Choosing How to Respond to Unrealistic Expectations

As we grow and develop as leaders, we’ve looked at understanding Whose we are, discerning who we are made to be,  and filling our minds with the right thoughts. Even knowing all of that, I sometimes forget, and give in to feelings of being overwhelmed or putting unrealistic expectations on myself. When that happens I beat myself up. Can you relate?

Unrealistic Expectations

My downward spiral usually starts with unrealistic expectations. If I am honest, most of the unrealistic expectations I have for myself are just in my head. For example, I typically expect that I can do things as quickly and easily as my friends without disabilities. This is rarely the case. I am at least 50–100% slower, in my mind, on many things. My wife often reminds me she and others without visible disabilities may not be as fast and together as I perceive them to be.  Once I  voice my unrealistic expectations , they have less “control” over me.

Overwhelmed By Life

Life rarely comes at us in small, bite-sized doses. In a perfect world, I could control project deadlines and client expectations. In fact, there are books and seminars advising how to do this. But sometimes the advice seems less doable when real life hits (a world that is not perfect).  

It is true with relationships too. Visits from family members rarely happen on our schedule. Feeling overwhelmed is part of life. When I voice out loud or in writing the things that are overwhelming me, they become less daunting.

Taking It Out on Me

When I don’t  deal with unrealistic expectations, or acknowledge feelings of being overwhelmed, it may  lead to beating myself up emotionally.  It begins a downward spiral. As I mentioned above, I take longer to do most things than I think I should. When I follow this thought pattern, I beat myself up, instead of accepting this as part of how God created me and allowing myself the time I need. In essence, I am telling God He did not create me right.

Recovery

Here’s the thing. When I beat myself up, I waste the energy I could have used on the project I need to get done. But before I can proceed with the project, I have to recover from the wounds I created by beating myself up. The lesson here is beating myself up does nothing of value.

If I am not careful,  beating myself up for beating myself up,  can become a never-ending cycle. Because I am not perfect, and neither are you, we’re all going to slip and fall.  The question then becomes–how quickly can we recover from the beating we give ourselves?

For me, recovering usually includes (at least) three parts.

1.  I need to voice my feelings to someone I trust and listen to their feedback to determine if I am being realistic or not. One counselor even told me I should never do self-reflection alone. My opinion of myself can be jaded.

2.  I need to identify the lie I am listening to and confess this to God.

3.  I need to remind myself of God’s truth about me. I shared some about this in an earlier post.

To help me keep my focus where it needs to be, I’ve put together a list of verses that remind me God has a plan and purpose for me, and He sees me.  If you’d like to receive a copy of the list, contact me at jerry@luke14exchange.org. I’m also posting one of these verses each day on Facebook and Twitter. Soon I’ll be sending them out daily by text. If you’d like to be on that list, send your number to me at jerry@luke14exchange.org.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

A Few More Questions from Jerry

Hi friends, It’s the question guy back! In my last post, I shared questions for you to think about in determining what you believe God is calling you to do.  I know life has been different for the last couple of months, but I hope you had some time to ponder those questions.

This month I have more questions to share with you.  In The Fifteen Invaluable Laws of Personal Growth, John Maxwell suggests asking one’s self these questions:

  • What would you like to do?  God wants us to enjoy the way He has created us.  His calling on your life is likely related in some way to the passions He’s given you.
  • What talents, skills, and opportunities do you possess?
  • What are your motives for what you want to do?  If what you want to do doesn’t glorify God or serve others, it may not be part of His plan for you.
  • Whose advice can you get to help you along the way?  Who believes in you?  Who points out what you do well?  Who challenges you?  Who holds you accountable? Who in your sphere of influence is doing something similar to what you want to do?
  • What price are you willing to pay?  What obstacles stand in your way?  What is your plan for overcoming those obstacles?

            Between my last post and this post you might be thinking, “You’re asking a lot of questions.”  You’re right!  Here’s the deal, the more you look at your calling from as many different directions as possible, the more information you will have to figure it out.  In other words, the more questions the better.  Here’s one more question, which question(s) from the last post and this one proved most beneficial?

            John Maxwell’s book The Fifteen Invaluable Laws of Personal Growth is excellent.  If you’re looking for a book on leadership and personal development, you definitely want to pick it up.  If you decide to listen to it or read it, let me know what you think.

How to Discover Your Unique Gifts and Calling

This is the fifth in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. To read the previous posts, click the month. February, January, DecemberNovemberOctober.

     What do you want to be when you grow up? This simple question gives permission to ignite a dream.  Could it really be that easy?  Very few of us work today in the career we first dreamed of as a child.   But it’s a good place to begin.  I read a study that children who grow up with disabilities are not asked that question until much later in life than typical kids.  Let’s change that factor and include all kids in setting the stage for the future.

     One of my earliest aspirations was to be a professional baseball player.  I grew up with cerebral palsy and have used a wheelchair for most of my life.  Eventually, I realized a career as a professional baseball player wasn’t going to happen; but I still liked being around the game.  I thought about being a baseball coach or sportswriter.  While I was in high school, I coached Little League baseball and wrote sports for my local newspaper.  In the process, I discovered I liked working with kids. 

I went to college to become a youth pastor.  I soon realized there weren’t a lot of churches ready to hire someone in a wheelchair as a pastor.  So, I started a ministry to help churches reach out to people with disabilities.  This eventually led to what I do now; helping people and families affected by disability to unleash their God-given potential.

