If Acid Attack survivor, Monica Singh, can endure, you can, too

Monica Singh Before Attack
(Monica Singh Facebook, 2017)

Monica Singh was a beautiful 19-year-old women growing up in India when a horrific event occurred.  Unbeknown to her, acid would be thrown on her face by an obsessed suitor because she would not marry him. Her perpetrators, though, did not know the strength Singh was made of.  Since, what they did to her actually made her even more beautiful and determined than she ever was prior to the attack.

MS 5
(Singh Personal Photo)

I first communicated with Singh after reading about her story on Facebook Link  There she describes herself as a, “Motivational Personality, Speaker, Humanitarian, Acid Attack Survivor, Speaker at UN, Global Youth Champion of UN Women.”  So, I reached out to her through LinkedIn Link and she graciously let me interview her.

Singh shared that it was her family, and in particular her father, Mahendra Singh,  who helped her heal and endure through 46 surgeries, not to leave out her own “will to live.”  In her father’s honor, Singh founded the Mahendra Singh Foundation  Its purpose?  To “help victims of physical and sexual abuse, acid attacks, rape and domestic violence in rebuilding their confidence and strength on their journey to becoming survivors.”

Today, says Singh, “I am currently dedicated to running my foundation.  Through [it] I strive to provide counseling, skills, guidance, and treatments to survivors of gender-based violence.”

“I am also work[ing] as a designer and creative expert for [a] fashion company in midtown Manhattan.”  This after reaching a pinnacle dream come true graduating from the School of Fashion at Parson’s in New York last year Link

Monica-Singh
(Karerat, 2015)

Additionally, Singh has been been “appointed as Global Youth Champion by UN Women and is also a Spokesperson at United Nations representing Face of Resilience from India – United States of America” United Nations

monica_singh
(Monica Singh, 2017)

In this role Singh, “spread[s] awareness about violence against women and gender-based violence issue[s].”

She has also been created into a comic book superhero.  According to her Facebook page, Singh says, “Here is the #first #sneak peak of my #charactersketch for #priyashakti #comicbooks for #violenceagainstwomen issue. #book your copy. Write us #info@mahendrasinghfoundation.org “

Priyas-Mirror
(Monica Singh Facebook, 2017)

“Artist and illustrator, Dan Goldman, sketched my character.  He consulted [with] me for the look and feel of [my] character.”  To find out more about this work, which will help other acid attack survivors, visit  Priyas mirror a comic book that depicts acid attack survivors as superheroes

MS 3
(Singh personal photo)

If all this weren’t enough, Monica positively impacts where ever she goes.  “When young girls see/listen to my story, they get inspired,” she says.  “It gives them motivation to stand [up] for themselves.”

“I have been inspired by different people and different qualities at different points in my life.  My heroes have been my father, my family, the people who do good deeds in their daily lives, fashionistas, people who make a difference, people who are happy with their lives, and also people who strive for bigger things.  There is no dearth of inspiration in this world.”

Singh considers herself a hope-based person.  “I believe … how you perceive, you conceive.  There is nothing in the universe which [isn’t] attract[ed] [to] you.  So, why not attract only good and positive things in life[?]  I start my day with a daily mission; [a] smile on my face and [also] sleep with [a] smile to dream good.”

Some of Singh’s favorite things to do include, “seeing places, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  Pretty much all the things that this world has to offer.”

When asked if she feels beautiful, she positively exclaims, “Absolutely!  And why not?”

In five or ten years, Singh says she hopes to be “living every moment and walking on my path.”

Her favorite quote?  To “leave the world [in] a better place than you found it.”

For anyone experiencing any kind of adversity, Singh suggests, “Education and self-inner power” are ways to endure.   Adding, “Nothing will stop you ever.”

“I survived something gruesome.  I believe that my life has a purpose now.”

“People see there is hope [in my story]!  If I can do it, anyone can.”

 

If you would like Monica Singh to speak at your university, school, business, etc., click Book Monica

References

Karerat, R.  (2015, July 29).  Retrieved from https://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2015/07/29/acid-attack-victim-monica-singh-finds-new-life-at-parsons-school-of-design-in-new-york/

Monica Singh. (2017).  Retrieved from https://wordpress.com/post/howtobehopebased.com/3310

