Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Last week I had to endure what I thought would be two and a half grueling days of leadership training at work. I envisioned hours locked into a poorly lit room, flashing thousands of PowerPoint slides in front of my weary eyes and lots and lots of buzzwords like “innovation”, “integration”, “collaboration”… my job is indeed full of them. Of course, most of those things did still occur, but I was pleasantly surprised with what has happened as a result of that mandatory training.

Those who know me intimately know that the last year at my job has been very challenging for me… emotionally, personally, professionally and just about any other “ally” I can think of. Knowing that God uses challenges like these to shape our character, I know that he’s doing something with all of this time; time in which I believed I needed to move on to bigger and better things. Doors have opened and closed quickly in that arena, leaving me feeling deflated, defeated and uncertain about my professional future. Obviously, God has other plans for me. Though I trust that his plan is better than mine, it can be rough to actually let that control go and believe that something great is being worked on in and around me.

One of the activities that we were asked to do as a result of this training was to develop what is called a Personal Leadership Philosophy (PLP). I had never heard of such a thing and had a difficult time understanding what it was until we were handed a sample. I read the sample and thought, “this is brilliant”. We were then presented the challenge of writing our own. I was tempted to copy the sample we were given… after all, it said a lot of the things I believe. But, I wanted to accept the challenge of self-reflection, which is difficult for me.

Writing a PLP dares you to answer some tough questions like, “Who are you? What are your values? What are your beliefs? What are your skills? What are your likes and dislikes, and hot button issues?” Ultimately, the goal is to get you to make a statement of your leadership style, but most us found that it brought out so much more. I talked to a few co-workers who admitted that they thought about it after work, on the drive home and throughout the week. I felt the same. This assignment has ignited something in me, not only to write this statement, but to really start to reflect on not only where I am in life, but WHO I am.

I wrote the PLP and have posted it on my bulletin board at work. Finishing it was optional, but I felt that it was important. I read it daily. I’ve posted it below:

An effective leader always leads by example. I cannot ask anything of someone else if I’m not willing to, at the very least, try and model that behavior myself. I believe an effective leader has strong moral values, conviction and is always seeking to grow and evolve. An effective leader listens, accepts feedback and criticism and is always looking to improve, both themselves and the environment they work in.

Who I am at the core:

  • I believe in God and strive to live a good Christian life. I fall short every day but believe in the greatest gift; forgiveness.

  • Apart from God, my husband, family and friends are the most important thing in my life and will always come first.

  • My favorite place to be is at home with my loving husband. Nothing feels safer or more comfortable and time is never more precious.

  • I want the best out of life and want to experience it to the fullest. I have a long list of dreams and look forward to crossing them off, with a great story to tell at the end of it all.

  • I take pride in being on time and putting in the necessary time to get the job done, but I am not a morning person. I arrive early because it takes me a while to “get into gear” and I can’t make big decisions until I’ve broken through the “morning fog”.

I desire to be a leader that:

  • Is honest and displays integrity and character.

  • Encourages and inspires those around me.

  • Embraces diversity and fosters an environment of unity and trust, free from intimidation, prejudice or close-mindedness.

  • Is approachable, social and personable to everyone that I come across.

  • Models good organization and a clear plan and goals for the future.

  • Is trustworthy, fair and responsible with an open ear, always willing to listen.

  • Laughs every single day and does not take life too seriously.

  • Thinks before she speaks.

  • Practices humility. My successes are only because of those around me. I will always share the celebration of success with my team and those who’ve helped me. I do not like to be in the limelight.

I am encouraged by:

  • Dedication and commitment. Do what you say.

  • Clear communication. Say what you mean.

  • Active democracy and teamwork which encourages the sharing of ideas and feedback. Simply put, let’s work together. I believe there are no bad ideas or wrong answers. Contributing anything is always a win.

  • Personal development and continued learning, training and growing; personally and professionally.

I am disappointed by:

  • Making decisions about people or situations based solely on perceptions and assumptions and setting those decisions or attitudes in stone.

  • Gossip, rumors, manipulation and an overall environment of negativity.

  • A working environment that is messy, chaotic or unsafe.

  • Doing things “the way it’s always been done.” Change is good and needs to be embraced and explored. Innovative and creative ideas are what drive our success.

  • Lying, finger-pointing, and not taking responsibility for one’s actions.

  • Acting out of anger or bitterness and harsh words spoken as a result. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not be more wrong. Words always hurt.

This whole assignment has become so much more to me in recent days. It’s allowed me to take a long hard look at who I am, professionally and personally. I love who I am and how the events of my life have shaped me into who I am, but I’m always looking to become BETTER. Another challenge our facilitators asked us to try was to write on paper what our goals were and to be specific and detailed. I’ve been working on that list as well, and though I won’t post it here, I am encouraged to really embrace this.

It’s also opened up a lot of questions to me. What do I really want to do? Where do I see myself in a year, two, three…? What part of me needs work? What I am putting aside because of the business of life? What makes me truly happy? I don’t want this to sound like some kind of crisis. I have anchors in my life that mean to world to me – my loving husband, my wonderful family, friendships, a sweet home… and more blessings than I can even list. I guess I just appreciate my eyes being opened to things I hadn’t really been thinking about.

Maybe this is what God is working on in me?


One thought on “Reflecting on life and all it’s mysteries

  1. The Habben's says:

    Love it! You and I are so alike in so many ways. I really wish we lived closer and that we had maintained a close friendship over the many, many years now that we have known each other. You are such a gem and I am thankful to know you!

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