Perseverance

How to Cope with Loneliness and Social Isolation in Today’s World

December 14, 2020
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Loneliness and social isolation are becoming a behavioral epidemic, resulting in increased depression, anxiety, and suicide rates. I’ve experienced loneliness at times and know how brutal it can be. I’ve also witnessed first-hand how emotionally and mentally destructive it can be to my family, friends, and peers. We need connection, we need community, we need each other.

Today, it’s challenging to have a great social life. This was true even before Covid-19 became an issue.

In the not-so-distant past, it used to be so boring to stay at home during the evenings and the weekends that people always looked for an excuse to get out of the house. But now, between streaming services, the internet, smartphones, and video games, it’s much easier to find an excuse to stay home.

Covid-19 has only made the situation even more challenging. Now, there is a legitimate reason to avoid others.

While a few select people seem to thrive with minimal human contact, most people need to spend time with others to stay emotionally healthy and happy.

Luckily, there are still things you can do to help maintain your emotional health, even when your time with others is reduced. The key is to be intentional.

Learn how to ease the discomfort of loneliness and social isolation with these tips:

  1. Be productive. Just because you might be spending a lot of time alone doesn’t mean you just have to sit there and be miserable. Everyone feels better when they’re being productive. Some productive activities include:
    • Paint the living room.
    • Volunteer to help others.
    • Take a class online.
    • Rearrange the pantry.
    • Take the car in to have the tires rotated.
    • Take the dog for a walk.
    • Read a book.
    • And many more
  1. Safely connect with others. Use your imagination and find a way to connect with people while making your health a priority.
    • Use Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and other options for talking “face-to-face.”
    • Chat online via forums.
    • Sit outside by a fire in the fresh air and have a conversation with a friend.
    • Go to church or attend a sporting event.
    • Join a class and learn something new with others.
    • Play golf or tennis.
    • Volunteer at a local charity. Recently, my wife and I volunteered at a food pantry to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on others.
  1. View beautiful things. What makes something attractive? It makes you feel a certain way when you look at it. With your smartphone or computer, you can view just about anything in the world. Spend some time looking at beautiful things each day, and you’ll feel great.
    • Look at old photographs.
    • Go to a museum.
    • Find the most perfect tree in the park and really look at it. 
  1. Take up a solo hobby. There are plenty of hobbies you can do by yourself. Paint, play chess online, hike, knit, write, ride a bike, or train your dog. A hobby is something you choose to do because it brings you pleasure.
  1. Get a pet. If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one. You can have a more meaningful relationship with the right pet than you can have with 99% of the people in the world. What type of animal interests you? My dog, Bonnie, is a great companion at times when no one else is around.
  1. Maintain a high level of self-care. Loneliness and social isolation often lead to poor self-care. It’s important to continue taking good care of yourself even if you’re spending a lot of time alone. For example, a shower isn’t something that you do just for others. It’s also something that you do for yourself.
  1. Be creative. Most people find they are more creative when they have time to themselves. Now is an ideal time to take advantage of your solitude. Heck, I even wrote a book during the pandemic. Let your creative juices flow!
    • What ideas do you have?
    • What do you want to create?
    • What do you want to experiment with? 

Having a lot of free time alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There is a lot you can do to ease the discomfort of loneliness and social isolation. Technology makes it relatively easy to connect with others, even if physical proximity is impossible. Feeling productive can also ease the pain of being alone.

Instead of focusing on this great challenge, try to take advantage of its unique possibilities. You can learn more about yourself and try out a few hobbies. You’re free to explore your interests without interference from others.

Just think – by developing other interests, when the time comes when you can reconnect socially, you’ll have a variety of new things to talk about.

If you are a Christian, I encourage you to trust God’s promise, “Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 40:10 ESV) God said that he will never leave you or forsake you. When I was at rock bottom in some of my darkest moments, I trusted God, sensed his presence, and knew that he was with me. I hope you will trust God’s promise.

Lastly, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone NOW! You’ve got to tell somebody. You’re not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get help (available 24 hours): 1-800-273-8255. Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

All my best,

Preston

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From Complications to God-Confidence

November 3, 2020
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When our daughter, Caroline, was born and severe health complications quickly ensued, Carla and I were driven to our knees, crying out to God for healing. Amid fear and fright, we sought his peace. When we felt less than confident that the story we’d imagined for ourselves as new parents wasn’t going to play out the way we’d thought, we sought God’s confidence.

Here’s Carla’s story. For the squeamish, it does get detailed.

