Marks and Markings

Look at those coins in your hand – the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. Each coin has its own marking. Currently, coins are minted in four locations across the United States – West Point Mint in New York (bearing a “W” marking), Philadelphia (“P”), Denver (“D”), and San Francisco (“S”). Just as coins bear a mark that indicates its origin, we each have a unique origin that marks us. Consider some of those differences and how they shape us. Rural, suburban, and urban surroundings shape some of our initial perceptions of distance, time, and opportunities. Small, large, and very large families might inform our perspective on relationships, spending, and sharing. Quiet, loud, and explosive families will likely forge our approach to marriage, parenting, and the value of counseling. These are just three complexities among a myriad of others. Add to these complexities the dynamic of how we were reared and the mark is even more significant. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, a child will navigate eight stages as they are reared. For example, his first stage is called, “Trust vs. Mistrust.” Kendra Cherry characterized it this way: “Children who learn to trust caregivers in infancy will be more likely to form trusting relationships with others throughout the course of their lives.” Erikson believes that a child builds trust as their needs our met. They develop mistrust when they have legitimate needs that go unmet for inordinate amounts or go unmet. There are seven more stages according to Erikson. We certainly each carry a mark from our origin.

Additionally, each coin has its own markings – not the minted design but the scrapes, gouges, and disfigurements from use. Well, that sounds familiar doesn’t it? We can look at literal scars and marks on our bodies that remind us of significant events in our lives. Right now, I’m looking at a scar on my left elbow from 36 years ago. That mark reminds me of the excruciating pain I experienced when I fell off my new ten speed bike while racing down a hill on the state highway in front of my house. I lost control and wrecked, and the first portion of my flesh to make contact with the unforgiving pavement was my left elbow. Other parts of my body responded in pain after I fell, but it was my left elbow with a gaping open wound bleeding profusely that got my attention. I’m not sure if the wreck on my bike or what was to come was worse. As I walked my bike back to the house, my father saw me and immediately went into action. Instead of taking me to a medical facility equipped to handle such a wound, he felt that he had the medical background to treat this situation. He gave me a towel to bite on and proceeded to start to wash out the dirt and stones from the wound. It was possibly the greatest pain I could remember to that point. The pulling back of my skin and cleaning out of the debris seemed to never end and each swipe felt as bad as the one previous to it. Finally the cleaning out stage was complete. He applied some kind of gel and then wrapped it with a bandage. Every time I would move my elbow, shots of pain would shoot through my arm. For the next couple days, the wound had to be cleaned and re-dressed to ensure it didn’t get infected. To my father’s trauma-response credit, we didn’t have to spend money on a doctor’s visit and the wound didn’t get infected. To my father’s plastic-surgery discredit, the wound healed looking more like a 1″x2″ alien marking than a well-sewn-up slight scar.

That’s just one “marking” on me. There are countless others from dumb decisions, falls, fights, and normal scars from doing stuff.

Those markings sometimes don’t begin to compare to the emotional markings from life’s events.

Everyone has marks and markings. We will do well as leaders to appreciate the unique expression of others. I think this is part of Paul’s motivation to encourage us in Philippians 2:3-4 to, “do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but humbly consider others more important than ourselves.” He continues, “do not merely look out for your own interests but the interests of others as well.”

Here are three steps we can take to become better leaders in this regard.

  1. We should invest the time to get to know our team members as people. We sometimes fall into a trap of seeing people only through the lens of the role they serve within our organization. They are more than a salesperson, staff accountant, maintenance woman, or vice president of operations. They have an identity in Christ and we should get to know them as such!
  2. We should appreciate the process of progress. I know there are leadership experts out there that suggest we don’t change much after our formative years. I simply know that’s not the case with me and I choose to believe the same about others as well. While my progress might be slow, I am changing and growing and people around me are also. I want to be part of encouraging that process in others not writing them off as a lost cause.
  3. We should empathize with others. Each of us have marks and markings that cause us to respond to certain situation in certain ways. This doesn’t excuse us from taking responsibility for our actions; however, we must have grace for ourselves and others as we connect understanding to those responses and correct those patterns.

Let us hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

What is the 41Cents Challenge? Take the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and place them in your pocket. Each day, your objective is to encourage at least four people by expressing appreciation and/or appreciating expression. Expressing appreciation is sharing thankfulness for what others do. Appreciating expression is sharing thankfulness for who others are! Each time you do that, simply transfer a coin to the other pocket. Make it your goal each day to transfer all four coins. Go change your world through the change in your pocket! Simple? Somewhat. Impactful? Absolutely!

About Michael Goss

My life mission is to create positive momentum in people's lives. I have found that maximum momentum is created in my life when my priorities are aligned - God, Ginger (my wife), Family, Health, then Work.

Posted on February 14, 2022, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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