Former ‘dancer’ finds God: Anything is possible

Graduation May 2014 018
(Davis Personal Photo)
“I’ve got someone I want you to meet.  You will get along great with her,” said Elder Dunn, a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS or Mormon Church), when I was living in Henderson, NV, in 2013 while finishing graduate school.  When I wasn’t in school or working, I was engaged in something I am still very passionate about, missionary work.
“Here’s her phone number,” said Elder Dunn.
“K, great, thanks.”
“By the way, she was a stripper, and it’s taken 10-years to get her baptized.”
Really?  That is awesome!”
I officially met Kym Hoe face-to-face the night of her baptism into the LDS Church.  There she beamed with the spirit.  Yet, our friendship initially began over the phone.  From the moment we spoke, we connected.  It was like meeting a long lost friend.
Kym 10.JPG
(Dunn Personal Photo)
New “profession”
Kym grew up in San Diego, Calif.  She got into dancing because her husband was dancing.  She thought, “If he can do it, I can, too.”  But her San Diego dancing days were more like serving drinks in skimpy outfits.
Fast-forward a few years, Kym and her husband both found themselves in Vegas.  He later danced around the world for a company similar to Chippendale’s.  And she easily got a job dancing at a strip club.  Only this time, she would be serving more than drinks.
Yet Kym said she never felt right, even though the money was more than good and the validation amazing; it was just no way to raise a family (she and her husband had two sons).  Let alone for there to be any kind of trust in a marriage.  Kym later found out that her husband was a sex-addict and cheating on her.
But she was able to buy a few houses, get the necessary plastic surgery to compliment her job, and do pretty much anything she wanted.
Light, truth and knowledge
Then one day, Brooke Watson, one of Kym’s neighbor’s asked, “You wanna go to a Relief Society activity.”  This would be the start of a 10-year odyssey of her learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which she would attend church, then not.  On-and-off and off-and-on again.
“I felt out of place at church.  I hated skirts.  I didn’t even own one.  I drank coffee and alcohol.  I danced, but I still went to church occasionally for at least five years.  Then I got serious and started going regularly.”
Kym knew though it was time to leave dancing when a fellow stripper said, “You need to go to church. You feel better there.” But she felt the adversary pulling her to stay in dancing because the money was good. Not to leave out she had been doing this for 20-years and was ‘tenured’. Actually, it was the only profession she knew.
Today
Life is good even if Kym still struggles “with life’s daily crap that Satan brings,” as she explains it.  Her career as a massage therapist at the Bellagio and as an Esthetician at Massage Envy, “is great” she says.  Yet, her ultimate goal is a noble one.  To help young girls and women stay away from that alluring strip club dancing profession.  Similar to what former exotic dancer Nikki Yaste, and also LDS convert, is doing LDS blogger’s journey from abuse, pornography to transformation
Kym wants to teach them there are alternatives.  To bear her testimony of the truth.  To pull them aside and say, “If I could leave dancing, you can, too.  Let me teach and show you how.”
Kym 6
(Hoe Personal Photo)
“I am so happy to leave my dancing career. I know Satan tries so hard to make a mess of my life, but the blessings are amazing!”
Kym 3
(Hoe Personal Photo)
And even though her current husband, Michael, was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, all Kym knows is to go forward.  To get up everyday and trust and to walk by faith even if still in the city where she once lived another life.  “After I got baptized, I hated the strip.  Just the energy there brought back many bad memories.  But I know that Heavenly Father wants me stronger than that since there are many things I need to be strong for.”
Kym 4
(Hoe Personal Photo)
“I love the Gospel because it’s perfect in every way.  And a beautiful plan to our future.”
And just like that, Kym goes forward with dignity and teaching her three sons that choosing the right is the only way.  Even and especially if everyone is saying otherwise.  Kym knows she can lay her head down at night, after expressing gratitude and praying to her Father in Heaven, “thank you for finding and saving me.  Please help me do the same for someone else.  In fact, lead me to them.”
After all, she is a testimony that anything is possible.
Even for a former dancer.

Follow the light and you will be alright

It was midnight.  Piled on the back of a pick-up truck were myself and a bunch of young women who were assigned to my group.  It was a beautiful summer night in Washington state.  We weren’t far from Olympia; yet we were in the thick of the woods.  Even though you could see the stars; it was still very dark.  After driving slowly for what felt like forever, we arrived at our destination. We all jumped out.  Our instruction, “Stay in a group.” And to me, “counsel the girls on how to get from the drop-off, Point A, to Point B otherwise known as ‘the light’.”

choosing-young-woman-light-bulb_1878524
(Reier, as cited in Hales, 1996)

Easy enough, I thought.  Even though, the night before, we leaders had walked through this activity.

Earlier that year I had been called to lead a group of young women of our church, even though I was still a very new member.  I remember thinking and even saying, “Bishop, are you sure you’ve got the right person?  I mean, I don’t know even how to sew or cook or …”

“…just call people who know how to do those things” he said.  And so I accepted the call even though I felt overwhelmed and inadequate.  I did eventually get some super awesome sisters to help though.  A few of them were at this girls camp with me.  But the night of this midnight activity, I was all alone with a group of young women, none of whom I knew.

“Okay girls,” I began.  “Our goal is to find the light.  We’re to head down the path looking for light.  Stay on the path.  Feel the tall grass on each side.  That will guide you.  If you are walking into the tall grass, you will know you are off the path,  and I want you to pray.  Pray that you will get there safely.  Keep going on the path until you reach the light.  Talk to your Father in Heaven and let the spirit guide you.”

“Can we go together?” one asked.