March 1, 1994, was an incredible day. My due date had come and gone, and now Preston and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new baby girl, Caroline. Caroline arrived at 7:29 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1. We were overjoyed and felt so blessed to welcome a new, healthy baby girl into our family.

Later that afternoon, as is typical after most deliveries, the nurses came into my hospital room to check on me, take vital signs, etc. After removing my catheter, they noticed something wrong: there was urine leaking onto my bed. Several nurses came in to look, doctors were called in, and shortly after that, I was wheeled over to urology specialists’ offices. During the delivery process, we found out that my bladder and vaginal wall had been torn, therefore forming a hole through both, which had caused urine to flow directly from my bladder through my vaginal wall and leak onto the bed (or anything else).

At first, neither my doctor nor the specialists knew what to do. Once the specialists had discussed the matter, my OB-GYN (who had delivered Caroline) came in to explain these findings to us. He admitted that he didn’t know how this had happened, and, although he had delivered thousands of babies, he had never seen this before. He was concerned, and he offered to pray with us.  

The next day, we took Caroline home, but it wasn’t the homecoming I had envisioned beforehand. I went home with a catheter and wore adult continence garments for the next six weeks while we met with specialists to develop a plan that would hopefully lead to healing. During the weeks that led up to the surgery, my OB doctor would call to check on us and let us know that he and others he knew were praying for us. Many surgeons are egotistical and don’t acknowledge their humanness. This doctor was different. He was bold in his faith and humble in his approach, and, because of this, I was learning more about Christ.

There was a lot of uncertainty going into the surgery. Ahead of time, we had agreed to various approaches based on what they could find once I was on the surgical table. One method was somewhat invasive and another one much less so, but I wouldn’t know which method they would implement until I awoke from anesthesia. During the weeks leading up to surgery, our only option was to pray for a medical plan of action that would be successful, for skilled minds and skilled hands for the physicians, for encouragement, and for adequate care during this time for our new baby girl. We asked family, friends, neighbors, and everyone around us for prayer.

Finally, the morning of surgery came, and it was time for my family to leave my side and allow the staff to take me back. As I was being wheeled down to the pre-op room, I heard someone call my name. It was my physician; he had come to walk me into surgery. (He was not a part of the urology surgical team). He held my hand and prayed over me. 

I’m happy to say that the report was good when I came out of the anesthesia later that day. The team had been able to make the repairs in the least invasive way, and, thankfully, the outcome looked very hopeful!

I cared for a newborn baby for several months following the surgery while wearing multiple urinary medical devices. Needless to say, I stayed home quite a bit. It wasn’t an easy time, but it was a season when God was allowing me some time alone with him to talk things out. I did a lot of praying. 

At times, I remember wrestling with my feelings and thinking, Am I going to trust that God is good and that his plan for me is good, even if my body doesn’t function properly and I must wear these urinary devices for the rest of my life?  Am I going to trust him no matter the outcome?  

God was patient with me, and he allowed me to talk about these things out with him.  Ultimately, after spending much time in his Word, much time in prayer, and listening to godly counsel, I began to accept the fact that, no matter the outcome, God loves me and cares for me. He will always be there for me. He is my maker and my helper.

Several months went by before I could attempt going to the restroom on my own.  I’ll never forget the day I was allowed to try. Right away, I knew I was healed. God is good, not because he chose to heal me—he certainly didn’t have to do that—but because he is a good father. That’s his character. His plans are for good, even though we may not like them at the time. 

Looking back, I’m very thankful he took me on that little journey years ago. I learned to trust him, and he hasn’t failed me yet.

To add to Carla’s story, I remember sitting in the waiting room with her parents and my grandparents during surgery. We were hopeful that the procedure would be successful, but we were prepared for the worst. I’ll never forget the post-surgery debrief with the surgeon. It was as if he couldn’t believe how simple the surgery was and how well it had gone versus how he initially thought the situation would be resolved. It was a miracle. We were absolutely delighted and thankful. We all jumped for joy and thanked God for his incredible mercy. The surgery was successful, and Carla’s health was restored.

Carla and I will always look back at this milestone and be thankful for God’s answer to our prayers. We didn’t have anywhere else to turn but to God, to place our hope and confidence in him for a positive outcome. Despite daunting circumstances and an undesired prognosis, we prayed to God because we trusted him. When I saw God move and do what seemed impossible, it both reaffirmed and further established my confidence in God.

