Managing From the Heart

Many writers have expounded on Managing from the Heart & I know somewhere I have a footnote, reference or something telling me who said it first. Charles Swindoll says that the key to originality it to hide your sources!
Managing from the Heart goes as follows:

Hear and understand me.

Even if you disagree please don’t make me wrong.

Acknowledge the greatness within me.

Remember to look for my good intentions.

Tell me the Truth with compassion.

First we will look at “Hear and understand me”.

Most leaders and managers tend to already know the answer before the one being instructed has even formed his or her question. They form the answer prior to the other person finishing their sentence. The leader has done it all, seen it all, and been all and therefore probably already knows where the conversation is going. However, common courtesy says that you hear the person out. People enjoy (and rightly so) being listened to. Jesus knew this. We know that he knew peoples hearts, but I don’t believe he ever interrupted Peter and said, “Hey Peter, I know what your going to ask, so let’s just save some time here and let me answer you”. He let others finish speaking and then he responded.

One should listen to understand and not to respond. Once the message has been fully understood the response will come naturally. In fact, leader should let him or her finish speaking and then respond by rephrasing the statement or question to ensure that he understood the communicator’s true intent. At this point, if he was really paying attention, the nonverbals could be taken into account, which is much more important than the verbal. The one being led will see that you care for them and their issues, from the heart. This will create enjoyable working relationships for all. Pleasant relationships create greater productivity and open hearts.

Next we will discuss Disagreements.


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I care, you care, we all care… but who cares more?

A goodly time ago the DHM stupidly got into a discussion about gun control with a homeschooler from another country. The other person told the DHM that her country had pretty much banned all guns, and she guessed this was because she and her compatriots just cared more about children than the DHM and her compatriots.

Now, you should know that the DHM is afraid of guns and will not handle them and does not like to see her children handling them. And you should also know that the HM likes guns and target shooting, and so does gentle JennyAnyDots (and she’s very good). Pipsqueak does not enjoy it as much, but she’s extremely competent with a .22. The three of them will occasionally plink away at targets outside.

Because of the DHM’s own phobias and fears of firearms, she is extremely sympathetic to those who prefer more gun control. On the other hand, we live in the country where people drop off their dogs, which then run in packs, mate with the coyotes, and pose a threat to the children. We live in the country, where various wild animals can also threaten our livestock. We live in the country where police response to the two legged predator would be extremely slow. Therefore, the DHM is also sympathetic to the HM’s desire to have a weapon available to protect his wife and children. In short, the DHM is conflicted on this issue.

She sees and sympathizes with both points of view. What she does not see is any reason for one side to demonize the other or to suppose that the opposing view is only held by those who are less compassionate than oneself. And that’s what happened in that gun control discussion. It is what happens in many discussions. Even if we are not so stupid as the DHM so we do not engage in fruitless discussions, it is what often happens in our heads. We dismiss those who disagree with us as people who are not as compassionate or as faith based as we ourselves are.

One side will say (or think) that they really care about something that matters- the children, the poor, the minorities, the disabled, faith, small puppies, growing green things, the family, baskets of kittens, etc. The clear implication is that those who stand on the opposing political side do not care about those things. I find that frustrating. I happen to think that it is possible to be utterly wrong in one’s ideas about what will work, what society needs, and what is best for children/the disabled/people of faith/etc, and still be compassionate and caring, or even be a Christian.

It’s possible to disagree (passionately) on how best to implement a solution grounded in that compassion. But what I see too often is that people in favour of government solutions refuse to acknowledge that anybody who doesn’t see things their way can actually be compassionate, and that people who are not in favour of government solutions think those who differ cannot really care about God.

I don’t believe government is often a very helpful or useful solution, except in those limited areas of protecting life and property. I believe in private, personal, one on one solutions to most problems. But I understand that those who favour more government intervention can be sincere people of faith.

Neither side, not those who prefer fixing government institutions and increasing thier size in response to problems, nor those who favor personal, individual, private solutions, has a monopoly on faith or compassion. Rather, we just have very different ideas about what works and about what is right.

We can differ dramatically on what the problems are and what the solutions should be. That does not necessarily mean we don’t care about matters of faith or the less fortunate or the innocent.

I think it’s a mistake to assume that only people who are ones political bedmates care about others, or care about God, the Bible, and issues of faith. People who aren’t ‘with’ you on your pet issues might have many other reasons than a lack of compassion. They may not like your solutions. They may feel your solutions cause more harm than good. They may believe your solutions are unconstitutional or unbiblical or just wrong. That doesn’t mean they lack faith or compassion.

I may think your political viewpoint is ineffective at best, harmful at worst, and certainly wrong or even unbiblical. You might think mine is ineffective, shortsighted, harmful, unbiblical, or just plain stupid. But we would both be wrong to make guesses about the faith or compassion underlying the political opinions of those who differ from us.

Compassion and faith will not automatically lead us to the same solutions, partly because we often bring our own starting assumptions to our faith. That doesn’t mean ‘we’ have more compassion than ‘they,’ or that ‘they’ have less or more or greater or better faith than ‘we.’ It simply means we have differing political viewpoints.

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A blog with an interesting name and some intriguing content has kindly linked to The Common Room.

However, the UrbanDryad links us with this puzzling comment:

“I’ve found a whole community of bloggers, like this family, that sound almost Emersonian in their embracing of ideas, poetry, conversation, nature, and family: “A homeschooling family chats about politics, poetry, literature, leadership (when the headmaster has time), music, the problems of having nine family members and one bathroom, animals, vegetables, minerals, cabbages, and kings, and whatever else strikes our fancy.” Look further, and you see that they are extremely faithbound, too: “We are committed to the Lord and to each other. The preaching and teaching is sound and Bible-based.” Is this a new kind of family and religious belief that could, potentially, begin to dismiss Bush and the neo-cons and instead embrace what the Bible really speaks of?”

