Monday, March 29, 2010

Building Breakthrough Momentum in Family

Sam Walton was a young entrepreneur in the 1940’s. He began with a dime store and a passion to sell many different items to the community at a steep discount. He accomplished this by buying in bulk in order to pass on the savings to his customers. He spent seven years developing his first store and opened a second store by the 1950’s. He built step-by-step, gaining slow momentum every year. Over time he experienced success and failure, but he did not give up.

It took Walton a quarter of a century to grow from that single dime store to owning a chain of 38 Wal-Marts. Then, (and this is the exciting part), from 1970 to 2000 Wal-Mart hit breakthrough momentum and exploded to over 3,000 stores with over $150 billion in revenues! These accomplishments led to Sam Walton being chosen for TIME magazines top 100 people of the Century. He can be found under the category of “builders and titans”.

Our culture likes to showcase stories of “overnight successes”, but I’d like to propose that there is no such thing. It’s a myth, an urban legend if you will, especially when it comes to building families.

I hear from people around the nation that are looking to heal wounds and build family connection. One of the greatest frustrations they have is the overwhelming feeling of failure or lack of momentum. People are afraid to make mistakes, so they often stay in old patterns for fear of failing in new endeavors.

What Sam Walton tapped into is something similar to the effect caused by a flywheel. Let me explain:

“Picture a huge, heavy flywheel – a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about thirty feet in diameter, two feet thick, and weighing about five thousand pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and as long as possible.

Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.

You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns…four… five…six…the flywheel builds up speed…seven …eight…you keep pushing…nine…ten…it builds momentum…eleven…twelve… moving faster with each turn…twenty…thirty…fifty…a hundred.

Then, at some point – breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!...its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.”*

So after this flywheel (or healthy, connected family) is whirring in action, and someone comes up to you and wants you to identify the one major “push” that gave you all this momentum, how will you answer them? You won’t be able to identify it. It’s all about continued effort, not giving up, not letting the slow progression stop you or intimidate you.

Keep Moving Forward

I love the movie Meet the Robinsons. It’s about a little boy named Lewis living in an orphanage. Lewis is an inventor and is forever trying to build new gadgets that will eventually lead him back to meet his birth mother. He often gets discouraged when he faces failure. But one day, as he’s about to give up on everything, he gets a visitor from the future. He doesn’t know it yet, but this visitor is his son. His son knows that Lewis can’t give up, because one day he will be successful.

When Lewis travels to the future he meets a wonderful group of people named the Robinsons. Lewis has no idea the people he is eating dinner with are his family from the future. While enjoying dinner together, one of the gadgets for serving food breaks down. Lewis’ son encourages Lewis to fix it (because Lewis invented it). Lewis gives it his best effort but is very doubtful of success. Sure enough, the gadget explodes and sprays food all over everyone.

Lewis cowers and starts apologizing, hanging his head in shame. But something happens that he could never have expected. The whole family erupts in applause. Everyone is cheering yelling,

“You failed!”


“Great job!”

“From failing you learn, from success, not so much.”

The whole family bursts out in song about how when you fail, you have to keep moving forward.

Lewis begins to smile and feel safe in his failure. One of the family members raises a glass to Lewis and says;

“I propose a toast to Lewis, and his brilliant failure. May it lead to success in the future.”

Lewis replies, “Gosh, you’re all so nice. If I had a family, I’d want them all to be like you.”

Lewis realizes later on he is going to have to let go of the past, and keep moving forward.

I am confident that as you and your family pursue new goals in connection and relationship that no one is expecting perfection. Life is not as much about the destination as it is the journey. God is so pleased at your effort, and just as Lewis’ family cheered when he failed, I can imagine heaven is cheering for you when you fail. Because when you fail, you learn. And when you keep moving forward, you build explosive momentum.

The Franklin family did not start where we are today. We built our connection step-by-step, through failures and successes, and now our flywheel is whirring like a well-oiled piece of machinery.

Don’t give up! Keep moving forward.