What does God-confidence look like? It’s when you move from elevating God over self. The Bible says, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – The Message). 

How does one cultivate God-confidence?

  • Seek his empowerment. 
  • Request God’s wisdom to navigate unchartered territory, make decisions, and solve problems. 
  • Seek his strength and protection to face opposition or challenging circumstances. 
  • Trust he’ll provide and ensure an outcome that works for the good. 
  • When success comes, give credit to God and be thankful.
  • If success doesn’t come, don’t let your God-confidence be shaken but let it grow through adversity. 

How different would your life look if you moved from self-confidence to God-confidence? How would your home life change? How would your organization, community, or school grow? How would your world transform?

If you sincerely trust him, God will do wonderful things in you and through you. As you make a positive difference in the world, you will be in marvelous fellowship with the One who made you. You will be engaged in his enterprises, risking your life for him and his kingdom. Focusing on God and not self will make your confidence soar, and you’ll be energized to do and achieve more than you imagined possible.

If you found this article helpful, please subscribe to my blog https://prestonpoore.com/blog/ where I explore faith, leadership, communication and human relations skills that will help you become the best version of yourself.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Pres

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I Was Bullied – My Story and Seven Ways to Prevent It

October 3, 2020
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After I became a Christian in the eighth grade, I shared my newfound faith with everyone. I hoped my relationship with Jesus would be contagious. After a few months of sharing, multiple friends called and asked if they could come to church with me. I was so excited! Some came and responded to the gospel like I had. But others decided that the Christian faith wasn’t for them. These “friends” who’d rejected the message began to reject me as well.

On several occasions, I was physically or verbally threatened because of my beliefs. I was ridiculed and ostracized by my “friends.” Being bullied became a constant pattern in my life. 

One semester, a group of tough guys began intimidating me. They’d sneak up on me and whisper, “Do you want to fight? You’d better watch yourself after school. We’re gonna kick your butt!” They were relentless. The bullies stared and laughed at me in class, followed me down the halls every day, and prevented me from getting into my locker. I was scared to death and felt like no one could help me. 

I didn’t know how to fight back. I was a scrawny, five-foot-two kid who weighed eighty pounds soaking wet. The bullies seemed like they were ten feet tall. Their intimidation became overbearing, so I went to see the school counselor. After hearing my story, he began escorting me to the bike rack after school for the next month. I’d unlock my bike, hop on, and ride like the wind, hoping to get home before the bullies caught me.

One time, I was home alone, and the doorbell rang. Two bullies were at the door. They tried to pull me outside and beat me up—in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, no less! I forced the door shut. They looked for another way into the house, calling me names as I hid inside. I tried to call my neighbors for help. No one was home. I was so scared that the bullies would find a way into my house that I called the police. The bullies left. 

My dad came home, and I told him what happened. Trying to help me, he called the bullies’ parents and had stern conversations with them. Well, you can imagine how the bullies reacted. During P. E. the next day, the bullies told me I’d pay for my dad’s calls. Their threats, intimidation, and pressure grew worse. 

Somehow, through all that, I kept my faith and prayed for God’s protection. I trusted God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I surrounded myself with other believers and found support. I was never physically harmed, but I was mentally scarred. 

Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment toward those bullies over the years and wanted to get revenge. It took a long time for me to forgive them and overcome my fear and anger. Being bullied was humiliating and embarrassing. These traumatic episodes molded me at a very early age that had a lasting impact. On one side, they taught me to trust God and persevere. On the other side, I learned how to hide my faith from others as a form of self-protection.

Eventually, I grew out of the five-foot-two frame into a six-foot-one frame. I matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My confidence grew much stronger and I’m no longer intimidated by bullies. I stick up for myself. But when I sense someone is trying to threaten me or someone else, I have a visceral reaction (i.e. hair standing up on the back of my neck) that motivates me to fight back – stand up for myself and others. This isn’t always good. At times, I can become the aggressor. I’m still a work in progress. God continues shaping me – healing the wounds from long ago, building my faith in him and moderating my reaction to bullies. He’s not done with me yet, but I know that he’ll finish what he started.

***

Statistics show that 20% of children ages 12 to 18 years old experience some type of bullying – unwanted aggressive behavior meant to hurt. Bullying comes in several forms (verbal, social, and physical) and typically occurs in a few locations (school or online). 