“No, you must go alone.  Actually, each one of us much go alone.  Yet, remember, you won’t be alone.” I said.  Yet,  I heard whimpers and, “I’m scared.”  I was too, but wasn’t going to tell them.  See, I had never felt comfortable in the woods.  Years back, growing up in New York State, we had at one point lived next door to a doctor and his family.  One of the son’s was a pedophile and had previously approached my sisters and I in the woods and also outside our home.  Also, growing up I had watched a few scary movies.  Even today, they sometimes play in my mind.  Yet, this exercise of walking toward the light, was one in faith, trust, hope, endurance, listening to the spirit, and the power of prayer.

“We can do this,” I said.  “We all can do this,” I told them hoping to spark confidence not just in them, but me too.  “Let’s stand in a circle.”  We then put our arms around each other’s shoulders.

“Here’s what we are going to do.  One at a time, each of us will leave the group.  You will stay on that path until you see the light.  We’ll sing songs until it is time for another one of you to leave the group.  If you have trouble on the path, call out for me.  I will come help you.”  After the first volunteer left, I waited a few minutes and then let another young women head off.  As each one left, I felt like my gut was being ripped apart as I let them go.  I prayed, though, for them to stay on the path and safely reach the light.  Even though we continued singing loudly, we heard someone crying.  I told the girls to keep singing.  When I finally found a young woman on the ground, she was crying because she was scared.  She, like I, had also watched scary movies and was afraid to keep going.

“You can do this.  You’ve got this.  Do you believe you can do this?”

“I’m just scared,” she cried.

“I know.  But Heavenly Father is aware of you.  He’s with you.  He’s guiding and protecting you.  Trust him.  Listen to the spirit and just keep moving forward toward the light.”

After a few minutes, she was on her way.  I joined the group at Point A again, which was getting smaller and smaller.  Yet, we continued singing until we heard one more young women yelling out.  So, once more, I left the group and went to find a young women who, when I found her, was in a fetal position on the ground and terrified.  She told me that she had been raped before and was afraid to go on.  We talked for a little bit until she felt confident to proceed.

When it was finally my turn.  Standing there all alone I had to tell myself, “You’ve got this.  You’re okay.  Heavenly Father’s here with you.  He’s heard you.  Just follow the light and you will be alright.”  Once the light became brighter, I found all of the girls at a campsite.  As I walked into it, they cheered when they saw me and we hugged each other.  This, because we had all made it.  Other leaders where there and of course, snacks.  We each shared our experience of walking in the dark, and not seeing where we were going, but trusting we would be alright.  I found out that some girls had helped and encouraged each other along the way.  We talked about how my position represented the Savior and how he let’s us go into the world; yet, when we need Him, He is there to rescue us.  It was also an exercise in staying on the right path.

mormonad-look-to-the-light-1118312-gallery
(LDS Media Library, 2017)

That night, I learned more about the power of prayer and listening to the spirit. I learned about believing in others and in myself.  I learned about how uncomfortable and fearful I felt in the dark, but how wonderful I felt in the light, even peaceful.  I learned to focus

Stanfill Quote.jpg
(LDS Media Library, 2017)

on what people were doing right instead of what they were doing wrong.  I learned about how much it mattered that others were cheering you on.  I learned about love, and even though none of us knew each other in that group, we did by the end of that exercise.  But most of all, I learned that anything is possible.  That all things are possible if you believe, trust, do the right things, pray and listen, and keep going.  Because, if you follow the light, you will be alright.

References

Allen, B. (August, 21, 2013).  Retrieved from http://brackenallen-thinkonthesethings.blogspot.com/2013/08/in-him-is-no-darkness-at-all.html

Camp Gallery. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/locations/camping/sites/gallery?lang=eng

LDS Media Library.  (2017).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/meme-stanfill-light-1578536?lang=eng

LDS Media Library (2017).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-look-to-the-light-1118312?lang=eng

Reier, M. (n.d.).  As cited in Hales, R. D. (1996, November 3).  Choosing right from wrong.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/new-era/2017/03/choosing-right-from-wrong?lang=eng

He’s got this, do you?

Sometimes I want to ask the Savior, “Can’t I just take a peek at my customized curriculum?  Can’t I just turn to Chapter three or page 491?

Yet, I know I don’t need to.

Because I have faith in Him.

And I trust Him.

I also know He’s got this.  For you, me, heck everyone.

And that when I am figuratively driving the car, I need to let Him; even if I still ask frequently, “Are we there yet?”

It doesn’t mean, though, that our human self doesn’t doubt or fear from time-to-time.

While our spiritual self is the more positive and in fact hopeful one.

In a recent blog post God’s customized curriculum for you: Embrace and love it regardless, I wrote about how God has a customized curriculum for each one of us.  I later received a comment about that post:

C.S. Lewis 2
(Christianity Today, 2017)

“This reminds me of a favorite CS Lewis Quote: ‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.'”

C.S. Lewis & Palace

I love and believe this.  What great imagery.  We’re building a cottage, yet He knows we deserve a palace instead.  I can totally see this, can’t you?

God does know our potential.  He knows what we need.  And He wants to bless us beyond anything that we could ever imagine.  But we’ve got to talk to Him.  And read His instruction.  I mean, He’s clearly provided a way or means for us to navigate this life.  But are we utilizing those resources?

