The Courage To Differ Graciously

In our divisive culture we still get to choose who we are and how we appear. What if you had the courage to differ graciously instead of just arguing and fighting?

I recently found two phrases from Brian McLaren about how to approach differing beliefs inside and between faith systems. This seems to apply to a lot of the differences we are facing in our daily lives as well.

The first is the “courage to differ graciously”. Yes, we have lots of differences. What about your courage though? What would it take for you be be brave and face the differences instead of fighting or running away? Gracious isn’t a word you hear very often. To be filled with grace for yourself and others. To be grateful, patient, and kind, even to those you disagree with. We all need to practice both of these ideas.

The second phrase is “Oh wow, I see that differently.” McLaren offers it as the place to start when you find a big gap in beliefs and opinions. It allows for your voice to be heard in a way that isn’t combative or dismissive of someone else. It creates an opportunity to end the conversation, or ask if the person is interested in telling you more.

My request is this week is to look for opportunities to practice both of these phrases in small ways. By adding them to your toolbox and practicing them, you are creating a space for something to change for yourself and others. –

differ graciously - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Scarcity Mindset (Never Enough) – Rhoads Life Coaching, LLC

We live in a culture of not having enough. We have created a scarcity mindset that is separate from not having enough. This mindset creates anxiety that saturates everything we do.

Brene Brown coins the term “scarcity mindset” in her book, “Daring Greatly“. In our culture of abundance, this scarcity is different. It is a belief that we don’t have (and won’t have) enough. The example is that starving from lack of food is different that believing we will starve. The belief creates a different kind of anxiety and fear. It exists separate from actually going hungry. When this belief takes hold we tend to hoard things and hold onto them. We worry about losing our stuff.

I would argue that we have so much of this mindset in our lives that we hardly even realize it is there (the fish doesn’t notice he is swimming in the water). We constantly don’t feel that we have enough money, time, happiness, love, good looks, rest, toilet paper, freedom, recreation, friendship, recognition, stuff, etc. The scarcity mindset is so woven into our personal and professional lives we have no concept of how much anxiety it creates.

Where do you have the mindset of never being enough? How does this scarcity mindset change how you see the world? What would your life look like if you were able to be free of the fear the things you want running out? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Herd Mentality (Fighting the Urge to Follow) – Rhoads Life Coaching

We have two competing systems built into us. One that follows the herd mentality of “run!” when everyone else around us gets startled. The other that asks us to pause and make informed decisions.

Have you ever watched a flock of birds or a herd of deer get startled? One animal sees something that looks threatening and it jumps and runs. The other animals around it don’t actually see the threat, they follow the example of the first and run without knowing what they are running from.

There is an inherent benefit to the flock as a whole in following the example of these around them. Only when there is an actual threat. When a flock gets spooked too often by false threats, it wastes valuable time and energy constantly flying away. There is a balancing point where running with the herd isn’t an advantage.

I have been observing these dueling priorities inside myself over these last few weeks. I notice the pull behind my navel that keeps asking, “Should I go buy toilet paper?” It is a bit ironic for me that our house hasn’t had to buy more toilet paper until just this week. We didn’t need to run even though I kept checking.

Please do not hear me saying there is not a real threat. We should stay away from others. It is best to be very careful about getting sick. We do not need to run with the herd, though, in panicking about perceived threats (please DO NOT ingest disinfectant).

How often does this happen outside of our current pandemic? Are you able to pay enough attention to yourself to realize when you are reacting from a more primitive survival instinct that wants you to run in fear when there is nothing but fear to run from?

The antidote? Pausing before reacting. Practice taking a breath before you make a decision and look to see if you can actually see the problem to solve, or whether all you see is the herd running by. The system we use creates a dramatically different outcome on a daily basis. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Asking Open-Ended Questions – Rhoads Life Coaching

Developing the ability to ask open-ended questions (a cornerstone to coaching), creates the opportunity for more powerful and meaningful conversations.

Part of the training and certification to become a coach is the development of the ability to ask open-ended questions. The International Coach Federation makes it part of their assessment and certification process.