How do you prevent bullying? It can be complex. But based on my experience, I recommend the following seven ways:

  • Keep the faith – I ran to God and sought his help in my time of need. He heard my cries and protected me. My faith in him grew deeper because of my experience and he continues to mend me today. 
  • Speak up – If you’re the one being bullied, tell a trusted adult or authority. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask for help. It took me a long time to muster the courage to admit I was being bullied. Ultimately, I told my parents and teachers. My experience may not have lasted as long or been as acute if I’d confided in someone earlier.
  • Surround yourself – seek support, safety and solace with your friends and family. I leaned into my church youth group and will always remember their encouragement.
  • Stick up for yourself – Sometimes you need to dig deep inside and find the courage to overcome your fear. Let the bully know you’re not gonna take it anymore. I’m not condoning violence. I am condoning a deep resolve that prevents anyone from unwanted aggressive behavior. Tell the bully to stop.
  • Be someone’s hero – Don’t stand on the sidelines if you see someone being bullied. Intervene, stick up for the person being bullied, if you see something say something. I wished I had more heroes that were willing to stand up for me. Now, I try to be that hero in someone’s life that I didn’t have.
  • Build awareness and a culture of safety – Teachers, administrators, parents and students can all play a role in bully prevention. Educate everyone on what bullying is and what it isn’t. Teach respect, dignity and what to do if bullying is occurring. Learn to listen. Be empathetic. Protect others.
  • Forgive and forget – It took a long time for me to resolve my feelings of anger and resentment. I learned that it’s not good to hang on to grudges. If you do, you’ll become bitter. The path to becoming better is through forgiveness and forgetting the circumstances – move on.

To learn more about bullying, its effects and how to prevent it, visit: https://www.stopbullying.gov

Lastly, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Support prevention awareness through participating in the weekly campaigns. Visit: https://www.stompoutbullying.org/national-bullying-prevention-awareness-month

Have you ever been bullied? What was your experience? Send me a note at preston@prestonpoore.com to connect and continue the conversation. 

Cheers,

Pres

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The Email: 3 Ways to Handle Rejection and Overcome Setbacks

May 4, 2019

Ever had one of those days when you’ve labored for hours with sweat and tears on a project but encountered a significant setback? I did this week. Here’s my story. . .

Last Monday, I was leading a conference call and briefly looked at my phone to check emails. One of the subject lines caught my attention, “Changes at Tenet.” I immediately opened the email and read the grim news, “Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and our agency will be terminated”… .Ugh.

I began writing The Discipled Leader in 2010. I’ve invested countless hours on The Discipled Leaderbecause I believe its message is critical in today’s world. I ask the question, “How does one connect his or her secular and spiritual life in their business, community or school and become stronger leaders?” I believe we become better leaders through knowing and following Jesus; through discipleship. 

Since I began writing, I collaborated with two editors to complete a 10-chapter, 67,000-word manuscript. I attended a writer’s conference, began writing a bi-weekly blog, trained groups of people, attended platform building courses and employed a digital marketing firm to build awareness. I even secured book endorsements from Dan Cathy, CEO Chick-fil-a, Paul Martinelli, President of the John Maxwell Team and Bryant Wright, Lead Pastor of Atlanta’s Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. 

But my most significant milestone was signing with a literary agency, Tenet. My agent was Waldo. I’ll never forget Waldo’s call to me last April. After a long period of consideration, Tenet would sign me and represent The Discipled Leader to publishers. It seemed a lifelong dream was coming true.

The challenge is I rarely ever heard from Waldo. I’d send emails, leave voicemails, and send texts with little or no response. When I did hear from him, I’d ask about his strategy and approach. I never received specifics other than he’d sent my book proposal to top publishers and was awaiting email responses. He only told me that silence in the publishing industry is a good thing and the process may take 18 to 24 months to find a publisher. Not very assuring but I decided to trust him.

I’ve also been praying diligently for God’s help. Author and Pastor Andy Stanley says that God-given vision requires God intervention. Meaning, if God gave you a vision or dream, he will make it come true. I’ve been talking to God about the vision he gave me and seeking his help to get the book into the hands of people that need to read it.

That’s why the email subject line caught my attention last week; “Changes at Tenet” . . .

Good morning, Preston:

I am writing today to let you know that as a result of some health struggles, I have made the difficult decision to step away from agenting, effective immediately. Tenet will not be replacing me at any point in the near future. Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and Tenet will be terminated– you should expect to receive a termination letter from Tenet’s president in the next week or so. 

