5 Insights I Have Learned About Failure

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I deal with people who feel like failures. Everyday.

It could be because of relationships gone bad.
Business setbacks.
A personal life — that was private — but is not anymore.
Bad decisions intentionally done or bad circumstances — out of their control.

All of that and more — failure.

One reason people seem to identify with my teaching is that I’m not perfect. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I didn’t enter the ministry until I was 38 years old and that was plenty of time to learn valuable life experiences by failure. (And, I haven’t quit making mistakes in ministry.)

Here’s what you need to understand though.

I’ve had failures — but I’m not a failure.

Because I got back up every time I failed.

Along the way — through failure — I’ve gained some insight into failure.

There are some misunderstandings about failing that you don’t necessarily knowing during the failing process.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about failing:

Not everyone is talking about you. This is a critical understanding, because it sometimes feels that way. As a result, sometimes you avoid people — even though you may need people in your life now more than ever. Sometimes you refuse to get back in the game — even to attend church — because you assume you’re the news on people’s mind. Yes, some people may be talking about you — for a while — but not for long. I’m not saying you aren’t important, but there will be a bigger story out there soon. Trust me. And, yours won’t be the flavor of the month for long. And, for those who do like to talk about others — I’ve learned they are often trying to shift attention from their own failures. (You can also remind them it is a sin to gossip.)

Your attachment to the failure may never fully go away. That’s hard, but it’s true. Rahab was always known as a “harlot” in the Bible. She kept her title. When triggered in someone’s mind, they may remember your failure for years. History books record great failures of people with great success. And, I’m not sure it should be our goal to completely lose that failure reminder. It’s a way we can demonstrate grace. We can be an example to others who have failed — and are seeking hope. God uses our failures as a source of strength for others. But, whether or not people can label you a failure will depend on how you respond to failure — how you proceed after the failure.

God loves you more than you can imagine, even when you fail. In fact, in my experience with failure, whether it was by intentional sin or through no fault of your own, it breaks your heart at some point. My Bible says God is close to the brokenhearted. And, your failure is what makes you a great candidate for grace — something God loves to extend to those who will receive it.

Forgiving yourself may be the most difficult thing. It’s true. The hardest person to forgive for failing is almost always ourselves. We usually hold our failures against ourselves much longer than the world does. And, the enemy loves to use that principle against us too. Why not? It works, right? But, forgiveness is a choice. Receiving God’s grace is a choice. Moving forward is a choice. Choosing your next steps wisely — that’s a choice too.

The best days of your life may be after the failure — not before. Wow! If only I could have understood that during some of my darker moments due to failure. If you refuse to let failure control you and you allow God, by His grace, to shape the rest of your story you may just experience some of your best moments of life in the days ahead. That’s my story. And, for that I’m thankful.

Obviously, no one should ever desire failure so they can learn from it. But, failure is a part of living in a fallen world. The key is to not allow failure to be our dominant identification. That’s determined by what we do after the failure.

What have you learned from failure?

10 Realities Every Young Leader Needs to Hear

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I work with young leaders everyday. I have two incredible young leaders as sons. (Here’s my picture with them a few years ago — taken the day we moved to Kentucky.)

Occasionally, when I am talking to a young leader something becomes apparent. They often think what they are experiencing is unique. And, more surprising than that, they think perhaps their struggle is no longer mine — like somehow I’ve outgrown them.

That’s what prompted this post. I’ve included a few tips for young leaders I’ve learned along the way.

Here are 10 realities every young leader needs to know:

At times you will feel overwhelmed. You know that feeling, right? Like you can’t get it all done and you’re not sure you know where to start. Those feelings don’t ever leave you completely as a leader. There will be seasons where they are stronger than others, but if you’re doing anything of value you will occasionally feel overwhelmed. They are a part of life. Something you’ll never outgrow.

You’ll not always know what to do. You don’t ever get to a point in life where you’ve learned everything. You get better at some things. Okay — lots of things. Wisdom and experience has its benefits obviously. But, regardless of your age — if you’re doing anything productive — you’ll learn something knew everyday.