*The excerpt of the flywheel is found in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins 2001

Friday, March 19, 2010

Principles of Powerful People Part Two

I realize these blogs are a little more "meatier" than some of my previous posts. So thank you all for your great feedback, private messages and encouraging words. Thanks for taking time to chew on these!

Oh, and while you read, imagine this cute fella crawling all over me, biting me, pulling my hair, flirting with me, doing his best to distract me, all while I write about powerful people. :-) Ah the glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom who wants to change the world, one diaper at a time!

VI. Powerful people ask questions when they are having problems in relationships, they don't presume to know what is in another person's heart. Have you ever had someone confront you with accusations of what you are thinking, what you are feeling and what your intentions are? It is infuriating. It is not productive, it is not empowering and it does not work. It doesn't promote trust and it doesn't give you the opportunity to explain what is going on with you.

One rule of communication for this principle is: I only have the right to tell you about me. I don't have the right to tell you about you. The moment I begin to tell you about you, I have stepped into "attack" mode and I have stepped into judgement.

Example: (wrong) "You are so crabby today. Just because I didn't do the dishes last night doesn't give you the right to mope around all day. I know you're just trying to punish me."

(right): "You seem upset, are you?", "I get this feeling you are upset with me because of the dishes, is that true?", "Is everything all right with you? Want to talk?", "Did I do something to offend you?"

Asking questions instead of making statements is an art, and it requires practice and discipline. That's why it's called "the art of asking questions." It requires you to stop, think, and then speak. Something very few of us have trained ourselves to do.

Have you ever noticed you are on your best behavior with practical strangers, yet can be mean and ugly with the people you live with every day? I think it's quite normal, and they do say that familiarity breeds contempt. We want to be comfortable at home. We don't want to be all formal and uptight. But when it comes to dealing with relational problems with those we love, we owe them the common courtesy and politeness we would give a stranger.

VII. Powerful people know how to do intimacy. They have people in their lives who know everything about them. They invite wise counsel into their lives. They allow others to influence them. Powerful people don't isolate themselves, they flourish in community. They know how to be accountable and how to be responsible with other people's hearts. Too many times I have seen people isolate themselves relationally. Remember the preview to the movie Up in the Air? George Clooney is walking in the airport talking on the phone and says, "Isolated? I'm surrounded!" Yes, he is surrounded by people, complete strangers! None of them know his dreams, his fears, his hopes and his aspirations. Who has permission to change his mind? Who pushes him, who challenges him, who requires something of him? People can be surrounded and yet still be alone. Ask yourself this; who knows your dreams, your fears, your hopes and your aspirations? Who has permission to change your mind? Who pushes you, who challenges you, and who requires something of you? I hope you can come up with at least two people. If not, this is a great area to develop yourself.

VIII. Powerful people live within their means. They don't rely on credit for the basic necessities, and they have learned the art of delayed gratification. They don't have a mindset of entitlement, and they are willing to work hard and set goals for themselves. Powerful people don't acquire money for power, they acquire money because they are powerful. They don't measure wealth by what they own, the measure wealth by how much they are able to give away. People who are mortgaged up to their eye balls and are living paycheck to paycheck don't sleep well at night. We have an epidemic in this country of "keeping up with the Joneses." It's never too late to turn this cycle around. It starts with what you believe. Do you believe that living within your means and disciplining yourself to wait for what you can afford is wise, and will be the thing that gives you peace of mind? Or do you believe in keeping up with the Joneses?

IX. Powerful people don't require agreement in arguments, they expect to be heard, and hopefully understood. The christian church is especially guilty of requiring everyone to agree, and they do this in the name of God. Somewhere, someone (or a lot of people actually) believed a lie that God wanted us all to look the same, talk the same, dress the same and act the same. But that goes against the very nature of God. Just look at His creation, the beauty of it is the diversity. God is all about freedom. Do you want to be right or do you want to be connected with people? Sometimes you have to choose. If you continually choose to be "right", you may end up very alone, or you will be surrounded by people who look exactly like you. We can't grow if we don't expose ourselves to different ideas, we need cross pollination to stay sharp!