You are free to seek new representation immediately. If you need any guidance in this area, feel free to reach out. My Tenet email will be online through May 1st, but I can also be reached on my personal email… .It has been a privilege to work with you, and I’ll be praying for your success!

REJECTED!

I reached out to Tenet’s president for reconsideration but to no avail. He said they were keeping four of Waldo’s agented authors and didn’t have the capacity to represent me. He wrote:

It [The Discipled Leader] is an important topic, and the presentation is well done; your social media is improving steadily, but it is not yet what our publishers would consider successful. It wouldn’t be fair to your next agent to continue down the path we’ve gone, so I’ll be sending out a letter today confirming our decision. A fresh pair of eyes may be just what the project needs to get over the hump.

REJECTED AGAIN!

The funny thing is that I’m at peace with it. I truly believe that God engineers all circumstances and this setback is just part of the journey. While my search for a new agent begins again, I’ve made the decision not to become bitter or quit. I will press on. Why? Because I believe The Discipled Leader’smessage is essential. It helps people become better leaders through growing closer to Jesus, becoming his disciples. There is no higher call than that. 

***

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced rejection. How about you? Have you heard anything like?

  • We like your work and skill set, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction
  • We regret to inform you that you’ve not been accepted
  • I’m afraid we have to pass on your proposal

All of us will experience some form or fashion of rejection during our lifetimes. The question is, how do we handle rejection? Here’s what I’ve learned . . .

It Hurts: I wish I could tell you that the news I received didn’t affect me. It was tough reading Waldo’s email in the middle of a meeting and trying to stay focused. I was angry, frustrated and deeply disappointed all at the same time. I said a brief prayer to God and sought his help. I said, “Lord, if this is a vision you gave me, please intervene and make a way for this dream to come true.” Over a short period, I processed my emotions and decided not to be a victim. I shifted my thoughts and silenced my inner critic. I pivoted from doubting to believing and remembered that the rejection didn’t define me.

Remember Why: I wrote The Discipled Leaderto help others become better leaders through discipleship. I’ve seen God use the message and content to make a positive difference in many lives. The book and platform are my calling. I want to glorify God and make him know. That’s my “why.” A little rejection won’t deter me from my calling or mission.

Keep Going: Rejection can be considered a setback; an obstacle, delay or circumstance that prevents you from advancing. However, the key is to persevere, not give up and continue to take risks. I take comfort from the list of famous books that were rejected multiple times by editors, agents and publishers including Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Moby Dick, The Wizard of Ozand Chicken Soup for the Soul. Recognize any of them? I know if I keep going, something good will happen, God willing.

I’m very encouraged by what the future may hold. I remain steadfast in my mission. 

When you encounter rejection or other setbacks, I hope that you will acknowledge that it hurts, remember your why and keep on keeping on. If you do, you’ll be on the road to achieving your dream.

***

If you enjoyed reading this article and benefited by it, would you help me by doing two things?

  • SHARE the post on social media
  • DOWNLOAD the FREE chapter from my soon to be published book, The Discipled Leader. Please read it, share your thoughts with me and pass it along to someone who may benefit from the chapter’s message. Click on the header “Free Chapter” for more details.

Thanks for reading!

Pres

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Managing Micromanagers

May 25, 2018

My team and I were invited to a strategic business partner’s corporate headquarters to think about what’s possible and innovate. I viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity to retreat, bond as a team and shape our future.

I approached my manager, Kevin, about the opportunity. He hesitated and then said, “Most trips like these end up being boondoggles. Do you think you’re going to accomplish anything?”

“Yes, I do. I’m confident that we’ll come back with fresh ideas and take our business to the next level”, I replied.

Kevin said, “I have my doubts. I tell you what, put together an agenda with specific objectives and I’ll take a look. If I agree with your proposal, I’ll okay the trip.”

“Great and thanks. I’ll come back to you shortly”, I said.

Over the next few days, I collaborated with my team and our business partner to develop a very specific agenda and desired outcome. Then, I shared it with Kevin. A chronic micromanager, he asked us to make multiple changes to the plan. Once the topics were aligned with Kevin’s feedback, he begrudgingly agreed to let us go.

My team jumped into action and made the necessary coverage arrangements to ensure we could break away with limited distractions. We activated our email out of office messages notifying internal customers that we were out for a short time and provided backup contact information.

The next day, we loaded the van and headed to our destination. My team was beaming with excitement and anticipation. They’d been on trips like this before and understood the potential our retreat held. As we drove, we connected on both personal and professional levels. We talked optimistically about how we could advance our vision of being industry leaders and indispensable partners.