Seldom will you be 100% certain. You’ll always have an element of risk in your life. You will be forced to move forward by faith. That is a good thing. It keeps you grounded and on your knees before God.

Sometimes it’s just for the learning experience. And that’s huge. If you put all your effort into something and it doesn’t work — or its not as good as you thought it would be — it’s easy to get frustrated. But, the process will teach you something. And, the value of the learning experience is huge. Never miss the life principles intended for you.

You’ll many times feel under-appreciated. There will be lots of things you do that no one will notice. Great things. Trophy-deserving things — and people will act — it will seem at times — like no one noticed and no one cares. And, that may not be true. They may simply be living a full life like you are — overwhelmed like you are — and it just passed by them. But, it leaves you feeling under-appreciated. And, like all leaders, eventually we have to find our reward in the knowledge and personal satisfaction of our work well done as much, if not more, than the public recognition of that work.

People are watching. If you position yourself to lead in any way, you become a target of spectators. What you do. What you say. And, what you post on social media. Some will agree. Some will not. Some will agree just to get on your good side. Disappoint them and they will leave. Some will not agree because they are jealous of a leader with an opportunity. All that said, don’t shy away from people. That’s never the right response. Just be aware. Be gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent.

Learn the words of successful leadership early. As with the previous one, the words of a leader carry great weight. Don’t make it “my” team or your leadership won’t be very successful and no one will buy-in to the team except you. A leader’s words should always be inclusive rather than exclusive. Become a fan of words like “we”, “us” and “ours”. The more you include people, the more they’ll feel included (see how simple this is) and they’ll be more likely to suffer with you for the win.

Sometimes, if we believe in something strong enough, we have to stand alone. That’s a hard reality in a world that tries to force sameness, but if you do anything of value — or believe anything strongly enough — sometimes you have to stand single until others catch on or until you find supporters. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to advisers. You should. You should have mentors and be open to constructive criticism. I never make major decisions without the input from others. But, don’t give up what you know to be right — especially those things you sense God is calling you to do — because it isn’t popular.

Great things starts with humble beginnings. Don’t be afraid of starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. That’s still a viable option — and the reward feels greater when you built it the hard way. And, never underestimate the power of a moment.

You have to discipline yourself to decompress. It’s not usually built-in to the system. During the busy seasons of life — when there’s plenty of work to do and time is of the essence — which is most of our life if we set out to be leaders, you’ll have to discipline yourself. To rest. Re-calibrate. Refocus. Rediscover the passion that once fueled you. Re-connect, if needed, to a deep intimacy with God. You have to discipline for that. You’ll seldom have a leader or a system that forces that upon you. And, it’s life-essential. Don’t neglect your soul.

These are obviously random — but in my life they’ve become realities. For some of these, if you don’t understand them, you may think something is abnormal about you. Although, I guess another reality I have learned, is that there something abnormal about all of us.

If I Could Rewrite Myers Briggs Type Codes

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Let me warn you this is a random post…from my random thoughts.

And, that makes more sense considering my Myers Briggs. Random. Stay tuned.

I have used the Myers Briggs personality profile for years. I even became certified to instruct and administer the assessment a decade ago.

I have shared and talked about my type HERE and have written mostly about the difference in the Extrovert and Introvert preferences. I’m an Introvert.

I’m an INTJ — in case you were wondering.

I think it’s a great tool for leadership development, relationship enhancement, self awareness and career evaluation. I’ve used it with church staff, couples, and with small groups. Everyone is unique — and especially some “types” hate labels that assume they are a certain way — but sometimes this can be a good starting point of discovery into relationships.

I love the application of the assessment, but if I were to rewrite Myers Briggs, I would change a few of the titles. I think at times it has been confusing. Maybe it’s the age of the terms.

If you don’t recall the options — there’s E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P.

Some changes I would make:

I’m happy with the E and I.

E is for extrovert..

Most people can hear that term and have a decent idea what it means — they are more social by preference, although, in my experience, extroverted people are less likely to think they are extroverted than introverted people know they are introverted. These people are more likely to say what they think when they think it. They are generally more apt to engage in conversation — and are energized by doing so.

