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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Since we took some time to Reflect during the last week of the year, and then we considered what it means to Project (the Verb!) for the first week of the new year, I want to share a few thoughts with you this week on Grace.


As a person who has been involved in lots of spiritual conversations and discussions with people over the past 40 years, I can honestly say that the concept of grace is one that is often very difficult for people.  As a result, I have attempted to create my own definition for grace that I have refined and modified over time.  At this point in my journey, my current working definition for Grace is: "undeserved kindness or love, offered without strings attached."


If we proceed with this working definition (and I am happy to get feedback on how you think it could be better!), there are two key phrases we must consider.


Undeserved Kindness or Love

When we think about kindness and love being undeserved, it's important we make a distinction about worthiness.  I believe everyone is worthy of love and kindness, simply because they are here and a part of the human race. However, most of the time we tend to measure or judge whether or not a person or group (including ourselves!) deserves our love and kindness.  We may think that everyone is worthy of love, but do they actually deserve it, as if love and kindness is something that can be earned or won as a reward?! Grace is about offering kindness and love because of a person's worthiness, not whether they have actually earned or deserve it.  This leads to our second phrase.


Offered Without Strings Attached

Most of the time we are conditioned by our culture to think of our relationships in transactional terms.  "I will do this for you, if you will do that for me." We don't often say it out loud, but we offer kindness and love with an expectation that it will be received and returned by the way the other party responds, either now or in the future.  However, grace is about offering kindness and love without any expectation of return - without any strings attached.  It's simply given as a gift!


Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with taking time to Reflect at the end of the year and taking time to Project at the beginning of the year?  Great question! When we reflect on the past, it can be easy to focus on the ways we fell short or didn't measure up to some standard we thought we should achieve - our lack. And when we look forward and project into the new year, we can also set expectations for ourselves that can be sources of frustration and disappointment when we don't accomplish what we intended - our lack.  These are both powerful opportunities to offer Grace toward ourselves! Rather than focusing on the lack, what would happen if we just gave ourselves some underserved kindness and love, without string attached and said, "You are worthy of this love and kindness and you're doing great!  Here's to a new day tomorrow!"?


How could you offer grace to yourself this week?  What would it mean for you to believe you simply are worthy of love and kindness and you don't have to earn it?  How could you give yourself that gift and not expect anything in return for it?  Is there someone else you need to offer grace to this week? How could thinking about them as being worthy rather than deserving of love and kindness help you actually offer it to them without strings attached?


Here's to offering Grace to ourselves and others this week!


Be Well,

Stephen


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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  • Writer's pictureStephen


Welcome to 2024!


After inviting us to take some time to Reflect last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take some time this week to Project (the verb)!


Projecting at the beginning of a new year takes on lots of different forms and labels: image/vision boards, resolutions, goal setting, etc.  The one thing I think all of these have in common, and the primary root of what I think it means to Project, is to focus with intention.


The beginning of a new year always feels like a natural time for us to engage in Projecting.  There's just something about turning over that calendar page that draws us to make changes and adjustments in our lives.  But often, our intentions turn out to be just that, only intentions. However, if we Project with a little more focus, we may discover our intentions can translate into more sustainable actions.


Focused Projection asks the question, What?

What do I want for this next year, or this next season of my life?  Taking time to stop and actually put some thought into that question, even to the point of naming it or turning it into a vision board or a list of goals is actually very important. The more focus we can bring to our Projecting, the easier it will be for us to actually get specific about what it is we really want. A great tool for helping to focus more specifically on the "what" is to ask, "What would that actually look like?"  For example, let's say what I want is to be more organized this next year.  By asking myself, what would it actually look like for me to be more organized, I may come up with more specific things like, I want to have a planner that I regularly use to keep me on track and on task. Asking what our "what" actually would look like allows us to gain greater clarity on what it actually is we want! (What a wild sentence!)


Focused Projection asks the question, How?

