Category Archives: counseling

Whining – The Achilles Heel Of Leaders

Whining

I was thinking about great leaders – you know – the ones that inspire trust and confidence. One quality I readily recognized was their ability to manage their emotions. In times of stress they are able to express feelings like sadness, disappointment or anger with dignity and restraint. You rarely hear a great leader whining, because they know they will lose respect from those they lead.

What is so bad about whining? It is a not-so-subtle way of blaming. It is a form of giving up power and shunning responsibility. Those are not qualities that we seek in a leader. We want our leaders to show strength in the face of adversity. We want them to be able to bear the weight of challenges and crises.

On the receiving end, I have observed that leaders are drained by whiners. Show me a leader with a heart, surrounded by a bunch of complainers, and I will show you a tired and frustrated man or woman. The great leaders are not crushed by them, but are burdened with the extra, and often unnecessary load.

I am sure that all you moms and dads out there would agree. Whining kids (especially teens) can make the day seem longer than it should be. And ask a husband or wife with a perennially whining spouse if they look forward to going home after a long work day.

You don’t have to be the leader of a country or large corporation to qualify as a leader. Any collection of people will have a leader, if only informally. Every family has a leader. For 27 years my partners and I led a small business and it was a challenge to keep our complaints among the three of us and not share them with our employees. I acknowledge that we failed many times, and then had to deal with the fallout. I know we lost respect.

 If you are a leader what can you do?

First and foremost a leader must have a safe place to process their feelings. They must be able to release the negative energy that builds up around responsibility.

Secondly a leader must be intentional about communication. He or she must have a good “filter” and rehearse important messages.

Thirdly, a good leader must develop a tough skin and manage what may feel like personal attacks. Often the opposition is to the situation rather than the leader herself. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it really is a direct hit.

Lastly, a leader must expect that whiners are part of the package. Choosing or accepting a leadership position means that when things get tough or go wrong the leader will become a target. They must demonstrate care for those who are challenging them. In short, they must be the calmest and most mature person in the room.

Are Family Getaways Good For You?

Getaways

As I sit here in our hideaway in the mountains I realize the value of down time for couples and families. Nan says “I feel younger here.” For me I just feel more engaged and connected. Both of us tend to be over-responsible by nature. I guess it’s a family of origin issue long ingrained by years of reinforcing behavior. Whatever the reason, if we’re home, we are never far from our jobs.

When at home the simple tasks of everyday life seem more rushed and intrusive, whereas when we are away they are the leisurely fillers of our day. Cooking is an adventure rather than a necessity. Going marketing is another voyage of exploration. Who knows what we may find? When we are away we talk more to each other. We read more and dream more.

That’s the way we approach time away. You may be very different. For you time away may mean not having to attend to the mundane at all. What might bring you joy is abdicating the routines of daily life and letting someone else attend to them. Your goal is just being together without any responsibilities and going at your own pace. Or perhaps it’s a recreational pursuit or exciting journey that brings you refreshment. No problem.

We have discovered that many families that seem to have elevated levels of conflict at home do very well when they detach from routine. Time away together restores and renews them. Often they return from vacations vowing to spend more time taking breaks from the daily grind. Those that actually follow through seem to grow in their relationships.

There is another group that brings their conflicts with them into their down time. They fight on vacation. They fight on dates. They complain that their partner doesn’t spend time with them – in the midst of  their partner spending time with them. They can turn ice-cream into vinegar. Perhaps what they discover is that they don’t really like each other that much. Or they just bring selfish and negative attitudes with them wherever they go.

I love where Paul the apostle says in Philippians that he has achieved contentment in all circumstances. What a great perspective to have! I must admit that I am not there yet, but I do get a lot closer when I am able to detach for a while.

Kids love time away. It’s often what they remember best after they have grown into adults. Although my family brought conflict with us on vacations, I wouldn’t trade the great camping adventures we had in the California mountains and beaches back in the 1950’s and 60’s.. It was something we took with us into our marriage, minus most of the conflicts.

We highly recommend that couples get away regularly without the kids as well. Even a night or weekend away can do wonders for a stressed relationship. Yes, you adore your kids, but sometimes you need the lover in you to be set free. That suppressed childlike  part of you needs to come out and play. By the way, it’s never going to happen if you don’t intentionally prioritize and plan it. So start a “getaway fund” and contribute to it regularly. If you put it on the credit card you will just create more stress.  Now get out the calendar and circle some dates.

I Kissed Dating Hello

 

dating

In the Christian world, so much has been written about dating. The “wise advice” has gone anywhere from don’t do it, to only date to get married, to pedal to the metal.

I am a balanced kind of guy. I try to stay away from the extremes, considering them danger zones – just look at politics, diets, medical interventions and temperature. So when it comes to this subject, I stand back a ways and try to get a perspective.

For those who would think to avoid dating altogether, I would ask “ Do you think you can make a good choice without spending time with someone under a multitude of circumstances?” Often attraction is developed over a period of time. Your dating partner often becomes better or worse looking the more time you spend with them. They become more three dimensional as you experience their behavior and character up close.

How about those who say only date someone with the intent to marry them? The truth is, dating can be pretty stressful to begin with. When you add this dimension, the fun often goes out of the process, and so does the objectivity that is necessary. I often joke that when women (in particular) hold this position, they begin naming children and ordering wedding dresses on the second or third date. And this often sets them up for a potentially  painful break-up if they have “played the movie forward” to this extent.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the too casual type of dating. At the extreme it takes on a hook-up and break-up mentality. I have heard it cynically or distastefully described as “hit it and quit it” thinking. There is no way to square this away with a Christian belief system. The Bible rigorously teaches on sexual purity. There is grace and forgiveness, of course, but wisdom says not to push the envelope in your dating.

Dating: A Balancing Act

So what is the balance point? In my mind it would be this: Don’t date with an intent to marry, but don’t date someone you couldn’t or shouldn’t marry. It’s easy to attach to someone if you spend time with them. A lot of the counseling we do is the result of mismatched couples ignoring “red flags” early in the relationship. Their feelings for each other were strong, but their suitability as marriage partners was discounted.

Dating should be easy and fun. When we remove as many of the unnecessary complications as possible, it can be delightful and exciting instead of anxiety producing and stressful.

Determine in advance what your deal breakers are. Don’t be afraid to voice them. This is especially important if you decide to do online dating. “I am looking for a mature committed Christian of good character, close to my age, with no addictions and financially responsible.”  There, you said it. Was that so hard? Isn’t that truthfully what you would want? So now go ahead and go on a bunch of dates and don’t be afraid to keep looking until the right one comes your way.