When we arrived, we were escorted into our business partner’s innovation lab where all of the futuristic designs inspired us. Next, we moved into a creative thinking lab to begin formulating ideas and developing plans.

Then, the first email hit… And another… And another. A series of 10 or more emails from Kevin appeared on our iPhones within 30 minutes. He was following up on projects, providing feedback and checking in… Just to let us know he was there.

His last email’s subject line read, TURN OFF YOUR OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGE.

In the body of the email, Kevin wrote that having our out of office message turned on sent the wrong message to leadership and internal customers. It was our job to be accessible at all times regardless of what we were doing or who was covering for us.

I thought to myself, “Ugh. Really? If that isn’t micromanagement, I don’t know what is.”

I looked around the room and saw discouragement, frustration, and anger on my team’s faces. Some became distracted and anxious. Everyone began to disengage from the creative thinking discussion mentally.

At a break, I gathered my team to ask their thoughts about the emails. They shared with me that they went to great lengths to ensure our time away would be productive and distraction free. They wondered if it was a mistake to take the trip. Kevin’s micromanagement tendencies surfaced, and the team felt disenfranchised.

I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them that I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them to not make a mountain out of a molehill and turn off the out of office messages. Lastly, I asked them to stay focused on the purpose of our meeting and ignore distractions.

The good news is that the team returned to the meeting and developed a visionary plan. Also, I ran interference by answering Kevin’s emails and asking the team to turn off the out of office messages. By engaging Kevin on behalf of the team, I was able to assuage his need to feel in control. We didn’t hear from him again during our trip.

***

Micromanagers can be burdensome. I know from personal experience. Here’s what I learned:

  • Remember Who You’re Working For– If you keep your eyes on God and embrace the fact that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless the circumstance. The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT)
  • Submission Is Key– It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad boss…. But when you do, God is pleased. The Bible says, “You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re treated badly for no good reason. There’s no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. (1 Peter 2:18–20 – The Message)
  • Bite Your Tongue– I disciplined myself to communicate in a positive way and to not show irritation if I became frustrated. The Bible says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 – NLT)

In spite of desperate circumstances, I grew leaps and bounds during the three years I worked with Kevin. I learned to cope with his management style in the short term. Eventually, I realized that Kevin’s style and mine weren’t compatible, the intense micromanagement I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role.

I challenge you to apply the above principles, and if you do, you’ll manage through a micromanager.

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Let Go of Resentment

March 16, 2018

Our manager, Kevin suddenly charged into the room and sat down at the conference table.

“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!” he exclaimed.

“Hi, Kevin. How are you today?” I said with a smile trying to lighten his mood and begin our meeting on a positive note.

Kevin replied, “I don’t have time today for small talk. Let’s go through your presentation and determine next steps.”

Over the next 15 minutes, Peter, my teammate, and I presented three different promotional displays to Kevin. We discussed the construction, benefits and potential cost of each display. Kevin seemed to like the options and asked how we could gain national customer team feedback.

The conversation came up once before, and I recommended that we use an internet survey. Kevin turned it down the first time. During this discussion, I thought I’d revisit the survey option. After I mentioned it, Kevin shook his head and said, “Nope, already rejected.”

I gently pushed back and asked him to reconsider. I began my response with, “I don’t mean to challenge you but….”

Not good. As soon as the words left my mouth, Kevin’s face turned red, he slammed his computer shut and shouted: “But you are challenging me, and I don’t appreciate it!” Throwing a tantrum, he got up and began to walk out of the room. Wanting to solve the issue, I followed him out the door. I asked Kevin to wait a moment and told him that I was just trying to make a suggestion. I told him I didn’t appreciate being treated that way, especially in front of a team member.

Kevin said, “Are you going to confront me in the hallway right now?”

“No,” I said staring at the floor. He told me we’d talk later and walked away. I went home deflated.

The next morning, Kevin called me into his office. When I arrived, he asked me to sit down. Then he said, “I am going to tell you some things, and you cannot respond.”

I looked at him inquisitively and thought, “I’m in for it; this can’t be good.” He was about to give me feedback. He told me that he wanted me to think about it and then we’d talk again. So, I sat in silence ready to listen.

“Preston, I was relatively easy on you yesterday. Other executives would have torn you to shreds.”

“Really?” I thought to myself.

“You’re not helping me, you’re not being a team player and you don’t listen well. You’ve got to change or you’ll be out of a job.” I held my tongue honoring his request and thanked him for the feedback.

