encouragement

Fulfillment

You wake up in the morning hoping your actions will have purpose. You want the work you do during the day to be affirmed, to be directed towards a meaningful end, and to have an impact on the lives of those around you.

You want to lie down at night and feel satisfied, content that the work you did was your very best and made a difference in the grand scheme of things.

You want the peace of mind, the satisfaction that comes with living out your purpose in the world.

You want fulfillment.

And you know what? You can find it. Everyone can.

Each person is created in God’s image, and like him, has the desire – and the ability – to be creative and find fulfillment using their God-given talents.

You can find fulfillment in many ways, by knowing your place and purpose in your community, your family, your church, and especially in work.

You can find fulfillment by living into who God created you to be, and doing what he created you to do.

In short, you find fulfillment when you discover and carry out your calling. This fulfillment finds expression in many ways – in serving your community, church, and family. In these places, you can make contributions that have eternal significance.

Work especially is an area where you can find fulfillment. Your daily work provides you with the challenges and opportunities to serve God and others. In fact, it’s the best way to serve others. And service is key – ultimately, work isn’t just about your personal fulfillment. It’s about serving your neighbors and even complete strangers by using your God-given gifts, talents, and resources to help meet their needs. Your service gives people a glimpse of how things will be when Christ returns and restores creation in full.

There are, of course, times when work may be difficult. Some days you feel the “thorns and thistles,” the stress, the burden of your responsibilities more than others. Through it all, work remains a formative activity for finding fulfillment by teaching us about God and ourselves.

Fulfillment can be found in whatever work God places in front of you, regardless of whether it’s your dream job or not. When we work hard everyday at the work God has given us, it’s pleasing to him and way more fulfilling for us.

Ultimately, fulfillment is not found in our circumstances, but in the actions – and attitudes we take towards our work, family, church, and community each and everyday. It’s found in working diligently to glorify God, serve the common good, and advance the kingdom of God in all that we do.

 

Originally published by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE). ©Institute for Faith, Work & Economics 2015. Used by permission.

Riding a Bike In Tuscany Taught Me Why People Don’t Set Goals

I learn a lot riding my bike. We’re in Tuscany for a month and today was the sixth day of riding. Twenty glorious days to go. The first day, and every day since, I simply decided which direction I was going (north, south, toward the hills, away from them, etc.), then got on my bike and went.

Living For The Moment I have spent hours each day blissfully unaware of where I am, just riding through the countryside, impulsively going left, right or straight as it seemed right for the moment. The future and the past don’t play into the decision. I’m just “living for the moment.” But each day I have to find my way back to our fairly remote, countryside villa south of Lucca. The first day it took an hour to find home on these winding roads (even with a digital map), where I could easily have done it in 20 minutes if I knew the area. Each day since it has gotten easier.

“I Just Don’t Know Where I Am” Every day my wife, Diane, and daughter, Laura have asked me, “Were you lost?”, to which I always reply, “I’m never lost, I just don’t know where I am.” Today, I was going through the process of finding my way home, and on an unusually straight stretch of road with time to think, I realized that I get a little perturbed right around this time in every ride, because now I’m actually trying to get somewhere.

That’s when I figured out why people don’t set goals. Because they answer the question the way I did—“I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am.” On that same late stretch today where I was now trying to hone in on the villa, I realized that I actually do get lost, and I do it once on every ride; when I’m trying to get home; when I finally have a goal.

Measuring Progress Requires a Goal In Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which direction she should go. He responds wisely with the question, “Where are you going?” Alice says, “I don’t know”, to which the Cat replies, “Then either road will do.” And off she goes, enjoying her adventure.

When I have nowhere I need to be, I’m simply on a glorious adventure with no constraints, no rules, no timelines, and no pressure to perform. Nothing to measure in the long run. I truly am not lost, I just don’t know where I am. But that’s okay, because I have nowhere I need to be.

But as soon as I ask, “Where is home?”, I’m immediately lost, because now I have somewhere I need to be, and at first I don’t know how to get there. My stress level goes up a bit, and I start getting frustrated that I missed a turn, or have to backtrack, when minutes before, I would not have seen any of those activities as missteps. I’m now “failing” (we should call it practice or learning) where I used to have no measure of such a thing.

Too often we see that kind of pressure as negative stuff. But something else comes into focus as soon as I ask, “Where is home?” Instead of just wandering around, for the first time, I’m immediately measuring progress toward some potentially positive future goal.

Living On Purpose All six bike rides getting home have come with a big sense of accomplishment by just finding our remote villa. The same is true on a grander scale with chasing my own personal Big Why, which is To Live Well By Doing Good. Things worth accomplishing always involve a challenge, some stress, and clear measurement of progress.

But utter clarity on where you are going and what it looks like when you get there, makes all that worth it. We can live reactively and any road will do, or we can live on purpose, design our future, and become intentional about getting somewhere. We get what we intend, not what we hope for.

“Where Are You Going?” Nobody’s lost until they have a destination in mind. We shouldn’t ask people if they are lost. It’s a negative question that assumes incompetence. We should instead ask them if they know where they are going; where they want to end up. That’s an interesting challenge that just might change their lives.

Some people work hard at being confused because when they are confused, they are not responsible. “There are so many good choices of where I could end up, I just don’t know which road to take.” The ability to measure progress is sometimes threatening, but a man still finds his destiny on the path he chose to avoid it. You will end up somewhere, the question is whether by default or by choice.

He who aims at nothing, hits it every time.

Off to bed before a big ride tomorrow. Getting home is the biggest challenge I expect to face.

Where are you going?

