What We Are Reading: Covert Cows

What We Are Reading: Covert Cows

By
Omaira Gonzalez

Once a quarter, the directors get together to read and review a book together. Before the end of 2019, we read “Covert Cows and Chick-Fil-A” by Steve Robinson.

There were many great lessons to learn. My biggest takeaway was the importance of having a clear vision for yourself, organization, and the customers you serve. Truett was clear on the kind of business he wanted to run: one built around relationship, excellence, and integrity. When they began to expand, ensuring that each establishment upheld these principles was very important. His vision for himself was to first model the principles and behaviors he expected his team to practice. Truett believed that the use of personal power is so much more effective than position power. His vision for the organization was to treat others with excellence, be consistent in hospitality, and always aspire to the next level of service. The service delivered was key, but hospitality added value.

In order to remain grounded during times of crisis, the leaders devised a purpose statement to remind themselves why they existed and to help clear the path for future growth:

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-Fil-A.”

The influence of Truett and his ability to impart vision demonstrated how he lived his life.

Question: How much clarity do you have about what your business stands for and why you exist?

——

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

What Blurs and Spurs A Vision?

What Blurs and Spurs A Vision?

By
Dr. Alicia La hoz

We were on the last rope of the zipline course in Costa Rica. We had planned this trip for months and when the day came, the adventure began with an aerial tram that took us through the rainforest before we were harnessed and attached to a cable. We were taken to a perilous platform on a tree about 100 feet above the ground where we dutifully waited our turn. The first 8 ropes were exhilarating as we experienced a birds eye view of the rainforest. And then on the last rope, I failed to follow the instructions of how to properly grip the cable line and that is when the trouble began. I lost momentum and thus my cable stopped dead in the middle of the cable line. I was stuck and as I hovered over the rainforest the fun was replaced by fear. The hand gestures of the folks on the other side trying to remind me of what to do was difficult for me to comprehend since I was swept over by fright. When I stopped looking behind me and instead steadied my gaze forward I saw my husband. At first I saw him coming down pretty fast down the line and for an instant the thought crossed my mind that we would crash. Except he ultimately slowed down and my fear and dreadful expectation quickly changed to hope and relief as deep down, I knew he would know what to do. Talk about seeing your spouse as a hero! He hauled me to the platform and to safety.

While fear crippled my ability to focus and understand the instructions to get out of the jam I had gotten into, trust gave me hope and it got me through. As we consider what makes a perfect vision, it would make sense to first diagnose the conditions that blur our vision. The blemishes and imperfections that impede us from seeing clearly are often powerful agents that limit our understanding and comprehension. There are many distractions and interruptions that keep us from looking up and keep us away from the focal point. During our adventure, insecurity took over and that gave a foothold for fear to get a grip on me. Similarly, when we let doubts and disappointments hover over us, our progress is halted. Forgetting and fearing are two players that blur our vision.

We are fearful

Fear is a powerful emotion that can take hold of us. There are so many fears such as: fear of rejection, fear of not being valued or recognized, fear of conflict. Jia Jiang in his book Rejection Proof shares his story of shying away from his dream of entrepreneurship because of his fear of rejection. After a push from his wife, he quits the security of an established career, a 6 figure income, and pursues his dream. Upon notice of being denied by the first investor he sought, the unbearable pain felt led him to recognize that unless he harnessed his fear of rejection, his outlook for succeeding was dismal. He thus decided to purposely seek out rejection to become stronger. The book narrates the lessons learned in his journey of being rejected 100 times. He begins by describing the overwhelming fear felt when he first asked a security guard at an office building to borrow $100. He recorded himself and in the video picked up how his terrified look, nervousness, and lack of confidence kept him from following up and answering the guard’s follow up question of “why”. Fear kept him from seeing the conversation through. When we are unaware of our fears, they can hold power over us as we are often persuaded by its grip to not change, to stay within the comforts of what we know. Fear can keep you from being mobilized to do what is needed to activate the vision before you. Jia Jiang became an expert on rejection. Through his experiences he evaluated, reflected, and came to understand the root of his fears. We can learn from Jia Jiang’s evaluative reflection. Instead of ignoring or denying, face the fear. Take a moment to understand why things hold you back and what these fears are about. Evaluate where these fears are coming from, how much of it is reasonable and how much of it is heightened by negative experiences you may need to heal from. If you don’t harness your fears, anxiety can easily take over your life and keep you from seeing clearly.

