Are You Open to a New Perspective?

Seeing the Big Picture Will Help You—Whatever Your Role

At one place I worked, I facilitated the onboarding process for new hires from around the country. I guided them through their orientation as well as their introduction to their initial corporate training. During this time, these new hires were exposed to the depth of the organization. They discovered for the first time all the services their employer provided to clients. Even though it might have felt overwhelming, they got a full picture of the capabilities of their new employer. By learning of all the ways they could be a part of serving their clients, they gained a new perspective.

New Perspective

In the sixth chapter of 2 Kings, the Scripture shows how important a new perspective is. After the prophet Elisha had repeatedly warned the king of Israel of the Syrian king’s battle plans, one night the infuriated king of Syria travelled to the city where Elisha was in order to capture him. The next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up to see this vast army surrounding the city. Consequently, the servant was terrified.

And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15b-17)

Elisha had a perspective that his servant did not have. Only when his servant looked at the situation the same way Elisha did was he able to see what Elisha could see. It is easy to assume that your perspective is the only one. But your perspective may not be accurate. There may be some information that you are not aware of, like Elisha’s servant discovered. What you don’t know can affect how you see the situation. Therefore, it is important for you to be willing to look beyond your own perspective.

Take time to reflect before you pass judgment on your boss or your workplace. Realize that there may be more to the situation than meets your eye.

Stepping back to see the big picture helps you understand how everything at your workplace fits together. This new perspective can help you realize there may be more going on that you were initially aware of, as the new hires discovered at their orientation.

Here are three ways you can look at your role at your workplace to gain a new perspective.

What Does Integrity Mean to You?

Is Your Sunday Separate from Your Monday?

Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with my friend Ben Case. Ben is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.8 billion in his 41 years in fundraising and nonprofit management. Ben has also been a hallmark of honesty and integrity as long as I have known him. He tells a powerful story to explain the importance of integrity.

Integrity

I was in a meeting with my wife, Angela, and Robert McFarland, at the time a consultant with our company. … I was deeply resisting something Angela insisted I do. Angela thought that, as a business owner, I was required by law to do this. Our lawyer acknowledged there were “gray areas” as to the applicability of the law to our work. Give me “gray areas” and I will run with it forever. I did not want to do what Angela was telling me to do! Then Robert, who had been observing the discussion and my strong resistance, simply asked, “Ben, when are you going to have integrity—some of the time or all of the time?”

Live with integrity. In the walk of life, you will always be glad you did. Integrity means all the time. …

I did follow my wife’s advice, and am glad I did.

As Ben said, integrity means all the time. It is possible to be honest in one situation but not in another, but you can’t choose to have integrity one day and not the next. It’s all or nothing. Either you have integrity or you don’t.

In his book The Deeper Life, Daniel Henderson gives a good definition of integrity: “Integrity is a life where all the pieces fit together.” If you have integrity, then your life is integrated. You are not one way with some people and another way with other people. You are the same person all the time.

Henderson also explains what integrity is not: “compartmentalization is the opposite of integrity.” If you have to keep one part of your life separate from the rest of your life, you lead a compartmentalized life. If your Sunday is separate from your Monday through Saturday, you do not have an integrated life.

Integrity is about being honest with yourself: you know the real truth about the person you see in the mirror. You may be able to fool other people, but you can’t fool yourself. And you have to be with yourself all the time, so you know if you are trustworthy.

You need to be trustworthy all the time if you want to be trusted all the time. Here are three things to keep in mind to help you exhibit integrity.

How I Learned Appreciation and How You Can Too

This Will Make You Enjoy Your Work More

I learned appreciation one summer when I was in college. I was working at a beautifully restored colonial home that had been converted into a four-star hotel and restaurant. Even though my main job was to carry guests’ bags to their rooms, my position was essentially a glorified gopher: I was supposed to do whatever anyone needed me to do. I reported to the innkeeper, Mr. Clarke, but I also had to do things for the front desk staff, the kitchen staff, and the bartender.

appreciation

Dave the bartender was a burly, gruff, middle-aged man with intense eyes and pursed lips; he was harsh with his words and quick to find fault—and I never seemed to do anything quite good enough for his taste. But I still had to work with Dave.

Other than the interactions with Dave, I enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed it there so much that I decided to apply to work there again the following summer. While filling out my application the next year, I discovered that Mr. Clarke was no longer there—but Dave was. When I gave my application to the new innkeeper, he sought out Dave’s advice about whether or not to hire me. To my surprise, Dave gave him an enthusiastic recommendation. Apparently I had met Dave’s high standards, even though I thought I hadn’t.

Even though Dave had a difficult demeanor, he did his job well and he expected the same of others. After learning of his surprise endorsement, I began to cultivate an appreciation for Dave’s no-nonsense perspective. Even though he was hard, he was fair. He could provide an insightful assessment and not equivocate in his comments.

You may have a boss who is as difficult to get along with as Dave, or more so. But it is important for you to look past that. Being able to cultivate appreciation for your boss—no matter how difficult your situation may be—will help you improve your situation at work.

Here are three things you can do to develop an appreciation for your boss.

How Do You Define Yourself?

What Gives You Your Identity?

What makes you you? When someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself,” what do you say? Are you the profession you chose? Are you the organizations that you belong to? Or are you your ethnicity? What is it that you allow to define yourself?

define yourself

Many people assume their identity stems from who they believe they are, and many take their identity from external realities. When asked what they do, they respond, “I am an architect.” Or “I am a dentist.” By responding that way, they allow their profession to define them.

