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Month: June 2020

Catastrophizing or Looking the Other Way

In the United States, people spend an average of 444 minutes every day looking at screens, or 7.4 hours. That breaks down to 147 minutes spent watching TV, 103 minutes in front of a computer, 151 minutes on smartphones, and 43 minutes with a tablet.


Over 20 years ago, Graham C. L. Davey, Ph.D.*, knowing that the proportion of negatively-valenced emotional material in the news was increasing, conducted a study looking at the psychological effects of viewing negative news media. There were three groups: One saw all negative news reports, one viewed only positive news, and one saw no news. The most impressive insight gained from this study was the
revelation of the effect that watching negative news stories had on peoples’ personal
concerns or worries. He said,” We asked each participant to tell us what
their main concern was at the time, and we then asked them to think about this
worry during a structured interview. We found that those people who had watched
the negative news spent more time thinking and talking about their worry and
were more likely to catastrophize their worry than people in the other two

Catastrophizing is when you think about a worry so persistently that you begin to make it seem much worse than it was at the outset and much worse than it is in reality—a tendency to make mountains out of molehills!

Henry’s Awful Mistake**

One of the many pleasures in my role as a grandfather is to read to my young grandchildren. Each child always has a favorite book and wants me and others, adults, to read it over and over.

Now, I’m not quite sure whether this repetition happens because the child likes the story so much or because there is a message which they, in their innocence, know that we adults need to remember.

The favorite story of one of my grandchildren was Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert M. Quakenbush. It is a comical story about a duck named, you guessed it, Henry. Henry is preparing a meal for his friend. The doorbell rings. As Henry goes to greet his guest, he sees an ant on the wall. He swats at the ant and misses it, and it takes off across the room, with Henry close behind. Henry chases the ant around the house, upending all the furniture. The ant finally runs into the pantry. Henry dives after it, throwing all the food containers out.

At long last, Henry spots the ant. He grabs an iron skillet, swings to squash the ant, and misses. The skillet goes through the wall and breaks a water pipe. The house fills up with water and is washed away, along with Henry, the ant, and his guest.

The last few pages of the book show Henry a year later with a new house and a hot meal on the table. The doorbell rings, and as Henry goes to welcome his friend, he sees an ant. The last line? “… and Henry looked the other way.”

Journal Entry: What if you decided to invest 50% or even  25% percent of those 7.4 hours looking the other way? You might have time to read a story, listen to someone to tell you their story, even climb a real mountain, or stroll around a molehill. Is today a good time to cease catastrophizing? Stop making Henry’s Awful Mistake and intentionally focus on a few things you can do something about in our Leadership and Life.  

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.“- Mark Twain

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,  but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” – Proverbs 17:22


*Graham C. L. Davey, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK. His research interests extend across mental health problems generally, and anxiety and worry specifically. Professor Davey has published over 140 articles in scientific and professional journals and written or edited 16 books


Secret Service Father’s Day

My father’s name was Odus Tate and he was in the Secret Service. He was a practical man. He loved his God, his family, and his carpenter work. At his funeral, my sister read this first poem, his favorite. My son, Brad, wrote the other poem as a tribute to his grandfather’s life and work. Together they pretty much summarize who he was. After you read them, if you’d like to learn or about my father’s Secret Service work, you can listen to my special Father’s Day podcast at HERE 
I’d Rather See A Sermon 
I’d rather see a sermon
than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me
than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil
and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing,
but example’s always clear;
And the best of all preachers
are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action
is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it
if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action,
but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons
by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you
and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding
how you act and how you live.
Edgar A. Guest 
More Than Stairs
Centered and true
Plumb and level
Lived as you built
Each step with special
–care you took to live just right
Seeing, serving, sound advice
You told me once about a staircase
The ups and downs, the winding rails
Grace, precision, and attention
The wood, the hammer, and the nails
The Ins and outs
Design and bevel
Built as you lived
Each step with special
–care you took to build just right
Seeing, serving, sound advice
I now hear better what you were saying
Was more than stairs that you were laying
Journal Entry: If you have 10 minutes take a listen to My Father is Secret Service by Clicking Here.  
Colossians 3:23, NLT: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Let Me Be Clear

Last week Dr. Joey Faucette interviewed me on his podcast. He reminded me of something vital to remember but difficult to do. He said in his 20 plus years in training, coaching, and consulting that he had learned one big thing- amid significant changes, people crave certainty about everything, but leaders can only give people clarity around a few things.

I didn’t ask Dr. Joey what those few things were, so I came up with my own leadership clarity starter list.

I’m clear that:

  • This will not be easy.
  • I don’t have all the answers.
  • I’ll do my best, but I might make a mistake.
  • We can all get better by learning through this together.
  • I will support you and have your back if you give your best effort.
  • Work is important, but family is more important.
  • I will listen to everyone’s ideas, but I will make the final call and live with the result.
  • For the next 2 months, we will focus on this 1 thing for our organization, which is______.
  • You need to choose 1 thing you will learn to become a better person, which is ________.
  • When I count my many blessing, my many worrying counts less.

Clarity is not just talking about things that will happen next but offering some things to hold onto when the next change happens. 

Journal Entry:

Remember, you will earn a reputation for how you show up during times of change. What do you need to get clear on, so you can support and guide others to get through their ups and downs in leadership and life?

 Extra Note: A CEO wrote this to the leaders this week: “I think it’s more important than ever to step back and ask ourselves, “are we leading others as they need us to right now?” We can all agree that whether you have managed others for 30 years or 3 months, none of us are experienced with supervising others in a pandemic.”  If you feel the same way and would like to discuss how you can help your team managing better and even grow through this time of hardship, click the link below.

 I look forward to talking. To schedule, a phone call with me click here:

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