I is for introvert.

Introverts are desperate for alone time. It’s where they get their energy for life. In years of working with Myers Briggs, I seldom meet an introvert who doesn’t already know they are one. I’ve written tons about introverts — search the blog — but it’s important to know introverts don’t dislike people — they just get energized from their down time.

From this point is where I would want to play with the terms.

The S and N terms can be a little confusing.

S is for sensing.

A sensing person prefers to use the information available, using the five senses, to make decisions. I agree with that.

N is for iNtuition.

And, people with this preference prefer to make up their minds by adding their own information to what’s apparent. (You’ll normally find the creative types here.)

I’d probably leave the S, because that makes “sense” to me. But, I would change the N to the letter R — for Random. These people (like me) tend to have more random thoughts. They’re thoughts are not tied necessarily to one of the senses. They often have the thought before they make “sense” of it.

The T and F cause me problems also.

T stands for Thinking. It’s a preference for making decisions based on the rational facts at hand. This person prefers truth over tact.

F stands for Feeling. It’s a preference for considering the people or values aspect involved before making a decision. It’s tact over truth.

I just don’t think these are the best terms.

In my experience, men often resist being a “F” because of the word “feelings”.

I’ve experienced some women who resist being a “T”, because they assume that means they have no feelings.

And the fact is — there’s nothing wrong with a man or woman being wired with either type….

Also, we all think AND we all feel — just to lesser degrees of each.

So, I’d prefer to title the T – Logic

I’d prefer to title the F – Values

Those seem to fit better for how I see these preferences played out in a personality.

The ones wired for “Thinking” tend to make decisions based more on logic. They can’t dismiss the facts of the matter — the rational, logical, cold hard facts.

The ones wired for “Feeling” tend to make decisions based more on their set of values. That could be people, or it could be a set of principles important to them, but when a value gets in the midst, it affects how they make decisions.

Then there are the last two letters.

The terms J and P — for Judging and Perceiving are, again, pretty confusing terms.

Basically a “J” prefers to have things decided and a “P” would prefer to stay open to new options.

I might change the J to an O for Order

These types tend to prefer a more orderly life — where the future is more scripted. They prefer to have a plan and work from the plan. Everyone procrastinates, but these people stress when they did.

I’d change the P to the letter N for Now

These folks seem to prefer to live in the moment. They let life evolve. They sometimes have less stress too! When they put things off — well — we can still have fun — right?

These are just my observations. I’m sure there are even better terms. Just my thoughts. In this case, I would be an IRLO.

An IRLO. But, now I’m confused. Maybe we should leave things as they were. Carry on.

Have you ever had an official Myers Briggs administered to you? What’s your type?

For those of you who know Myers Briggs talk — what changes would you make?

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about — how’d you make it this far?

 

3 Ways to Guarantee Success – By Dr. John Maxwell

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Thanks to University of Kentucky girl’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell for bringing Dr. John Maxwell to our church last night. Coach Mitchell is starting a foundation to give back to the community of Lexington and this was one of the first events.

I’ve heard John Maxwell several times and read many of his books, but I actually think he’s getting better with age. What a blessing to hear him.

Maxwell shared 3 ways to guarantee success.

(These are my notes – basically nuggets from his talk – capturing them as close as I could to what he said.)

1. Knowing my purpose in life.

There 2 great days in a person’s life.

*Birth
*The day you discover why you were born.

Most people know when but they don’t know why. If you discover your why you’ll discover your way.

There are two paths to discovery.

First path is 75% effective.
Discover your passion. That normally leads to purpose.
Passion is the fuel that will take you where you want to go.

Second path is 100% effective.
Passion plus giftedness. Or strength.

Combine your passion with what you do well.

2. Growing to my maximum potential.

Growth is not automatic. You have to be intentional.

Most people accept their life. Few lead their life.

There’s no coasting on the road to success. You’ve got to have a plan for growth.

