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Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

by Eric Scalise, PhD on May 16th, 2022

My wife and I remember the day quite well. Our identical twin sons came home from school one afternoon—only a couple of months before their high school graduation—and announced they had decided to enter the United States Marine Corps. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were still fresh in our nation’s psyche and military operations were already underway in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As parents, we had visions of college and “safe” jobs with a future. When I sat down with our sons, I wanted to make sure they clearly understood all the inherent risks associated with the decision (i.e., a parental lecture), including the reality that Marines, in particular, are usually the first to go into any combat environment. One of my sons looked at me and calmly said, “Dad, how do you know God might not be asking me to die for my country?” End of conversation; now, we dialogue with God on our knees.

When parents observe their teenage sons and daughters wrestling with important choices pertaining to the future, it can be tempting to step in and “do the work” for them. Perhaps this is because of the tendency many parents have to vicariously derive at least part of their own identities and worth through the lives of their children. Mothers and fathers must allow their children to establish a measure of ownership and accountability. A fundamental axiom of human nature to keep in mind is that people usually take better care of what they think belongs to them, including their decisions. For some, it means finding the right career path with job security and for others, the desire to simply live out their dreams. However, it is equally important for parents not to take for granted that young people are automatically informed consumers. The critical key is to find a healthy orientation between providing useful information and guidance and then balancing that with personal responsibility.

The years between 18 and 24 are often characterized by a heightened awareness of identity development. Typical questions might be: Who am I? What do I really want to do in life? What am I good at? What and who is important to me? This process establishes the foundation for one’s unique individuality, which is then more fully expressed during later adulthood. From a developmental perspective, several important tasks must be addressed by young people. These include achieving an adaptive autonomy from one’s parents; formulating a healthy gender identity; internalizing an appropriate set of values, beliefs, and morals; and making primary career choices. Although the process is often seen as influenced by familial, social, and school-based factors, the concept of spirituality as it relates to career development is becoming increasingly relevant because of the complex, transitional dynamics and interconnectedness normally associated with this period in a person’s life.

In addition to understanding normal developmental stages, there is a need to acknowledge that the 21st century is increasingly characterized by globalization, the management of information, rapid technological advances, and sociocultural change. It is a fast-paced, push-button, instant everything world. While many young adults are still motivated by potential paychecks, altruistic needs remain high on the list, especially for the millennial generation. The implication is that young people entering the workforce have a significant desire to seek meaning, purpose, and fulfillment from their roles. Indeed, the word vocation is derived from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call.” For many, their career paths are not merely something they do, but also incorporate a deep and passionate sense of calling.

For young adults to effectively navigate these sometimes-turbulent waters, research continues to focus on the importance of self-efficacy as a good predictor of proactive career decision-making. Self-efficacy typically refers to an individual’s ability to successfully approach tasks associated with making choices and to engage them with a high degree of confidence and commitment. Positive family and social support are often difference makers. Young adults need to have the freedom to explore their options, to ask their questions, to develop their self-identities, and to do so in an atmosphere of support and respect.

As John Trent and Gary Smalley point out in their timeless book, The Gift of the Blessing, not very much has been written about how young adults or their parents should approach the reality of leaving home. The authors, drawing on the Old Testament concept of “blessing” among Jewish families, describe the process as incorporating the elements of meaningful touch, a spoken message, expressing high value, something that pictures a special future, and an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass. They further identify certain home environments where the blessing can become distorted. Reasons include an inequitable distribution in how love and affirmation are expressed, when the blessing is placed out of reach, where the blessing is exchanged for a burden, when the home is more like an emotional minefield, where unfair family roles are in operation, and where only part of the blessing is received. The good news for parents is that there are often ongoing opportunities to affirm and bless children, at least in terms of self-concept and in giving permission to rewrite their life scripts.

God Himself recognized the need and value of affirming His Son. As John the Baptist was lifting Jesus out of the Jordan, God’s own voice lovingly expressed His approval and said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, BSB) When our two sons headed off to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, 17 summers ago—knowing that for a time, they would be outranked even by the mosquitoes there—we simply said, “We love you. We believe in you. We bless you. We are so proud of you.” The letting go process is crucial to the cycle of life, and while harbors, much like homes, are usually places of safety and comfort, they are not what ships were built for. May we always keep the next generation in mind and pass the baton with grace, wisdom, and a joyful blessing.

