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January 1st, 2016

The Secret of Success for 2016!

champagne

I hope you have had a good Christmas and are now looking forward to a great new year. For many people that may not be the case. The New Year is a time when they look back over a difficult year and a time where they look forward wondering what the year ahead may bring to their jobs and security. Many are seeking a deeper sense of fulfillment, but are not sure how to find it.

Jesus said ‘I have come to give you life, and life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10 NIV). Do you feel like you are living life in all its fullness? The world over, people go to work and use skills and abilities many have invested heavily in obtaining, which at the end of the day, simply drain them. Sacrificing our dreams and taking up jobs, roles and responsibilities we are not suited to can be damaging and deeply demotivating.

I once attended a stand-up comedy workshop, for those wanting to try it out. To begin with I attempted to create a persona to hide behind when I performed on stage. Anyone but the real me. The professional comedian leading the workshop said, ‘Just be yourself, Sean! It’s far easier to begin with. Let the audience hear your humour. Not someone else’s.’ Suddenly it was if a weight fell from my shoulders. Andy was giving me permission to be me and that made all the difference. I learnt a hugely important life lesson about authenticity that day.

Authentically being ourselves the way God made us to be, is key to discovering our motivation, energy and life’s calling. Sadly many of us, when we feel insecure or under pressure, have the tendency to try and wear a mask and say and do things we are not. We can end up pretending because, historically, others may not have nurtured or approved of us. Sometimes our parents disapprove of the things we want to do, often with the best of intentions. They put pressure on us to do something they think is ‘normal and sensible’, that at the end of the day just does not motivate us. In reality, it is often much better to remove our masks and simply be ourselves.

The apostle Paul talks about authenticity:

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. …

Romans 12:4-6 (MSG).

Jesus lived a totally authentic lifestyle and wanted to set people free, just like He was. He was very critical of the Pharisees’ lifestyles, full of pretence into which they sucked others.

We can begin to understand why He was critical when we read the results of a study by Psychologists Dr Arlene Taylor and Katherine Benziger. They looked at the common tendency of people in the workplace to pretend to be something/someone other than they really are. They found when people excessively adapt their natural thinking and working styles to fit the expectations of others that low self esteem, tension, stress, depression memory impairment and diminished thinking skills result.

Conversely a study by The Gallup Corporation has found that people who have opportunities to use their strengths on a daily basis are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

Being authentic means being honest about who we really are and living and working in harmony with our God given strengths. Key to understanding our strengths is discovering more about our hearts desires, inborn personality, interests, intelligence type, values, mental talents, spiritual gifts, love languages, etc. In my work and writing that is what I help people to do. So, if you sense you might not be living or working in a way that truly reflects who you are and how God made you, here is an activity that will help.

Treat yourself to a bit of time out somewhere comfortable and prayerfully review your activities. To start, write a list under each of the following headings:

1. Things that give me life and energy

2. Things that are neutral

3. Things that drain me

Consider the following as you make your lists:

* Previous interests, activities, roles and subjects you have enjoyed.

* Things you are doing when you know you are at your very best.

* Ambitions, goals, opportunities.

* Trivial, or fun things that God might actually value more than you think.

* New interests and sources of energy that are emerging for you.

* Things you do where you get completely absorbed and lose all track of time.

* Your DOOMS – Duties, Obligations, Oughts, Musts and Should’s.

* Things you have invested heavily in doing.

* Things you would be afraid to give up.

* Things that are truly your responsibility and that only you can do.

 

Prayerfully look at your lists. What have you learned from the above? Now ask yourself:

* Who do I know that likes doing the things that drain me?

* What am I going to do more of?

* What am I going to do less of?

* What changes would my most bold, audacious self make if I had a fit of bravery?

* What changes would Jesus suggest?

* What neutral things can I make more fun? What do I need to do?

Pray and look at what you think God might be telling you through your list. Realistically you can only work on a few things at once, so select a maximum of three changes you are truly motivated to make and write them down. Now consider what you need to do to make each change. Write down some steps for each and now go and begin to make those changes.

Personally I still collect things that can rob me of energy, so in the new year I will go to a coffee shop with my notepad and do the same activity. Why not join me and begin to find more energy and motivation for 2016.

Sean Kennedy is joint author with Catherine Cowell of the highly acclaimed book Church Uncorked: Leadership That Releases Our Potential & the companion book Loved Called Gifted: A practical guide to unlocking your life’s calling. As passionate and experienced coaches, leadership development professionals and workshop trainers, they work with individuals, charities, churches and small businesses helping people live, work and lead in more authentic and releasing ways.

Loved Called Gifted is published by Instant Apostle and is available from bookshops and online in paperback & electronic formats (paperback £12.99)

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