I walked away from the conversation madder than a hornet. I was highly offended. I’d worked very hard, accomplished so much but Kevin always marginalized me.  Kevin retaliated by implying my job was in jeopardy. A molehill was made into a mountain, and I resented Kevin for it. As a matter of fact, I resented Kevin and his management style for the two years I worked on his team. My constant feelings of bitterness were taking their toll.  What was I going to do?

***

All leaders experience resentment from time to time. What is resentment? It’s an emotion that wells up inside when you feel like you’ve been mistreated or offended. Hard feelings, frustration or anger, can come from any number of sources including not gaining someone’s respect, not receiving appreciation for a job well done, not being assigned to a special project, being passed over for a promotion, an unspoken apology or rejection. Resentment is the most toxic of all emotions because it can lead to anger, hate, discord, divorce, aggressive driving, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, and even violence.

If you hold a grudge against someone, the bitterness will fester inside and eventually destroy you. It begins as an emotional trigger and if harbored will become a mood impacting behavior. Resentment is a heavy burden you carry affecting your relationships and health. As the adage goes, “Bitterness is the poison one swallows as he or she hopes the other person dies.”

If resentment is so dangerous, what is the antidote? Forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you stop blaming him or her for the offense. You let go and move on. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)

How do you forgive someone?  Employ the four steps to forgiveness:

  1. Acknowledge your anger, then drop it and move on – It’s okay to be angry but don’t allow it to last. Let go of the anger when offended or wronged by someone. Don’t harbor it. Anger can lead to hate and violence. Resentment will break you unless you break it first. Put down the poison and move on
  2. Stand in their shoes – Realize that everyone is perfectly imperfect. The Christian leader remembers God forgave him or her and that same mercy should be shown to others
  3. Respond with good not revenge – Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Ask God to change your heart and enable you to return the offense with a positive reaction. Practice the Golden Ruledo to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember, love is patient, kind and doesn’t seek its own way
  4. Pray – Ask God to forgive you and enable you to forgive the one who offended you

Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment for years. I often dwell on circumstances and people when I feel disenfranchised, demoralized or undignified.  In the above story, I let my manager get the best of me. I should have taken responsibility for my words and actions.  I didn’t need to challenge Kevin after he’d made a decision or chase him into the hallway to confront him. I needed to exercise more self-control and give him space. It would have been better if I’d approached him later, apologized and asked how I could help; personal leadership lessons learned that I applied to future situations.

The good news is that I recognized the impact bitterness was having on me and those around me. I discovered that the best antidote to resentment is forgiveness. I let go of my grudge, and my well-being improved tremendously; I no longer felt the weight of bitterness. I found that my mental outlook improved, relationships healed and I felt much better.

How about you? Do you resent someone? Are you holding a grudge? If so, how is it impacting you? What will happen if you continue holding on to the resentment? Are you willing to forgive the individual? Why not forgive that someone today? If you do, your well-being will improve, your relationships will heal, and you’ll be a more successful leader.

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Don’t Lose Hope

March 2, 2018

The phone rang.  I stared at it with anxious anticipation. The call I’d been waiting for would reveal my future with the company. I’d been through a series of evaluations and interviews to keep my current job.  As my heart began racing and sweat beads formed on my brow, I answered the phone.

“Hello, this is Preston.”

“Hi. This is Ted. I’m calling to let you know…”

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, you may have received a similar call.  And, you’ve experienced the effects of organizational change – uncertainty, layoffs, or downgraded compensation. I’ve been through 10 restructures in my career.  I liken the process to running for Congress – every two years you’re up for re-election, and if you’re elected, you begin your next campaign immediately.

The topsy-turvy corporate world can be exasperating and disheartening.  It can bring one to utter despair. The challenge is to remain hopeful. You might say, “But Preston, I hear all the time that hope isn’t a strategy.” If hope isn’t a strategy, what is it?

Hope is a general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled, a promise will be kept, or a better future is on the horizon. Hope provides internal energy, motivation, and courage. I’ve heard it said that someone can live 40 days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, and only 4 seconds without hope.[1] Why is hope such a crucial part of life and your well-being? It energizes and inspires you to keep going.  Without hope, you will begin to think circumstances will only get worse and give up.

How does someone remain hopeful in the midst of challenging events?

Pray – For the Christian, start with connecting with your source of hope, God. Take your concerns to him and seek his guidance.

