, I wrote. What we did in 30 minutes would have taken others hours or days. Messy? Yes. Productive and also fun? Absolutely.

I’m going to go back and look at those planning charts and see how close we came to getting her team and Red Boots to those goals as a result of that frantic planning session. She planned, then worked, evolved, took risks, and acted. Pretty impressive and often messily organized.

Congratulations MCF! You are an inspiration to all of us and of course, the best limo driver I’ve ever traveled with.

redbootsandmcf.jpg

Memorial Day, Texas Hill Country, Uncategorized, Wounded Warriors

Memorial Day Came Early

woundedwarriors

Wounded Warriors and their families on a weekend visit being greeted by local Fredericksburg, Texas, folks in the Market Square.

Memorial Day is here again and in our home it is a day with lots of memories. I really think I processed this year’s Memorial Day a few weeks back when I went to a Wounded Warrior event in the Marktplatz ( Market Square) of Fredericksburg, Texas.

My husband sings in a Fredericksburg chorale with a group of very talented locals. They were asked to be part of the program in the park for Wounded Warriors and their families who were visiting Fredericksburg for the weekend. For me, seeing military members and their families is a very meaningful way of visualizing what Memorial Day is all about today, as well as in the past.

I married into a family where my husband, his father, and his brother served in the  Navy. My husband was a Hospital Corpsman assigned at a Marine Corps Air Station. I went to work as a civilian there and then worked for the  Army at Fort Riley, Kansas, while he was in college (again). From there we moved to Denver where I worked for the Air Force for 11 years. I figure between us, my husband and I have all the services covered and I am familiar with all their songs; well except that Coast Guard one which I only recognize through the process of elimination

As the chorale practiced before the guests arrived on a bus, they sang a medley of the songs from each branch of the military services. The Army’s song was first. I remember some of the words from their song, but the musical experience I remember from my time at Fort Riley occurred when I was probably around 26 years old. I was walking on Post to go to a meeting at a building down the street from my office. As I looked up I saw some troops in formation out for a morning run. As they got near,  they all looked straight ahead, didn’t miss a step and loudly shouted a cadence directed at me. In unison they sang, “Hey girl—Looking Good— You Belong in Hollywood. Then they continued down the road passing by buildings which had once been horse stables for the Calvary. That was a memorable moment and one which probably wouldn’t be appropriate anymore, but these were infantry soldiers. I have often wondered how many came home safely from their deployments and assignments.

The chorale next sang the Marine Corps hymn which I recognized from having lived on a Marine Corps installation and hearing it on the radio over the years.  Then the Coast Guard song followed and I listened carefully in effort to familiarize myself with it in hopes of recognizing the tune in the future.. The Navy song came next.  With all the Navy folks in our lives, that one was easy to sing along with and to think back on wars won and peace enjoyed, because of the contributions of sailors like my husband and his family.

As the chorale moved through songs for the different military services, I remained seated. Then the Air Force song started. My body reacted instantly. I had spent ten years working in an Air Force headquarters level organization which served the Air Force worldwide community of active duty and retired military members. This meant that over the years, I and some of my co-workers, logged a lot of hours in meetings, ceremonies, and events listening to the Air Force song. So, I knew I was supposed to stand up, clap and start singing to “Off we go into the wild blue yonder…”. I considered staying seated so I would not be noticed by a crowd of people I didn’t know. My instincts and years of training overtook my body and I stood up moved to the side of the picnic area and sang away. I reminisced, cried a few tears, and smiled a lot. As the Wounded Warriors arrived and the chorale sang the medley again, it was exciting to see the military members and their families sing along and stand up to recognize “their” branch of service. On the way home my husband and I talked about how unexpectedly emotional the day had been for us.

As I have grown older, or clearly past middle age as my son tells me, I now understand that some people have never experienced working in a place where Reveille is played in the morning and the flag is raised, Taps are played at the end of the day during retreat as the flag is lowered, and that driving or walking during these times is not respectful or acceptable. Yes, sometimes we were tempted, but we knew better! I came to enjoy those few minutes of Taps at the end of the day before I dashed off into rush hour traffic. It was tranquil and inspirational.

As I said, Memorial Day came early for me this year.

 

 

Uncategorized

A Little Girl Rules the Day

 

holding hands

The world seems a little crazy these days.  Good experiences with our fellow human beings are lost in the instantaneous and consistent  reporting on every negative detail of our existence.  The local political environment has become difficult and the focus is on differences and division for a variety of reasons such as religion, ethnic background, where we live, our political preferences, and on and on. Kindness, understanding, and compassion are still out there, but most of the time we just don’t notice.  Then something unexpected happens and catches us by surprise.  That happened to me and it really gave me hope and confidence in those who are coming up behind us.

Two of my friends (and about 100 other people we really didn’t know well) attended a baby shower for a young woman we do know.  In this festive atmosphere there were some small children playing in a little room adjacent to the restrooms.  The families could see them, but the noise level from their play was not hitting at full decibel range for those of us in the main room.

As I started to go through their play room I noticed little puddles of water along with broken balloons.  It looked like a water balloon party had occurred before I arrived.  It also looked like a good chance to slip a little on the way to the my destination.  Then it happened.  A very teeny little girl wearing cowboy boots looked at me and told me to be careful and pointed to the water. She was very intent of making sure I didn’t fall.   She walked over and calmly took my hand and  very  efficiently escorted me to the bathroom door.  I thanked her and she returned to her friends.

Things like this remind me that in some places for some moments, all is well with the world. It didn’t matter that we were different ages, grew up in different parts of the country, and may not belong to the same church.  I felt like the child being taught by someone older and wiser than me.  It was a humbling and happy moment.

