Doing Life Together

board-2433982_1920Trust is foundational to any relationship. This is true whether we are talking about an intimate other or your boss at work. Working in an organization in which trust is absent affects productivity, creativity, your work and autonomy. Something just doesn’t feel right. Feelings of safety, satisfaction and confidence take a hit when trust is low.

Leaders should focus on building trust in order have greater productivity and organizational collaboration. There is research to support that in high trust organizations profits are higher, employees stay and feel satisfied, and the company gains a good reputation.

Organizational trust is built on three things:

  1. Past behavior. Does a leader behavior in a consistent manner? If not, it is difficult to trust the present. People who are unpredictable in any relationship are difficult to trust.
  2. Capability: Is the leader perceived as competent? Noticed I said, “perceived” because it is difficult to trust someone you feel doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Trust is based on your perception. And that perception is usually based on the way the leader behaves.
  3. Alignment: Do you align with the goals and direction of the leader? Working towards a common goal is part of trust. If you can’t buy in the vision or direction of a leader, trust is usually at the root.

Leaders can build trust in a few important ways: 

  1. Involve people in decisions. This helps people know how the leader thinks and how decisions are made. It also helps with buy-in. In any relationship, when decisions are discussed and you are included, you tend to trust more.
  2. Just like parenting, leaders who are consistent with their decisions build trust. And it helps to add transparency along the way.  Listen first to what people have to say, but be consistent in your responses and actions.
  3. Attend to relationships. The more leaders can help people get along, work together and co-exist, the better the atmosphere of a company. Right wrongs when they occur. Don’t allow tension to build without addressing it. Nothing breaks trust more than being treated in negative ways.

Since trust includes your integrity, motive and intent with people, it is foundational to the way people are inspired and work together. When trust is missing, people lose their loyalty and motivation to work for a company. Trust me!


learning-928638_1920Developmental psychologists have long been studying what it takes to raise smart kids. The authors of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, provide insight into what parents can do to bump up key learning in parenting moments. The authors (Hirsh-Pasek &  Golinkoff) contend that we need to move away from just having kids spit out facts that they learn in school and focus more on other factors of success like navigating relationships, being in community and learning to work with others.

The authors look at six critical areas of development: 1) Collaboration–how well children develop community and work with others 2) Communication skills –reading,writing, speaking and listening 3) Content–reading and learning how to build content 4) Critical thinking-see below 5) Creative innovation which involves the power of learning something well in order to be creative about it 6) Confidence which allows children to take risks.

Let’s look specially at helping kids with critical thinking: Critical thinking involves 4 levels– someone tells you something is true; you also realize there are multiple points of view; you add your opinion and then look for the evidence. The more we work through this process of crucial thinking, the more we open ourselves to learn. Parents can cultivate this skill by allowing children to ask more about why things happen, how they happen and how to look at something from multiple points of view. Encourage your child  to ask more questions and be curious. For example, I use to take my kids to a local park, look at bugs and plants and ask them what they observed, how does the bug find food, who are his friends and if we were bugs, what would we be thinking? This was a fun, in the moment way to encourage their curiosity but also critical thinking.

What is important in helping your kids be smart is how you talk to them in the moment. Are you encouraging those 6 C’s listed above? Are you moving beyond the facts of a situation, not answering curious questions with statements like, “just because,” but rather encouraging your child’s curiosity and learning?

In a day when kids are taught more and more to simply get the right answer for a test, this type of learning in the moment is critical for kids to be smarter and more adept in their social world.

pills-1569173_1920He was part of a clinical trial. Take this drug and your pain goes away. But he didn’t know if he was really getting the drug or if he was getting what is called a placebo–a pill that does nothing because it is fake.

He reported that his pain was much improved. The researchers looked and he was not on the new drug, rather he had been given a placebo. So how is it that he felt so much better? Ahhhhh…that is the power of the mind. He thought he was getting a pain reliever and because of that thought, he felt better.

One explanation for what might be happening here could simply involve time. When we hurt or go to a doctor, we may start to feel better just because time is making things better. Another possibility is that simply knowing you are getting help may push you to be more aware of signs of improvement. In other words, you look for and focus on signs of health. That positive focus helps you feel better.

With pain, we also know that our expectations and learning can make us feel better as well. For example, let’s say you took a pill and it worked. The next time you take a pill, even if it was a placebo, it might work because your brain remembers and learns. We respond to things positively and negatively based on cues in our environment and then remember those cues. So having a response in the past can help you have that same response in the future due to how the brain learns. Researchers have found that with pain, you can condition pain relief with your mind. If you think you are taking a pain pill, yet it is a placebo, you can still activate the painkilling system in the brain.

And let’s say that you watch another person get relief from taking a pill or doing a procedure. You could respond with relief as well because of the power of watching and your brain learning and responding to those same cues. Then add a warm and empathetic person who cares about you, and you may feel even more relief. Why? Because we have a belief and expectation that people who care will help us feel better.

Bottom line: Placebo helps symptoms of pain because pain is modulated by the mind. The mind has the power to mimic a drug and release opioids and other endorphins in the brain. Thinking that something is helping your pain affects the pain you report. So think on things that are good and helpful and you might just feel better.

coins-1015125_1920Since we are created with a body, soul and spirit, to ignore any one part results in an unbalanced life. To live a balanced life, we must attend to all parts of who we are. Because our culture focuses so much on our bodies, it is difficult to think holistically.

Weight obsession and physical fitness are national pastimes. Beauty and thinness are idolized and worshipped. And we abuse our bodies with lack of sleep, self-induced stress, alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy sexual practices. Basically, we have to fight against and undo these unhealthy physical practices.  So yes,it is important to eat healthy, exercise, get enough rest and reevaluate our behavior when it comes to habit and sexual practices. The body is a point of attention that has to be brought back into balance.

Because we have a soul, we must daily renew our minds with God’s truth, manage our emotions and stress, and work through relationship difficulties. Keeping our emotions in check regardless of circumstances and people is one of the greatest challenge to our sense of peace. But soul care is tied to spiritual care. Because we are spirit, we must know how to satisfy our spiritual hunger and longings through an intimate relationship with God. When this happens, it directly influences our emotions and mental health.

If you find yourself struggling with isolation, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, it may be that your spiritual life is out of balance. Spiritual beliefs and practices serve as a positive source of interpersonal strength. Spirituality improves health (Miller & Thoresen, 2003). And people who develop a deep sense of spirituality demonstrate better stress management, higher self-esteem, and greater interpersonal competence (Hill & Pargament, 2003).

So while the culture is obsessed with the physical body and emotional reactions, the spiritual part of our lives is often ignored and undeveloped, leaving us vulnerable to problems in the other two areas. Work on spiritual balance and see if the other parts of your life improves. To do so, consider these practices and engage in them as you would healthy eating and exercise.

Inward disciplines: Prayer, meditation, fasting, Bible study

Outward disciplines: Simplicity, solitude, service

Corporate disciplines: Worship, confession, celebration, hospitality

As you practice spiritual disciplines, your life will come in to balance because one part affects the whole. And the spiritual part is the most important to achieving balance in the others.