For many people, "What" is as far as it goes, but if we lean into a more focused process of projecting it brings us to our second powerful question, "How will I get there?"  This is where we take our ideas of what we want and we begin to break them down into concrete steps of movement that allow us to create a path to get there. For example, if what I want is to be more organized and what that actually looks like is for me to regularly use a planner, when I ask myself "How will I get there?", I discover I don't actually have a planner so I better go get one!  And once I have it, I need to ask "How" again.  How can I best use this planner in a way that makes it feel like a helpful tool, rather than a chore or just another thing I have to get done on my list?  When I ask this question, I may discover that I don't like getting up any earlier than I have to, but I don't mind staying up a little later. So, if I plan to take some time in the evening before I go to bed to review my planner for the next day, some organizational strategies immediately present themselves (do I need to pack my lunch or do I have a lunch meeting tomorrow?  What time and where do the kids need to be after school tomorrow, and how does that fit into my day?  etc.). By asking myself the "How" questions, I move the "What" into more concrete steps!


Focused Projection asks the question, Who?

Once we've asked ourselves what we want, and how we are going to get there, perhaps the most powerful question then becomes "Who am I going to ask to help me stay on track with what I want and how I plan to get there?"  This is where focused Projection pushes us to think strategically about who we have in the fabric of our relationships and who may be the best fit to help us keep moving forward.  Back to our example of getting organized.  Asking "Who" leads me to think about who I know and trust that would be willing to check in with me and ask me how I'm doing with taking time each evening to look at my planner for the next day. I can then approach them and extend an invitation to help support me in this Project! Asking "Who" after we've done the work of "What" and "How" creates a support network for us that makes our focused Projection even more sustainable.


Next week I want to share another word with you in this process of Focused Projection (Grace), but for now a few questions to ponder this week:

Have you taken time to identify what you want in this new year?  Have you also taken the time to ask what that would actually look like in your life if it was happening? With your What in place, when could you create time to take the next step and ask yourself How you are going to get there? While you're at it, why not take some time and also ask yourself Who can help support you in taking the steps that were revealed from asking What and How?


Here's to spending some time on intentional, focused Projection this week!


Be Well,

Stephen


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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  • Writer's pictureStephen


I recently took some time to read back through some of the entries in my personal journal from this past year.  It was a good reminder of just how important it can be to take time to periodically Reflect in our lives, and since this is my final message to you from 2023, it seemed like a good topic for this week.  



Reflecting can help us slow down

When we think about what has already happened in our lives, it forces us to slow down and actually remember events, circumstances, and even people we have encountered along our journey.  Often this can lead us to a greater sense of gratitude, and even give us time to celebrate accomplishments and achievements. Slowing down through reflecting can also help us learn from the past and guide us as we make decisions about moving forward in our lives.  It's important to not let the reflection lead us into a sense of regret, but rather determination for making change and identifying places we want to grow and improve.


Reflecting can help us see patterns

As I read through some of my entries, it was interesting to see trends and patterns in thinking that emerged.  Some of those themes were very positive, and some of them were a bit challenging, but all of them helped me grow in my own journey of self-awareness. By taking time to Reflect, I was able to discover patterns that I may have missed and allow them to spur me on in continuing those trends or recognizing changes that I need to make. 


Reflecting can help us gain perspective

One pattern I was able to witness in my Reflection was there were times when I was very concerned about a situation or a relationship, and it was obviously taking up a lot of my attention.  But in Reflection, I was able to see those things weren't nearly as significant as I thought they might be at the time. I was also able to observe that there were other circumstances and relationships that at the time, didn't really seem to be that big of a deal, but they actually had a significant impact on my life. By Reflecting, I was able to look back through the lens of hindsight and really gain some valuable perspective from my life.


During this final week of 2023, what do you think you might be able to see if you took some time to Reflect?  How could that process help you slow down and learn?  What patterns might emerge from some thoughtful Reflection on this past year?  How might looking back through the lens of hindsight help you gain a better perspective and understanding of just how you were impacted by events and relationships in 2023?


Here's to finding some real value for ourselves by taking time to Reflect on 2023 this week!


Be Well,

Stephen


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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