And it all started with wanting to become a professional baseball player.  I believe the dream morphed because people did not tell me I couldn’t but let me explore options.

     I am convinced that we are wired to do things that bring us joy and serve others.  The following questions can help you think about what brings you joy and what you can do to meet the needs of others.  You do not need to answer them all at once.  This process works best when given time.

     Is there a career or job that you think you’d enjoy?  Maybe it’s a career that runs in your family, like law enforcement, a schoolteacher, a college professor or a professional athlete.  How about the military?  Whatever it is, name it.  There’s power in identification.  Voicing it makes it real and begins the adventure.

     Some people may use the information they glean from this activity to engage in a volunteer opportunity, while others may seek a paying job, career, or higher education.  For these questions, we use the words job, work, activity, employment, or calling to include all of these options.

     Some of these questions may seem repetitive.  The idea is to look from as many perspectives as possible.  People with disabilities have the same right to risk, fail, or succeed as anyone else. 

  • Describe a time in life when you felt accomplished, successful, or delighted.  What specific activity or experience created that feeling?
  • If you could set up your ideal work, describe what it would be like every day.  Give as much detail as you can.
  • What would an average day be like?
  • When would you get up?
  • Can you do this job or activity from home, or would you need to go to an office or other location?
  • If you have to go to another location how would you get there?  Do you drive?  Can you take a bus?  Would you need a driver?
  • If you got this job, what do you think a typical day would be like?
  • What would your supervisor be like?
  • Who are the people you’d be working with?  What are they doing?
  • Where can you learn more about this job?  Consider books, job fairs, magazine articles, podcasts, TV shows, YouTube videos, and personal contacts.
  • Who do you know who does this job?  Have you spoken to them?  Can you shadow them for a day, an hour?
  • What is it about this job that appeals to you?
  • What parts of this job do you think you could do extremely well?  Why?
  • What skills will you need to do this job?
  • Where could you get these skills?  Technical school, college, apprenticeship, on-the-job training?
  • Have you talked with your family and friends who know you well about this job?  How do they respond?  Do they encourage you or are they apprehensive?  What do they suggest you do next?
  • Who are the people others suggest you talk to?
  • Is there one part of this job or activity that excites you the most?  What other jobs or activities could offer that same joy or satisfaction?
  • What is one step you can take now to move toward this goal?

Another way some people learn more about themselves and their interests is to take a personality profile. We recommend the DISC profile and the CliftonStrengths 34 (formerly StrengthsFinders).  You can take either profile through Luke 14 Exchange, Inc and we can help you process the results.

If you’d like to talk with someone about these questions or profiles, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear about the dreams God is igniting in you.

How to Know Who You Are as a Leader

This is the fourth in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. To read the previous posts, click the month. January, DecemberNovemberOctober.

In my November post I made the statement, “Leadership begins with knowing whose we are.” In the following months we looked at Scripture and strategies that can affirm and help us grasp whose we are.  This month I want to tackle the idea of who we are.

For many of us our disability is the first thing that is seen, and it is probably what we think of when asked who we are. But we want the answer to that question to look beyond our disability. Our disability is a factor, but not the sole definition of who we are.

So we need to ask the question, how does disability affect our perception of who we are? Before we answer that question, there is a foundational question we need to answer. Why does God allow disabilities? 

I am about to give you an answer based on sixty years of living with cerebral palsy, over four decades as a Christian,  twenty-some years of education in Christian colleges/universities and forty years of ministry.  I don’t know why we are disabled.  The truth is theologians have been debating this seemingly from the beginning of time. What I do know is this: 1) God is sovereign, and He is wildly in love with us. Remember Psalm 139?  2) He has a purpose in our disability and  wants to redeem it for His glory and our good. 

One of the passages that tells me this, is in the book of John chapter 9.  As Jesus and his disciples were walking along, they came across a man who was born blind.  The disciples asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?  Was it because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”  Jesus answered, “This man was born blind to show the ‘power’ of God.”  Some translations say the works of God, the glory of God.  The word used in the original language is the same root word that we use today for “dynamite.”  This man was born blind so that God could blow away the world’s expectations for what God could do in this man’s life. That’s the kind of God I am excited to serve.

Our disability is a part of who we are, but it is not the determiner or the complete picture of who we are. Who we are also includes our life experience, our family, our personality, our temperament, our passions, our talents, our gifts, etc. We talk about all these things individually, but the truth is they are intertwined.

Photo by Stokpic

Sometimes taking a personality profile or questionnaire can be helpful to uncover an understanding of some of these factors. Some of my favorites are, the DISC profile, the Meyers Briggs  and the Clifton Strengths 34. If you have the opportunity to take any of these profiles, I encourage you to do so, Please remember that these are profiles, not tests.

You are already an A+ in God’s eyes. Your results from any profile are a picture of a point in time. They are like a slice of a pie. They do not tell everything about you, or who you will be in the future.  It is best to use the summary as a guide and talk through the results with someone who knows you well. They can help you honestly sort through the things that could be most helpful to you.

I realize not everyone is as geeky as me and enjoys these profiles. Stay tuned! Next month I will share with you a free list of questions I have developed to help one assess how God has wired them.  

I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself in this process. You can share in a comment below, or email Jerry@Luke14Exchange.org