What to Do

It’s been said, if you want to talk to God, pray, then listen.  And if you want God to talk to you, read His scriptures, His words, then listen.

“Dependence on God can fade quickly when prayers are answered. And when the trouble lessens, so do the prayers,” said church leader Henry B. Eyring (2001, para. 7).  Eyring tells us that we can’t just pray when times are tough.  We need to pour out our hearts to Him always.  And not just fast food prayers,  but sincere and genuine ones’.  And however long that prayer takes.  “When God has commanded us to pray, He has used words like “pray unceasingly” and “pray always” and “mighty prayer,” says Eyring.  He also believes we need to accept whatever comes.  However God answers us.  Even and especially if it is not what we prayed for.

president-eyring-meetinghouse-dedication.jpg
(LDS.org, 2016)

Like the breast cancer diagnosis I received.

Or when I have been cheated on.

Or the brain tumor I had taken out last summer.

All these things, and others, have made me into who I am today.  They are part of my customized curriculum.

And I am grateful for them even if they sometimes caused pain and anguish.

Yours might include the death of a loved one.

Loss of employment.

Divorce.

An addiction such as pornography.

A disease.

Financial loss.

But our trials can help create that palace C.S. Lewis alludes to.

So, too, can reading God’s words.  Take, for instance, Proverbs 3:5-6:

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (LDS.org, 2016)

Trust
(Griffiths, n.d.)

What great counsel.  Since we are spiritual beings, we need to talk to God, read His scriptures, and listen to know how best to get through this life.  Yet, human beings, rather, “lean … unto thine own understanding.”  Unfortunately, the latter can be a recipe for disaster.

It’s been said that every problem in life can be answered through the scriptures.  I believe this.  It has been true for me especially when I have been feasting opposed to having a baby toe in them.

RMN
(Holman, 2013)

“Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles,” said another church leader, Russell M. Nelson (2013, para. 16).  I don’t know about you, but blessings and miracles sound pretty good to me over any earthly or worldly thing.  Yet, we have to earn them.  They take work, action, plus faith.

OBEDIENCE 2
(Farmington UT West Stake, 2016)

All this He wants to give us.  We’ve just got to take time to not only get to know Him, but become like Him.  Dr. Kristin M. Oaks (2011) agrees, “Our responsibility is to become the best disciples of Christ we can become” (para. 11).   Similarly, President Thomas S.

KM_Oakes
(Oaks, 2011)

Monson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, counsels:

I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives. (2016, para. 6).

Monson
(Mormon Spiritual Gifts, n.d.)

So, I’m in.  Sign-me up.  No matter how difficult.

And as I do, let Him create that palace in place of my cottage.

After all, He’s got this.

How ’bout you?

References

Christianity Today.  (2017).  Christian history.  Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/musiciansartistsandwriters/cs-lewis.html

Deseret News Books.  (n.d.).  Posts [Pinterest page].  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/deseretnews/books/?lp=true

Eyring, H. B.  (2013, October).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/prayer?lang=eng

Farmington UT West Stake.  (2016, February 16).  Retrieved from http://farmingtonutweststakeprovidentliving.blogspot.com/2016/02/tip-of-day-exact-obedience-brings.html

Griffiths, W. (n.d.).  Posts [Pinterest page].  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7740630587668361/

Holman, M.  (2013, September 9).  Church News.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/church/news/what-will-you-choose-elder-nelson-asks-young-adults?lang=eng

Jones, M. & Williams, L. (2016, February 12).  22 quotes from LDS leaders about dating and marraige.  Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/top/3589/0/22-quotes-from-LDS-leaders-about-dating-and-marriage.html

LDS.org.  (2016).  Henry B. Eyring.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/what-are-prophets/bio/henry-b-eyring?lang=eng

LDS.org. (2016).  President Monson: Service brings joy.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/service-brings-joy?lang=eng

LDS.org. (2016).  The Proverbs.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/prov/3.5-6?lang=eng

Mormon Spiritual Gifts (n.d.). Develop your spiritual gifts. Retrieved from http://www.mormonspiritualgifts.com/?cat=22

Oaks, Kristen, M. (2011, September 11).  To the singles of the church.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/ces-devotionals/2011-09-to-the-singles-of-the-church?lang=eng

‘Happy’ filmmaker Roko Belic believes, “To be happy, you need to love”

The Happy Movie
(Happy Press Kit, 2011)

“Happy people make the world a better place,” “Happy” documentary director, Roko Belic, told an audience in Great Hall located in the Hunter Conference Center, at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, Thursday.  He found a common denominator among them.  “They have good relationships.”

roko-belic-large
(The Filmmakers, 2011)

Belic traveled the world for 6-years in search of stories of what makes people happy.  He found it in a U.S. woman who had been run over by a truck, from a humble rickshaw driver in India, in a volunteer who gave up wealth to serve those dying in a Mother Theresa home, also in India, and in elderly Okinawan women loving young children as though they were their own.  These and other stories make-up the 2011 documentary, “Happy” which has won countless best documentary awards from film festivals around the world (Happy Movie, 2011).

