work culture

Gracias. Perdón.

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If I can only practice gratitude and forgiveness for the rest of my life, it may be just be a life well lived.

Entitlement and control keep me from recognizing gifts of grace that I don’t make happen, but receive.

Protecting myself out of fear keeps me from forgiving others, myself, or even God.

Gracias. Thank you for the gift you offered.

Perdón. Please pardon me for the way I have mistreated you.

There is a need in the workplace to practice gratitude and forgiveness. Forgive your workplace for not being perfect. Forgive your coworkers for not turning things in on time.

Forgive yourself for not meeting deadlines and for thinking that work was going to fulfill all of your sense of meaning and purpose.

Express your thankfulness to a team member today. Say thank you to those who work alongside you. Be thankful for what you have instead of resenting what you don’t have.


Employee Care, Leadership Development

Dignifying People and their Stories

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When I first met Mary, she was wearing her work uniform and had a small broom with dust pan in hand. As I approached her to introduce myself, Mary’s face lit up. She could light up a dark stadium!

After the cordial introductions, I asked Mary what she did at the dealership and proceeded to tell me about washing and drying cars, sweeping the lot, cleaning the rims of very expensive cars. While she was articulate, I noticed some mannerisms that made me wonder. She’d look away when talking, was a bit fidgety, and tended to slur her words a bit, with speech pattern changing from time to time.

I was formally introduced to Mary but found out that she has down syndrome and works through an agency that helps to place and employ intellectually disabled people who mainly have down syndrome.

I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t pick up on social cues, mainly because I was struck by Mary’s joyful presence and warm smile.

But Mary has taught me how to be a better corporate chaplain. Every day that I see her, she shares a story of her family. A Mexican-American, Mary’s stories are filled with family outings and celebrations she’s planning to attend. She tells me about her trips to Disneyland and how she got a new phone. Mary values her family deeply, consistently asking for prayers to be lifted for members who are sick, a dying relative, or someone who got into an accident.

Mary and her coworkers have taught me to slow down and not take myself so seriously. Their playful and hardworking attitude have set me straight more than once in the 13 years I’ve known them. To be honest, sometimes I’m in a rush and I see Mary dashing towards me, ready to tell me about how she’s going on a road trip up north to see family and will be very detailed about the whole anticipation. The only way we end is when she asks for prayers for safe travels. And even after that social cue that the conversation is over, Mary will add one more fun outing she’s gonna take and then leaves with a smile on her face. But she reminds me to slow down and be grateful for life and family.

Her vulnerability has caused me to slow down and be mindful of my own. She’s helped me be more human through our interactions. I wish I could hide sometimes and only show my strengths and productive, high performance skills. I wish I didn’t struggle with ego, being impulsive, or not feeling good enough for the task at hand. And yet, owning my own vulnerabilities is somehow helping me dignify and love others. Mary and her crew keep teaching me to smile and not take myself too seriously.

The workplace can suck the life out of us. “Dead”-lines. Being viewed as a producer and performer, not a human. I hope that I can be a dignifying presence that sees people for who they really are: loved.

Disclaimer: Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Employee Care

Anxiety in the Workplace

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Addressing anxiety in the workplace (or in any setting) is about learning to have some emotional distance from what we perceive as being the issue(s). One way to create emotional distance is to process the thoughts and feelings with a safe and trusting person. This helps create the emotional distance needed to get clarity on how to respond in the best manner.

Family Systems Theory suggests that we develop a healthy self-differentiation. This means that we grow in our ability to…

“…be close to an emotionally important other while neither being dependent on gaining the other’s acceptance and approval nor fearing the other’s disapproval, rejection, or criticism of how we are. It is also being comfortable with the differences in the other person, particularly in times of higher anxiety, and not letting those differences cause emotional distance on our part. It means not needing to change the other to meet our expectations, or change ourselves to meet the other’s, in order to be close.”

Ronald W. Richardson

We all long to be accepted, valued, and dignified. As we grow in our own differentiation, we find that we can stay non-reactive (becoming anxious and acting out) as we seek perspective and the best possible recourse.

Find someone who is skilled in listening to help you process your anxious thoughts/feelings and get some perspective for how best to respond. An onsite corporate chaplain can assist employees with developing self-differentiation.

Leadership Development

Execs Balancing Work and Life

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An executive recently reached out and shared how big their workload is, which affects their work and life balance. Between managing projects and managing the staff, I imagine she feels overwhelmed. While time management skills are important, producing “disciples” is where an executive can transform their workload and culture.