X. Powerful people don't seek revenge, they forgive and let go. They understand that forgiving someone doesn't mean they have to let that person back in their life to continue to hurt them. They realize that holding grudges and anger against another person is unhealthy and creates a toxic mindset.

Principles of Powerful People Part One

A while back I started writing about the attributes of powerful people. I wanted to share these with you. I believe it is important to feel powerful, no matter what race, gender, age or personality you are. One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling powerless.

For this blog, we'll start with 1-5. I hope you enjoy!

I. Powerful people know who they are. Their identity is not wrapped up in what they do. People who have identity in the wrong thing will be territorial, insecure and lost. Powerful people don't horde power, they spread it around. They don't want to be responsible for everyone, they want everyone to be responsible! A good example of this for me is King Arthur. I love the concept of the round table approach. The best leaders are ones who are confident and not afraid of other's successes. William Wallace (of the story of Braveheart) once said, "Men don't follow titles, they follow courage." To be full of courage, you have to know who you are. If you don't know who you are, you may spend your entire life fighting for something that was never supposed to be yours.

II. Powerful people understand a culture of freedom. They embrace internal control, and they don't require external control (law or fear of punishment) to make good choices. So many of us were raised in an environment of external control. From the outside our parents tried to make us do what they wanted using intimidation and fear. We didn't learn how to control ourselves because our parents did everything for us. They told us how to think, what to believe, how to act, how to behave, and how to "be." People don't flourish in a culture of control. They just get really good at hiding who they really are and what they're really doing.

III. Powerful people don't have secrets. They have courage to be honest and transparent. People who have secrets usually have a lot of shame and guilt they are living with. They are afraid, afraid if people really knew who they were they would be punished. Again, this is the manifestation of a belief system that says I can control others, and they can control me. When we believe we have the right to control others, we believe we have the right to punish them, and be punished. In a culture of freedom, there is no shame or guilt in making mistakes. With freedom, there is room to make bad choices, and there is room to clean up our messes. We learn more from failure than we do from success. There is no shame when we reveal what we are tempted to hide. Powerful people don't fear failure, they learn from it. Abraham Lincoln said, "My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure."

IV. Powerful people don't attack when they are feeling threatened or powerless. They articulate their needs and don't try to get their way by using fear and intimidation. People who are afraid or who are feeling powerless will often times go into an argument with "arms swinging." I remember one time I asked my husband Jon to go to the store for me. I was busy and didn't have time to run the errand myself, I was really hoping he would do it. When he said no, I immediately felt the need to attack. I started threatening him because I felt powerless. It went something like "if you don't do this for me, then I won't do that for you..." He looked at me with kind eyes and said, "I don't respond to threats, but I do respond to need. Tell me why you need me to run this errand for you." I know I have shared this before but I felt it deserved a repeat. That moment was a turning point for our relationship. I pulled myself out of attack mode, and went on to explain why the errand was so important to me. Powerful people believe their needs are important.

One rule of communication with this principal is: I will tell you what I am feeling and what I need. You will have to decide what to do with that information. Will you validate me, will you protect my heart? Or will you ignore me? For example: "I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed right now with all that is on my plate. I need you to pick up stamps for me at the store so I can finish what I'm doing here, and bills can be paid on time. Can you please do that for me?"

V. Powerful people confront in love, they don't hide from or avoid healthy confrontation. Confrontation requires trust. It is very difficult to confront someone you don't trust. Likewise, it is very difficult to confront someone who doesn't trust you. People who are afraid, hide. People who want to preserve friendship and protect connection confront what is threatening that relationship, even when it is scary. Powerful people don't protect ideas or information, they protect people and relationships.

Some good questions to ask yourself when confronting are:
  • Have I invested enough into this relationship to take an emotional withdrawal that confrontation will require?
  • Will confronting this issue bring this person closer to me, or push them further away?
  • What is my goal in confronting? Do I want to preserve this relationship and fix it, or do I really want to just set healthy boundaries because this person is out of control?
  • If someone had to confront me about this issue, how would I want them to present it to me?
  • What is this person's love language? (If you have not read about love languages, google "the five love languages") When confronting someone it is important to speak to them in a way they will best hear it.
Words of affirmation: this person will be extremely sensitive about negative sounding words. Try to use the most positive, uplifting words when confronting this person.