Keys to Being Happy

“To be happy, you need to love,” was the overarching theme Belic found among those he interviewed.

He also shared what makes him happy.  Travel was one thing.  Belic encouraged every one present to travel and talked about the incredible learning that takes place when you do.  He even told one student, who said she was going to live in Bali for a month and was a little scared, that he would connect her with his “Happy” co-producer who now lives there.

Belic also believes that “[being] a good friend” was another thing people can do to make themselves happy.” Adding, “An act of kindness to someone will improve your happiness,” even if you wrote a letter to them, but never sent it.

He also spoke about how materialism and money do not make a person happy.  He alluded to some of his friends who have a lot of money, but are not happy.  Belic said he is very grateful for what he has, but that some of his best experiences were when he had little and not knowing where things were going to come from.  Similarly, Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, in his book, Delivering Happiness, shares the same sentiment, “Money alone isn’t enough to bring happiness . . . happiness [is] when you’re actually truly ok with losing everything you have.”

tony2.jpg
(New York Post, 2017)

Yet, Belic believes if you treat people right, you will be alright.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, and one who was on the forefront of the positive psychology movement, of which Belic referred to,  prefers the term “positivity” over happiness which she defines as:

[a] whole range of positive emotions–from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude, and then some.  The term is purposefully broad.  It includes the positive meanings and optimistic attitudes that trigger positive emotions as well as the open minds, tender hearts, relaxed limbs, and soft faces they usher in.  It even includes long-term impact that positive emotions have on your character, relationships, communities, and environment.  (p. 6)

Belic also spoke about “the power of the individual voice” and how “a little gesture can change [someone’s] experience” even as Mother Teresa taught, “your job is to show these dying people that they are loved.”

But before Belic spoke this day, I witnessed a humble servant in him when he immediately stood-up and gave his seat to an incoming school child who arrived late to hear him speak.  Likewise, after his presentation, he spoke to many outside of Great Hall.  I was one of those.  As I waited, I noticed that he was a genuine listener, even remembering names.  That he sincerely wanted to know who he was speaking to.  He asked questions,  and made his email accessible just like Hsieh does during his presentations.

zappos-sxsw-31409-1-728

Point blank, Belic is happy.  It was quite evident.  Even up until the end of his presentation, I noticed those present were fixated and engaged on this unusually confident individual who had shared with us countless lessons on love and its correlation to happiness.

And now we were happy.

After all, said Belic, “happiness is contagious.”

References

Dawson, M. (2017, February 20).  Book says Zappos CEO didn’t just want a company — he wanted a cult.  Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2017/02/20/zappos-ceo-didnt-just-want-a-company-he-wanted-a-cult/

Delivering Happiness.  (2009, March 17).  Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/zappos/zappos-sxsw-31409

Fredrickson, B. L. (2009).  Positivity.  New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Happy.  (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.thehappymovie.com/

Happy Press Kit.  (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.thehappymovie.com/press/

Positivity.  (2009). Retrieved from https://www.positivityratio.com/

The Filmmakers.  (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.thehappymovie.com/film/

Creator’s last name, first initial. (Role of creator). (Year of creation). Title of image or description of image. [Type of work]. Retrieved from URL/database

Forgiving & loving your leader: From enemies to friends

 

images-2
(Passionate Giving, 2012)

“You sure you want to work for her?” a senior administrator asked me point-blank.  “She is an absolute jerk.  She’s come into my office, this office right here, screaming and demanding things.”  Similarly, another senior leader told me, “I’m fond of you and she’s not someone I would recommend you working under.  I’m worried for and I’m warning you.”

But I went anyway.

And they were somewhat right.

But the thing is, we sometimes have to find out for ourselves.

Later, once in that work environment, people would ask me in passing, by phone and email, “What’s it like working for so-and-so?”

Or, “How can you stand her?”

And even, “You okay?”

That leader fired people when they messed up.  Course, when you know someone’s looking for your mistakes or focusing on them, and sometimes sets you up for failure, you tend to mess up more.

You also got fired if she didn’t like you.  And she went to great extents to ruin your reputation, credibility and career.  Once fired, and not under her micromanagement umbrella anymore, she still worked to sabotage any of your future success.

Funny thing was, she made mistakes all the time.  Yet, it was okay.  It was a classic, “Do as I say, not as I do” culture.

And when a “high pollutant” person (to her) came into our department, she did the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dance.  You know, where she became someone we did not recognize.  Trust me, the special treatment was envied yet, stomach-upsetting.

Shouldn’t, though, we all be treated with the same respect regardless of our position, last name, salary, popularity, history, status, or connections?

images
(Brushfield, 2014)

Eventually, no one in our department felt their job tenure was safe or wanted to be at work.  And everyone I knew was looking for another job while they became a “yes” man and played “the game.”

And creativity and productivity?

Forget that. It was non-existent.

But let’s get to how I survived.

FOP_Logo_White_Med
(Somewhere Creative, n.d.)

