How Do Leaders Lead When Strikes, Lay Offs, or Disruptions Happen?

How Do Leaders Lead When Strikes, Lay Offs, or Disruptions Happen?

Strikes and layoffs are never planned. No one is exempt. The recent pandemic showed us how fast life can change. I live in the hills of Los Angeles, and our home was in jeopardy a few years ago when what was then the largest fire in LA history, the LaTuna Canyon fire, came up out of nowhere and raged one block from my home. Uncertainty due to disasters, health issues, and constant disruptions seem to have become everyday occurrences. The recent devastation in Maui, HI, is one recent unimaginable tragedy. As leaders, we constantly hold our breath, wondering what will be next. But disruptions force us to pause and reflect on how to lead and help others find God’s peace and restoration when chaos happens.

As we begin to reflect on what we are most thankful for, let’s look at those disruptive occurrences and look for the opportunities in them. Here are three leadership qualities I’ve found to be helpful to bring light and hope.

First, leaders need to be ready, and being ready means spiritually prepared.

Matthew 6:19, 20 tells us not to store up earthly treasures. So don’t pile up the unneeded.  This scripture speaks of physical things that can be eaten by moths or stolen, but what about fear, stress, and depressive thoughts? They can steal more from you than physical things. Remember to store up heavenly treasures. Eternal wealth and security start with a prepared soul and a relationship that is fortified with prayer and God’s Word. So hide it in your heart where it can’t be stolen. (more…)

The Physical Touch of God and Why Your Touch Matters

The Physical Touch of God and Why Your Touch Matters

“I just wanted someone to hug me.” This was the comment I had from one of our Influence Women members on a Zoom webinar as the pandemic was coming to an end. We had been discussing why relationships matter and why Influence Women is essential. She was single and, during the pandemic, had been left for weeks without much outside conversation or actual physical touch – a hug. “It was one of the most difficult times I have ever had to experience in her life,” she said.

Touch is essential to humans.

Many studies have been done on the effects of babies left and never touched or picked up, of people who were left untouched in nursing or care homes, or even for long periods on deserted islands. The result is often irreversible trauma emotionally, physically, and sadly even spiritually. God created us to be in relationships. Jesus touched the people He healed. Thomas required Jesus to show him his hands and feet after He had been resurrected. Jesus said to him, “… “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 (NIV). The reason God sent Jesus to our broken, sinful world was so that we could touch, see, and hear God physically through the flesh of Jesus. In today’s 24/7 access to information and emerging AI technology, physical touch is becoming more important than ever to knowing and experiencing real truth and love.

I’ve been blessed to be married for many years (more than I was ever single) to a loving husband who likes to touch things. I do too. He sometimes laughs at me when I shop because I touch things. But I have had to stop him from time to time when he talks to someone he doesn’t know because he, with his caring manner, will lightly touch their elbow or back when he stops to talk to them. People today don’t like to be touched because they aren’t touched anymore. It can unfortunately feel offensive instead of caring. My children and grandchildren don’t live near me, and I miss their physical touch, and not being able to squeeze them regularly makes my heart ache. “Facetime” is great, but it’s just not the same as hugging their necks.

We can still feel God’s touch on us today.

God wants us to touch Him and longs for our engagement with knowing Him intimately. He doesn’t require anything of us but to love Him and spend time with Him. He is love – perfect love. We feel His touch through our personal encounters. It’s a mystery to me still, but I feel God in my prayers and meditations when I read the Bible. I feel Him through the arms and hugs of other believers. Sometimes it is just the squeeze of a hand in a prayer circle or a pat on the shoulder, or a high five. Sometimes I feel God in a crisp Autumn breeze or in the sound of ocean waves pounding. Sometimes it is the aroma of flowers or pine trees or the smell of a baby’s cheek. I sense God’s joy in the sound of children giggling, a dog’s wet nose-nudges, or in the expressions of praise, song, music, and worship as believers gather together.

God touches you when you touch each other.

My heart leaps for joy at Influence Women’s gatherings when you come together at events, and I see you touch others’ lives. When you hug each other, the room explodes in a deafening noise of love. It’s why the Influence Women community of women touching each other needs to grow more. We need to gather others so that we can touch the world with our stories, projects, music and art, and ultimately share God’s loving touch with a depressed and lonely world. Our culture needs to touch each other through our artistic and creative work. When we collaborate and intimately connect, the darkness in our world is changed by the Light of the World.

I hope you will make an effort to schedule the Influence Women event dates in your calendars when they are announced and show up to touch others. Join the relationship-building INspire gatherings and bring a friend to the larger professional events. Register for the online Bible study or a mentorship series. Come and volunteer. Your touch matters to someone, even if it’s just a smile on a screen, a caring prayer you give, or an encouraging word about something you’ve learned. We grow stronger and more powerful when we touch each other. You have touched me, and I am forever grateful. Keep touching others – they need you. We need you.

Register for the in-person Hollywood Chapter Professional Brunch, and bring a friend – We want to see you there and hug your neck!