A growth environment is one where others are ahead of me. If you’re at the head of the class — you’re in the wrong class.

(He shared a lot here on what a growth environment is like. I wish I could have captured more of it, but sometimes he was giving a list before I knew there was another list. :) But, I’m sure it’s either in one of his 76 books or there’s another book on the way.)

Nothing is more sad that waking up one day and there be no more mountains to climb.

3. Sowing seeds that benefit others.

Highly successful people know there’s a line they cross from success to significance.

You cross that line when you understand that the seeds you sow in others are more important than the harvest you reap.

Thank you Dr. Maxwell. I for one want to be successful.

Want More Joy in the Journey? — Throw Away the Scripts

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Are the routines and details of your life getting you down?

Is the direction of your life not turning out as you planned?

Are you stressing so much about things that are happening — out of your control — that you can’t enjoy the good things already in your life?

Here’s one suggestion for more joy in the journey…

Throw away the scripts.

The script you’ve written about how life is “supposed to go”. Throw it away. In the trash.

Any script you could write likely won’t work anyway.

Most of the time.

You can throw away the script in:

Your career
Your relationship life
Your health
Your finances
Your personal walk with God

And, the script you’ve written for what your children will and will not do — throw that script away also.

Throw them away.

I know we like scripts.

It’s easier. Less messy when we can script things out the way they should work. The way we want them to. It’s cleaner. Life is more tidy with scripts.

Most of us have written scripts in our minds about how life supposedly will work for us.

But, scripts just don’t work. Most of the time.

Life doesn’t follow the script we write for it. In fact, it seldom does in my experience.

You’ll seldom be able to script how long you work at one place. Just try.

You’ll seldom be able to script your relationships. Specifically, how others respond to you. Even the way you respond to them. Try as much as you want and you’ll still say the wrong things — be misunderstood — have to keep working on the relationship. I know some great attempts that failed.

You’ll seldom be able to script your health. Some of the healthiest people I know got cancer.

You’ll seldom be able to script your bank account. One tragedy and everything could be gone. I have seen it many times. I’ve lived it. Script and all.

And, you’re walk with God. You’ll seldom be able to understand all the ways of God. Strive the hardest to please God, follow Him closely, and you’ll still have unanswered questions about why God allows some of the things He allows in your life. Testimony after testimony proves this.

And, just when you said your kid would never — your kid will — or so the story goes for so many.

I’m not saying to not have a plan.

I’m not saying not to set an end goal or destination. That would be dumb. Really dumb.

You’ll seldom hit a target you didn’t aim to hit.

I’m talking about the script. The “dialogue” along the way. The exact setting and all the characters and the special effects. The journey to accomplish the vision. The details. The way things get done or accomplished. Don’t be afraid when your story sometimes colors outside the lines. Or goes off script.

Sometimes it’s good just to throw away the script.

I watch so many people stress about the details of life — the things outside their ability to control — that they miss the joy in the journey.

When people completely rely on a script — the one they have written for their life — they sometimes fall apart when things don’t go exactly as written. They have a hard time getting back into character. And, they have a hard time adjusting to the other characters in their life who went off script.

And, yet, the show must go on…

Things will seldom turn out just as planned.

Granted, having a plan helps you adjust accordingly and more easily, so I say have one — I even write posts telling you how — but the script will seldom live up completely to the paper upon which it’s written. Certainly not in every scene.

Throw away the script. You’ll stress less when you can’t remember the lines.

“In his heart a man plans his steps, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration.” – Isaiah 55:8

5 Real Reasons Most Dreams Never Come True.

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I talk to a lot of frustrated people in my work. I meet a lot of people chasing after something — yet never seeming to find what they are seeking. I think many times — and most of us are prone to doing this — we make excuses rather better than we make progress. And there are reasons that is the case.

Here are 5 of the real reasons most dreams never come true:

People quit trying. They give up. They may have tried before and it didn’t work, so now they don’t try at all. Seldom is a dream — a worthy dream — realized on the first attempt. The greatest discoveries are seldom found along the path of least resistance.

