Sunday, April 28, 2019

How to Become a Valuable Player


Business News is Valuable

I always enjoy reading the Phoenix Business Journal. I have a brother who remembers to bring copies whenever he visits.

An editorial Viewpoint* by Greg Barr caught my attention one day. It seems that in our world of technology, "soft skills" are still of concern because they are so lacking.

Jobs for computer techs abound, but recruiters are noticing something amiss. They may have hired the best person for coding or computer-aided design, but there's a distinct lack of teamwork.
Interaction beats Competition

Along with hard tech job skills, employers are beginning to look for active team players. They need people to be able to work together to solve problems, along with their adaptability and dependability.

Promotions often depend on the ability to contribute to group meetings, either verbally or in well-thought-out emails or texts. And now days, knowing how to communicate properly with the opposite sex is also an asset.
We Do Life Together

People enjoy working with approachable team players. Their openness comes from being interested in others' work, not just their own. It's good for the company if employees see the big picture, not just their own jobs.

Centuries ago the same principle held true. The wisdom of the Apostle Paul is clearly expressed in the Amplified translation: "Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not (merely) his own interests, but also each for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4).

Seeing the big picture and being unified in purpose is important not only in business. It also matters in families, classrooms, churches and government.
There's No Success Without "U"

Strive to enhance your hard skills for the occupation of your choice. But don't forget to see the bigger picture along the way.

In the sports world we hear a lot about MVP awards. Work on developing team-enhancing "soft skills" and your company's Most Valuable Player might be you!

*Viewpoint, From the Editor: Time to get tough and work on those soft skills, Phoenix Business Journal, February 22, 2019.

Sunday, April 21, 2019



Kaleidoscopes have always fascinated me. Intricate designs are created as bits of colored glass reflect on mirrors inside a tube.
A Colorful Design

In childhood, my kaleidoscope was made of cheap cardboard. I could peek in one end and twist the other to create some colorful magic.

As a grown up, I've been amazed at kaleidoscopes so large they have a handle for turning the glass chips around. These beautiful wood and glass combinations are considered works of art.

Big or small, however, the principle is the same. Colorful patterns constantly change while being shifted in a confined space.

Sometimes I think our global world is a kaleidoscope. Travel a bit and you'll see varied combinations of scenery, people, architecture and art.
A Colorful Variation

As an armchair traveler, my current kaleidoscope happens to be on television. House Hunters International offers me a peek into endless combinations of the categories I've just mentioned. 

It's interesting to see people make sacrifices to move to another country. Some plan to start a new job, others want their family to experience a different culture. Higher education draws some, and others are motivated by love.

Week after week I watch people adjust to a kaleidoscope of local languages, food, housing and customs. Two things stand out: (1) Their open non-judgmental attitudes, and (2) their desire to know locals as friends.

Less Color but Beautiful

No matter where we live, those attitudes could serve all of us well. Let's face it. These open-minded international house hunters make judgments unclouded by prejudice.

We don't need to travel the world to apply good judgment, however, Consider the wisdom of Solomon who said, "He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent" (Proverbs 11:12 Amplified).

Because I was raised without prejudice, I've enjoyed a kaleidoscope of relationships. I didn't even have to travel the world.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Window Views


I was staring out the window in my dining area the other day. It was a tranquil scene with green hills and a sailboat on a small lake in the background.

In the forefront were colorful flowers climbing up a white lattice fence and over an arched gate A dirt path led down to the water.

Here's the catch. Though I have enjoyed this view for several years, my dining area does not have  window. The happy feelings I get come from an oblong painting framed like a window.
Colorful in its own way.

The artist is unknown, but window scenes by well-known artists draw me in, too. If you are with me when I come across art for sale, you will notice I always stop at the window views, patio views or flowers by doorways.

A psychologist could probably explain why. For example, I've heard that if you like trees you like people. Well, I like people alright, but artwork with trees doesn't necessarily hold my interest. There's something intriguing about a painting with more colors.
Flowers add color.

Friends know passion for color shows up in my yard as artificial flowers. We once lived in a condo with a lovely flower box under our wide bedroom window. I filled it with flowers from the hobby store and enjoyed watching them blow in the wind.

In my current home, I can look out my kitchen window onto pots filled with colorful flowers. The wind here is a little stronger, but not to worry. My neighbors always know where to return flowers that have blown away.

Enjoying the great outdoors, whether through a painting, photograph, or real life, I tend to agree with twelve small words: God saw all that He had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31).

I'm grateful for window views. Whether indoors or out, creative color and beauty are all around me.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Laid-Back Listening


Are you listening?

What kind of listener are you? To listen is to learn, unless you're a know-it-all. Then you think everyone should listen to you.

That's rather a one-sided approach to life. I much prefer to be with people who like the give and take of a good conversation.

I heard Brian Grazer, award-winning producer and best-selling author, say the other day that "curiosity is generosity." He felt that asking a person questions shows you are open to communication with them.
Let's really talk!

Questions are a good way to toss the conversational ball. The problem is that some people only catch and don't toss back. Have you ever asked several questions and only received one-syllable answers?

I got tired of that, so I tried to learn how to ask open-ended questions that could not be answered yes or no. I noticed some improvement, but learned something else. Some people are not interested in conversation, so don't push---let it go.

Learning can be done in several formats. Reading, for example, or experiencing things by making or doing something. Observation is another great learning tool.

But what if a person can't read? What if they are confined to a hospital bed because of illness? What if they are blind and unable to observe things? People who care can open a world of communication by being laid-back listeners.

To be laid back means to be relaxed. Conversation is easy-going, not forced or frenzied. Laid-back listeners are learners.
What kind of listener am I?

The Message says, "Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights" (Proverbs 18:15). Intelligent people are open-minded and consider conversation with all people an asset.

What kind of listener are you? A caring one? A careless one? Practice being a laid-back listener and you might be surprised at the things you learn.