Others define themselves by the organizations they are part of. They may say, “I am the NRA.” Or “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” I think it’s great to be part of organizations. God made people to be relational, so it is perfectly fine to be part of organizations. But when people allow organizations to define them to the point of giving them their identity, then that becomes a problem.

Then there are others who allow themselves to be defined by their ethnicity. They may describe themselves as Scottish, or Chinese, or African (all three of those ethnicities live in my house), and I think it’s great to be proud of your ethnic heritage. But when your ethnicity defines who you are, then you lose your identity to your national origin.

So how should you think about your identity? Here are three principles to guide your thinking in that context.

Your Business Is God’s Business

Why Your Work Matters to God

I’ve been asked many times throughout my career if I am a pastor. And since I am not ordained, I respond in the negative. But I am a minister. And for that matter, so are you. Because your business is God’s business.

God's business

What you do for a living matters to God. While God wants some of us to become pastors, He does not want all of His kids to become pastors. He wants some of us to be involved in the business world. By serving Him in business, we can be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) to those we work with, those we work for, and those who work for us.

God wants you to do your work so that others see Him in your work. You do that best when you conduct yourself as a person of integrity. God wants you to do the right thing even if no one is there to check up on you. He wants you to use, what Proverbs 16:11 (NIV) calls, “honest scales.”

Based on Proverbs 16:11, here are three reasons why “honest scales” are important in God’s business.

Consider Your Personality Trajectory

Who You Hang Around Influences Who You Will Become

How’s your personality trajectory? Do you like the person you are becoming? Do you feel you are becoming more like the person you want to be? If not, it may have something to do with the people you hang around. You will become like who you hang around.

personality trajectory

Think through what kind of person you want to become. And consider the people you hang around. To change your personality trajectory, allow yourself to meet new people. You will become like the people you surround yourself with.

Here are three key questions you must ask yourself in order to be aware of the influence that the people you hang around have over you.

Stick With It

Don’t Get Distracted, Disengaged, or Discouraged

About twenty years ago, I tried to get a nonprofit off the ground. I launched a new initiative in my community to kick start it. I spent a lot of time on the phone recruiting sponsors for the event. And I communicated with a government agency to have a public official at the event. And I worked with various media to garner attention for the event—before social media. After all that work, I thought, “This was too much. I can’t do this again. It’s too hard.” I decided I couldn’t stick with it.

stick with it

Several months later, I was talking to a nonprofit leader about that experience. When I told him that I abandoned the idea of starting up the organization, he was surprised. He said, “It took me three years to get this organization up and running. Why would you think it would take you less time than that? Why didn’t you stick with it?”

At the time I didn’t realize how long it took to start a nonprofit organization. I had unrealistic expectations about how quickly I could get it going. Once I quit, it would never be as easy to keep it going as it would have been, had I not quit. I had already had a successful event. I had already gotten the attention of media. And I already had a connection with a public official’s office. When I quit, all that work I had done was lost. And it would have been even harder to start after that.

Don’t quit too soon. It’s important to stick with it. Watch out for these three things that will make you want to quit—and here’s what you can do to overcome them.

Clean the Barnacles off of Your Mind

Remove What Has Become Attached to Your Thinking

Have you ever seen barnacles attached to a ship? These little crustaceans latch onto a marine vessel and hold onto the ship to feed. While they may seem harmless enough, they cause many problems for the vessel. Similarly, you can have things that become attached to your mind over time. You may not be aware of them at first, but eventually they can cause you many problems.

barnacles

People who work on a ship understand that it’s important to remove the barnacles. In the same way, it’s important for you to get remove these things that have become attached to your mind.

Here’s what you want to prevent becoming attached to your mind, how they are similar to barnacles, and what you can do to clean those things from your mind.

An Eight-Point Checklist for a Healthy Outlook

What You Think About Will Affect How You See Everything

The thoughts that fill your head will affect how you live your life. How you think will determine not only how you act, but also how you see the world. What you think will define your outlook and who you will be.

outlook

You may not even be aware of the thoughts that you meditate on. They may come into your head and you may not even realize what is in your mind. But what takes residence in your mind will affect who you are and what you do.

The Scripture says you should take every thought captive and compare it to what Scripture says (2 Corinthians 10:5). So it’s important that you think about what you think about.

Using Philippians 4:8 as a template, here is an eight-point checklist for considering what you consider.

You Can Help Others Be Free

But First You Must Set Yourself Free

In the movie The Matrix (1999), the character Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) shares insights with his protégé Neo (Keanu Reeves) about what it means to be free and what it means to be captive: “Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

free

[Spoiler Warning: In this dystopian world, humans created artificial intelligence that took over the planet and subjugated humans as their source of energy to power the machines. Neo is one of these people who was oblivious about his captivity, but Morpheus offers him the opportunity to escape the captivity and understand what is truly real. Neo accepts the opportunity, and Morpheus proceeds to explain to him what “the matrix” is and what he can do to defeat it—as the fate of humanity depends on him.]

In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo:

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. … It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Like The Matrix, we are all born into a world where our mind is imprisoned. Like Neo, we must learn what “the matrix” is and how we can defeat it in our own lives.

Here are three things you must do to get yourself free from “the matrix” you were born into.