Does your work have meaning to you? Do you get up each day excited about what you get to do that day? Or are you wishing you had more meaningful work to do?
Just passing the time at what we do each day can be frustrating at best and deadening at worst. But the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can live each day having meaningful work to do. And here’s how.
When you ask people what they want out of life, they often say that they “want to be happy.” But research has shown that happiness isn’t as fulfilling as we might think it is.
Roy Baumeister and other social psychologists published a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology investigating the difference between meaningfulness and happiness.
Based on their investigation, here are three findings that they discovered.
A new study led by Baylor University demonstrates a correlation between a manager’s focus on bottom line results and their employees’ lack of performance. According to the research led by Dr. Matthew Quade and published in the journal Human Relations, “Supervisors who focus only on profits to the exclusion of caring about other important outcomes, such as employee well-being or environmental or ethical concerns, turn out to be detrimental to employees.”
The article continues by saying that these employer-employee “relationships … are marked by distrust, dissatisfaction and lack of affection for the supervisor” which produces “employees who are less likely to complete tasks at a high level and less likely to go above and beyond the call of duty.” Managers must be careful about what they wish for. Because they might get it.
When managers focus too much on the bottom line, then employees consciously or unconsciously respond negatively. Here’s how you can rescue your company’s productivity and profitability by making your bottom line not the bottom line.
In the Walt Disney film adaptation of C.S. Lewis classic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the Beavers explain to the Pevensie children why they have come to Narnia and what their destiny is. Incredulous at the Beavers’ insistence that they are somehow the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, Peter Pevensie (William Moseley) tells the Beavers, “I think you’ve made a mistake. We’re not heroes.” Despite his protests to the contrary, the Beavers remain convinced that the Pevensies are indeed the warriors who will save all of Narnia and one day become its rulers.
Just like Peter Pevensie, in any situation we face, we feel we know ourselves. But in fact, we may know ourselves too well. Like Peter, we think we know who we are. When opportunities for greatness appear, we feel we are not qualified. When the hero’s entrance is announced, we look for someone else. We don’t suppose that it could actually be ourselves.
But Peter’s confession is the seed of true greatness. When we admit that we’re not heroes, we aren’t trying to fool ourselves into believing that we are better than we are. At the same time, we cannot disqualify ourselves from the assignment God has prepared for us. We should admit that we’re not heroes, but we should also believe that God could use us to be more than we believed possible. In other words, it’s fine to say, “We’re not heroes,” but we should also be willing to become heroes.
Becoming a hero is easier than being a hero. But it requires intentional thinking to know where you’re headed. Ask yourself these questions to focus your mind on the direction you want to go.
Innovation is a big buzzword today. People are saying how important it is to innovate. But innovation doesn’t just happen. It has to be properly cultivated. Because innovation requires a safe place to fail.
Today employers demand innovation of their employees. But they aren’t providing what’s necessary to innovate. C.S. Lewis said in The Abolition of Man, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function.” People feel forced to innovate but they aren’t given what they need to be innovative. Your team won’t risk failure if they feel they must succeed.
If you want to create a truly innovative workplace, then you must make sure that you have built your culture on three successive layers. Only with these three layers in place can you produce a safe place capable of producing innovation.
Competition brings out the best and worst in us. How we compete is just as important as the outcome—in fact, likely more so. The ends do not justify the means. Nicholas Pearce in his book The Purpose Path says “The means are just as important as the ends, and some might go even so far as to say that the means are themselves the ends.” I could not agree more.
Pearce points out people who have done strange things in competition, revealing cracks in their character. In the 1980 Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz disappeared during the course, only to reappear later near the finish line. Lance Armstrong had all of his Tour de France championships revoked after it came out that he had taken steroids. And Pete Rose will likely never be included in the Baseball Hall of Fame because he had gambled on the outcome of games he coached.
But these scenarios remind us that competition is not about winning, as much as we make it about winning. But in God’s economy, that’s not the purpose of competition. As Nicholas Pearce said, the means are just as important as the ends. There is something larger at stake in the process of competing. In God’s eyes, here are three purposes of competition.
Are you a spider or an ant? Which insect do you resemble more? And which one do you aspire to be?
I’m not talking about whether you live in a web or an anthill. But we can learn a lot by observing these small creatures—especially about ourselves.
Here are three ways to evaluate how you operate in a professional setting based on observations of the spider and the ant.
When I was in sixth grade, I was pretty good at guessing. I couldn’t see the blackboard that well from where I sat, so I learned how to recognize the patterns of the letters and numbers. But when I was preparing to go to junior high, I thought it would be worth getting glasses so that I could see the board. I knew I would be at a new school with new kids I had never met before, so I figured that would be a good time to make the change and get new glasses. If I wanted to see the board, I realized I would have to make a change. I couldn’t expect to see the board without doing something different. As much as I didn’t want to have glasses, I wanted to be able to see the board more. So I was willing to make a change. Because new situations require new paradigms.
You will face similar situations in your life. You may not want to have to change, but you will feel the pain of not changing is greater than the discomfort of doing something different.
I tell my clients all the time that if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got. The thinking that brought you to where you are is not usually the thinking that will get you to where you want to go. You have to be willing to change the way that you think. Because new situations require new paradigms.
Based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 5:36-39, here are three ways people resist making changes in how they perceive things.
Here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where I live, we have horses on our property. But these horses are skittish. If you approach one of the horses by walking toward it, the horse will run away from you. It will think that you are a predator coming after it. In order to approach the horse, you cannot walk toward it directly. You have to walk like you’re going somewhere else, and approach the horse indirectly. If the horse thinks that it is the focus of your pursuit, you won’t be able to get to the horse. But if it thinks that you are pursuing something else, then you will be able to get to the horse.
That situation is like so many other things in life: You can’t focus on what your goal directly, or else your goal will prove elusive. You have to pursue something else in order to get to your ultimate goal. Because the goal is the pursuit, not the goal.
Here are three situations where you cannot focus on your destination, but instead you must focus on the journey.
You’ve heard the phrase “Opportunity never knocks twice.” But I take issue with that phrase. Opportunity doesn’t knock on your door. If you’re waiting in your house for opportunity to knock then you’ll never meet it when it’s walking down the street. And even Jesus would agree with that.
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). For a long time I did not understand what that phrase meant. I thought it meant something about violent people trying to get into Heaven. But it doesn’t mean that. To understand what it means we have to look at that phrase in context and the flow of the entire passage, and we have to look at what the individual Greek words mean. If we do that, we see that the phrase has as much to do with this life as it does with the next life—because opportunity doesn’t knock.
In that passage, Jesus was explaining who John the Baptizer was. And he told them John was the “Elijah” prophesied hundreds of years earlier: the messenger in the wilderness announcing the coming of the Lord (Matthew 11:7-14; Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 4:5-6). And Jesus invited whoever had “ears to hear” to listen to what he said (Matthew 11:15). He invited anyone to process what he said, but he wasn’t going to make it plain to anyone who wasn’t willing to put forth the effort. Opportunity doesn’t knock.
If we break down the phrase about the kingdom of heaven, we see that “suffering violence” comes from the Greek word biazo which means to allow to be seized. And the word “violent” comes from the Greek word biastes which refers to someone who is forceful or energetic. And “take it by force” comes from the Greek word harpazo which means to seize. So if we put all that together, it means that the kingdom of heaven is to be seized and the energetic seize it. Opportunity doesn’t knock.
This spiritual principle has application in the natural. You can’t wait around for opportunity to knock. God doesn’t work that way, and life doesn’t work that way. You have to be willing to risk stepping out in faith. Here are three ways this applies to you.