the reckless dad

‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Adaptability

Four Tools you should have in your Toolbox

There are four tools that everyone needs in their toolboxes. Not everyone has these tools and they can manage through life without them, but it certainly is easier with them.

I have been a proponent of strengths-based service delivery since before I even knew it was a thing. Strengths-based service delivery is centered around finding the strengths of those you are working with and building upon those strengths by adding more tools. I have taken very personally Abraham Maslow’s assertion that, ‘if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to approach every problem as a nail.’ I am not that much of a handyman or construction dude, but I have done enough shade tree projects to know you have to have the proper tools for the job. The same thing is true of life. If you want to overcome the stressor or difficulty facing you, you need the proper tools to overcome it. Here are four tools that I believe are essential for us all to possess in our toolboxes, whether we are helping other or just looking to overcome our own stressors.

  1. Empathy – Empathy can be defined in many ways, but simply put it is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Being able to understand their perspective and see the situation from their eyes. This goes a very long way when we are helping others, because we are able to step outside of ourselves and see things from their point of view and combining that with our knowledge assist them in devising a solution. It is also helpful because sometimes we are wrong and we need to see the other side in order to come to resolution. We need to know how we have hurt someone. We need to be able to understand how others think and feel. Additonally, empathy entails a genuine care and concern for others. This isn’t a sympathetic feeling sorry for others, it is an authentic care for them as people.
  2. Apathy – This may seem strange, but I have come realize I can only do so much. And it doesn’t matter how much I want something for you, if you don’t want it for yourself you will never change. As long as I can lay my head down at the end of the night knowing I have done all I can do, then I am good. You have to want it to and until you make the efforts to change or adjust, it doesn’t matter how I try to change you. This is the classic ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ scenario.
  3. Everyone has at least one strength – This is tough… because it doesn’t always feel like this is true. But deep inside, somewhere hidden amongst the mess is their strength. Is something they do well. Something they are proficient at. Something they are confident in. Finding this strength and building upon it is critical to working with others. And when we are facing our own struggles, it is critical to recall our own strengths and not dwell or wallow in our shortcomings. Which really leads to the last tool:
  4. We are the same – I learned very early on when working in child welfare (fancy name for the child abuse field), there was a fine line separating me from my clients. This is still true today. I have more tools, more resources, more supports but without them I would be in jeopardy of making choices and decisions I would regret. I have to realize the tools I have doesn’t make me ‘better’ but charges me with a responsibility to help others. This can also be worded as humility. Knowing I don’t have all the answers. Knowing I make mistakes and I am in need of the same grace I am offering you.

Having these tools doesn’t guarantee success or an easy life or whatever. But having them is one step closer to being better prepared to face whatever may come at you today.

Goal Setting

Clear strategy and solutions for business leadership symbol with a straight path to success as a journey choosing the right strategic path for business with blank yellow traffic signs cutting through a maze of tangled roads and highways.

Sounds simple, right?

Make a plan, devise a strategy for what you want to accomplish in a given time frame. Make a plan of attack and accomplish things. This isn’t always the case though, is it? There are many roadblocks that get in the way of us setting goals and then sticking to the goals to make them happen.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that I am a goal-oriented person, but I am a task-oriented person and I like to set or plan tasks for me to accomplish. Without a daily and weekly task list, I would never get anything accomplished with the exception of trolling Facebook and Youtube. Setting goals in my mind is like making a task list, but on a bigger scale. A task list breaks down the goals into measurable, accomplish-able action steps. Setting goals and then breaking the goals down into tasks is one of the things I have been stressing to the young men I work with at Grace Landing.

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of having a plan is very enticing to me. Knowing where I am going and how I am going to get there is comforting. I like the expected. I like to know what is coming. I don’t like surprises and I certainly don’t like the unknown. I have identified in my life 3 obstacles to setting goals that I have overcome and 3 corresponding helpful tips to setting goals.

Three obstacles to setting goals:

  1. It feels silly. Ok. Sometimes it does. It does get a little tedious constantly writing a script for the day and then sticking to it. There is little freedom to ‘go off script’ in the way I organize and arrange my day. It feels silly as an almost 40 year old adult, I have to make plans for how my day is going to transpire. It can feel silly and even childish, as though you don’t have the knowledge or discipline to do what needs to be done.
  2. It’s kinda hard when you are just trying to keep your head above water. I can relate to this. I have spent many days feeling like I was drowning, just barely keeping my head out of water. This inability to see beyond the moment at hand makes it hard to set goals. Feeling as though this is how it will always be, is a misguided belief. At some point, you will be done treading water and then what?
  3. I have no idea where I want to go or what I want to do or what I want to be. We tell ourselves we are still trying to figure it out and box ourselves in. We have created a box, a prison if you will, that we are powerless to overcome.