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

by Rita Murray, PhD on May 4th, 2022

Communicating Across Generations 

Generational gaps between us in the workplace are growing both in number and in size. The ability to spot and bridge them has become a critical competency for leaders, life coaches, and more. Our current obsession with digital connectivity has certainly changed the nature of communication and given all of us far more options to reach out to others. It has also spurred conflict in the workplace, as many millennials feel held back by inflexible or outdated working and communication styles. What are the roots of this conflict? Different generations tend to favor and rely on their preferred communication tool. Check out these differentiating insights.

Traditionalists – Born between 1920 – 1946

In the 40’s and 50’s, there was a model of fixed working time and place suited to the industrial age. Communicating face-to-face had a known human element to it—no anonymity. Families gathered around the radio for news and entertainment. Farm and assembly machinery represented the type of work equipment this generation encountered and used most frequently.

Baby Boomers – Born between 1947 – 1964

In the 60’s and 70’s, computers were too big and expensive for home use. Businesses used mainframe/minicomputers to process data for decision-making. Younger “Boomers” discovered “dumb terminals” in college and high school where they keypunched code and solved certain kinds of problems.

Generation X – Born Between 1965 – 1980

This generation was shaped by a culture of gadgets and tools in the 80’s and 90’s, foremost among them was the personal computer (PC) introduced in the early 80’s. This innovation helped foster a sense of personal and private initiatives among “Gen Xers.” Portable for use in homes and schools, the PC became a way to gain a competitive edge in an expanding global economy.

Millennials – Born between 1981 – 2000

First wave Millennials (born 1981-1990) entered a workplace of browsers, email, the World Wide Web (WWW), Windows, cable television, Google, and WiFi . . . learning together how to connect and communicate. Second wave Millennials (born 1991-2000) gained greater autonomy over where, when, and how they worked through various “smart” devices. Thus, the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred, and most prefer to communicate electronically rather than face-to-face or over the telephone.

Cloud Generation – Born since 2001

Smart personal devices and social media tools have always been available anytime/anywhere to members of the Cloud generation and their “the sky’s the limit” orientation. Expect accelerated and intense clashes over communication as more than eight in ten of this generation say they sleep with a cell phone by their bed. A generational lens provides a powerful and easy-to-use “set of handles” to actively engage in asking, discovering, observing, exposing, and communicating vital information and ideas relevant to maximized engagement across the generations. Healthy relationships require deep and meaningful personal connections. Our Generation Translation Workbooks and Interaction Guides help you learn more about these generations and how best to use that information to improve relationships and increase your own effectiveness. Everyone benefits. It’s never too late to get started on refining your generational intelligence (GQ). Can you hear me now?

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at GE and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Rita frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. She has a particular gift for explaining the different perspectives of each generation and personality types to create a bridge of understanding toward healthier business relationships and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Rita resides in Moore, Oklahoma, with her husband, Ron. See more at: www.performanceok.com

Second Half Romance: The Best Is Yet to Come

Second Half Romance: The Best Is Yet to Come

by Eric Scalise, PhD on April 18th, 2022

Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, once said, “Men always want to be a woman’s first love and women always want to be a man’s last romance.” My first date with my wife was an absolute train wreck and something I have worked diligently to erase from my memory banks. As I recall, everything that could go wrong . . . and more . . . unfortunately did. I spilled popcorn and soda on her at the movie theater, accidently turned right into two lanes of oncoming traffic when we pulled out of the parking lot, and inadvertently left her standing in the rain after we finished having a bite to eat. Why? Because I lost the car keys. Yes, this all happened in one glorious evening, and that’s not even the whole story. Of course, my beloved maintains I was distracted and merely falling hopelessly in love with her, but I just didn’t realize it yet.

When we went on our second date—two years later (honest)—things went considerably better. We began to fall in love and I knew she was “the one.” I also remember our first kiss. I thought a gentleman would certainly ask, so I looked at her nervously and said, “May I kiss you?” This was followed by total silence. Ladies, this is definitely not playing fair. I waited a few seconds and then said somewhat haltingly, “May I please kiss you goodnight?” Again, nothing but complete silence. My graduate education had simply not prepared me for this critical relationship moment. What did I do? I responded a little tongue-in-cheek and said, “What’s the matter . . . are you deaf?” To which she immediately replied, “No . . . are you paralyzed?” The rest, as they say, is for marriage conferences and articles on romance. Our love grew, we eventually married, and this year we will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary—still the best of friends, lovers, and soul mates.

