Crucial Crucible

Every leader has experiences, often traumatic, that test who they are and sometimes transform who they are. Leadership guru Warren Bennis calls these moments “crucibles” and they require leaders to “examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment.”

As much as the descendants of the sons and daughters of the confederacy would like to view Robert E. Lee as a hero, in his crucible moment, he choose …despite some misgivings… to lead the effort to secede from the United States for the purpose of keeping a people enslaved.

That does not make him a hero….

Some crucible experiences illuminate a hidden and suppressed area of the soul.” ~ Warren Bennis

Inhale Vision, Exhale Oppression…
Inhale Test, Exhale Treason…
Inhale History, Exhale Revisionary…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Project

Projection of our fears onto someone else or even into the future usually leads to fear-based decisions. We “what if” our way out of focus, make decisions with our blurred vision and wonder how it all went wrong.

The Man said, “The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it.” God said to the Woman, “What is this that you’ve done?” “The serpent seduced me,” she said, “and I ate.” Genesis 3: 12-13

Inhale Real, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Reality, Exhale Projection…
Inhale Right Now, Exhale “What If”…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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World Vision

What is your vision for your world? What does the world look like when you are serving in your purpose? The world is waiting on you…what are you waiting for?

When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ~ Audre Lorde

Inhale Vision, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Faith, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Belief, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Sight

A young activist, whom I’ve grown to respect, recently spent some time traveling outside of his south Chicago neighborhood. The experience opened his eyes, impacting the way he viewed his neighborhood, leaving him disillusioned…desiring more for himself, his family and those he has worked so hard to help…dreaming of a better life.

You can’t be what you can’t see.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

Inhale Vision, Exhale Confusion..
Inhale Desire, Exhale Delusion…
Inhale Dreams, Exhale Illusion…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

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Grace

I found this poem, Letting Go, by an unknown author in Pastor Charles “Chuck” Swindoll’s book, The Grace Awakening.

It’s become my favorite new thing because saying grace is easy … LIVING grace is hard.

“To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off,
it’s the realization that I can’t control another.
To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
I can only change myself.
To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.
To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.
To let go is not to be protective;
it is to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny,
but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes.
To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more!”

Inhale love, Exhale fear…
Inhale love, Exhale fear…
Inhale love, Exhale fear…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

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Renewal

Our cells are renewing daily; if they weren’t, we would die. If we are not also growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, we might as well BE dead. We have to develop our spiritual muscles through prayer, meditation and study, exercise our emotional muscles by being present in our relationships and just like we would our biceps or pectoral muscles, flex our mental muscles through exposure to new information.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 2 ESVbook-912724_640

Inhale Growth, Exhale Regression…
Inhale Labor, Exhale Laziness…
Inhale Production, Exhale Decline…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

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Break With to Break OUT!

Moving toward a desired destination sometimes requires severing ties with habits, behavior and people we were previously associated with and connected to. But the discomfort and pain is temporary as long as we keep moving forward.

It’s when we get stuck in the pain that a break with can lead to a break down instead of a BREAK OUT! Process, but don’t wallow in the pain. Keep it moving.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Inhale Break With, Exhale Discomfort…
Inhale Break Through, Exhale Pain…
Inhale Break Out, Exhale Breakdown …
Just Breathe…

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Decision Making Secrets … from Sequence!

I played the board game Sequence for the first time over the holidays. I know it’s been around for a while but our family usually plays Bid Whist so it was new to me. If you’ve played the game, you know it can be kind of slow…unless you have trash talking Bid Whist players at the table! If you haven’t played, the object of the game is to place 5 poker chips on a board in sequence based on the cards in your hand.

It was a great demonstration of how people make decisions. Some spent (what seemed to me) an interminable amount of time pouring over the board, looking at their hand, back at the board…I kept suggesting we incorporate a timer!

Others seemed to go with their gut… or maybe they had a predetermined plan. But most players took their time to make the best decision.

Why people make the decisions they make was also on full display. Those motivated by a sense of competition were of course significantly more vocal than those who just like to perform well.

I’m a pretty quick decision maker so once I picked up the basics, I was off to the races … when I finally got a turn. But I missed at least one opportunity to win the game for my team because I was so focused on MY plan to Sequence, I didn’t see it

Isn’t that how it is with leadership? You see an opportunity, formulate a great plan but fail to get a win for your organization because things have changed by the time you’re ready to execute. I was reminded of three keys to executing a plan of action that I learned in the Air Force.

