Graduates

On yesterday evening, I paused action on my “productivity” list and decided to attend a graduation program that celebrates youth in foster care.  I was completely unsure that I would see anyone there that I knew (and sure enough, I knew NONE of the graduates) and I had no significant emotional ties to any of the staff and guests.  I only knew that I wanted to be a part of the celebration that honored these young people.  Here are some of the things I observed and appreciated:

  1. Not only were graduates honored, but so were their caregivers (foster parents, program supervisors, social workers, counselors, etc).
  2. A spoken word artist’s encouragement to embrace and share your story, no matter what it is.
  3. A reminder that all things (good and bad) work together to our ultimate good, to our ultimate shaping.
  4. That attitude is important…the attitude we choose to adopt and daily live by affects us. To my current memory, Stephen Covey referred to it as “our own internal weather.”

My fellow readers, some of these young people have faced horrors from which a lot of us were spared, but they chose to become focused and finish school.  Among them were scholarship recipients to well-known colleges, husbands and wives who’d already started families, teen business owners, singers, artists, and those who are still trying to figure out the next step.  The point:  they made it to this point, they achieved that goal and by God, they will continue to soar and achieve more.  I did not know any of them personally but I’m incredibly proud of each of them and was honored to have been in their presence.  In the words of Dr. John C. Maxwell, remember that “Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.”  Choose growth.  Hats off to all graduates and the next step in this journey called life.

#fostercare   #ittakesavillage   #youth    #focus   #graduates   #Johncmaxwell

The Inspiration of A Child

I’ve never heard or seen this quote before, at least not to my memory, but it is literally what happens for me when I interact with a darling…especially with respect to my children that I meet as a Guardian Ad Litem.  For a few seconds, there’s no one in my world but them.  I put on the back burner the darkness(es) they’ve faced and I see them for who they are and for who they can become.  And…it catches me off guard every time.  Gotta respect the kiddos!

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“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.” Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist

#children  #advocacy  #child

“Children are the messages we send to a time we will not see.” – John W. Whitehead

Richness of Life

Today, I attended a homegoing celebration, also known as a funeral, for someone beloved.  He was my sister’s father, a guy I’ve known since before she was born, and someone who was genuine.  I’ve always loved the fact that he was forthright.  He loved deeply and could be a little gruff, but he never hesitated to be himself.  In doing so, his sincerity touched a lot of people, as evidenced by the remarks at the funeral.  I also found that he’d served on the trustee board at his church.  He truly was an involved and beloved person.  Doesn’t mean he was without his faults; it simply means that he used his time to love on people and to live with purpose.

A part of the program stated that you’d often find him reading the newspaper and listening to gospel music, loudly, which brought about a chuckle from many, to include myself.  I realized that he lived the advice to “be where you are.”  Further, because of the wonderful people I met or was reacquainted with today, I feel my life has been further enhanced because my path crossed his path 40 years ago and because of my sister, our paths have remained crossed.  As I reflect, I hold to the fact that we can choose to define the richness of life on so many factors other than money.  The quality of the people with whom we form and maintain relationships can help determine our emotional and mental wealth.  Let us strive to have our richness be to our benefit, and not to our detriment.  To reach the mountaintop and be alone or to be surrounded only by those who want something from you is an unenviable position.  Let’s strive to surround ourselves with quality people.  Not perfect people, for they don’t exist, but people who enrich our lives and leave us wanting to be a better version of our former selves.

Sitting at the Middle Table

As I’ve posted previously, I volunteer as a Guardian Ad Litem and advocate against child abuse and neglect.  In our juvenile courtroom, GALs sit at the middle table of the bar area, alongside the GAL Program attorney, to field questions from the Juvenile Court judge and speak on behalf a child.  Recently, our GAL Program director asked what it meant to sit at the middle table.  My response is below:

“Being a part of the team at the middle table in the juvenile court-room means using my life and my voice for a purpose bigger than myself. I truly do believe that “children are the messages that we send to a time we will not see.” (John W. Whitehead) Sitting at the table means having a hand in positively impacting a child, a message, for the future.”

Whatever your passion, I pray that you are able to follow it and make a difference in pursuing it.  Tootles!

#volunteer   #childabuse    #passion

Understanding Employee Motivation and Applying Theory to the Workplace

Below is the introduction to an article that I co-authored and was recently published in the SACRAO (Southern Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers) journal. Understanding our team members and their motivations not just for working hard, but also for working well, are key to maximizing productivity and having a well-run office.  This is regardless of whether you have 1 team member or much larger numbers to manage.  You can view the full article at https://www.drconnieshipman.com.

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Being chosen for a leadership position is only the beginning of becoming a leader. To
become more than “the boss” people follow because they are required to do so — or to
become someone employees will want to follow at all — leaders must master the ability
to invest in people and inspire those around them. Simultaneously, in order to succeed
in a leadership role, one must build a team that consistently produces measurable
results. There are multiple paths to explore along the journey to reaching the “pinnacle”
of leadership (Maxwell, 1999), where your influence extends beyond the people who
are in your immediate sphere. During the journey, you are not only learning how to lead
people and encourage their professional development, you should also be engaging
in self-reflection on your leadership and communication styles. Time may feel like a
limited resource, but being more purposeful about understanding employee motivation
and “crucial conversations” (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012) will help you
lead an efficient and motivated team and ultimately make everyone more satisfied with
their work.

This article is based on a presentation by the authors at the American Association
of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) conference in April 2017.
During the presentation, we explored levels and sources of leadership, promoters and
deterrents to motivation, and the importance of proper communication as it pertains to
development of people and teams. Points were infused with examples of challenges
and triumphs throughout our careers to date, as well as best practices used to motivate
individuals across small and large teams. For purposes of this paper, we have created
two scenarios we believe will be relatable, reviewed the information presented in
the AACRAO session, and discussed how that information can be applied in these
situations.

#leadership    #motivation     #teams     #employees

“A Voice for the Voiceless”

An opportunity for volunteerism:  Become a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), depending on the state in which you live. 
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“A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer is..
Being told you’re the only intelligent person involved and the only one who understands.
Being told you’re just as stupid as everyone else involved is, and to mind your own business.
Having a fifteen-year-old ask for a hug.
Having a fourteen-year-old ask if he could live with you if he runs away.
Being endlessly exposed to colds, flu, colds, strep, colds, chicken pox, colds, pink eye, colds.
Meeting some of the extraordinary people who are foster parents.
Being slobbered on by a zillion dogs and cats.
Losing your car in the parking lot for the fifth time in a month.
Spending dozens of hours talking to dozens of people to get ready for trial and then settling out of court on the first day.
Waiting for people to return your phone calls.
Having a hearing start on time—the one time you’re late.
Having a six-year-old call and say, “Why haven’t you come to visit me? Did the judge fire you?”
Discovering places in the county you never knew existed.
Getting phone calls saying, “Thank you.”
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Brief program description:  When a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a juvenile is filed in district court, the judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem advocate and an attorney advocate to provide team representation to the child, who has full party status in trial and appellate proceedings. All Guardian ad Litem advocates are trained, supervised, and supported by program staff in each county of the state. The collaborative models of GAL attorney advocates, volunteers, and staff tries to ensure that all children who are alleged by the Division of Social Services to have been abused or neglected receive GAL legal advocacy services.