Human beings were created in relationship, through relationship, and for relationship. Why? So God could reveal Himself and we could know Him. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes, “That which is known about God is evident within us; for God made it evident to us. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (vv. 1:19-20). Later, Paul provides additional context in Ephesians 5:32 as a “mystery” which is revealed through the holiness of marriage—an institution representing a tangible metaphor regarding the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.

Let’s pull the curtain back for a moment and go to the beginning of the story. Genesis opens with a palette of unlimited splendor, a breathtaking expression of the Creator and His nature. Much like an artist, God steps back and takes perspective—His passion and glory emerging on a canvas that was once empty and void. There are words of light and life spoken before the darkness. The design is good. The joy is definitive. This is followed by a crowning achievement: His image bearer formed out of the very dust of the earth, and behold, it is very good. He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Then the determination is made that something is not good—man is alone and has no expression for the beauty and intimacy found in the Trinity. Imagine for a moment you are walking with the Lord in the Garden during the cool of the day, enjoying conversation and fellowship with your Creator, when He looks at you and comments it is not good for you to be alone. Had we been there, we may have wondered about the meaning of this peculiar statement. Surely, with God’s literal presence, we could never be or feel alone. Yet, He was speaking about our very nature. The truth is we were designed in such a manner that we also require human relationship along with the divine.

God was not done yet. Woman was fashioned out of Adam, “Male and female He created them” (vv. 1:27). Marriage is acknowledged as part of the heavenly blueprint, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (vv. 2:24). The stain of sin has yet to mar the finished work, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (vv. 2:25).

One flesh—the physical union between a man and a woman—is symbolic of our capacity for the koinonia demonstrated between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is a sacred intimacy at every level—full of unabashed pleasure, joyful celebration, total commitment, and mutual sacrifice, and devoid of all guilt, shame, self-centeredness, malice, jealousy, and unrighteousness. Here, within the sanctity of marriage, we can now see the image-bearers expressing the covenantal agape originating in and through the Image Giver. The relationship is to be held in honor and the marriage bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).

The intimacy of marital relationships is profound and holy from a Christian context. It can be viewed as the bringing together of all the attributes of God once again, into a place of perfect unity and love. No wonder Satan hates this imagery and will do anything he can to destroy the beauty of God’s design. Every marriage, especially those which honor the Lord, as well as every union between a believer and the Savior, are visible reminders God is One.

So what keeps a relationship and, more importantly, a marriage vibrant, healthy, and full of committed love? For many couples, the second half of their married life together is represented by what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, described in his seventh stage of psychosocial development: Generativity vs. Stagnation. Erikson stated, “A person does best at this time to put aside thoughts of death and balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase, by whatever is yours to give, the goodwill and higher order in your sector of the world.” Here, adults express the need to fashion or nurture things that will outlast them (e.g., by having children, creating a positive change to benefit other people, sustaining meaningful relationships, impacting the kingdom of God, etc.). Success in these endeavors can then lead to a sense of usefulness and fulfillment, while failure often results in a more superficial, and occasionally more destructive, involvement with the surrounding world.

Some of the primary questions related to this period of generativity are the following: Will we produce anything of real value? What will our legacy be? What can we do to establish and guide the next generation? Stagnation, on the other hand, is characterized by self-absorption and a dissatisfaction with one’s relative lack of accomplishment and productivity. Perhaps nothing relationally (apart from one’s faith walk) embraces more potential when it comes to these two constructs than the formation of an enduring marriage. There is a long history in the research literature base supporting the notion that the relationship between marital quality and global well-being differs between men and women, with men placing greater value on marital status (the content or individual components of the marriage), and women on marital quality (a sense of overall marital satisfaction). In many ways, marital happiness contributes more to global happiness than most other dynamics (e.g., work, friendships, leisure activities, etc.).

Building the right foundation during the first half of a marriage is a key factor when it comes to cultivating an environment for success in the later years. Many researchers and mental health experts assert that both intimacy and the ability to communicate well on an emotional level are critical to overall marital satisfaction. Kindness and generosity also show up as factors again and again. Love, passion, romance, commitment . . . these things are like fire and, if you think about it, the nature of fire is to go out. Fire consumes everything available and, once the source of fuel is exhausted, it will often die down and go out on its own. This is why firefighters go ahead of an advancing wildfire and start a controlled burn in what is referred to as a backfire. The theory suggests if the source of fuel is eliminated by the time the main fire arrives, it will be easier to extinguish, or perhaps even self-extinguish.