Don’t lose heart – In tough times, continue believing that you can succeed. Think about your past achievements and recount your strengths.  The circumstance doesn’t define you. Seek God, and he will strengthen you.  Jesus’ words provide confidence, “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33b – The Message)

Manage Self-Talk – Did you know our thoughts shape our beliefs and actions? Our challenge is that 7 out of 10 thoughts we have are negative.  Stop listening to the lies you tell yourself and focus on your strengths. Replace the lies with the truth.  What would happen if you increased the number of positive thoughts to 5 or 6? How? When self-doubt creeps in, and I’m experiencing despair, I’ve found it helpful to pause and say an affirming phrase ten times to myself.  It helps change my mindset from negative to positive.  For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I’m a weak and unworthy person,” say “I’m a strong and worthy person.” Or, rather than saying “I can’t do anything”, say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Change your “I can’t” to “How can I”?  Also, set your mind on constructive thoughts.  The Bible says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8 – The Message). If you do these things, you’ll win the battle of the mind.

Keep a long-term perspective – Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Remind yourself that life is a journey and challenges are opportunities to grow. The Bible says, “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” – (2 Corinthians 4:17–18 – The Message). Keep your head up, look to the horizon, and expect a positive outcome in the long run.

Face reality and take responsibility – Accept the fact that life can be backbreaking. Then, objectively evaluate your challenging circumstance and define the problem you face. What’s the worst that can happen? What are all of your options? How can you improve upon the worst? Once you answer these questions, take ownership. Embrace the opportunity to change and intentionally determine to grow through the circumstance. Think, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” As a person of faith, I prescribe to the thought, “work like it’s up to me and trust God like it’s up to him.”

Plan, act, and persevere – Once you’ve faced reality, taken responsibility, and determined the best option, be intentional and go for it. Put a plan together.  Develop goals and move in the direction you’ve chosen.  Look for quick wins and build momentum.  Above all else, never give up. If you plan, act, and persevere, you’ll begin to experience success. The road ahead will be different than you expected, harder than you anticipated and potentially more rewarding than you imagined. My mentor, John Maxwell says, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.”

Back to my story… I picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Preston.”

“Hi. This is Ted. I’m calling to let you know you will be retained by the company.”

I’ve gone through the cycle of uncertainty to certainty many times.  As you may recall, I wrote earlier that I’ve been through 10 organization restructures.  As I write this article, I’m currently in the midst of my 11th org change.  Once again, I’m struggling with all of the self-doubt and uncertainty that comes with the unsettling circumstance.  I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do know that God is faithful and I’ve placed my hope in him. Whatever does happen, I know that he is good and will lead me to where he wants me.

My friend, when faced with a dire circumstance, my charge to you is to pray, not lose heart, manage self-talk, keep a long-term perspective, face reality and take responsibility and plan, act, and persevere.  If you do, you’ll be filled with hope and succeed in whatever path you choose.

How about you?  Where do you place your hope?  How do you make it through tough times? I’d love to hear your story.  Thanks for reading and please share this message with someone in need of hope and encouragement.

[1] Maxwell, John C., Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, Hachette Book Group USA Day One 2013, p. 93.

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Develop a Growth Mindset

January 15, 2018

Personal and professional growth occurs when you are placed in harsh, uncomfortable and challenging circumstances.  You may encounter adversity, calamities, delay, denial, loss, failures, mistakes, errors or miscalculations.  That’s okay.  The challenges you face are an opportunity to learn and grow. How you respond is what counts.  It’s a choice.  You can become better or bitter through the experiences.  You can turn to God or from him.  Your response will make all the difference.

The Discipled Leader has a Growth Mindset – a belief that he or she can learn, grow and get better; talents, strengths, skills, and abilities can be developed. If you have a Growth Mindset, you’ll have a higher capacity to learn from your trials. You’ll be more apt to risk and learn through failure.  You’ll be okay with the ambiguity, complexity, and change that comes with leadership.  You’ll be able to regroup, reassess and move forward. Growth-minded leaders live and learn.

Leaders also find ways to grow through education, training, mentoring and coaching.  Knowing that growth is a process and not an event, leaders make the intentional decision every day to learn something new. They purposefully move out of their comfort zones and into the discomfort zone – where growth happens.  Lastly, they recognize that every situation they encounter will prepare them for the next one.  I challenge you to develop a growth mindset as you live and learn.

 

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Preston Poore

I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.

As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.

Let me help you reach your potential.

I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.

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