People aren’t willing to work hard enough. If you have a dream — it will be difficult to achieve. Might I say that it again. It will be difficult. Otherwise it’s not much of a dream. I think sometimes we expect it “just to happen”. But, dreams don’t happen by chance. Lucky isn’t a skill in achieving dreams. You might be “in the right place at the right time”, but those opportunities are rare.

People put too much hope in others and not enough confidence in themselves. Others don’t put as much energy or thought into your dream as you do. Many people never realize a dream because they expected something from others they never agreed to do.

People have unrealistic dreams. Seriously, if the dream is for a trouble-free, perfect life — that’s probably not going to become a reality. Learning to navigate an excellent dream in the midst of a world full of sorrow is a key to discovering the greatest — and most achievable — dreams in life.

People devalue the dreams already realized. This is a biggie. Sometimes we really are “living the dream”. If we always live thinking the “grass is greener” with the “next big thing” we never fully appreciate the dreams God has already given us.

Are you in a funk, because you think your dreams are passing you by? Could there be a reason for that?

What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do?

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What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Wow! How many times do I hear people asking a question like that? It seems to be a daily occurrence.

Or maybe not just like that, but they want to know what to do — and they don’t know what to do. So they ask a question about what to do. (Are you following? :) )

Unfortunately, knowing the right thing to do is not an exact science. If only I knew every time I’m asked. In fact, if it were, many of us in my profession would either be out of a job — or making a lot of money.

Of course, the first answer is to talk to God, but how many times have you done that and still cannot discern what He is saying. What do you do then — when you don’t know what to do?

Again, I don’t always know. Wish I did. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I simply have some principles I can share.

Here are a few suggestions when you don’t know what to do:

Phone a friend. Someone who knows you well. Isn’t it wonderful how God puts people in our life who can speak into our life? The challenge is often having the courage to ask and then yielding to those voices. Have you been listening to people God has been sending your way?

What would daddy or mama do? What do the morals you were raised with say you should do? If you were raised with good principles go with them. Many times we actually know the right thing to do but our question is whether we want to do what we know is right.

Do nothing. Don’t be afraid to not make a decision if you don’t have to. Sometimes it’s okay just to be still. In fact, sometimes that’s the best decision.

Follow your gut. If, that is, your gut is good. And it’s very important that your gut be good. But, if you are in a good place in life, and you know you are making wise decisions in other situations, then you can often trust the voice within you.

Take a risk. Now may be the time to put all safety concerns aside and go for it. Most risks come with an element of the unknown. You will often have to pull the trigger on moving forward without all the answers to your questions. Don’t be surprised about that. Or afraid to do it. If it is something you feel strongly about, it isn’t sinful, and it doesn’t go against some of these other principles, then GO FOR IT!

Stop worrying. It won’t help. It won’t solve the problem. And it’s probably distracting you from making a good decision.

Walk by faith. Hopefully you have a faith in God. If not, we need to talk. But if you are a believer, then you have access to a power greater than your ability to make a good decision. The Spirit of God lives within you. Take full advantage of that privilege.

Those are just a few suggestions when you don’t know what to do.

Do you have any you would add?

What My Fitbit Taught Me about Myself — and Life

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I’m a Fitbit wearer.

It’s a wristband that syncs with an application on my phone to count the number of steps I take each day. It’s set with an automatic goal of 10,000 steps.

This is not an advertisement — although if Fitbit wants to endorse this page I’d be open to that — but, I’ve been using it for several months now and it’s taught me a few things. About myself. About life.

Granted, I knew these already. They are not new revelations. But certainly I’ve had some principles that have been reinforced by my use of Fitbit.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned:

I respond better when I have a goal. Goals encourage me. Knowing I need to get at least 10,000 steps per day motivates me. Even if it’s at the end of a long day I will find a way to complete the goal. I WILL GET MY STEPS!