Marriages and marital dynamics can function exactly like fire. If a husband and wife—who have primary responsibility before God in this matter—are not separately and jointly putting the necessary “fuel” on the relationship (e.g., time, attention, kindness, a servant’s heart, date nights, patience, humor, friendship, joint decision-making, forgiveness, a sense of ownership, etc.), then there is a greater risk of love, as the primary fuel, running low or even running out. When differentiation (a healthy and balanced sense of self and personal identity), a lack of emotional cutoff (a willingness to engage with one’s partner), and reduced emotional reactivity exist between a husband and wife, marital satisfaction increases over time.

The broader conclusion from the research on marital stability and satisfaction demonstrates that religious practice and integration do play significant, positive roles between husbands and wives. The Psalmist calls people “blessed” if they “delight in the law of the Lord.” How true for any couple. Their marriage “will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in due season and its leaf does not whither” (Psalm 2:1-3).  So too with second half romance. Rejoice in the wife (or husband) of your youth and you will never stop loving, serving, cherishing, laughing, and praying with your best friend (Proverbs 5:18). Christianity, often captured in the symbolism of marital union, is a wonderfully romantic love story about the passion and desire of God for relationship. “And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Ambushed by Anxiety

Ambushed by Anxiety

by Georgia Shaffer, MA on April 4th, 2022

One coaching client emailed me saying, “I’ve lived with stress all my life; however, I’m not handling it as well as I used to. I need tips on how to walk out of my office, even when there are still plenty of items on my ‘To-Do’ list. I need to learn how to shut off my brain at night so I can sleep. I’m not only more anxious and tired, but having more headaches.” 

In highly motivated people like this woman who emailed me, I have found it is often anxiety or feeling chronically overwhelmed that not only zaps their energy, but also interferes with their ability to focus and their overall wellbeing. For many, it is easy to get trapped in a negative cycle that results in a poorer quality of life. Of course, with the pandemic today, people are struggling with fear more than ever.

Obviously not all anxiety is detrimental to our health. These kinds of feelings can also motivate us to take action. Nevertheless, constant anxiety and unresolved stress are what research suggests lead to increased moodiness, insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches or a compromised immune system.

You can help yourself resolve some of the overwhelming anxiety by first asking yourself multiple questions. Could I be trying to do too much? Is this just a difficult, challenging time? Do I need more sleep? Or . . . is the issue deeper?

I knew the particular client I mentioned above had been gradually working later and later into the night. Her most productive hours, however, were in the morning. Working longer at night allowed her little time to relax. Since she went to bed tense, she had problems falling asleep. The next morning, she often felt sluggish and had difficulty concentrating. When she did not meet her deadlines, she anxiously worked later, attempting to catch up, and in doing so, continued her nonproductive cycle.

For her, the solution was to begin by leaving the office earlier, then allow more time to wind down at night before she tried to go to sleep.  She found that she slept better and was more productive at work, even though she spent less time there. Once she broke the habit of working late, she experienced a dramatic improvement in her ability to rest and productivity.

Maybe you struggle with anxiety, but in a different way. Perhaps you know what you need to do, yet are paralyzed and unable to change. For example, my client told me, “I know I’m not eating well or exercising regularly, but I’m stuck. I know what I need to do, but I can’t seem to do it. I’m only becoming more anxious and then I self-medicate with more junk food.”

As a coach, I was able to empower my client by giving her support, encouragement, and accountability. Together, we broke things down into ordered doable steps. She made the first step simple and easy, and focused on that. Then she focused on the next step on the list. Each step of the way she was encouraged to challenge her self-doubts and negative thinking and celebrate her progress while continuing to be held accountable for the goal she had set.

Listed below are a few additional few tips you can use to help a client overcome toxic anxiety or improve your overall health and productivity.

  1. Learn to Unclutter Your Mind
    A cluttered mind is an anxious mind. An uncluttered mind has room to hear God’s voice and experience His presence. Like Martha in Luke’s Gospel, our minds can be filled with all kinds of demands and deadlines. Like Mary, we need to make the choice to clear out the junk and make space for our Lord and His wisdom, peace, and love.
  2. Seek Peace through Prayer
    In Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT), Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Make a list telling God exactly what you need. Then make another list of things God has done for which you are grateful. Give God both lists, resting and trusting in Him to be with you and guide you throughout the day.
  3. Stay Connected
    Being connected to people who will encourage you is critical in managing toxic worry. Whether you talk with a coworker, a loved one, or caring friend, you will feel better if you are able to verbalize your frustrations and concerns to a good listener rather than stewing over them alone. 
  4. Let Go of Your Agenda
    A desire to control your life and make things happen according to your timetable leads to more tension, stress, and exhaustion. Instead of holding tightly to your agenda, choose to surrender it all to God.
  5. Rest, Eat Well, and Exercise
    If every little thing overwhelms you, then it is always time for some rest and good nutrition. It is amazing how much smaller your problems appear after a satisfying meal and a good night’s sleep (See 1 Kings 19:1-9). Any activity requiring physical exertion—lifting weights, jogging, cleaning the house, and digging in the dirt—can release endorphins and reduce anxiety.

