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Belonging over Blood

Wow, that title almost makes this sound gruesome. It's not, I promise. Hold tight.

Can you remember the last time you felt rejected? Maybe your client ditched you for someone else, or your boss reassigned you to a new project, or you were flat out fired. Perhaps you experienced rejection in your personal life: a breakup, a lack of invitation, gossip spoken behind your back.

I'm right there with you. Rejection happens to all of us. And it sucks.

Yet, the core of our human desire is centered around being known and accepted and understood. In fact, our brain processes through these questions as it seeks fulfillment.

  • Is this person or thing important to me?

  • Is this person or thing good for me?

  • Does someone understand me?

  • Do I know, or can someone help me to know, how to act here?

I can think of four friends of mine who I feel belonging with. For me, it feels like a judge-free zone where sarcasm is non-existent, communication is honest and kind, and feelings are validated no matter the circumstance. They are my non-blood family that cultivate belonging. 🤗

Did you know you have the ability to create belonging?

Here's how!

  1. Practice Appreciation - recognize and enjoy the goodness of someone or something.

  2. Remain Curious - the desire to learn or know something.

Appreciation prepares me to be my best with you. Curiosity helps us enjoy being together. - Brent Stromwall, Odigos

On top of that, I believe communication is key. Then again, I graduated with a degree in Communication, so it makes sense. In fact, one of the things I learned was the importance of separating the person from the problem.

For example, let's say you are finding yourself growing frustrated at someone in the workplace. Instead of being passive or ignoring the ill feelings you're starting to harbor, pause and remember who you know them to be. This is where appreciation can kick in. "Oh, so and so always walks into the office with the brightest smile. It always makes my day. I appreciate that about them." Which may naturally flow into, "They haven't smiled today. I wonder if they are okay." And that presents an opportunity to remain curious and ask.

If our question is "You aren't acting like yourself. Are you okay?" versus "You're in such a bad mood today. What's wrong with you?" we are choosing to prioritize the person and our relationship with them, instead of pointing fingers and stirring exclusion.

Giving with strings of secret expectations attached is the greatest invitation to heartbreak. That's not love. That's manipulation. And it's all so unrealistic. - Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

Becoming better leaders is wrapped up in creating a culture of belonging for our family, friends, staff members, and clients. Let's take the first step in doing so... together!


I've known this sweet family for years now and had the pleasure of capturing their family photos. After being faithful foster parents, they adopted their youngest daughter into their family just a couple years ago. They created belonging!

Take a look at these photos from our time together!

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