Three helpful tips to setting goals:

  1. Don’t worry about feeling silly. So what? If what you need to do in order to be successful is make a plan and then stick to it, what does it matter? There is still freedom in my days to have fun and be spontaneous… after I finish all the tasks I need to accomplish. Haha! But seriously, I have built into my tasks and schedule spontaneous times, or times where it is ok for me to stop what i am doing and do something unrelated to work just for fun. You can’t worry about feeling silly because at the end of the day when you have finished everything you need to get done you can relax and enjoy yourself, not worrying or panicking about upcoming deadline because you are ready for it.
  2. The obstacle of feeling like you are drowning is a tough one to overcome, because it makes sense. This is an intense fear of mine… drowning. But, I know that by slowing down and taking each day as it comes to me I can make a plan of attack and get done needs to be done. Being able to step back and take big picture view will help you in getting past what is going on right now so you can see the goal setting was worthwhile. At some point, you not be treading water and if you don’t have a direction to go, you will continue to tread water and go nowhere. Goal setting is the big picture, beyond the current sensation of drowning.
  3. Hogwash. There is no box I fit in, let alone one I can’t break out of. This is the epitome of shortsightedness. Have you ever considered you don’t know where you want to go or what you do or what you want to be, because you never actually spent any real time reflecting and planning? Is it possible, there are no goals because you have been too afraid to dream about what you could accomplish and rather live in the security of the self-imposed prison? Maybe. Dream. Dream big.

Not that I am the authority on any subject, but I struggle the same as the next dude. Here’s how I have implemented goal setting and task listing. Were these thoughts helpful to you? What have you done to help in setting goals?

Adaptability


White water rapids are created when water in a river flows over an obstruction under the surface of the water. I’m not an expert hydrology, but I understand the dynamics of what takes place in a river when water is forced to flow over a rock or something else… I understand the basic premise of this obstruction underwater changes nature, course, speed, direction and behavior of the water. The more water, the bigger the obstructions, the faster the water flows and the more extreme the rapids are.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The second activity of this trip was a white water rafting trip. On this rafting experience we saw first hand how a rock, or other obstruction, underneath the surface of the water impacts and changes the course of the river. The river must bend its will and purpose to the rocks underneath it. The water will flow over the rocks, altering and impacting the rocks as well… but the rocks will tell the river where and how to flow.
No matter how much water flows over it, around it, under it or how much pressure is put on the rock by the water… it will always be a rock. Its shape may change, how the rock looks might change. The rock will be shaped by the water, but it will not be defined by the water. It is a rock, because it is inherently a rock and not because of the water it interacts with.

After we observed this, and we sat around the campfire later that evening we discussed how we are like the rocks under the surface of the water. Life will come over us and even overwhelm us at times, and we will undoubtedly be shaped by the pressures of life. We are like the rock lurking under the surface of the water in a river.

As life flows over us, we will be shaped by life… by the circumstances, stress, pressure, situations happening to us. But we are not defined by them. Who we are at our core is not affected or changed by life. At our core, we are children of an Almighty God. We are his precious children, whom he loves enough to die for our sins. That will never change no matter what experience, challenge, hardship or difficulty we face in this life. We will certainly be shaped by life, but not defined by it.

A key to surviving life, or making it through ‘successfully’, is to be adaptable… fluid… willing to change. Able to make adjustments. On a personal note, I do NOT change well or easily. I hate change. The only thing I hate more than change is surprise change. I need to know what is what. Adaptability is essential in this life. The landscape of our lives is constantly changing and shifting as various aspects or pieces of our lives change. Jobs, relationships, living arrangements, transportation situations, school… most things in our lives are in a constant state of flux. Being adaptable and able to meet the new challenges, to rise to the occasion are critical.

The rock under the water doesn’t change who he is when more water comes down the river bad. He allows his shape to be molded to meet the water. But, he remains a rock. When we face a difficult scenario in life, we must adapt or be shaped by it and meet its demands… but we can not sacrifice who we are at our core.

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