Georgia Shaffer, MA, is the Founder and Executive Director of Mourning Glory Ministries, a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation. She has authored five books, including the best-selling Taking Out Your Emotional Trash. Georgia is a sought-after speaker, has been a media guest on numerous outlets, and developed the ReBUILD after Divorce Program. For more than 25 years, she has encouraged, counseled, and coached those who are confronting troubling times. From being a cancer survivor who was given less than a two percent chance of living, as well as someone who has personally faced the upheaval brought by divorce, single parenthood, and the loss of career and income, Georgia knows the courage, resilience, and perseverance needed to begin anew. When she is not writing, speaking, or coaching, she enjoys working in her backyard garden. It is there she loves to garden for her soul. See more at: www.georgiashaffer.com

Confessions of a “Control Enthusiast”

Confessions of a “Control Enthusiast”

by Rita Murray, PhD on January 24th, 2022

“Hi, I’m Rita and I’m a control enthusiast.”

The concept of psychological “type” proposes that one of the first things we notice about others are certain behaviors in the ways they orient, speak, approach, and/or present themselves (i.e., what they make public). Of the four MBTI® (Myers-Briggs) scales, this blog, this confession, is about the fourth scale.

What about you? Do you prefer a structured, orderly, controlled, and well-planned lifestyle (Judging) . . . OR do you prefer a flexible, spontaneous, freedom-loving, and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?

These two psychologically opposite approaches are the most “dramatic” and are at the root of more conflict between two people than the other three scales. Compare and contrast these “public” approaches:

  1. Judging (J) – “the control enthusiast” – This person is self-regulated and self-disciplined (i.e., uses checklists, is goal achievement oriented, watches the clock, checks the list, and monitors their calendar as they seek closure through control by the elimination of all surprise). They are also more directive and formal in their approach. Judging types tend to speak in a decided/closed and declarative voice, favoring the use of words ending in “ed” (e.g., decided, planned, finished, concluded, etc.).
  2. Perceiving (P) – “the freedom-lover” – This person is flexible, pressure-prompted, non-directive and adaptive (i.e., seeks to stay open through the freedom of alternatives and options, gets their sense of control by being time-flexible and process oriented, and makes choices only when they are necessary). Strict plans are kept to a minimum, decisions are avoided or put off, and it’s difficult to settle on one direction or plan. They are also more facilitative and informal in their approach. Perceiving types speak in a more questioning/curious tone, filled with “in-process” words ending in “ing” (e.g., planning, deciding, finishing, concluding, etc.).

Is it possible that process-oriented and pressure-prompted Perceiving types may be at higher risk for academic, life and love, and/or business failure? You be the judge. At the core of Judging (J) is the need for “control” – of time, of space, of self, and of others. At the core of Perceiving (P) is the need for “freedom” – in time, in space, for self, and for others.

Personality type differences demonstrate that a Perceiving approach to the outer world is different than the Judging approach, not necessarily better or worse. Your MBTI results indicate your preferred way of doing certain things. It’s not designed to measure emotional maturity, intelligence, psychological or mental health disorders. And while type preferences influence the behavioral habits we develop, type theory suggests that in any situation, we have the following choice: use our innate preferences or decide that it’s more appropriate to use the non-preferred opposite:

Too much Judging and not enough Perceiving, which leads to prejudice OR

Too much Perceiving and not enough Judging, which leads to procrastination

A Confession: I am grateful I gained greater awareness of my natural, innate preferences in my mid-twenties when I completed the MBTI, absorbed the book Gifts Differing, and validated my preferences. For the first time in my life, I had an objective lens to fully realize, embrace, and understand the “pathways and pitfalls of a control enthusiast.” It was the start of this lifelong journey of developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and practicing “humble inquiry,” a process gained through knowledge and observation, to study others and treat them with respect regarding their preferences and, most importantly, to help me “flex” and use my non-preferred opposite when it’s more appropriate. And, when I do lose my joy, this understanding of being a control enthusiast helps me relax and often laugh at myself. It also helps that I married my emotionally intelligent Perceiving husband, Ron. We innately and respectfully use type language every day as we navigate our “public approach to life” differences.