UrbanDryad doesn’t have comments enabled, and I can’t find an email address, so I am going to ask my questions here.
Which of these things are incompatible with being a neo-con? I don’t think we are neo-cons, but I don’t know for sure. What exactly is a neo-con?

Is it really true, as the UrbanDryad seems to imply, that embracing the Bible is incompatible with supporting President Bush?

Which part of the Bible is incompatible with being a neo-con (again, it would help if I had some definitive and fair definition of what a neo-con is).

Breaking it down, some one or all of these things seem to UrbanDryad to be incompatible with being a neo-con or supportive of President Bush:

Interests in politics, poetry, literature, leadership, music, the problems of having nine family members and one bathroom, animals, vegetables, minerals, cabbages, and kings, misc, committment to the Lord and to each other, attending a church where the preaching is sound and Bible based.

The DeputyHeadmistress is confused, because for the life of her she cannot see that any of these things are incompatible with supporting President Bush or a Democrat candidate of the stature of a Joseph Lieberman.

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To the HeadGirl

Happy Birthday to the HeadGirl!


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The Gift of Unplanned Blessings

A life planned out to the last detail seems somewhat sterile to me. We have a schedule, but it’s a schedule for what to do when we’re not doing anything else. Mostly, I drift down the stream of serendipity, dabbling my fingers in its pleasant waters and thanking God for the grace and blessings I little deserve:

Flowers blooming where you planted no seeds
Friends calling when you expected no calls
Money found in pockets while doing the laundry
Leftovers combined to make soup or a casserole that turns out to be delectable
Potlucks where everything fits together nicely without planning it in advance
Spontaneous romps on the bed when the progeny wake one up earlier than planned
The sight of a bluebird, or the sound of sandhill cranes overhead
The song of the Eastern Meadowlark drifting in through the car window as you drive down a country lane
A butterfly on the windowpane
Arriving at the grocery store just at the moment they are giving away bananas
Singing a hymn together on the way to church and finding out that the song leader was going to lead just that hymn
startling a pheasant on a walk


We are the recipients of many unplanned blessings, and children are not the least of them.
In this post I want to tell you about two special “unplanned” additions to our family who were adopted. We had three children, had just had a miscarriage, the headmaster was enlisted in the AF, and I was a sahm (this means very little money). We weren’t seeking adoption at all, but we heard of two little girls who needed a home together, and we just couldn’t come up with a good reason to say no. There was an announcement in our church bulletin asking for prayers for the caseworker who was placing them. I had miscarried only one or two weeks prior. When we came home I asked the headmaster if he’d seen it, and he said yes, and asked if I’d seen it, and I said yes, and we looked at each other. He made the phone call.

One of the children was severely handicapped, and it was unlikely anybody would take on both of them (nearly 4 and 6 at the time) because of the severity of those disabilities. The birth-mother did not want them separated. And so, over the objections of everybody sensible that we knew, we opened our home to this unplanned blessing.

It made no logical, financial, or even emotional sense since I was still
recovering from the grief of a miscarriage at 16 weeks gestation. By the time I had the D&C; I needed (often not required, but in my case I had to have it), we had already met the children. In fact, the children arrived the same month our baby would have been born.

It’s funny to call an adoption unplanned, but it really was. What little planning we were able to do came to naught. We were supposed to take the children for weekends for a period of a few months so they could get used to us. Instead, before they ever had their first weekend and just two weeks before Christmas the birth mother called we were told to come get them the next day. She had her reasons, and I won’t go into them here, but she did have their very best interests at heart.

So… we went to bed with three children and the next morning suddenly gained two more children who came to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs and some immediate and distressing but treatable medical problems, and some longterm and severe medical problems- again, just two weeks before Christmas. We had no clothes for them, no beds, no presents; nothing was in readiness for them, except our hearts (and even those needed some sprucing up).

There were plenty of the super planners in our congregation and others where that same bulletin announcement appeared. They had more financial ability, more space, fewer children, were probably better parents in many ways, had greater nest eggs, more maturity, more wisdom, and certainly better organizational skills than I did. They had the option to adopt these kids, but they didn’t because it didn’t fit in with their plans. We have two more warm, wonderful, loving, fun, delightful, precious, precious children. They have their nice plans and their nice uninterrupted lives.

I won’t say the adjustment period was all sweetness and light and trouble free. It wasn’t, of course. We all, the children and their new family, had some adjustments to make and the children had some healing to do. It was hard, and it was busy, and it was often exhausting. But somewhere along the way the hard parts were overwhelmed and outnumbered by the joy, and the children are blended so well and so fully ours that I have actually had to stop and think for a moment about why I can’t recall their birth stories. Then I remember that I wasn’t there for their births. I can’t imagine life without them. We received so much questioning of our decision and we are so blessed by all our children that it’s hard sometimes not to feel just a little bit smug about how happy we are*, but I do realize that is an unworthy feeling. Happiness and gratitude are more appropriate, and truly, more common.

Incidentally, I was an unplanned baby, too, a honeymoon child. My mother returned from the honeymoon to her doctor who groaned, “Didn’t you do anything I said?” She had followed his advice because they had plans. God had different plans. Had I not been born when I was, I would certainly not have been in the right place and time to receive these other two unplanned, but very much wanted, blessings.

Sometimes the best things in life are NOT planned.


*I do not want to make a fairy tale out of parenting a disabled child. The Cherub is a joy, but she is sometimes also a sad trial. The point of this post is not, however, about her disabilities, nor is it my intention to pretend that parents and children never have rotton days when one or the other or all of them are out of sorts and quite obnoxious- but that is another post. This one is about those blessings that come to us that are not planned.

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