Defending Our Faith: What We Can Learn from Pontius Pilate

Defending Our Faith: What We Can Learn from Pontius Pilate

In this season of Lent (giving something up to remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus) and as Easter approaches (the celebration of our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus), I found myself reflecting on specific people who could help me remember the importance of defending my faith.

God chose and orchestrated people in specific places to teach us about Himself and how much He loves us. Pontius Pilate was an interesting character to study. He was a Roman political leader who desired power and aggressively pursued it. He was a man who wanted to be remembered and achieved it, but not in the way he intended. (more…)

Technology: Changing How We See Things

Technology: Changing How We See Things

I remember seeing my first augmented reality (AR) movie years ago. It was a Michael Jackson ride – Captain EO at Disneyland. But somehow, it didn’t have the same effect on me as the one I saw at the Sundance Film Festival years later. The first ever AR documentary produced, Cane Toads: The Conquest, brought to life an invasive amphibian species in Australia. They were swarming the country, killing dogs and cats, and literally covering the ground by the thousands. There seemed no way to stop them. With AR glasses on, we sat in the theater and had frogs pop out at us. We were jumping out of our seats! It was just a little too real for me.

Today, we’ve gotten more use to it. AR is rapidly becoming the choice of escapism. Movies and TV entertainment have matured, and our appetite to immerse our minds in another reality is growing.

We think about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) differently. 

(more…)

An INNER VIEW with Amanda Ashley Miess

An INNER VIEW with Amanda Ashley Miess

Sometimes self-centeredness can look like striving and having an internal hyper-focus on yourself. If the focus is on you, you, you, then there might be a need for readjustment. Read this month’s INNER VIEW with producer Amanda Ashley Miess as she shares how she took the attention and pressure off of herself and put it where it belongs… back onto God.

 Bio:

Amanda Ashley Miess is a writing, producing, and directing triple threat who has over ten years of experience working in almost every facet of filmmaking. A creative storyteller and idea generator, she’s had her hands in film, TV, and digital media and has worked for some of the most influential names in the industry, including Jerry Bruckheimer, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Amanda has developed, produced and directed a host of digital kid-led variety shows for big brands such as Disney Princess, DC Kids, and Polly Pocket, with some videos reaching well over 1 million views. She also co-directed the Pure Flix mini-series The Power Couple, starring Alexa and Carlos PenaVega. She is currently a Senior Producer at Little Dot Studios, an award-winning digital content agency and media network owned by All3Media. A graduate of USC, she has also made several short films, including festival winners Silence Is Olden and Remember Me, winner of 9 awards at LA’s 168 Film Festival. A kid at heart with a strong passion for making influential content for today’s youth, Amanda loves to do anything a 12-year-old would do…. including but not limited to dancing, backflips, board games, crafts, and making goofy music videos.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: This industry is about “hurry up and wait.” How have you learned to wait on God and embrace His peace?

Amanda Ashley Miess: Has God ever “recently” taught you something that He’s actually been bringing to you layer by layer for years? I have! He is so patient. After spending way too much time trying to earn people’s respect and affirmation in this industry, I am finally starting to embrace the fact that I only need my Lord’s approval. I literally have a Google Drive that is 98% full with unproduced scripts, pitch decks, and story ideas. My Lord has shown me that my value comes from Him alone; all my giftings are from Him and are for Him. He will open the doors in His way and in His timing.

One vision He showed me years ago that I’ll never forget: I saw a dog pile of people clambering on each other to reach one key dangling from the ceiling. This is what succeeding in the entertainment industry often feels like. As I stood to the side, watching them climb over each other, fighting for that one key, the Lord told me to instead walk forward towards a small door that was shaped like me. Only I could fit through it, and I was the key. I have spent many years striving to reach that prized “key” hanging from the ceiling and have grown disappointed in God and my abilities when I have not obtained it. Recently, He has instilled in me a newfound peace and purpose. Even if I don’t have all the answers and I am still learning what my true purpose is in this industry, I know I am exactly where I need to be, and I know that even through the mundane, He is using me to bring His Kingdom on earth.

Kathleen: What do you do when it seems like God is silent and you can’t connect to Him?

Amanda: The times I feel most disconnected from God are when the enemy gets me to look at my human efforts and believe that my works aren’t good enough. Even in my spiritual walk, it is easy for me to believe that I am not praying hard enough, reading the Bible long enough, fasting enough, or ministering enough. I start to believe that nothing I do is ever good enough, and so I give up. That’s when I have felt like God is silent, or I am not close to Him. I think that I need to improve my relationship with God and work harder at loving Him and serving Him. But the truth is that if I believe what Jesus did on the cross puts me in right standing with my Heavenly Father, then I am in right relationship with Him right now! Even if I’m not “feeling it,” I am connected. I am pleasing to Him. Every little thing I do for Him or every thought towards Him counts. He is still moving in my life, and progress is being made. When I remind myself of that truth, connecting with God is easy. He’s right there, and I’m right there with Him. (more…)