Identity Change

Who Am I – Identity edition

The Heavens Reveal…but Could Never Contain Our God (photo: Darker Than Black, stjerner – Bakgrunnsbilder)

Science has afforded me structure to engage in and enhance many of my career pursuits over the last few decades as well as to help me update or upgrade my previous notions on things such as health prescription, relationship counseling, parental coaching, spiritual advising, etc.  I was watching the science channel the other night because I’m enthralled with outer space and pretty much all things astronomy.  This particular show was describing The Big Bang and how our universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old.

Even though I am a devout Believer, I’ve never eschewed the role of science nor do I get uncomfortable with man’s attempt to observe, study and describe his surroundings.  My faith in what I believe enjoys the scrutiny and only grows in strength when tested. (1Cor 4:20-21)

However, I did give my imagination the opportunity to consider what would happen if I completely gave my mental constructs over to evolutionary design without any input from a creator with specific intentions for His creation.  You see, with my understanding of how man was created to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, in addition to being a new creation while loving his neighbor and endeavoring to live by the Spirit through Jesus Christ, I was made to develop leadership skills that would invite others to discover and implement their own strengths and pass the encouragement on to their social circles…a light (freedom) in the proverbial darkness (pick something that stops you from being all that you are passionately able to accomplish, ie. fear, pride).  I could go on and on but instead I wanted to try taking off that particular crown and instead claim another identity…for fun, of course.

planarians

Hi, Uncle Mike!

I am an evolving combination of cells and living tissue—no more, no less.  I have no control over how my cells will become something else and thousands or millions of years later those dna may develop long arms and 4 hands to handle all the emerging computer technology and my gluteus maximus may double in size to accommodate a career full of seated activities that become the norm in an intelligent and less active society.  That would be great actually because I still lament the homecoming game my senior year where I didn’t make a dramatic game-winning catch and 10 extra feet of arms and legs would definitely have made me an instant high school hero.

ok, let’s see…Nope!  I tried to feel a spark of empowerment and world-conquering readiness and I just couldn’t seem to pull it off.  I think I’ll stick with Psalm 139:14 for now.

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 Who you think you are scripts the life you lead

Since one of my personal LeadershipDude philosophies states that “Identity precedes Action”, I must therefore design a personal ecosystem to support that biological identity.  If I am a cell, then my ONLY goal is to survive.  Cells don’t live or die because they are happy, sad, lonely or elated.  Cells shrink, grow or maintain equilibrium because they have adequate nutrients and are supported by adjacent and/or related systems in the body.  Type I Diabetes, for instance, causes the body to attack itself [kind of like a husband and wife who make vows before witnesses that their love will weather any type of relational hurricane until death they do part and yet they eventually become the worst of enemies.] and destroy cells that should help the body function better.  So the body needs an exogenous source of insulin in order to prevent death.  Wow, that really stinks.  A group of cells that are at war with itself does not bode well for any organism’s future.  What exogenous substance do your cells need to survive the life you’ve created for yourself?

I’m not sure how our cells ever overstepped the boundaries of simple multiplication and became an elaborate network of interrelated systems run by a cerebral center of operations.  The statistical probability of a planarian uncle of mine eating a donut, catching a touchdown pass, attempting to play an electronic version of a song entitled “Canon in D major”, copiously reading leadership articles and feeling exuberant joy during a kiss on his daughter’s forehead are indeed difficult to calculate and yet exactly what I have encountered this year.  Oh what amazing cells we have!

How does a cell evolve from mechanical movements and energetical functions into experiencing consciousness, emotion and optimistic hope for his fellow man?  Does Darwin have an accurate timetable for just how long that evolutionary timeline takes to enable?  Many human reductionists have sure made the attempt.

How does a cell then pretend to receive, encounter and enjoy a spiritual relationship with a divine being that engages back through scripture reminders, revelatory thoughts, visions, rescues, healings and/or any other miraculous interaction between the natural world and whatever else lies outside of that man-controlled world?

The mere act of prayer itself is miraculous.

Prayer through speech or thought is sent out in any direction and somehow lands in the receiving line of God’s eardrum.  It’s similar to the symbiotic relationship between efferent and afferent neurons that allow your body to react to tripping over an object and reflexively brace for a fall before your conscious mind has the time to consider how that puddle of dirty water is going to look on your new white jeans.  Somehow a circumstantial response that “magically” or “coincidentally” meets the objectives of the needs that I have as a finite, yet needy human emerge from nowhere and my life moves forward with thankfulness and gratitude that I am known and loved by Lady Luck.  Right?  Think what you like because you are free to do so, however, my answer is unequivocally…WRONG!

