Monday, July 16, 2007


This is a reflection on my thoughts from yesterday, Sunday. For some, Sundays are spent in church; for others it is a day of rest; and for some it is a day spent working/doing but usually with family and friends. However you spend your Sunday/Sundays I hope you take the time to reflect on your personal blessings in life...Jana

Today was a day filled with hope and renewal..

I spent the morning exhausted and a little defeated r/t our less then stellar showing at a fund raiser the night before. I had staff who volunteered to work/help only to have a small crowd show up. I felt that I had failed at something, and had failed them as well by asking for their support, only to have a dismal showing. Those of you who know me; know that defeat and failure are two things that do not bode well in my mind. I will usually respond in retreat and withdrawl mode and become somewhat pissy. (A little personal descriptive word that I have heard more then once from others r/t my moods). In the past I would find a good comfort food, a book and spend the day feeling sorry for myself and "blaming" the world for my failures. Again a bit of personal information, but probably true for many of you as well....

But alas, It was not to be; as I had made a commitment to attend a function in the afternoon. So, I got up, dressed, and off I went to the house dedication of the habitat house we had volunteered hours for. This house, is a home that was purchased/built for a C.N.A. from my staff. I was a few moments late, but arrived in time for the "service" portion of the dedication. This home was a co-sponsored build by Thrivent for Lutherans, a financial/service organziation that coincidentally I am a member of.

As I listened to the Pastor speak to the blessings of giving and receiving and God's grace in both I found a sense of peace. It was a moment of clarity for me as I watched my staff member and her family glow in the joy of their new home and the overwhelming emotion that they were experiencing from the gift of this home. It made me think of my own life and the blessings I have been given, and yet fail to recognize in my "self pity" moments. Sound familiar?

Our lives are abundant with blessings if we take the time to recognize them. Even in the failures, we can find a gift. In fact, the failures are sometimes the best blessings and lessons. Of course as I sat and listened to the sermon, and then when my young staff member was able to say thank you, that I found myself in tears with her. (yes, I know no great surprise again for those who know me). This time my tears were of the happy variety, and a little for my own sense of gratitude that I have been blessed abundantly in this life and have failed to recognize just how blessed I truly am. I have my health, my family is healthy and thriving; we own our own home and are financially stable, I have a great job that I love; and people who love and support even the silliest of my ideas. Yes, I have been blessed.

It was in this moment of watching someone achieve something that many of us take for granted, owning a home; having a place to call our own; that brought the reality of it all back to me. Perhaps it is because we are socialized to always "want more" that we forget to count our blessings. Perhaps it is just our own personal drive; what ever it is; we need to stop and take time to reflect and appreciate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Safe Peer...

Last night in class, we ended our team discussion; with a tangent discussion about why our class group works well together. This conversation led to the topic of giving and receiving support and feedback to/from "safe" peers. What do I mean by safe peers?

A "safe" peer is someone who usually has no connection to your "company/organziation" work, they are not your competition, your superior, or your subordinate. They are someone who shares professional role equality/or roles with you; but are not necessarily in the same line of business or work. To put it in lay man's terms; they understand your pain.

It was a fascinating discussion; and something that I had really not thought much about. I am fairly fortunate, and an oddity in that I am a pretty straight forward person, and trust my superiors and my subordinates with an abnormal amount of personal "stuff"...However, what about those days when I just feel like an island? You know what I mean...all alone, with no one to share my frustration or paradox with, what do you/I do?

Now imagine...Your behind on your work that is due in; so you don't dare call your boss to vent, (the first thing out of their mouth could be where is it)? You really can't blame them, I am sure they are experiencing their own angst with you.. If you call one of your organizational peers, they will probably empathize, but then nature will take over and they will "share" your story. Competition between company/organizational peers being what it is; nothing feels better or gives more power then "information" about a peer that could become a negative in your collective bosses opinion... (Don't even try to deny that you are always above sharing information about a peer that could make you look one is that perfect).

I started to think about who my "safe" peers were, and what role they have played in my personal development or personal mediocrity. I came up with my list, and it was surprising to find, that I have developed a fairly strong safe peer group over the past four years. The interesting side bar in this; is that I consider two of these individuals to not only be professional peers(both in totally different lines of work but in management), but also people whom I am personal friends with.

I then thought about who am I a safe peer for, and what is my role for them? Can I be a better peer to them with increased honesty and real feedback? What can they learn from me, and what can I gain from them?

As a peer "group" my class is diverse. We represent all age groups, a few religions; we are all over the political spectrum; and we have varied career paths/goals. But the one thing we all agreed on; was the power of group support, discussion and feedback on issues that we face as leaders and managers. Getting someones idea, or view point about your particular issue can be critical in developing your own leadership tool box. Having a group of "safe" peers can help you develop your skill set and broaden your arena of ideas, and solutions to the day to day frustrations or issues we all face as leaders.

We ended our discussion with this thought; if you have not developed a "peer network" are you simply stagnating at your leadership role? Is it not critical to have someone that you can bounce ideas/issues off of; and then take their feedback and put it to work for you? How do you continue to grow without someone to give you feedback and insight into your problems or dilemmas? Perhaps we have stumbled upon a new research topic for a paper; but more importantly, it is a topic worth thinking about if you are a leader, manager or working toward personal growth.