Aaron, a business owner, changed his focus towards producing his own “disciples” in his startup. He knew that if they were going to make it as long-standing company, he needed others. And he needed them to have his values and vision, habits and practices. Aaron came alongside the marketing director, controller, IT director, and others alike. He made it a priority to spend time with each director, trying to understand their viewpoint and picking his moments to share what he wanted to happen.

Conflict was part of the process. It’s inevitable. But instead of avoiding or demanding, Aaron modeled what it meant to be non-reactive in order to understand and be understood.

He continuously talked about his values: build safe, trusting relationships with another, respect each other and it will trickle down the departments, increase your level of competencies through ongoing learning, and be humble. Many of the directors, over time, embodied these virtues.

While it may seem “soft” do this or unproductive, work and life will speed up and we won’t be able to keep up. Executives can learn to keep up by reproducing themselves throughout the company through mentorship.

Employee Care, Leadership Development

Employees Flourishing Personally and Professionally

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Is it a worthy vision and conversation to have?
How do we incarnate such a vision?
What would the outcomes look like?

Value #1:  Help employees flourish personally and professionally.

It’s one of the primary values I keep thinking about as I do my employee care/corporate chaplaincy work.  And like a wannabe poet, I think…

What good is it if an employee has a great personal life but the professional setting is a struggle?
Won’t one affect the other?

What good is it if an employee has a great professional life but they’re struggling personally?
Won’t one affect the other?

I’ve seen and heard people living a great personal life but struggle professionally.  The worksite is causing more headaches than mind-blowing ideas!  Work partnerships are taxed and sometimes there’s a lack of understanding from managers.  The employee feels stuck, voiceless, and helpless.  They end the day with their head down, knowing that the issue will exist the next day.  The hope is that the work stress doesn’t mess with the home.  But it can…even to the best of us.

Value in Practice and Outcomes

Every company is a body of people working towards something.  As an employee care consultant, this first value makes me think about desired outcomes.  If a company has a deep value to see their employees flourish personally and professionally, I wonder if these would be explicit outcomes:

  • employees not stressing out about finances.  They’re wise about budgets and living within means but there is also a fair AND sustainable compensation.
  • flexible schedules:  I know this is dicey but if employees act like adults and employers treat them like adults, then there’s space for flexibility.  It will become the new normal.
  • Performance metrics at work show a steady incline:  loving your work and feeling good about your personal life will most likely show an increase in performance.  Sustained incline is the key.
  • A joy to go to work and to go home as well:  joy is that deep-seated awareness of gratitude and contentment.  We can and should experience it in the workplace and home life.
  • Employees having deep work roots but also do great self-care:  we need boundaries for both and habits for both.
  • The work is meaningful, joy-filled, and requires deep effort.
  • Healthy professional relationships and self-awareness which leads towards a life of compassion and gratitude.

Sounds too good to be true?  Unattainable?!  Great!  Sign me up!  We need a vision that is greater than us!

The future of work will adopt this type of value.  Companies that do are going to succeed.  Companies that don’t will stay in the age-old paradigm of “Do what I say!”.

Employee Care

Changing Role and Acceptance of Chaplains

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“More and more institutions across the United States are hiring chaplains and other spiritual care providers. Some are places that have long employed chaplains, but others may come as a surprise.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, recently installed a new chaplain. Various police departments are adding additional chaplains, as are horse racing tracks. At the same time, chaplaincy positions continue to exist in the U.S. House and Senate.”

We thought the idea of offering corporate chaplaincy services was good for employees and company culture.  We didn’t realize that other institutions like MIT also saw the value.

People view chaplains as safe practitioners of care who can be contacted during times of difficulty.  The feedback we’ve received from employees we serve is that they don’t know who to turn to during crisis or with a hard life transition.

We are grateful to keep working to deepen in this special work and to see other institutions seeing the value.

Leadership Development

Unfinished Business Leadership

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When a leader overreacts to a conflict, it may be a sign of unfinished business shaped by past experiences.  Strong emotional reactions such as outbursts, avoidance, judgmentalism, anger, or frustration can be the signs on the dashboard that are a sign of a problem underneath the hood.  David Freeman says that, “Unfinished business does not allow for a thoughtful, creative response to a here and now situation.” The conflict may trigger an emotional reaction that creates more conflict and threatens the culture of a company.  The goal is to continue attending to the self and its unfinished business. It’s what true leaders do.