Touch: this person will feel much more disarmed if you can touch them on the shoulder or the arm (when appropriate) while confronting them.

Acts of service: this person will probably hear them best if you start out the confrontation with, I just did this thing for you, oh and I wanted to know if we could talk about...

Gifts: bringing a love offering (like their favorite coffee) is a small but meaningful gesture that would help this person hear what you are saying better.

Quality time: making sure you spend quality time with this person before and after the confrontation will make them feel valued.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Question From A Single Mom

My first question comes from a single mom we'll call Lisa. She has an 11 year old daughter and a limited income. She works full time and goes to school full time. Wow, what a schedule! Her problem is a typical one I've heard before. Dad is not involved, not emotionally, physically or financially supporting his daughter. Sounds like he has a drinking problem and is very inconsistent with work. She hasn't been getting child support for 4 months now, and is wondering what to do about it. So far there has been no legal arrangement made.

Lisa, I can tell you from experience, I've heard this story so many times. I've seen it work out a couple different ways. I've seen the mother pursue child support, and then battle the rest of her life with a man who is flaky, untrustworthy, and emotionally draining to work with. I've heard so many single mothers say "I wish I didn't have to deal with this, it is so stressful!". On the other hand, I've seen situations where the mother just let the father go, and didn't pursue financial support. Yes that put strain on her financially, but time and again I've heard women express that struggling to make ends meet is a different kind of stress than struggling with a father who's integrity and character are lacking.

Personally, when I came to the realization that the man who fathered my child (before I met and married Jon), was not interested at all in being there for me or my baby (financially, emotionally or physically), I cut the strings. At first it was scary. I had no idea how I would make ends meet, how I would support a child all by myself. But things always worked out, we always had enough. And 12 years down the road, I can't imagine how having someone like him in my life would have drained me and stressed me, (not to mention having to co-parent with a practical stranger, someone who's core values were obviously not mine).

Now, I don't know if your daughter has any relationship with him, I got the sense that there wasn't much of a bond there. I'm a firm believer that kids need healthy, balanced, loving people surrounding them. It sounds like you and your parents are more than sufficient in these areas. If it's money you're worried about, I say no need to worry. If you've read my story you know the ways that you and your child can have all your needs provided for and more! I also think if he is struggling to have a healthy life, it may be best to "cut the strings."

This is an important decision and I think deep down, we always know what is best for our kids. I know what worked for my life, and I have heard several women say it worked best for them too. But still, you have to weigh this decision carefully, and go with your best gut instinct.

Please keep us updated on how things turn out, my family and I will be praying for you during this time, that you'll be able to make the best decision possible.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ask me!

I'm a puddle. I just finished watching Julie & Julia. I am passionate about cooking, but that is not what made me tear up. It's like someone made a movie about all my secret heart's desires (when it comes to writing that is). I could so relate to the roller coaster of emotions those women went through. It's good to know I'm not alone. I'm so glad I started a blog this year. I can't wait to see where it takes me.

I would like to ask you all a favor. I feel like the best of who I am gets pulled out of me when I am attempting to solve someone's relational, emotional, marital, parental or financial questions. If you have something that's been on your heart, an answer you're seeking or advice you long for, give me a try! I'd love to give it a whirl. You can private message me on facebook or email me at (make sure you put "ask me" in the subject line). All names will be changed and privacy will be respected of course!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs, and to send me your questions. You are all amazing people!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Princes Don't Rescue Dragons

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. She is in her twenties, married for a few years now, and has 2 kids under 3. Needless to say her marriage connection is under a bit of strain. It took me back to the good ole days of when Jon and I really struggled as a couple. Now that I'm on the other side, I can see it all so clearly. It was all the perfect storm for us, the lack of sleep, the lack of communication tools, the stress, the lack of money, the hostility, the rage, the indifference, the misunderstandings, the judgements, all added up to a wild ride of disconnection and disappointment with flashes of hope all in the midst of it.