Article as seen on Inc.com

The 2 Driving Forces in Life

Both are powerful, but only one will help you build a great life.

There are really only two fundamental driving forces in life. One of them can be helpful, but is short lived. The other one can make you very successful.

1) Running away from something (survival) 2) Running toward something (your Big Why—purpose)

Only the second one creates lasting success. The first one might even create failure.

Survival—Running Away

Moving away from something is a survival tactic. Survival is a very strong instinct, but the negative nature of it will not help you get to great places. It will only help you escape unhelpful ones. Running from something gets tiring.

There are legitimate reasons to run from something—a bear in the woods, a mudslide, that guy who won’t stop talking. Many people look for a new job or start a businesses because they are fed up with the boss or the company they work for. Others do it because they were let go and didn’t want to ever be that vulnerable again. All of these are legitimate reasons to run from something unhelpful.

A negative driving force can be a good incentive to get something started. But the problem with running from things is that it isn’t sustainable. The gravitational pull of that thing chasing you, will eventually slow you down and wear you out. We aren’t built to find long term sustainable motivation from running away from things, but by running toward them.

Purpose—Running Toward

When you find something to run toward you’re much more likely to create a sustainable motivation and succeed. A positive driving force is something that you don’t have, but it has you. It grips you and compels you forward—you can’t help but go in that direction because the gravitation pull in front of you is strong and always getting stronger as you get closer to it.

What drives your life? What compels you to get up in the morning even when you’re not making money and when you’re tired of the struggle? What helps you see the struggle as the road to success rather than the road to nowhere? I call that my Big Why—the big reason to be in business or in life that is so much bigger than just the trivial need to make some money.

If you have a Big Why, a positive driving force that is compelling you forward, you are unlikely to wear out, slow down or give up.

The Paralyzing Middle—Neutral

But there is one other condition that won’t get us anywhere, and is paralyzing—living in neutral. When we’re living in neutral, we’re neither moving away from something or toward something, but simply not going anywhere—dead in the water of life—just treading to keep our head above it all. People who live in neutral many times have reasonably safe, comfortable and predictable lives, but rarely have a story to tell. Movement of some kind is critical. Moving away from the earth might help us eventually find the gravitational pull of the moon. Running away can help us find something to run toward, but neutral doesn’t help us find anything.

Get A Big Why—Your Blue Flame

Get out of neutral if you’re in it—wake up, get a Big Why and run toward it. We call it the blue flame that drives you forward, like the afterburner of a fighter jet.

Do you have a blue flame coming out your back side that is driving you forward? It’s the best way to ensure you’ll build a life you’ll love.

Some day your life may flash before you. If it does, make sure it’s worth watching.

Carpe freaking diem, already.

What Are Your People Afraid Of?

This whole idea of an entrepreneur…what definition should we use?  Within a company, perhaps it should be called “intra-preneurs”… Regardless, the traits we seem to attribute to this idea seems to the same.  These people take risks, they start something new, they never quit, they get the needed resources, they sell a vision, they take responsibility for success or the failure…

If we want any of the above from any part of an organization (including from us), if we’re really honest, we have to battle fear.

Fear that we’ll be found out, that we won’t succeed, that we will succeed, that people won’t like us, that someone will be mad, that we’ll get in trouble, that we’ll fail or flounder or not be whatever we think we should be.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself:

1)   Do I really want others to act as entrepreneurs?  Really?

2)   Do I want others to act without fear?   If not (i.e. you want them to fear something), what do I want them to fear?  Not to fear?

Stop here...until you’re really clear.  It may take awhile.  It did for me.

Now what?  Depending on your answer, could you take another step?  Could you ask your most trusted team members:

  • What are people afraid to tell me?
  • What decisions are people afraid to make that they should be making?  What was in the way of making the decision?
  • Where do you need my help?  The help of others?

Facing fear, and helping others to do so, is a key to so many things.  In perhaps an odd way, I find it encouraging to know that Paul battled fear – after all, he had a growing organization in Acts that he was trying to care for.  I wonder if we could encourage ourselves and others in the same way God spoke to Paul:

 “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you…”  Acts 18:9-10a (NKJV)

Results and Outcomes

Hard to argue that the RESULTS and OUTCOMES derived in our lives are a function of the ACTIONS we take...and that our actions are a function of the PRIORITIES we establish and place in our lives… And that the priorities we create and establish are a function of our ATTITUDES and BELIEFS … And that those attitudes and beliefs are derived from our FEELINGS and THOUGHTS… And those feelings and thoughts are a direct reflection of the condition of our HEART and SOUL. It's an undeniable correlation that the results and outcomes we achieve in life are a function at a core level of the condition and health of our heart and soul. A troubled soul stimulates sour feelings and thoughts resulting in poorer than normal attitudes that create a negative chain reaction in priorities, actions and ultimately results.

We're encouraged with timeless wisdom of the ages to guard our hearts above all else as everything we do flows from it (it's the wellspring of life). And we are also instructed by a wise character from the Old Testament name Samuel who insightfully observed that "people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

As you contemplate the results and outcomes in your life, perhaps there is a heart and soul issue at work. What is at the core of the results you are achieving? Do your priorities reflect a desire to guard your heart and care for the wellspring of your life ("everything" flows from it)? Are you creating space and margin in your life to enable a healthy heart or is your schedule so busy that care of the core seems ivory tower or unimportant? Or maybe life for you is compartmentalized (things on Sunday are completely separate from things Monday through Friday)? Are you consistently surrounding yourself with competent, high-trust people who share your values and priorities in life and business? People who can be a source of encouragement and soul care?

As Dallas Willard stated, "what matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become." Start at the heart.