Share Your Story

The following blog post was first published on the Hope Community Church website as part of the Marketplace Matters Ministry. I’m honored to serve along side other Christ-followers who find purpose in their work. If you live in Raleigh-Durham, I encourage you to visit us and attend one of our monthly networking and leadership events.

One of the keys to success in the marketplace is for individuals to connect on a personal level. I have found this to be true in my own career, spanning two continents of work experiences. But don’t just take my word for it; this reality has also been proven through numerous studies and is well described in Gallup’s Q12 workplace evaluation. This assessment links employee’s personal connection with profitability, productivity, safety and customer loyalty. I can honestly say that my level of satisfaction for work has been directly correlated with the relationships I’ve created on a professional and personal level.

A true connection happens when we share more than just our successes. Yes, it is good to share in the ways  one was able to climb to the top of a mountain – the summit can be anything you have envisioned doing: the launch of a business, the roll-out of a new product, or even the creation of a new brand. Still, the biggest growth happens when we slip; when we are holding onto a ledge, too afraid to look down; when the weight of the world challenges our climb and weighs us down. The desire of our flesh is to sustain all the pressure and make it to the top by our own strength; bruised to the bone. We want to be the main character of this story. But that role has already been taken.

Another prominent part awaits us.

In God’s epic story He shows us his relentless passion and pursuit for a people gone prodigal. Our role is to share God’s unending love for us and fulfill the Ministry of Reconciliation, as presented by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

The Cross was a pivotal moment that changed history and made all believers ambassadors of Christ wherever we go: in our neighborhood, at the grocery store, at our kids schools, and in the marketplace. We have a role to play; one of great importance. While the corporate landscape certainly provides challenges to the sharing of your story, humility is key when connecting with others.

To better understand our role in God’s story we have to first recognize the 3 biggest challenges we face in our sharing, and how we can focus on “playing our part.”

1.    Living a busy life keeps us from truly connecting with others – When was the last time you took a lunch break and simply spoke with a co-worker about life? Focus on recognizing the brokenness in people. We hear bits and pieces of people’s stories when we hang out by the water cooler. We connect with others when we share in their brokenness.

2.    Living in isolation keeps us from being real with others – When was the last time you shared about your own struggles? Inviting others into your story of brokenness allows you to share how God has reconciled you. We are all broken. Being real provides credibility to our position and helps others to feel we are reachable.

3.    Living only for our own objectives keeps us from making a difference in the lives of others – When was the last time that you put your plans aside to aid a co-worker? Impact people by following through with actions of understanding and caring for others (as hard as it might be). Showing consistency between your message and actions fosters authenticity.

Ultimately, what you do matters! Share your story! A life might be changed for eternity!

Learning from your connections

I’ve often heard successful leaders say: recognize and connect with people smarter than you. In fact, one of the most common traits in successful leaders is how they expand their circles of influence by connecting with people. Stephen Covey recognized it as One of Seven.

Leaders know that connecting with others allows them to be impactful in their role. But it is more than mentorship; it goes both ways. We are meant to live in community and connecting with others allows for mutual growth. I’ve experienced this truth as I’ve juggled my responsibilities as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor and co-worker. We are all made to lead but successful leaders recognize the need to learn from others.

I don’t think there is a better way to describe it than by mentioning one of my favorite bible verses, Proverbs 27:17,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This truth transcends culture and generation. Plus, it applies to both our personal and  professional lives. Throughout my journey God has put people along my path that have changed my life.

Personal growth

I will always remember my Thursday morning Men’s Group. We met every week to read into God’s word intentionally as we shared our struggles and weaknesses; as well as our dreams and passions. These men became my brothers. We shared great moments of inspiration that helped us become better husbands and better fathers.

Professional growth

My father-in-law first introduced me to this notion of work as an act of worship. I first heard it when I was still in college. I believe that connection provided me a strong foundation for my academic and professional success. Now-a-days, I’m engaged with other professionals who believe in a higher calling for the marketplace. Together we have learned to better manage work projects, business goals and career decisions. You can check out more on the Marketplace Matters website.

Through these connections I have learned to believe more in myself. My gifts and skills exist for a reason and I have been placed in a position to learn and grow. Whether at home or at work, my relationships have shaped me into a better man. A better leader.

Who are you thankful for? How have your relationships shaped you and contributed to the person you are today? Share below and keep the discussion going on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Ambition and Contentment: Can they co-exist?

I would like to unpack two words that have been a topic of discussion with the people closest to me: Ambition and Contentment. In a world where we are taught to push for the limits and never give up on our ambitions, I have been placed in a position to consider contentment just as important. Still the question was posed to me: Can they co-exist? So I went ahead and looked up the definition of both.
Ambition
a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
a desire and determination to achieve success.
Contentment
a state of happiness and satisfaction.
When I read the description for both words I noticed something obvious: they are not antinomies; meaning that one doesn’t negate the other. And as I looked inward I found that to be true. I mean, I’m pretty ambitious but I’ve often found myself content with life. Ultimately, anyone can live with both ambition and contentment but it is a balancing act and it is not always easy. I believe the best way to balance both is to first check, Where am I headed?
 
How do you define success?
This can be an intriguing question. Defining success can be a challenge and it is shaped differently for each person. Still, understanding what success looks like allows me to know where I’m headed. It’s a reminder to check the map; to review intentions; to see if my actions are getting me closer to where I want to be. This is true for an individual or an organization. At work we create mission statements and visions. We should do the same individually and with our families. Where we want to be is just as important as how we get there. Defining success for yourself is a good start!
 
Ambition…
I look at ambition as fuel. Fuel, ideas running through my mind at odd hours of the night, hopeful to see my project come to fruition. But it is also what reminds me to reconnect with my family and build memories that last. It all depends on your goals for life. Ambition is healthy when based on pure motives. Ambition is not greed. Ambition is a never-ceasing attitude that helps you achieve your goals.
Contentment…
I see contentment as a mile marker. These are checkpoints that remind you of how far you’ve come. It’s a great way to check on the progress you’ve made. Like ambition, contentment is an attitude connected with your motives. Contentment is not apathy. Contentment smiles back at you, sometimes reminding you that your goals don’t need to match that of others.
The answer
I believe both ambition and contentment can co-exist. I’m ambitious to grow in my career, but I’m content with how I’ve been impactful in each of my professional roles. I’m ambitious to provide financially for my family, but I’m content with how I’ve contributed to meet their needs.
I don’t want people to think this is easy because it is not. So many times I kick myself because I want more out of life: a bigger house, a nicer car, more money. I don’t think I’m alone with these feelings. Still, what I’ve noticed is that these feelings only come up when I compare myself with others. Their house. Their car. This is where contentment can ground us. In many cases it provides a reality check.
 
I consider contentment to be fundamental in recognizing the blessings around me. It is that mile marker that allows me to recognize how far along I’ve come in my journey. And success for me is being a leader at work and present at home. So I might not always boast the largest paycheck. In choosing to be present I’m fulfilling something that money can’t buy; spiritual and emotional leadership for my family.
What do you think? Can ambition and contentment co-exist?

One more day until the first blog post is published

The wait is almost over!