I grew up in California and loved the Pacific Ocean. Living in Wisconsin now, I miss the sandy beaches, the rugged coastline, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. A few years back, my family and I visited my sister and her family in the LA area. A fun day trip was going to one of the local beaches. And one of the highlights was grabbing a boogie board and catching the waves and riding them to shore.
Part of the fun was hanging onto the board and floating, feeling the cool water around me and the soft sand beneath my feet. It was not long, though, before all of us were getting farther and farther out to sea and moving down the coastline.
I was not paddling out from the shore nor was it my intention to move down the shoreline. I was just drifting.
I remember when I moved to Wisconsin, one of the benefits I gained was a beautiful drive to my workplace. When I lived in Oregon, I was surrounded by exquisite outdoors, but my commute to work involved driving to a park-and-ride and then taking a 45-minute transit train to the heart of Portland.
Not exactly breathtaking.
Managing conflict? Or having a tooth extracted with no pain killers?
Hmmm…many times it seems as if I would rather go with option two.
Why is that? Why does it seem like the craft of resolving conflict is such a poorly-developed tool in our culture today?
It is one thing to deal with conflict. It is an entirely different matter to manage conflict well.
I am a recovering people-pleaser.
OK, it’s out. I’ve said it.
There is a lot of self-admitted brokenness going on in my life. Granted, I realize I have blind-spots to other areas as well, but just what I see myself is enough to overwhelm me sometimes.
But on this journey of mine over the past 50 years, there has been one area that God has brought to the forefront that has caused more danger in my life than perhaps any other, and that is people-pleasing.
I am afraid that we have adopted the “winning is the most important thing” so much that we have forgotten how to lose with grace. Yes, I have won a championship as a coach, but the truth is that most of my moments were not singing some rendition of “One Shining Moment.”
My coaching gig is long done and now my basketball moments are spent doing stats for my wife’s girls’ varsity basketball team for our high school in Pembine. I have been associated with this team for almost five years now, with four of those years with my daughters playing, and now just having an excuse to hang with my wife.
It is interesting to me, in this age of uber information, to see what creates identity for people.
If you keep up with the hype of college sports, you will probably recall the most recent “tripping incident” with Grayson Allen. Grayson is a very talented guard who plays basketball for the Duke Blue Devils. In recent months, Grayson has been getting much press for his deliberate tripping of players on the court.
Have you ever been around a person who, though extremely capable in a certain skill set, always remained “stuck” because they were not able to manage themselves or relationships with people?
I have too.
And those situations are always a bit awkward. In an earlier life, I used to be a team leader for a group that administered retirement plans. I had some stellar teammates, but there were a few that frequently caused me to go “Hmmm” about them.
It is in your mind. Full of clarity. No confusion or missing pieces. You believe that you could not have communicated your message with any more precision or directness.
BAM! Nailed it.
And then a few days later you start to hear the scuttle. The amazing message or vision you relayed was not interpreted correctly by the listening ears. In fact, what you believed to be motivating and clarifying actually caused frustration.
Why is that? Why is there often such a gap between what I say and what is heard? In an age where we are inundated with information, I want to be sure that what I intend is what is received.
There is more than one way to learn something, but not all are created equal.
For example, I love to cook meat on my barbecue and I also enjoy slicing the meat to prepare for eating. And there have been at least two ways that I have become experienced in how to cut meat.
The first method involves my wife. Since she is quite the culinary woman, she has instructed me in how to slice certain meats for both aesthetic appearance as well as a satisfying eating experience by our guests.
So here we are once again, at the dawn of a new year. I get drawn into the elation of new adventures, future change, and renewed freshness, but in the same breath also like the permanence of some things as they are.
According to some stats on new years, 45% of us will make some sort of resolution to move from how we are to how we desire to be. Things like losing weight, getting organized, spending less and saving more, enjoying life, and staying fit.