Make sure your execution plan is flexible enough to react to new realities.

At one point in the game, I was so busy fending off efforts to block the sequence I was trying to create in one corner that I missed a chance to complete a sequence on another part of the board!

A plan is a great way to help you focus your vision but don’t let your plan turn into blinders that prevent you from seeing what else is going on. Circumstances change; make sure your plan is a springboard not a concrete block!

Communication is key to executing your plan.

In Sequence, team members CAN’T talk to each other; in business, they often choose not to. But the beauty of a team is the diversity of perspectives. So first, make sure your team is as diverse as you can make it to include gender, race, age, strengths, experience, etc.; second, make sure you are creating space for all member to point out the pitfalls of your plan as well as protect it to mission accomplishment.

Sometimes to see the perspective of the other person, you have to sit where they are sitting, be where they are or trust them to make the decision.

I realized that I was missing possible sequences primarily in one corner of the board. That’s because from where I was sitting, they didn’t look like sequences. I had to rotate the board and look at it from all angles to see ALL the possibilities.

Your reality is really your perspective; your team members may have different perspectives. Simply communicating conflicting realities may not result in understanding; sometimes intense interrogation and even immersion in information that is unfamiliar is required. But getting all the information available to determine the best possible action is worth the discomfort.

Good leaders are able to articulate a vision and plan of execution that attracts those who see themselves contributing to the vision. Great leaders invite their team members to expand the vision and create the best action plan.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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American Experiment: Hypothesis Disproved?

“America is an idea” Bono.

America is a great idea. It’s an idea full of hope. It’s an idea that speaks freedom, shouts equality and invites peoples from all over the world to pursue happiness HERE…youshouldbeherebanner

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Of course, the truths espoused in the American Declaration of Independence have never been true for all Americans. America has never willingly extended unalienable rights to all its citizens unless they demanded them. For those segments of the population whose rights were initially and deliberately withheld, the 2016 election seems to be a repudiation of everything fought for, hard-earned…never given. Like many Americans, I’m left wondering if America can really ever achieve its promise

Social and cultural psychologists like Jonathan Haidt, one of the creators of the Moral Foundations Theory, would seem to suggest it’s going to be really difficult. In his widely read piece “What Makes People Vote Republican?” he describes a conservative mindset that sees in diversity a breakdown of social norms and feels a decrease in a sense of belonging to a shared community. Haidt suggests the more liberal among the population focus on those conservative concerns and adjust their rhetoric accordingly.

But if the conservative, predominately white part of the country sees diversity in negative terms, what does that mean for an increasingly diverse America? alt-right-protestersIn a generation, America will no longer have a majority white population. If the determined 25 percent of the country who voted for our 45th president, decided an unqualified candidate, one supported by American terrorist groups like the KKK and spouting fear and division, was the president we deserved, are we supposed to believe they won’t support the repeal of rights gained over the past 50 years? And if the 50 percent of the population who didn’t vote is tired of fighting, too cynical to believe their participation matters or too disengaged to understand the impact of their non-participation, will there be enough to prevent what may be coming?

In the long run, the only way the American Experiment will survive is if we all recognize the fragility of our Republic and work together to overcome the fragmentation that threatens to break it apart. Tweet this now.

I pray it’s not too late.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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Action

“God does not place His promises in our hand, He places them within our reach, which means we have to do our part.” ~ Priscilla Shirer

You’ve heard a version of this story: Man in peril (sailboat capsized in the ocean, stuck on the side of a mountain, floodwaters rising, etc.), we’ll call him Paul, cries to God for help. Rescue comes in various forms, but Paul does not reach out to be rescued. And then he drowns or falls to his death, depending on the version of the story. When an angry Paul encounters God, he asks, “God, why didn’t you save me?” And God says, “Paul, I did MY part” …and He lists the various forms of rescue.

The point? Paul, described in at least one version of the story as faithful, did not do his part. He confidently expected God’s response to his request and his faith was justified. But he didn’t take action; he didn’t do what he needed to do to activate his faith.

I use this story for a lot of concepts … expectations, opportunities, etc. but this week as I’ve armored up, it occurred to me that it’s a great illustration of the faith-activating action referred to in Ephesians.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6: 16

Inhale Action, Exhale Apathy…
Inhale Caring, Exhale Cynicism…
Inhale Resolve, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

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