There’s a special joy in completing a goal. When you reach 10,000 steps the Fitbit goes crazy. (Or crazy compared to what it had been doing just sitting on my arm.) That tingle. That buzz. Those lights flashing is a pep in my day. Sometimes I use the elliptical and place the Fitbit bracelet around the bars of the machine. (It’s more accurate that way it seems.) I miss my “buzz” of reaching the goal. Okay so I’m being a bit dramatic, but if you like completing a task this does give you something else to get excited about each day.

Accountability challenges me to do my best. Cheryl has a Fitbit too. We keep track of where each other is in our daily goal. If she doesn’t feel like walking the nights we need steps, I’ll challenge her. If I’m not feeling it, she encourages me.

A little competition never hurts. I have “friends” on Fitbit. To be a friend, they have to have a Fitbit too. Granted, I don’t need another social media outlet to keep up with, but with Fitbit, my friends keep me going. I know they are “watching” — and trying to catch me — so I must stay ahead. I must. :)

My experience with Fitbit has been a daily reminder how valuable having goals and objectives, accountability, and even competition can be in my life. Think with me:

How can I apply these same principles to other areas of my life?

5 Goals of Vacation for the Leader

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I recently returned from a beach destination wedding. Someone has to do those you know. Cheryl and I tacked on a few days of vacation since we were at the beach. It was refreshing.

As I was finishing my last vacation run — vacation runs are the best — a friend texted me. He’s a great leader and we’ve talked often about leadership issues — and the stress of leadership. When he learned I was heading home from vacation, he asked me a powerful question. I’m not even sure he knew how powerful, but knowing him, he was probably asking with intentionality.

He asked, “Excited to be going back or dreading it?”

My friend wanted to know — and encourage me to think — if my vacation had been successful. He knows the purpose of vacation.

Do you?

What is the purpose of vacation? Another way I might ask this question: What are the goals of a vacation?

Here are my thoughts.

5 goals of vacation for the leader:

Rest – God has actually given us a Biblical command to rest — to Sabbath — as if He knows something about what we need. (Duh!) You may not “rest” like everyone else, but everyone should rest. This particular friend who texted me was also returning from vacation. He does something that I think shows he understands his need for rest. He leaves his work cell phone with his administrative assistant when he goes on vacation. How cool is that? I know because I texted him while he was gone and she texted me back. Intentional. Love it. Rest should be a huge goal of taking a vacation. We all need it.

Reconnect – Vacation should allow us time to restore relationships to maximum health. With God. With family. With ourself. The busyness of life can strain relationships. Vacation gives you the opportunity to pause and get back to optimum health with the most important relationships in our life. On vacation, I talk to God more. I spend deeper quality time with Cheryl. We date more intensely — ask each other more questions. In years past, I got to spend more time with my boys on vacation. (I’m an empty nester now.) But, vacation helps me reconnect to those I love the most.

Play – We all need to play — regardless of our age. We fuel all the rest of these with this one. As I said already, I run more on vacation. That’s my form of play. But, when I run, I’m better equipped for all the other goals. You may not be a runner, but you have things you enjoy doing that aren’t work. (I tweeted from vacation that a friend of mine got a Lego set for Father’s Day. Cool playing to come for that dad!) Playing enhances my mental energies, my creativity, and my enjoyment of life. Making time to play — with whatever you enjoy doing — is a great goal for vacations.

Dream – What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to doing in the future? One of Cheryl and my greatest enjoyments on vacation is dreaming about where we see ourselves in a year, 5 years, 10 years, into retirement. We also dream where we could see our boys and their families. We dream about careers, personal interests, places we’d love to travel. Dreaming stretches our mind and heart towards each other and energizes us about our future together. A great vacation goal is to take time to dream.

Rejuvenate – Vacation should help you reengage with your work when you return. That’s the understanding my friend had about vacation. And, it is a huge goal. This will be hard to say to some, and some may disagree, but if you leave vacation dreading going back to work, it maybe you don’t know how to do vacation or you’re in the wrong job. It’s work. I get that. We all have Mondays we dread. The day back doesn’t have to be the most fun day at work ever, but a goal of vacation is to help us recover so we can gather more energies to do the work we were designed to do.

Does that describe your vacation?

What goals do you have for vacation?