I worked to focus on what was working.  What she was doing right because everyone does things right.  And her potential because everyone has potential.  And told her.  Over and over and over again.  Even while she reminded me and others of what we did wrong and held grudges.  Yet, “anger and blame are unproductive emotions that tie up energy in destroying rather than creating” (Kanter, 2013).

I also worked to love her (i.e., professionally and Christlike so).

And forgave her.  Which is something that was not reciprocated.

“Leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future” said Kantor (2013) in her Forbes piece, “Great Leaders Need to Know When to Forgive” (para. 1).  She explained “Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business” (para. 2). Even Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi believed, “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” (Santa Barbara.com, n.d.).

Gandi
(Santa Barbara.com, n.d.)

To date, although it once appeared we were enemies, we are now friends.

I believe people are placed in our lives to teach us, and perhaps, them too. I do not believe it is by coincidence, but divine placement.

The real questions, though, are what will you do with the folks’ and circumstances placed before you?  Will you murmur or will you make and do good with them?

So the next time someone warns you not to work for someone, do think and pray about it.

Yet, keep in mind that it could be just what you need.  After all, explained church leader Monte Brough (2016), when quoting the Apostle Paul, “… tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope … ” (para. 11).

References

Brough, M. J. (2016, April).  Lessons from the Old Testament: Adversity, the great teacher.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/08/lessons-from-the-old-testament-adversity-the-great-teacher?lang=eng

Brushfield, A. (2014, August 11).  Are you respected in the workplace?  Retrieved from https://www.thindifference.com/2014/08/respected-workplace/

Kanter, R. M. (2013, February 26).  Great leaders know when to forgive.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/02/great-leaders-know-when-to

Passionate giving.  (2012, April 30).  How to confront bad leadership.  Retrieved from https://veritusgroup.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/how-to-confront-bad-leadership/

Santa Barbara.com. (n.d.).  Forgiveness.  Retrieved from http://hindi.santabanta.com/sms-cat.aspx?catid=621&page=2

Somewhere creative.  (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://cargocollective.com/somewherecreative/focus-on-potential

 

 

 

 

 

You bully: “Stop it!” Be nice

Not long ago, when visiting relatives, I asked our granddaughter if she wanted to come to church with us.

GD
(Family Photo)

“No, thank you.”

“You sure?”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“How come?”

“The bullies are there.”

“The bullies are there?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

“The same ones’ that bully me at school.”

A child won’t go to church because she doesn’t want to be bullied in a place where she should never be bullied?

Put church aside.  There is no place where bullying is okay.

Yet, it happens everywhere.

You know, an employee who doesn’t want to go to work for fear of being bullied by a boss and or coworker(s).

A child who doesn’t want to go home for fear of being bullied by a parent and or siblings.

A kid who doesn’t want to walk home from school for fear of being bullied by a neighborhood gang.

A athlete who doesn’t want to attend sports practice for fear of being picked on by a coach and or teammates.

And so-on-and-so-forth.

Point blank, it is never okay to bully.

Period.

Workplace Bullying

Some years back, when I lived in Washington state, I had an opportunity to hear Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie, founders of Workplace Bullying Institute, speak at the Oregon Health Science Center in Portland.  I had been following them through their institute and had purchased their book,  The Bully at Work.

The Namie’s define workplace bullying as:

… mistreatment severe enough to compromise a targeted worker’s health, jeopardize her or his job and career, and strain relationships with friends and family. It is a laser-focused, systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction. It has nothing to do with work itself. It is driven by the bully’s personal agenda and actually prevents work from getting done. It begins with one person singling out the target. Before long, the bully easily and swiftly recruits others to gang up on the target, which increases the sense of isolation. (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2015).

The Namie’s got into the workplace bullying business after Ruth was bullied when she was working as a psychologist in California.  Similarly, a friend of mine was bullied at a college.  Get this, her boss would actually look in her trashcan to try and find mistakes she had made; this is how toxic the department at her college was.

Can you imagine?

Aren’t there better things to do?

Like finding what people are doing right, seeing the good in them and building them up?

Anyway, my friend’s boss also had favorites who received promotions, outings and special privileges.

I have been bullied as well.  At work, in school, by a roommate, former spouse, and even at church.

It is not fun.  It doesn’t feel good or right; after all, how can it since that behavior is far from Christ-like.  And forget performing at your best.  When you know you are being watched like a hawk, and you feel like you are walking on eggshells, where someone is waiting for you to mess-up, and then focuses on everything you do wrong, you mess-up even more.  That then gives the bully justification to bully you further.  It is a sick, toxic and destructive cycle.

But bullying actually says more about the bully than it does you.

Workplace Bully Behaviors

To identify if you are a bully (i.e., what one might think, say, or do if a bully) take a look at this “Workplace Bullies” infographic:

What Bullies Say
(dmangus, n.d.)

Does any of this sound familiar?

If so, keep reading, there is hope for you.