So why do you care? Only asking close-ended questions limits communicating with coworkers, clients, family, and friends. How do you tell the difference? Close-ended questions only offer binary answers (yes or no). Then lead or have an agenda.

“Did you do your homework?”

“Was the project completed?”

There are appropriate times to ask close-ended, yes or no, questions, but the amount of information is constricted. The question above doesn’t offer the opportunity to volunteer that the project wasn’t completed on time and was over-budget. Or that the homework is complete, but incorrect. Asking a closed-ended questions limits the ability to find more detailed answers.

In contrast, open-ended questions allow the person responding the opportunity to provide information they believe to be important. It also creates the chance to find answers that would not have been addressed.

“How would we know an open-ended question if we saw one?” – Is an open-ended question.

One of my favorites: To the response “I don’t know” is the question, “If you did know the answer, what would it be?”

Just like any other skill, asking open-ended questions can be developed. The more developed the ability, the more powerful the skill. Take some time practicing (it isn’t the easiest thing to learn) and see it makes a difference in how your conversations go. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Asking For Help – Rhoads Life Coaching

What prevents you from asking for help? I have written previously about being stuck. One of the steps of getting unstuck is asking for help. Sometimes it is the most difficult step to take. There is a significant disadvantage to not reaching out to others. Frequently we get stuck because we run out of options and don’t have another viable solution. Asking for help creates new opportunities of finding solutions we didn’t have previously.

So how often do you not ask for something you need? A conflict? A job search? A new business plan? Getting started on a New Year’s Resolution? What keeps you from reaching out beyond yourself for help? Our pride, ego, fear, and shame keep us isolated from finding new solutions.

Given the obstacles you are currently facing, when do the potential benefits of asking for help outweigh the risks of staying isolated? What do you need to do to ask for help? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Practicing Gratitude – Rhoads Life Coaching

I have written about reducing negativity and “Tell Me Something Good” as ways to improve our mental and emotional perspective of the world. When strung together, these individual acts become a habit of practicing gratitude.

If you are searching for a way to change how you appear in the world, and how the world appears to you, developing the skill of being grateful will have a positive impact on every aspect of you life. Just like any other skill or ability, practicing gratitude can developed at different levels. Just like training for a race, or using a new software system, if you don’t practice and create a habit of developing gratitude, you will lose that ability.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a simple task. There are many many more self-help books and blogs and webpages on losing weight or building physical strength and endurance than there are “how to’s” on practicing gratitude. The culture we live in clings to negativity and fear and being grateful quickly becomes a challenging task.

So where to start? I recommend beginning with your phone. Take a few minutes and scroll through the photos on your phone. Not the ones you have posted to social media. Not someone else’s public highlight reel. The images you have saved over the last 12 months that mean something to you. Re-member all of the things that have happened (and you may have forgotten). The next level of development is to write the things you are grateful for down so you can see them. Write them into your phone. Make a spreadsheet. Put a list on the fridge. Create a journal and document your practice so you can see how it develops. The next level up becomes repeating this process frequently. Just like going to the gym, it is not a one-and-done activity. Write 5-10 things down 3 times a week just to start. How long does it take to get to 10 gratitudes in one day?

How will your outlook change if you develop this skill of gratitude? What will get in the way of practicing? What do you have to lose? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

The Meaning In Our Symbols – Rhoads Life Coaching

We lose the meaning in our symbols if we believe the symbol itself is the object we are describing. I had the opportunity to travel to Peebles, Ohio to see the Serpent Mound  and contemplate how we use symbols to transfer meaning. If you haven’t ever been to see the Great Snake, I highly recommend it. In walking around this sacred site it is obvious something important is being communicated in the 1,100 foot image constructed on the hilltop above Brush Creek. Unfortunately the exact meaning of the symbol of the snake has been lost to history. 

Serpent Mound - Rhoads Life Coaching

Have you considered that nearly everything we use to communicate is a symbol to represent something else? The letters in the words of this post are symbols we have agreed as a language mean something else. You understand what I am trying to communicate when I type the letters “Great Snake” whether you have ever seen a giant snake or not. 