Control Enthusiasts unite and support “Perceiving voices” . . . Too many Perceiving voices are silenced by the Judging ideals of control enthusiasts. Join me and champion the message that flexible, less-structured, and more spontaneous strategies are also effective, and, for Perceiving types, they are indispensable. What about you? What is your preference – J or P? . . . Remember, you can and do use both preferences at different times and in different situations, but which one of these, Judging or Perceiving, is your public face to the world?

Note: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at General Electric and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Dr. Murray frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. See more at www.performanceok.com

Hope: The Second Most Powerful Force for Change

Hope: The Second Most Powerful Force for Change

by Dwight Bain on January 17th, 2022

The business community and many organizations have an old saying, “Hope is not a strategy,” in reference to wishing, dreaming, and longing for better results. However, far too frequently, this comes without any tangible indicators for change. People can be like that as well. How many times have you said something like one or more of the following?

  • “I hope he/she will change.”
  • “I hope traffic won’t be bad on my way to the concert.”
  • “I hope my teacher gives me better grades this semester.”
  • “I hope my boss won’t be mad for coming in late . . . again.”
  • “I hope my mom and dad will finally accept my partner as a loving person and stop complaining.”

Anything sound familiar? Statements such as this are often based on the flawed thinking that by merely saying the word, “Hope,”it is akin to uttering the well-known Disney phrase, “When you wish upon a star . . .” In reality, this is more of an unfounded wish based on personal desires with nothing to back it up outside of one’s own opinion. That’s why it fails.

Wrong thinking brings wrong conclusions . . . never results. Is there a better way? Absolutely!

Clinical research into the brain has shown how nerve pathways (white matter) flow out from the brain cells (grey matter) to create profound change. We now know hope actually is a strategy because of the emerging neuroscience on epigenetics and neuroplasticity. The brain follows nerve pathways, which are reinforced with repetitive thoughts for good or for bad. A simple way to remember how these “neural pathways” are formed is this, “Brain cells that ‘fire’ together, ‘wire’ together.”

Consider the horror of the war in Vietnam. Thousands of soldiers were affected; many were captured and tortured like former Sen. John McCain. However, instead of being defeated by his prisoner-of-war status, McCain came back driven to do more for his country and became a respected United States Senator who also ran for President of the United States. How did he acquire that strength? Hope. Read about his life story and you will come away with the profound sense that he never gave up on freedom. He kept the hope of a better day alive in his thinking, even from within the confines of a terrible concentration camp and prison cell. McCain may not have known the future, but he did know what he believed. Despite the worst of circumstances, he had hope and that hope supercharged his thinking with new power to press on.

Life stories such as this are why I read the biographies of others who have overcome their own challenges with deep hope. They fuel me with deeper hope. When I read the words, “Hope in the Lord,” I am reflecting my confidence in God’s strength and power instead of my own.

When I read Scriptures about hope, it is a reflection of the power source that kept people like King David, Moses, the Apostle Paul, Jeremiah, Joshua, and every other character outlined in the Bible, moving forward. They put their hope into God’s hands. They prayed for His will to be done and then kept going. They did not view hope as a selfish outcome; rather, they hoped for God’s outcome. They did not “wish” for others to change, but allowed God to change them first. They did not pray for comfort, but prayed for the courage to press on in hope. And that blessed hope changed the world, and still has the same power to change your world and your outlook on life as well.

Hope is about you and what God can do inside you. When you read these verses, what do you hear? “‘I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

You see, hope isn’t a new force. Hope has always been there, just waiting to be awakened inside you. Hope isn’t about wishing for the other person to change. Hope is allowing God to stir up your gifts, your potential, and purpose in your corner of the world. God does want to change others . . . He may want to start with you first. When Paul maps out the sources of power in 1 Corinthians 13, he talks about three emotions – Faith, Hope, and Love. All three are better strategies than simply wishing for someone else to make your life better because all three start inside you. 

You can think better thoughts and you can pray for God to change your situation. Just remember . . . prayer is answered first inside of you. When you pray for God to change you, your situation, or at least your outlook, will change and your deepest hopes will be realized. Why? Simple. Hope really is a strategy.

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