The very things that attracted you to each other under times of stress become the things you find yourself raging at. This particular couple has the same dynamics of Jon and I personality-wise so when she started sharing her heart with me I could really say "I've been there, felt that, said that, and done that!" The basic problem was this: Hubby is easy going, laid back, "safe", low key, a good match for wife that is high spirited, a go-getter, strong willed, perfectionist, high energy (and sometimes high maintenance) - hey, what do you expect when you marry a Ferrari? Hubby under tremendous amounts of stress begins to forget things, starts to mentally check out, forgets about romance - but still desires those sexual needs to be met. Wife gets extremely frustrated, feels like she has to do everything, feels like she has just added another child to the mix, wants to be loved, romanced and supported, but feels like raging and therefore pushes hubby away, causing him to check-out even more. Sound familiar to anyone?

So, here was how our conversation went. I reminded her that first and foremost, they were both running on empty, and had been for a while. In the past few years they've had a death of a close family member, moved twice, had financial struggles, and given birth to two babies in a short period of time = TONS OF STRESS. I told her that this season is the hardest one they will face as a married couple. These types of scenarios just do not bring out the best in people. I reassured her that it is NORMAL for her and hubby to feel tired, crabby, short fused, checked-out, wanting to escape it all.

But here is the good news. It does pass! It does get better. You do get to sleep again! You do get to have dates again. You will feel your rage dissipate! He will remember the romance!

She commented that when she rages and he pulls away, it makes it even worse because what she really wants is for her prince to rescue the princess, to pull her in closer and to take her away from all the madness.

I responded, "but princes don't rescue dragons."

I went on to explain that if she wants her prince to rescue her, then she needs to appeal to that side of him, and show him her vulnerability. I shared with her that one day when I was raging to Jon about something I thought he had done wrong, he looked at me and said "I don't respond to threats, but I do respond to needs. What do you need from me?"

That was a turning point for us. I realized that the rage had been my friend in the moment, but in reality, my "friend" turned into my worst foe. Back to my conversation from this morning, something was said that really made me laugh... "rage is like candy dripping with butter deep fried in goodness." It can be a high, that's for sure! But in the end, it does not get you what you really want. It pushes you further and further from what you want. In the end, like any other addiction, it destroys everything that is near and dear to you.

So how do you transform from a dragon to a princess? It starts with a choice. When you are feeling rage, you don't believe you have a choice, but you do. You just have to train yourself and discipline yourself to get to the root of what you are really needing in that moment. When I first started this process, I would think to myself "I NEED you to stop being a dumb-ass." Well we all know that is not the right answer, LOL. So I would have to dig deeper. Sometimes it was as simple as "I need a nap." Sometimes it was, "I need to feel supported. I need you to let me know everything is going to be alright." And sometimes (even though we would never admit it out loud), we even need our husbands to give us boundaries when we are out of control. A good one I remember from our counselor was this "when respect leaves the room, so do I." I realized most of the time I was afraid, or feeling neglected and sad, or disappointed. I had to train myself to express those emotions, and stop using my default emotion, rage/anger.

After our conversation, my friend called up hubby and said this:

"I apologize for being a dragon. What I really need from you when things are tough, and I haven't slept and I'm having trouble controlling my emotions, is for you to look past that. I need to be seen by you, I need to feel connected with you. You can help me by holding me even if I'm wearing my dragon suit. When I'm in your arms I promise not to burn your head off, and I will do my best to become the vulnerable princess you need me to be."

Well done! And I know as time goes by you two are just going to get better and better at this marriage stuff!

If you can really relate to all of this, and know of others who could as well, please pass this on!

I want to conclude with a clip from one of my all-time favorite movies about marriage. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It displays the realities of marriage, the good times and the bad, and leaves you with a sense of hope and humility. I hope you enjoy!

(If you click on The Story of Us bottom left of the video, it will open in a new screen for you and you can close the advertisements as well as view it larger).