We forget

Have you read or heard the stories in the Old Testament of the Israelites who continuously forgot all the miraculous ways God had saved and restored them? In fact, the New International Version, cites the word “remember” 130 times in the Old Testament! It’s easy to read through those passages and quickly judge the Israelites forgetfulness and lack of gratitude. And yet we are just as plagued by the tendency to forget. In fact, psychologists talk about mood dependent memory. This means that we are more likely to recall the memories which fit our current mood. If you are angry at someone, happy memories most likely won’t come to mind. In an upset state, beautiful moments shared are forgotten. Take the story shared earlier about my husband. This is one of many treasured memories in our story that one would think would be the script that is permanently before us. NOT. What happens when I sleep poorly, am irritated at a disappointing situation before me, or simply upset at a decision we are at odds about? The memories of other disappointing situations come to mind, further adding to the tension of the current state. In those moments, I forget to be grateful, to be generous, to be thoughtful, to remember what is good and what was good. And if you are like me, forgetting means I can easily become bitter. And contempt, a destroyer of relationships, is just a few steps away. It is so important to remember. How can we remember when we are so bent on forgetting? We have to be intentional about remembering why we are on this journey. In the same way organizations draft a vision statement, I have found it valuable to draft a family vision statement. We have this printed on a book and visit it through the years. We talk about it, discuss how we can live this out practically, and strategize our goals and aspirations around it. To read more about how to create your own vision statement, click here.

Trust sharpens our vision

Forged through trust, fellowship and community enable us to create a pathway forward. Family Bridges’ vision statement, “Strong families for purpose driven children, leaders of their generation, committed to their communities” came into being in the context of community. Stakeholders, affiliates, board members, and staff all participated in a painstaking effort to bring it together. It includes a series of belief statements that provide a picture of how things would be for future generations if we see our mission through. But how were we able to work on this together?

A spirit of hospitality

For months, prior to our forging the statement, we met monthly and visited one another’s organizations across the city. We spent time listening to the work we were invested in and we collaborated on putting together programs and events, leveraging each other’s resources. In essence, we carried on a spirit of hospitality. We respect each other’s ideas, projects, and approaches and worked together to forge a path forward.

Disciplined accountability

We held and continue to hold each other accountable in terms of the goals we aspire to reach. Trust is established when there is a history of reliability and dependability. Our partners and affiliates had shown up time and time again serving together with very limited resources. Similarly, I trusted my husband on the zipline because time and time again, he had been there. The covenant of commitment was a foundation to the trust that steadied our relationship over the years. And through trust, our relationship was strengthened through consistent experiences of being reliable and dependable.

In both examples shared in this blog, my marriage and Family Bridges, trust took time to build and it came about as all parties involved contributed, showed up, and delivered. What we have learned is that a vision is made stronger when it is forged in fellowship and when it is held onto by a process of accountability. Without others, a vision statement would only be words on a page. In my zipline example above, I looked up at my husband and his courage gave us both confidence to get through. In community, we hold each other up and carry each other through. A perfect vision for 2020 requires that we retire the fears that hold us back, remember the reasons we do what we do, and build together through a trusting relationship. As we trust one another, we can begin to hold each other accountable and see our future aspirations come to fruition.

I’d love to hear from you, what have you found that blurs or spurs your vision?

——

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

Featured Program: AVANCE

Featured Program: AVANCE

By
Dr. Alicia La hoz

AVANCE

Love is our not-so-secret ingredient. We pour love into everything we do, because we know that one person can make a big difference. That’s what AVANCE does. One person impacting the lives of those around them – at home, in their community and around the world.

In 2012, our programs were nationally recognized as a best-practice model by the Administration for Children and Families. As a result, we received multiple inquiries from providers across the nation looking to replicate our model. Our team began thinking about how we might scale our marriage and family programs to cities beyond the Chicagoland region.

Our board, program directors, and advisors began to develop a blueprint to help us crystallize our vision. So began Family Bridges’ evolution from an organization primarily focused on direct delivery of marriage and family education services to an agency focused on catalyzing champions and providers by equipping, empowering, and encouraging them.

Eight years later, the program is now a consultation model for churches called AVANCE. We partner with local champions to deliver workshops in hundreds of locations including civic centers, schools, NFPOs, churches, and even correctional facilities. These AVANCE champions have embraced our vision and mission to be agents of change in their own communities by applying our approach of going where people are at. AVANCE has been successfully launched in Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Spain.

In order to better measure the program’s impact, we launched a longitudinal evaluation of the program (CLEAR) in 2016. This unique quasi-experimental study includes extensive outcome measures for 10 parishes in Chicago. The program has now reached the halfway point. Although new study sites have recently opened and not all participating sites have been active long enough to generate comparison data, existing data allows for preliminary analysis. And the results are very promising. Analyses of current data indicate statistically significant increases over time in:

  • Attitude towards marriage
  • Relationship health and satisfaction
  • Parenting skills
  • Parish involvement
  • Satisfaction with the parish’s role in supporting marriage

Additionally, significant reduction was observed in measures of likelihood to divorce, with more dramatic reductions observed in participants at highest risk for divorce among our sample. The findings have also found that sustained involvement yields superior results over a single point intervention.

CLEAR also measures volunteer self-report on increase in skills related to leadership in the program and increase in capacity to serve in the church and the community. At this time, a statistically significant increase was observed in volunteer self-evaluation of leadership skills.

Don’t Give Up

Don’t Give Up

Contributed by
Barb Linek

I remember the hot summer day I went in for my annual mammogram. I was touched by a young woman I saw in the waiting room, huddled under a blanket, shaking in fear of her upcoming test. I said to myself, a little cocky, “Thank God I’m not scared like her because I’m not worried about this. No one in my family has ever had cancer so I’ll be fine.” Twenty minutes later, I was ushered from the mammogram room to the nurse’s office to talk about next steps because they saw something unusual during my test. So much for being cocky! I was surprised to be diagnosed with breast cancer since we have no family history but I quickly learned that other things could trigger it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I know that this was the first day of a lifelong journey.

