The Gifts of Imperfection

From a decade of research – data with a soul – Brown uncovers the timeless truths of the fall and the foundation of our false self (poser) rooted in shame and fear.  From that place she gives powerful, time-tested and research-proven action steps toward a lifestyle of shame resilience and increasing freedom.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking,”What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?”

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

The Starfish and the Spider

We live in a culture supersaturated with leadership books. But great leadership books are still rare. This is among the few.  It’s a must read for considering a model for Kingdom leadership.

The following is the description from Amazon:

If you cut off a spider?s head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish?s leg it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. Traditional top-down organizations are like spiders, but now starfish organizations are changing the face of business and the world.

What’s the hidden power behind the success of Wikipedia, craigslist, and Skype? What do eBay and General Electric have in common with the abolitionist and women?s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths?

Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have discovered some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders and reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the U.S. government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success.

The Power of One

Page turner to the core. This story crosses many challenging themes and opens our hearts to wonder what God is up to in a person’s story and how we might take the road less traveled.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.

Shit My Dad Says

Fall off your chair hysterical stories of the good, bad and ugly of a Father’s unintended / intended counsel to a son.

The following is the description from Amazon:

After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:

“That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”

“The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.”

More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.

Propped Up Kingdoms

I was caught off guard by the beauty.  I had just driven out of the Miami International Airport (which could be the ugliest and most run down airport in the US).  I picked up the rental car and pointed southwards to meet up with my brother and dad and to chase tarpon on the fly rod.

What pleasantly surprised me was the landscaping around the airport.  It was teeming with tropical beauty.  Big mature palm trees blowing in the warm breeze; flowering bushes in abundance.

However, as I looked closely, I realized that there was nothing truly “mature” about it; it was all new.  When I took an even closer look at the “mature” palm trees, I saw that every one of these hundreds of trees had been newly transplanted and was at the mercy of three wooden stakes, artificially propping it up, serving as a makeshift alternative to deep roots.

“This is a picture of men in their thirties.  Son, I’m inviting you to lay down the props.”

It caught me off guard.  Before I could edit my hearing, I realized the Father was giving a picture of us as men in our thirties.

In this decade, life comes to us like a flood – a raging river bulging at the seams.  One mentor put it this way:  he said of the decade, “I found myself inexplicably on a massive roller coaster. There was no way off.  It took everything in me just to hold on for the ride.”

The deepest questions of the masculine heart remain mostly underground. Who am I as a man?  Where will I find validation in my deep desire to be loved?  To matter? To become?

And so most of us in this decade dive head first, subconsciously, reaching for an answer to find validation for our deep heart.

We set out to make a name for ourselves.

To make a little money.

To get something going.

And before we know it, we’re a tree… more “mature” externally and contextually than the root system below the ground can handle.

We build kingdoms (companies, churches, missions, ideas, influences, homes, balance sheets) that don’t have the roots to withstand the storms.  When all is well, they look stable.  We turn a blind eye to the stakes artificially propping up our masculinity. We champion the application of leverage on many fronts turning a blind eye to the whisper of the sage bringing counsel from years down the road, with a gentler yet firm reminder; “You know, son, leverage cuts both ways.  It’s a double edged sword.”

And all is well, until the winds turn to gale force.  Until the floods come.  Until the kingdoms come crashing down.  Jesus promised that in this world we will have trouble. The storms will come.

What are your stakes?  Where have you positioned a stake to artificially prop up the world you have created? What aspect of your world doesn’t have a root system deep enough to stand on its own true maturity?  Remember there are no shortcuts.

The decade of the thirties is a decade of removing the stakes.

By way of contrast I was caught off guard last week by a remarkable and mature pine tree while mountain biking with some peers deep in the national forest.

What struck me about this tree were the roots and the life pulsing through the tree.  Exposed by years of terrible erosion caused by a road poorly cut into the mountainside, this mighty tree had eventually suffered the consequences and fallen.  Yet, it was still alive. And actually thriving.  It was still providing life and habitat.  And in a wild way, it was actually more beautiful, strong and true in its current form than it would have been standing tall.  It was closer to death in one way, and in another, still teeming with life.  And therein lays the great risk…. There is great risk for a tree to fall and indeed lead to a sort of death.  And yet in this I find myself turning back to the counsel of our God:

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. (John 12)

I want deep roots.  I want to serve and lead a kingdom that is proportional to my maturity and wholeness of heart and to lead it well.  To lead in love.

This decade is a decade of excavation. It is a decade of tearing out hard and rocky soil and partnering with God to infuse good soil (Luke 8).  It is a decade of establishing the deep roots that can withstand the storms that are building in the western sky.

Here’s to no stilts.

Let fall what needs to fall.

The peace that results is worth the pain.

And there is hope at the end of this trail. I am sure of it…

Walk in the Woods

The self deprecating humor will take you from hysteria to exhale and back again.  A less than capable attempt at hiking the Appalachian Trail is perfect backdrop to this levity, agony and hilarity.

The following is the description from Amazon:

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).