Archive for August 2015

Growing Hope   Leave a comment

imgres       Family movie night at New Life yesterday and we saw a really interesting movie ” Where Hope Grows.”  (in the course of this blog I may stray into “spoiler” territory if and when I do so I will proceed this with the word SPOILER and you should stop reading at that point to avoid information that might spoil the movie for you). This is the latest offering from such movies as Courageous and Fireproof. Calvin Thompson is a single father living with his seventeen year old daughter Kate. He was a major league baseball player until his lack of performance resulted in him being kicked off the team . Since then his life has spiralled out of control, fueled largely by the contents of a bottle. At his local supermarket he meets a young man with Downs Syndrome who takes pride in his nick-name -Produce and, of course, he is responsible for the fruit and vegetable displays in the store. The movie chronicles the relationship between Calvin and this grocery store employee, Produce as they become friends and their lives become intertwined. SPOILER

 

The movie begins by revealing a number of lives largely devoid of hope. Calvin with no hope of any direction, Katie without hope of any change in her father, and Produce with no hope of becoming employee of the month! Calvin sees in Produce, however, an uncanny ability to remain cheerful and positive in any situation and in the end asks Produce what his secret is.  Produce never articulates any details but in time asks Calvin if he will give him a lift to church and suggests he might come in. Inevitably Calvin declines choosing rather to join his friend on the golf course. During their round his best friend confronts him as a loser detailing his lack of purpose since leaving the major leagues . Calvin’s violent response leads him into a freefall drunken binge resulting in him lying, passed out on baseball field having missed an interview for a job. As the story proceeds Calvin tentatively approaches Alcoholics Anonymous and things begin to change.

I won’t disclose any more but there are a number of notable aspects of the story. Produce gives a powerful picture of unconditional love as only a person with downs syndrome can. Anyone who has been in contact with one of these wonderful people will inevitably be engulfed in their effortless and irrepressible affection and cheerfulness. For Produce hugs are the order of the day and, as he engages Calvin in unconditional friendship it is hard to avoid being reminded of the unconditional love we are offered in Jesus. When he was asked his secret I wondered, is there anything in my life as a follower of Jesus that would prompt that  question of me?

The movie ends not with a death-bed conversion or dramatic life changes (although the end is not what I expected!) but rather in a place where all those who had no hope at the beginning of the story are granted a glimmer of that hope. Kate has her father back, and Calvin has a job. It would seem they have joined Produce at church so we see the seeds of faith beginning to sprout! Yes there is hope for Produce too, but if you want to know about that you will have to see the movie!

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Posted August 29, 2015 by jolm15 in Movies

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Give and Take Pt 2   Leave a comment

I promised further insight from“Thanks for the Feedback” by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, so here is part 2

It would seem that there may be more to learn about receiving feedback than we first think (See post 8/15).  At the end of their first chapter Heen and Stone ask this question ” Why is it that when we give feedback we often feel so right, yet when we receive feedback it so often feels wrong?”  A more detailed look at the “triggers” enumerated in my last post will help. In order to give more objective attention to the feedback we receive, we must first be able to recognize the type of feedback we are receiving. The authors list three; Appreciation, Coaching  and Evaluation.  The first, appreciation, is about our relationship with the giver. An indication that the hard work one has done is valued or simply that they like to have you around! Coaching often takes the form of helpful, constructive suggestions about how something can be improved. Evaluation is simply a statement of performance against a known standard. All three types of feedback are extremely valuable in the right context, but when we expect or want one type and get another, our response can range from frustration to anger and hurt. When we just need someone to tell us they value us and they give us some handy tips on cooking steak, or indeed when we would value some help and all that is forthcoming is an “attaboy” we are left disappointed!  Whereas it maybe difficult to avoid negative responses altogether, being conscious of the type of feedback we are seeking and  recognizing the type we are in fact getting can at least help>

Give and Take   1 comment

We have all been told many times that it is better to give than receive, but is that always true? John Gottman, a marriage researcher, has found that a person’s willingness to receive  and accept influence (feedback) from their spouse is a key predictor of a healthy, stable marriage. I can recall receiving professional feedback that  for some reason lived on in my mind for years.  For  parents it is frightening to realize that our children will learn  how to respond to correction and coaching by watching our responses to  the various forms of feedback we receive. All this would suggest that the art of receiving feedback might be more important that we think.

In their recent book “Thanks for the Feedback” Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone‘s research indicates that this is indeed true. At the recent the Global Leadership Summit Sheila taught on the subject. Her content was so compelling that I immediately purchased the book and I want to share some of the lessons I am learning as I read.

Whether it is  graded assignments at school, “likes” on our facebook posts  or simply a warm smile when enjoying a carefully prepared meal, feed back washes over us from all sides. Our reactions can range from joy to anger and there is much we can learn that will  help us both understand  our responses and handle them more constructively. Firstly feed back is received at the intersection of two of our most fundamental  needs,  our desire to learn and improve and our yearning to be accepted and loved as we are.  Many of our negative reactions are caused by a series of  what the authors call “triggers”. “Truth triggers”  are set off by a sense that the content of the feedback is somehow without substance while “Relationship Triggers” are a consequence of the type of relationship we have with the person offering the feed back. “Identity Triggers” result in us doubting who we are and shaking all our insecurities regardless of the content of the message. Without exception when these triggers are activated we are disabled from any constructive conversation about the content of the feedback itself.  However when we recognize their existence and are ready for them we have a much better chance of benefiting from what is said.   If we do indeed want to learn and improve there is of course much more to come so watch this space for more nuggets from this excellent book.