I am not just a conglomerate of cells in unison working for survival.  I am a man with a purpose and destiny who is loved dearly by his creator and called to partner with God to “redeem the time” and be a steward of the people, time and opportunities that He allots to my journey.  I stand on this perspective and invite others to consider something similar for their life.  Discover what Proverbs 16:9 states for you…In his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

I have clients who do believe that life just happens and their job is simply to analyze the roll of the dice and react accordingly.  If bad stuff happens, their cells will just deal with it.  If good stuff happens, their cells will keep functioning as usual.  They’ll enjoy the temporary smile (possibly) and party like it’s 1999.  (Don’t hate, I’m a child of the 80’s.)  Although I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint, I respect and honor who they are as individuals and remain committed to finding helpful coaching points that support the acquisition of their goals.

So what’s the big deal with all the turmoil, division and angry banter that religious and non-religious people engage in on Facebook and other social media meeting grounds?  Lack of unity and agreement on who the real enemy is as well as which arguments are worthy of debate and discussion is definitely near the top of the list.  I don’t have immediate answers for world peace but I do have answers for individual reflection and that’s where we’ll procede from here.

Identity Precedes Action

People in the consulting business utilize many strategies to solve a problem.  We get paid and become revered in our industry when those strategies legitimately accomplish what we say they can accomplish.  My approach to training elite NFL and NHL athletes consisted of searching for cutting edge technologies and methodologies that other strength coaches weren’t even aware existed.  This necessitated countless late nights of study and experimentation even before the rise of Internet access to information.  Because I believed that people deserved the best, I needed to become the best.

Interestingly, the more time I spent with people, the more I realized that people don’t necessarily change because they need or want to change.  They change because they believe they CAN change.  [Again, I utilize a lot of Dr. Prochaska’s Stages of Change Model and my experience closely correlates to Precontemplation.] People with the belief that they are either uninterested or unworthy of accomplishing a different result for their future are very hard to work with…even when they pay you to help accomplish that very task.  Conundrum anyone?

Cardiac rehab patients, pre-adolescent children, prenatal moms, pulmonary restricted, college golfers, overweight dads…you can change the circumstance but you can’t change a very simple truth:  Who you think you are scripts the life you live!

This is our identity.

Identity Change

Mid-life crisis is the opportunity that men get to re-engage and enjoy their pubescent immaturity, uh, I mean…it’s the belief that if a man can experience a new environment that (temporarily) looks and feels exciting on the outside, it’ll manifest absolute joy and fulfillment on the inside.  It’s the search for a new identity but it often leads to destructive choices and irrational desires that can lead to seemingly impossible dead-ends.

Much time, energy and money has been wasted on advice to fix our situation that ultimately ended in futility or disaster.  There is no shortage of action items to solve a problem.  Many things can be purchased.  New clothes.  New face.  New car or house.  More positive friends.  New attitude to get chicks.

The good news is that I have found a much more concise and successful approach to helping clients successfully overcome issues that involves less time, less money and yields exponentially more results.  I didn’t create it.  I borrowed it and applied it individually for the unique needs of the person I was coaching.

The bad news is that most people lack the openness, humility, trust and willpower to implement a major change.  Not because they’re lazy.  Unintelligent.  Poor.  Homeless.  Lonely.  Rejected.  Divorced.  Barren.  Overwhelmed.  Abused.  No, none of these plights or conditions render a person unable to achieve a different life…a better life.

It’s when you believe your circumstance defines you that you get hammered the hardest by life.  That is when you lock yourself into a virtual prison that begets a series of self-fulfilling prophecies.  The endless cycle of disappointment and failures begin to convince you that you deserve nothing better and any attempted rescue from the outside world is not only frowned upon but something that should be shunned and avoided at all costs.

Perfect Theology

I feel so heavy thinking about how many millions of humans have endured perpetual heartache and disappointment.  Yet, we always take courage in hearing the stories of the brave hearts and courageous lions who believed in something more and left this earth with no regrets.

Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author (beginning) and perfecter (end) of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of God.”  Talk about no regrets.  Jesus Christ is perfect theology.  I see a question…and He becomes the answer.