Of course, surgery was the next step. My surgeon was a wise man. He told me to bring family and friends to my second appointment with him because he wanted to answer all their questions before operating, not afterwards. This helped me form the habit of inviting someone along to every appointment and treatment. That way I never felt alone, which was important to keep my spirits up. Throughout this process, I learned that positive thoughts are essential to healing. For that important appointment before surgery, I invited my two children and a friend who is a retired nurse and knew all the right questions to ask. My children are both adults and have their distinct personalities. My son had no experience expressing his concern for my health and chose humor as his tool. One memorable conversation began, “So are you gonna die on me, Ma?” My daughter, on the other hand, is a doctor, trained to always maintain a clinical distance. She focused her questions on my treatment plan, not expressing her worries or fears for my health until months later.

The surgery went smoothly, soon followed by chemotherapy. I cleared my usually-packed calendar and waited to feel nauseous or something. It never happened. Some days I was tired and left work early to take a nap. After sitting home nights and weekends for the first month, I decided to resume my normal after-work activities. I squeezed in a nap when necessary but most days I felt fine. I was surprised and the oncologist was pleased. She attributed my energy to my strong faith and positive attitude. I also think those sweet friends who accompanied me to those four- or five-hour long chemo treatments were key. I chose them carefully for the positive thoughts they exude—and their ability to keep a conversation going that long!

After my final chemo treatment, I took a weekend trip to visit friends in St. Louis. This was a big mistake! Not allowing my body time to recuperate after that last blow caused me to develop swelling in my legs. This made it hard for me to walk, and I got very depressed. My coworkers were worried and decided to throw a surprise party for me. I noticed the preparations but I assumed the lavish party was for someone who was leaving the organization. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they said it was all for me! I was so moved by their kindness and encouragement. It took several weeks of intensive treatment to get the swelling down and, to this day, I need to be careful.

Radiation was the third step in the process. Radiation treatment took a few minutes a day, five days a week for a month. Doctor K. was as warm and kind as my surgeon and oncologist. And she was a great listener. I pushed her to finish treatment before my new grandchild was born. That way I would be able to go to Florida to visit my daughter and the new baby as soon as they got out of the hospital.

My last radiation treatment was on a cool spring morning. Doctor K. brought tears to my eyes when she congratulated me on my graduation and pinned a navy and white polka dot ribbon on my denim jacket. She reminded me to return for my next mammogram in six months. I still wear that polka dot ribbon on my jacket as a reminder of this long journey. I am grateful for my family and all the beautiful people who made breast cancer a positive experience of growth and encouraged me to never give up!

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Character on Display feat. Andre Bouey

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Teens spend an average of 9 hours a day using technology, and a big chunk of that time is spent on social media. In this episode, Dr. Susy Francis Best and Andre Bouey shed some light on how help your kids balance the use of social media, how to spot the warning signs and how to keep technology from taking over their life.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Portrait of Andre Bouey

Andre Bouey
Special Guest

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Inappropriate Texting feat. Dr. Yanina Gomez

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

The average teen sends over 3,000 texts per month. It’s important for parents to set texting guidelines for the family. Tune in for a few tips on how to have open conversations with your kids on texting, sexting and technology.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Dr. Yanina Gomez

Dr. Yanina Gomez
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

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The Struggle is Real:

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Speaking Their Love Language feat. Bill Ferrell

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Children express and receive love in different ways. Knowing their love language will not only have a profound impact on your relationship and connection, but will also has help them feel unconditionally loved, accepted, heard and understood.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Bill and Leslie Ferell

Bill Ferrell
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

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Teaching Kids Manners feat. Mike Oquendo

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Our kids watch every move we make. They pick up our good habits and our bad habits. So how do we teach our kids manners? You guessed it. Tune in for more.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Mike Oquendo
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

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The Struggle is Real:

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Recovering from Parenting Mistakes feat. James Breakwell

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Recovering from Parenting Mistakes feat. James Breakwell

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Parenting isn’t an exact science. Sometimes we shine and sometimes not so much. It’s ok. Join our panel discussion this week with James Breakwell a.k.a. Exploding Unicorn, for tips on how to recover from those parenting mistakes.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

James Breakwell a.k.a. Xploding Unicorn

James Breakwell (Exploding Unicorn)
Special Guest

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Family Bridges:

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Teaching Your Children Personal Boundaries feat. Dr. Susanne Francis Best

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Teaching Your Children Personal Boundaries feat. Dr. Susanne Francis Best

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Are you teaching your kids to have healthy boundaries? Children, just like adults, need to learn to set boundaries for themselves and respect those of others. Join the discussion this week, featuring Dr. Francis Best, to gain insights and practical tips on how to help your kids develop this important life skill.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Dr. Susanne Francis Best

Dr. Susanne Francis Best
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

Get more resources and tools by downloading our app.

The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.