That little girl ruled the day and I thank her!

 

Encouragement, Families, Hope, risk, Shared Values, Texas Hill Country, Uncategorized

A Good Moment

This blog is my guilty pleasure.  It allows me to share my thoughts in hope that someone else will find some value or learn something along the way.  I post when something really special sticks in my consciousness and it seems worth sharing.

Last week our nation had a moment. It was a good moment.  There was energy, cooperation, hope, imagination, and even teamwork.

There we were in all our glory for the world to see.

The moment centered on the recent record $1.6 billion U.S. Powerball lottery.

People openly and willingly gave some of their money to purchase a Powerball ticket or tickets. Some joined Powerball pools where contributions were collected from a group of people with the agreement that in the event the team won, the proceeds would be shared. Think about it. People who may not share the same opinions about hot button issues like war, abortion, legalizing marijuana, immigration, and gun control were more focused on reaching for a goal and taking a chance, than they were in in rallying for their individual causes or agenda. They also willingly became involved with people who might not share their religious or political beliefs. For the moment, it was all about that huge pile of money and  ticket holders enjoying the equal opportunity chance to win or lose.  There was a rather carefree and hopeful attitude which began to spread across the country. The world took notice too.

It first clicked for me at the moment when I was getting a cup of coffee in a public place and observed a man with a list talking to people he really didn’t know well. Where I live this means they may not go worship where he does, might be politically liberal (which is very uncommon here), might be poorer or richer financially then he is, or simply someone who just doesn’t move in his social circle. This man was encouraging others, male and female, to consider contributing to a Powerball pool. The paper was his list of participants.

In that one moment I knew that much of the divisiveness in our nation was being displaced, for a moment, by a desire for people to share in a common goal. People became more interested in what they could win by just taking a  small financial chance on the unknown, and maybe even on each other.

Social media and good old fashioned verbal conversations began among people about how they would spend, invest share, gift,  or use the money. Yes, the dreams were big, but the process was fun, exciting, and hopeful. Who knows, maybe those who didn’t win will still move forward on those dreams and encourage others who put their dreams out there.

Yes, we had a good moment. Here’s hoping for many more.

moneyandhappy

 

 

 

 

 

Christianity, Mentoring, Risk Taking, Uncategorized, women and leadership, Young Women

September 11, 2015

 

This blog is my guilty pleasure.  It allows me to share my thoughts in hope that someone else will find some value or learn something along the way.  I post when something really special sticks in my consciousness and it seems worth sharing.

I have been waiting for God to inspire me with meaningful words on this September 11th. As an American, I do what most of us do when we pause to remember September 11, 2001. I think about where I was when I heard, how I felt, how fear settled over me, and then hope and optimism came in the unexpected kindness we extended to each other in our wounded country. Those words come easily.

The ones that are harder to summon have to do with the passing of Rev. Dr. Marti Zimmerman on September 11, 2011. It seems trite and overdone to mention how much all of us miss her energy, presence, faithful spirit, and sense of adventure.  It is much more than just those qualities.

One of her daughters posted a video today of Marti’s life.  She mentioned missing her mom and wishing she could have conversations with her, but still hears her mom’s voice telling her things and giving an opinion. The woman had quite a few opinions and some of us had a lot to learn. She would always tell us that God has a sense of humor.  That was a new idea to me.

She would remind us that children and youth are God’s gift for the future and that we need to give them a voice. The local church she pastored in Colorado took the business of children and youth very seriously. This is not always the case in many churches because children take time and energy and don’t usually contribute much financially.  Her patience ran thin with people who were too tired or busy to go to church, even her children.

Consumerism and affluenza became the targets of her teachings and Christian education. Expensive technology, storage units where people pay to store stuff, and the lack of affordable housing in the affluent area near the church became targets of her preaching.

Marti would mention how her children would get annoyed at her constant visiting and endless conversations when they were ready to go home and leave the whole church thing for an afternoon. With some sympathy, she would acknowledge that being a PK2 child (Marti and her husband were a pastoral team) had some added challenges.

Marti became a very educated and accomplished  senior pastor, earning a Doctorate of Ministry from a prestigious university in Denver.  She was invited to speak throughout the country and became also became widely known among the women leadership of the connectional church.  Impressive credentials, but she didn’t let it get in the way of being real. One night at a large gathering in the home of some of the church’s members someone asked her the traditional and polite what do you do question.  I waited for the big long educated and wise answer that some Dr. pastors deliver with an attitude. It never came. She smiled, looked around the kitchen, laughed a little, grabbed an appetizer and said “I’m a preacher.”  This seemed to me to be an understatement. I thought to myself, really?  Anyone can call themselves a preacher.  She knew who she was and whose she was.

When we would do financial seminars based on her work, she would lead off by saying “We’re all sinners here.” Not the intro I was going for as a facilitator. Truthfully, it took time for me to wrap my financial advisor mind around that one. I now know that she was right. We all can do better.

This Sunday I will be meeting with someone at my  church  in Texas to begin using the First You Dream workbook based on Marti’s sermons. Marti has left many legacies to those of us, including this work. Her teachings are with us. For me, they never leave.  My friend Emily and I talk about them and I have a stack on my shelf, just waiting for God to send some more people our way. I had to re-enter all of Marti’s sermons when we created the book since her computer had seriously crashed.  I’m pretty familiar with what they say.

September 11th. A day of remembering for many different reasons.

I’m leaving you with Marti’s praying hands and her uplifted ones as she preached. They are created in a cartoon format.  As long as something would send the right message and teach others about Jesus and God’s love, she was up for just about anything.

 martipreachingmartihands