A woman deserves punishment because she committed adultery.  He says she deserves life.  John 10:10 states that Jesus came so that we might have life…and have it more abundantly.  A tax collector deserves rejection and isolation.  Jesus said He’s going to his house today.  A lame man makes the ground his bed.  Jesus invites him to get up and walk…and keep walking.  1000’s of people are starving.  Jesus says eat until you’re full…and they do.  They can drink and never be thirsty, too, because He is living water that never runs dry.  If you are a Believer…that He was, is and is to come…or that those who are in Christ Jesus are a New creation, then it’s time to live fully in THAT identity rather than the brokenness you’ve come to accept as an adopted guardian.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”  It’s not hard to see that a world that was given to us to take care of and steward has been neglected, abused and mishandled.  The repercussions of it affect all of us.  Yet, we don’t have to be defined by negative effects.  We actually get the opportunity to redefine it through the supernatural relationship we have with Jesus Christ.

To the extent that He becomes your reality, is the extent to which your true identity will be transformed and you will discover the abundant life that Jesus gave you as your inheritanceThat truth has changed my life and it’s changed the lives of countless others. 

It doesn’t mean you get to be happy all the time.  It doesn’t mean you’ll become a wealthy, healthy and problem-stealthy person but it does mean you will walk with inescapable joy and peace.  It also means that the prison cell you created for yourself will remain unlocked regardless of how many times you decide to take a nap on your old bunk.  He who the Son sets free…is free indeed! (john 8:36)

Thanks for visiting LeadershipDude and remember we’re always available for coaching individuals or group seminars.

 

 

 

 

4 TieRs of Leadership

4 TieRs of Leadership

Have you ever known someone who looked great on the outside but was an absolute mess on the inside?  Have you ever known someone who desired to improve some aspect of his/her life but seemed to encounter road blocks that were too insurmountable to overcome?  I have been that person and I’m sure every reader of this article has been there at some point.  Take one look at a Hollywood actress or famous musician and chances are that you are looking right at someone adored and envied by millions who is struggling to deal with the reality of unhappy or unfulfilling personal circumstances. I have invested over 2 decades pouring through research, expert opinions and techniques to help guide people through these obstacles and one of my coaching creations is the 4 TieRs system.  (All 4 pillars start with the letters, “T” & “R” so I simply chose a catchy word that embodied this idea.)

4 Tiers.pdf-page-001

This diagram conveys the interconnected pillars or TieRs, if you will, for people to strengthen themselves within any external cause, endeavor or discipline.  For example, a person choosing to pursue a spiritual dynamic in Christianity would need to focus first on what particular “truth” (Jesus Christ) to anchor him/herself.  Another person might choose a particular dietary discipline such as Paleo or Atkins (Low Carb/Gut Health) as her anchor point.

Our presence in this world would mean very little if we could not make sense of what occurs around us as well as contemplate what our own personal significance amounts to.  So when we pursue an endeavor that changes us in some way we have latched onto a truth that ends in transformation.  This change does NOT always end up being a positive change and that is an important distinction for us to consider when we decide to follow someone or something that brings “a better me”.

Now, before I go into more detail about the 4 TieRs I need to state that at any given time, these components remain fluid and cyclical in nature.  You don’t master one and “graduate” to another.  They all must remain balanced and individual attention given to support and strengthen each TieR.  So let’s talk LeadershipDude philosophy and then delve into TieR specifics.

LeadershipDude’s coaching philosophy begins and ends (literally) with two things:

  1. What is the problem to be considered, addressed or solved?
  2. What is the solution to rectify, resolve or complete the process?

portal-bookends-750

Everything that follows goes in between the two “bookends” (Portal game fans will totally get this) of problem and solution.  We can adjust these two components throughout the journey but they will continue to contain and define the parameters of which actions to engage and which to avoid for successful attainment of the goal.

For example, if a person comes to realize that carrying 100 lbs of excess body fat (problem) is dangerous to her health, she will hopefully decide to go to a good health practitioner to develop a plan of action to lose weight (solution).  The “in betweens” to address might include whether or not to eat 2 donuts when the goal is to lose weight.  If the action supports our solution…Do it!  If it hinders or prevents the solution…do NOT do it.  Pretty simple stuff.  If we’re talking about diet, we use the same principles.  If choosing a low carb approach we are quite sure that the answer to the donut question is a resounding, “NO!”

