Insanity has been defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This apt proposition is usually attributed to Albert Einstein but the Library of Congress does not document it before 1982 in Narcotics Anonymous’ Red Book, or 1983 in Rita Mae Brown’s novel, Sudden Death. Regardless of its origin, we’ve observed this notion being played out again and again professionally and personally. Most people recognize that growth or change is necessary; yet how many of us intentionally take action to move toward those changes?
The late Charles “Tremendous” Jones was a business star turned author and speaker. He said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” That modern statement points to ancient truth—the clear message in the Bible is that life is not blind accident, but God directs the destiny of each individual and nation. Scripture does not idealize people, but evaluates everyone impartially, even national heroes. In it, many leave examples worthy of imitation. Through our conversations and perusings we discover new ideas, work out new truths, and attempt new things. God gave these dynamic tools to stimulate our transformation.
When is the last time you took inventory of your relationships? In your most honest moments can you admit the great impact of your interactions and associations? The right people can uplift you, stretch you and inspire good character. The wrong people can drag you down, hold you back or obstruct your development. Proverbs 17 analyzes the prudent worker, disgraceful son, proud grandparent, godless fool, close friend, dishonest businessperson, discerning one and cheerful heart all in one chapter. Proverbs 13:20 instructs and warns: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (NAS) In turn, Proverbs 27:17 summarizes the ideal: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (NLT)
Here are some questions worth considering . . .
Who do you spend most of your time with—both professionally and personally?
How have they shaped your current perspective and priorities, your worldview and values?
Who–in your business life—stretches and inspires you in a positive way?
Who—in your personal life—directs and spurs you on a Godward trajectory?
How intentional are you about spending time with each of those individuals?
Depending on your answers, you may need to look around—or pray—for relationships that can move you in a different direction. This may take some risk or some restructuring, which will feel unnatural or uncomfortable at first. Choose to spend time with people who are currently outside your box, who view the world in transcendent ways. Approach someone you respect from a distance, offer to buy them some coffee in exchange for some objective advice. Ask some carefully thought out questions, and if something resonates, ask if they would mentor you at least monthly or quarterly.
Even isolated professional or social encounters can be informative and valuable to the open and teachable. How have you changed or grown personally and professionally over the last six to twelve months? If you can’t answer that question, you may be stuck in a rut. If you’re ready for change today, try starting a conversation with someone different.
[Next week we will further explore the power of reading.].
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, the idea of shifting into cruise control rather than concerning myself with personal and professional growth can be attractive; yet, Scripture reminds me that the day I stop growing is the day I start dying. Give me the passion to look to Christ’s fullness in order to reach my full potential. Give me the discipline to honestly assess who propels my holiness and what occupies my mind, so I might not be same person five years from now.
“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.”