Workplace Bullying Statistics

Additionally, here is another infographic from CareerBuilder (2014) with “statistics on bullying in the workplace”:

Bullying Statistics
(Workplace Bullying, n.d.)

As you can see, it includes various types of bullying behavior that was reported by employees.

If You Are a Workplace Bully

Comaford (2014) believes bullies act in “ineffective and appropriate way[s]” because they desire one of three things: “safety, belonging and mattering” (para. 14).  Abraham Maslow wrote about belonging in his Hierarchy of Needs model which I alluded to in a previous blog post: ‘Watch me, daddy’: How to overcome the need to be validated   “Safety, belonging and mattering” are good things.  Everyone wants to be needed and included.  But being a bully is not the way to accomplish that longing.

If you have identified yourself as a bully, the formula to quit is common sense, “stop it!” said church leader, Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2012).  He also provided a little more direction, as he declared, “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it! It’s that simple” (para. 13).

After you “stop-it” I would add just love people, find what they are doing right, and see the good in them.

Maybe then, my beautiful and sweet granddaughter will attend church because she feels safe.

References

Comaford, C. (2014, March 12). How to stop workplace bullies in their tracks.  Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2014/03/12/bust-workplace-bullies-and-clear-conflict-in-3-essential-steps/#780df5c87912

Deseret News Faith. (2017). Memorable sermons from LDS leaders in fewer than 10 words.  Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/top/2354/0/Memorable-sermons-from-LDS-leaders-in-fewer-than-10-words.html

dmangus. (n.d.). Recognizing workplace bullies for what they are is the first step [Blog post].  Retrieved from http://dmangus.blogspot.com/2016/01/recognizing-workplace-bullies-for-what.html

Namie, G. & Namie, R. (2009).  The bully at work: What you can do to stop the hurt and reclaim your dignity on the job.  Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Bully-Work-What-Reclaim-Dignity/dp/1402224265

Workplace Bullying. (n.d.). Statistics on bullying in the workplace. [Pinterest post).  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/explore/workplace-bullying/

Workplace Bullying. (n.d.).  Workplace bullying [Pinterest post).  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/explore/workplace-bullying/
The Running Mormon (2016, June 29).  I was bullied at church.  Retrieved from  http://www.therunningmormon.com/2016/06/i-was-bullied-at-church.html

Uchtdorf, D. F. (2012, April).  The merciful obtain mercy.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-merciful-obtain-mercy?lang=eng

You are a spiritual being: Act like one

Visiting the St. George Utah Temple Visitors Center one spring a few years back, while inside the building, I asked an older-looking man, who was in a wheelchair, yet beaming with confidence and enthusiasm,  “Why are you so happy?”

“Why wouldn’t I be happy?!” he said immediately and forcefully and at the top of his lungs, yet smiled,  “I am a son of God!”

You could hear a pin drop.

Whoa,” I thought. And so did my husband, Ryan, and all the others who heard his response.

Yet, I said something like, “That is great.  That is awesome.  Good for you.”

Who is this man?  I wondered.

And is he like this all the time?

Bound to a wheel chair, but happy?

My exchange with him was the answer to prayer I needed that day.  I had a particularly stressful job and was feeling the pressure of it.  Not to mention my pancreas was being checked once more for nodules.

But I couldn’t shake this man’s response out-of-my-head.

What was his daily routine?

What did he ingest to be so happy?

And then I realized it.

He was spiritually nourished.

It was evident.

You could see and feel it in his countenance.

I actually did not want to leave his presence.

There was something just heavenly about him.

And it brought me joy.

Spiritual Nourishment

We cannot survive very long without food or water.

Sometimes we get cranky and irritable when we do.

Even death when completely without.

I believe, though, that these things can happen even when we aren’t spiritually nourished as well.

Truth is, we can’t make it without feeding ourselves spiritually.

But many of us still try to.

And maybe not even intentionally.

You know, we get busy with our to do lists, family, shuttling kids to activities, work, church, civic engagements, sports, social media, hobbies, games, and so-on-and-so-forth.

Yet, we were born spiritual-beings.

Into a human world.

Many have even quoted about it.

Like American businessman and educator, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, and French philosopher and priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

In fact, Teilahard de Chardin believed, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Quote-coyote, n.d. ).

Pierre-Teilhard-de-Chardin-spiritual-quotes
(Quote-coyote, n.d.)

Covey, similarly, found, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.  We are spiritual beings on a human journey” (People. Stephen R. Covey, n.d.).

SRC SB & HB
(People. Stephen R. Covey, n.d.)

So if we are spiritual beings, then why do we act human a lot of the time?

You know, where we put worldly things first?

Everything but God.

Because that is what we were born into.

The human world.

Yet, that is not where we came from.

We came from divine.

We were once with our Father in Heaven.

There He had great plans for us.

Knew our potential.

And what we could become.

Then we were born into this world and forgot where we came from and our purpose.

Sometime I ask God, “Why do you want me to do for you?”  and “What is your mission for me?”

The answers lie in the scriptures He supplied for us to navigate this human life.

And in the opportunity to pour out our hearts to him in prayer.