We use this philosophy not only with our clients but also with the personal training students at the Dallas NPTI location.  The fitness professionals we equip and send out leave a very different student than when they arrived.  Today’s personal (fitness, spiritual, life) coach has to be able to embody the 4 TieRs of leadership in order to become successful coaches.  So let’s introduce the 4 TieRs.  I’ll not only share what they are but how they are relevant either in personal or group settings.

  1. TRuth
  2. TRust
  3. TRansparency
  4. TRansformation

I mentioned earlier that they were fluid and not necessarily in a particular order.  That is both true and not true depending on the circumstance.  Lets unpack this idea.  We’ll choose someone in a spiritual setting who wants to engage in a pursuit of Christianity.  Since our truth will set the stage for our transformation, we first need to know what our theology will revolve around.  Jesus Christ sits on the throne of this conversation so that becomes our TRuth.  Next, we proceed to educate and familiarize ourself with the subject of choice and begin to decide what we’re willing to receive or capable of accepting as truth.  In adult learning circles (transformative learning) this is possibly the arrival of a disorienting dilemma.  As you can guess, this new bit of information can make us feel uncomfortable or feel more intense negative emotions.  This sets the stage for the next tier…TRust.

Committed.pdf-page-001

Trust begins when the person or thing we’ve connected to is perceived as an ally rather than a potential enemy.  Anyone who’s made money in sales realizes the importance of a first impression.  Trust is the first rule of engagement and serves as a springboard for repeat customers.  In much the same way, a person seeking to understand more about Jesus must believe a few things about Him before moving on to serious engagement with the process of becoming a believer.

  • Was Jesus real?
  • Will I benefit from learning about Jesus?
  • Will I waste my time learning about Him?
  • Are people who follow Him dumb and out of touch with reality?
  • Will I encounter freedom from everything that has caused me to feel chained up?

Once these questions and others like them have been considered, a person will feel more comfortable in moving forward with the search.  I’ve created a simple illustration to the left that shows a person moving from “trying out” to “engaged” and finally toward “Championing” a belief or principle en route to becoming a committed follower of his/her chosen pursuit.  Relative to the bookend model of problem/solution, we could see Jesus as a possible answer to the problem of loneliness, guilt, perpetual sin or addiction.  Joining a friend or church in order to increase or strengthen our pursuit would be a strong indication that we TRust this particular TRuth and are ready to consider being TRansparent.

Transparency is the degree to which something can be seen or looked through.  A muddy lake might cause unnecessary fear of a hungry alligator chomping on the legs of an unsuspecting water skier.  Fear of the unknown coupled with the insecurity we encounter as vulnerable children and adolescents can lead to defense mechanisms that keep us from showing ourself to the world.  Why would anyone want the world to know they were hurting or too weak to overcome a problem?  No one enjoys feeling exposed and so we find ways to protect or hide those perceived weaknesses.  The problem is that adults have trouble STOPPING these often harmful and/or selfish defense mechanisms and when stressful moments occur we let our old self come to the “rescue”.  When a person is willing to allow himself to be transparent, he is allowing himself the opportunity to be completely honest with others that he doesn’t have it all together and could possibly use some help from others.  When we cultivate a regular habit of being honest with ourself as well as with others, we discover how liberating and empowering that process can be.  This is why people find strength and encouragement in getting involved with others who are seeking to understand who Jesus is.

TRansparency then sets the stage for TRansformation and this is where a person consistently experiences the benefits of this entire process.  The enticing appeal of protecting our vulnerabilities at any cost loses its luster and we encounter a new perspective…one usually empowered and strengthened to see ourself as a new and improved version.  2 Corinthians 5:17 (amplified version) states, “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”

Now understand that even though we progress from one TieR to another, at any given moment we can slack off and allow one of the TieRs to grow weak or become neglected.  This can lead to regression toward a previous struggle or emotional difficulty.  When you notice this happen or someone shares with you that they are seeing this in you, stop and consider why.  There is no need to dump burning coals on your head and feel tons of shame and guilt.  Simply take an honest inventory of what is missing or needed and take action.  Remember to reassess your problem and solution and make sure they are still guiding your journey towards personal strength.

In my next post, I’ll focus on a few examples to serve as walkthroughs of the concept.  Thanks again for joining us over at LeadershipDude!