steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the tag “dad”

the challenge of change

Change is inevitable. It may be a gradual, subtle process or it may be an unexpected crisis that happens out of the blue which necessitates change – but change happens. Without change a church or organisation will stagnate and, in my view, eventually die. How we approach and manage change is therefore vitally important if we are to support and keep the confidence of the people the change effects. 

I think I’m pretty good at change. I enjoy the challenge of improving systems and processes at work, and I love seeing people develop into new areas at church. Many of the projects I’m involved in at work require a change in work practices (currently a new internal communications system). Although there can be mileage in the thinking ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ I firmly believe that you can only ‘not fix it’ for so long. At some point change will have to take place, or we essentially are going backwards.

Subtle changes are relatively easy to manage – most people may not even be aware of the changes until they look back over a period of time. Major changes are much more of a challenge. 

Most reasons for change will fit into one of three categories – and there is one key thing that best alleviates objections or aversion:

Keeping up to date.
These are primarily the more subtle, day-to-day changes that keep a church, organisation or relationship relevant and active. It’s the organic process that should (in my view) be embedded in the ethos of any organisation. Examples of this could be as simple as keeping a website up to date, improving systems, making and developing new personal contacts etc.

Development.
This category often is centred around people. Whether it’s a promotion or new job, moving into a new role at church, or a change in direction for an organisation – because the change will affect people directly it is more difficult to manage. Change in this instance can be accepted differently depending on your perspective. I hope that I would see the positive, trust the people proposing or appreciate the necessity for change – even if it doesn’t feel right at that time to me personally. I’m then in a much better place to help shape and facilitate the change. Some people, however, seem to always fight against change – just because they can.  I’m all for constructive discussion, but that’s very different from being deliberately obstructive. I think this is the hardest type of change to manage and throws up the greatest challenges.

Crisis.
Change due to crisis is dramatic and often fairly instant. Whether it’s being made redundant from work, the death of someone you love or the final breakdown in a relationship – the effects are immediate and usually painful. I know that when my dad passed away back in February, the changes I (and the rest of the family) had to come to terms with were very difficult. Paradoxically, it can be easier to cope with the challenge of change due to crisis, as you have been forced into a situation (willingly or otherwise) and have no option but to work with the implications of it.

The best tool to manage change.
In my view the single, most effective way to best manage change is good, clear communication. ‘Announcing’ a change will more often than not lead to an automatic reaction or objection.  If a change has been carefully explained, and the rationale given, it is much more likely to be accepted and people will work with you to implement those changes – something for us all to work on, no matter how good we might think we are at communicating!

Points to ponder:

  • How do I instinctively react to change? 
  • When was the last time I encouraged someone to develop into a role and help them implement their changes? 
  • Are my comments about change part of constructive discussion or deliberately obstructive?
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lessons in life – from my dad

Back in October, we didn’t think dad would make it until his birthday or Christmas so I decided to thank him for what he meant to me while he was around to appreciate it.  When I read this to him, he wasn’t able to talk much, but he smiled and chuckled as I struggled to read it through to him.

He did say a few words after I finished.  This is what I read to him.

Dad

You have taught me so much throughout my life, but there are four things that stick in my memory.

I remember when we were small kids going swimming, and you would be the one throwing us around and splashing us – generally making our time there fun.  You taught me how to love and have fun with family.

I remember going to collect my exam results from school with you.  I did pretty badly, but the first thing you said to me was ‘well done’. You taught me how to always try and see the best in people.

Remember my first car?  The pea-green Fiat 128!  I needed some new tyres and you leant me the money, but made me pay it all back. I thought you were a bit mean at the time, but you taught me another valuable lesson – honesty in your word, and the value of a strong work ethic.

As kids we were dragged from one church meeting to another – most of which I enjoyed!  You helped me to find my own, strong, faith which I will be eternally grateful for.

I hope that I can pass on these valuable life-lessons to my boys:

  • To love and have fun with my family,
  • To always try and see the best in people,
  • To have and honest and strong work ethic,
  • To encourage others to find their own faith.

Thanks for everything you have done for me,

With much love, your, very proud of you, son.

Steve

Dad replied – ‘You’ve been a good son to me’.  Words which I will always treasure.