What symbols do you use? Our lives are saturated with symbols. Words. Images. Emojis. But what is the meaning behind each of these symbols? What is the message they are conveying? An important note is to realize that the symbol itself is NOT the actual object it represents. You would have to stand in front of the Serpent Mound in the quiet fog on the hilltop over Brush Creek to truly understand some of its power. A picture of it is not the same thing. 

What symbols do you use that have lost connection to their original intent? What purpose and meaning can be re-membered in the images and symbols you use to decorate your home or to communicate with those around you? How would life be more meaningful and intentional if the original, deeper intent of these symbols was reconnected? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Sometimes It Rains – Rhoads Life Coaching

In our high-pressure, fast-paced, win or get-out-of-the-way culture, rarely do we ever make room for a non-binary response. Is there room in your life for a pause? Becomes sometimes it rains.

One of my favorite movies from the 80’s is Bull Durham with Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. It’s cheesy; it’s fun; and the mentorship and initiation of the young pitcher Nuke Laloosh has always resonated with me. At the end of the movie Nuke extolls his maturity with the wisdom, “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes it rains.”

I was reminded of that line this week as we watched the rain wash out several days worth of plans and activities. We put so much pressure on ourselves to constantly produce that we sometimes we lose track of the benefits of having to stop and rest every once in a while.

It helps to have our planned daily tasks snatched from us every once in a while. It forces us to pause, reflect, and rest. So when you have a rain out or a snow day are you frustrated, or can you build a personal philosophy that it is ok to have your plans disrupted once in a while? If it causes a LOT of frustration for you when this happens, what is it about you that can’t let go? How can you build room in your being for an unscheduled pause? –



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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

How Do You Play? – Rhoads Life Coaching

Play is an important part of being human (regardless of your age). Taking time to get lost in something you enjoy is critical to finding meaning and purpose in our lives. As a culture (and especially as adults) we are terrible at playing. We tend to get so focused on the list of things we want to accomplish and check off the list that we forget to refuel ourselves. Even when we create space to re-create or vacate, we fill our recreation and vacations with endless tasks that are more ‘doing’ than ‘being’.

There are lots of components to what play is, but to critical parts are:

The ability to lose track of time while playing.

And being sad when it has to end.

Have you ever observed a small child on the playground? They get lost in the experience. They could be there for hours without stopping. And how often is that child upset when it is time to go? They were having fun! They were lost in play!

So what about you as an adult? That need still exists. How do you refuel yourself with something play-full? If you are ‘getting things done’ and being productive, you aren’t playing. But the possibilities of being creative and having fun without direction are nearly infinite. By not taking time to play we are making all of the work we do more valuable than who we really are. What is the point of all of the hard work if enjoying life does not become a priority? So where are there opportunities to introduce more play into your life?

Do you know what play is for you? It is worth exploring and creating! –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Worry Worry Worry – Rhoads Life Coaching

How much do you worry? What do you worry about? Do you pay attention to amount of time and energy you put into worrying?

Worry is different from fear in that by worrying we end up right back where we started and nothing has changed. It is the same as rocking in a rocking chair – it is something to pass the time, but not matter how long or fast you rock in that chair, you finish right where you started. Some of us have graduated from the rocking chair to the hamster wheel of worry, and we worry as fast as we can and never go anywhere. This is different from fear as fear motivates us to DO SOMETHING! Fear, whether we like it or not, prompts us to change.

Worry can also be like a slow leak in a tire. It drains our energy and time. Have you ever had a tire on a car or bike that slowly leaks? It isn’t draining fast enough to prevent you from getting through the day, but every once in a while you have to stop and fill it back up. It takes time and energy from other things. Worrying distracts our attention and effort.

So how to stop worrying so much? First is to pay attention to what you worry about. How often do you focus your energy on a particular topic and never do anything about it? By observing what we worry about it is possible to begin to understand the story behind WHY we are worrying about something. By understanding the story it creates the opportunity to change how you approach a concern, or gives you the opportunity to let go of the worry around it. –

Worry - Rhoads Life Coaching


finding meaning and purpose in daily life