Can’t leave out the trials that humble and teach us to become more like Him.

And to be grateful for them as He is molding and shaping us to become like Him.

They’re the refinement we need even though they sometimes hurt.

Throw service in that mix that helps us to love others and take the focus off ourselves.

Doing these simple steps everyday can help us become spiritual-beings like my friend from the temple visitors center.

Do them until you are asked, “Why are you so happy?”

And you can honestly say, “I am a son (or daughter) of God.  That’s why I’m so happy.”

References

People. Stephen R. Covey (n.d.).  Retrieved from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f6/74/32/f6743283a59f68ad105f980a675498ed.jpg

St. George Temple Visitors Center.  (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.stgeorgetemplevisitorscenter.info/visitorcenter.html

Quote-coyote.  (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://www.quote-coyote.com/album/small/Pierre-Teilhard-de-Chardin-spiritual-quotes.jpg

Visitors Centers.  (2016).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/locations/st-george-utah-temple-visitors-center?lang=eng&_r=1

How to be a spirit-of-the-law or hope-based leader

During my doctoral studies, I frequented several ER rooms before it was discovered I had a heart condition.

CKD Heart.PNG
(Family Photo)

On one of those occasions, my doctoral advisor, Dr. Clifford McClain, found out.

ACTE Vision 2015 New Orleans
(ACTE, 2017)

“I’m on my way,” he texted.

Once there, he said, “I didn’t want my favorite doctoral student to be alone.”

“But I’m your only doctoral student,” I smiled.

“Well, yeah, anyway, I just didn’t want you to be alone.”

Hope-based leaders are servant leaders who do these kinds of things.

They are also known as spirit-of-the law ones’.

In McClain’s class, when a student had an idea that was off topic, he would say, “Okay, okay, that’s good thinking.  Keep at it.”  Whereas a letter-of-the law or fear-based professor would say, “What the H-E double hockey sticks was that?”

Dr. Jonathan Herman, a long island OB-GYN, is, like McClain, a spirit-of-the-law leader.  In fact, one thing he taught me is to use “we.”  For example, when a patient visits his practice and is having a difficult time, after having tested positive for a hereditary breast and ovarian cancer mutation (HBOC), he would say, “We are going to get through this” as though he tested positive for a mutation himself.  On the other hand, a letter-of-the-law or fear-based practitioner would say, “First, you’ll need to have your breasts cut off, then your ovaries cut out” (I’m not making this stuff up.  I’ve spoken around the nation on HBOC since 2008, been in and out of a myriad of doctors offices, and, unfortunately, have heard these horror story comments).

One more spirit-of-the-law leader is Darrin Shamo, former director of direct and online marketing at Zappos.  Shamo told me about a time when Zappos was moving to the old city county building in Las Vegas, while it was being renovated for them to eventually move into.  At this time, some of his staff was being housed in a nearby rental office.  But on the way walking to and from work, from an outdoor parking deck, his employees were being harassed by people on the street.  So, Shamo, wanting to ensure his folks were meeting Abraham Maslow’s second rung of “safety”, from his hierarchy of needs, was able to provide underground parking and lunch delivered to them on-site.

Darrin Shamo.jpg
(E-commerce Brasil, 2013)

Who are these people?

You know some of them.

In fact, you could be one of them.

All I know is that hope-based communication creates hope-based leaders who create hope-based cultures.

Your name is safe with them.

They’re going to listen.

Give you the benefit of the doubt.

Assume the best.

Believe in, support and empower you.

The truth is, becoming a spirit-of-the-law leader is possible.

But first you gotta get rid of those letter-of-the-law idiosyncracies.  Here are just some you might recognize:

  • Entitlement
  • Ego
  • Throwing people under the boss
  • Selfish
  • Setting people up for failure
  • Disloyal to the absent and present
  • Criticizing
  • Taking credit
  • Rigid
  • Unforgiving
  • Disrespectful
  • Negative
  • My way or the highway attitude
  • Bullying
  • Catastrophizing
  • Impatient
  • Having favorites
  • Judging
  • Seeing the glass half-empty

I don’t believe McClain, Herman or Shamo were ever letter-of-the-law or fear-based leaders.

But even if they were, then there is certainly hope for you and I.

To become a spirit-of-the-law or hope-based leader.

Where people want to be around you.

Or work for you.

Or both.

Where people have fun in your culture.

Because they know their name is safe with you.

And they can’t wait to get into work (yup, there are actually cultures like this).

And you care so much about your people that they will bust through a brick wall for you.

Because you believe in, support and empower them.

And listen.

And care and are present.

Even in an ER, or a doctor’s office or in any office.

Whatever it takes.

Do it.

Become it.

And while you do, remember everyone’s your favorite, to use “we” and if you can swing it, provide underground parking and lunch.

References

ACTE.  (2017).  Region V.  Retrieved from https://www.acteonline.org/regionv/#.WLZf2X88cRY

[E-Commerce Brasil]. (2013, September 12).  Forum e-commerce Brasil.  [Video File].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZTKL7WnDLY