Points to ponder:

  • What life-lessons would you want to pass on – and how can you do that?
  • Is there someone who you should take time to thank while they’re able to appreciate it?

reflections on… february

Keeping a positive outlook can be difficult – especially when you go through tough times.  My dad sadly passed away, peacefully, on 15th February; which makes now one of those times.  I am though, determined to try and keep positive through this strange period between dad passing away and his funeral, which is not until the first week in March.

Family:  We started the month with a visit to my sister-in-law and her family. The plan was to leave our boys there while we went on a worship training day, but things didn’t go to plan and we didn’t end up getting to the training. We did have a lovely time though, and it was definitely the right thing to do.

After dad passing away, a lot of my time has been with my family sorting out the many things that need dealing with.  This has been a sad time and I posted about it in the post “time-a-precious-gift” earlier this month.

In contrast, last weekend was a great, happy occasion when we were at a family christening.  It was good to meet up with extended family that we hadn’t seen for a while – and some of them are staying down until the funeral, so no doubt we will see them throughout the week too.

Faith: With everything that’s gone on in the last couple of weeks, I feel slightly out of the loop when it comes to church. We have had lots of cards from church family which has been lovely.  It’s good to know you’re being supported in prayer when you go through tough times.

With the loss of someone close in your life, it brings your faith into sharp focus – and I’m absolutely confident that dad is in a better place now and I will see him again one day.

Work: I had another session for my diploma on managing quality which was enjoyable and provoked thoughts on what that means outside of work. (See my previous blog – managing quality.)  Colleagues have been very supportive and dealt with as much of my work as they could. I’m fortunate and grateful to have an understanding boss who has given me the time I needed after dad passed away.

So, like January; February has had its ups and downs – I wonder if a pattern is emerging!

Highlights of the month:

  • Being with family at the christening last weekend
  • The murder mystery dinner at church – excellent!

Below is a link to a challenging song that was played at church a few weeks back.  I didn’t know then that I would be listening to it with the backdrop of loosing dad. Casting Crowns – Praise You in this Storm…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGPS8sa-bRQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

time… a precious gift

Wednesday 15th February was a very sad day. My dad peacefully passed away. Me, my brothers and sisters were there just before he finally went and mum and her sister were with him at the end. A very sad, emotional time, but we were grateful we were all able to see him one last time.

Eighteen months ago dad was not really ill at all.  He steadily deteriorated from that time on resulting in him being in hospital back in October.  Even while in hospital he would be giving advice and showing concern for everyone – especially mum. I never thought he would make my birthday in the middle of October – but he did. I had said my thankyous and goodbyes which was an almost impossible thing to do, but I’m thankful that I was able to share those with dad rather than saying something after he had gone. From that moment, I have been really grateful for any extra time I had to be with dad.  Time… a precious gift.

Since October, he was moved to a hospice as they didn’t think he had much time left.  He would have good days and bad days, but somehow his health didn’t seem to be deteriorating as quickly as was expected, so it was decided that he would come home and mum, and the family, would care for him there.  He made it to his birthday in the middle of December.  Time… a precious gift.

We had a good Christmas with all of the family being able to visit. It was lovely to see him being part of what I knew would be his last Christmas. Time… a precious gift.

Dad passed away on Wednesday – his time on this earth had come to an end.

Since then we have been swamped by people’s kind words, thoughts and prayers which has been lovely – beautiful at times.  This has really been touching; reading them through the tears.  It is plain to see that dad made the most of his time on this earth.  He has helped literally hundreds of people in his work. He has been a shining example to me of how to live life. He will be very, very missed.

Time is a gift that can not be replaced, taken back or exchanged. Dad chose to make the very most of his time, at work, at church and with his family.  This is evident in the lives of the people he has come into contact with over the years.  A good friend wrote this about dad:

…you were never flamboyant or concerned with the flimsy or superficial things of life. Instead you dedicated your life to important things such as family and helping others. You knew the true meaning of hard work and through relentless self-discipline you brought light to those living in darkness and colour to those whose lives were grey.

I pray that I can be as effective with my time on this earth as dad was.  Thank you dad for your great example.

Time… a precious gift.

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