We played a new game this past week. It was a multi-dimensional strategy game - a mind-bender that required us to pay attention and think in a new way. It seemed the only way to learn the game was to play it - to get into its world.
It got me thinking about the new year. What if we approached it with a posture of discovery? We often begin a new year with intentional plans and goals to improve or correct or imagine a better way of living. That can be a good strategy but what if the best way to move towards lasting change requires discovering a new way of thinking about things?
Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, shared a story from one of his research experiments.* The goal of the experiment was to discover if reinventing your job title could make a difference. The idea sprang from the fact that the first thing most people learn about you is your job title. We are trained to define ourselves by what we do. What if you could choose a job title for yourself that was more creative and self-reflective? Could it affect how you live? Could it impact how you experience what you do?
Many were skeptical that changing your job title would matter. Grant was pleased with the result. He tells the story of a nurse who was hired to give allergy shots. She became the person no one wanted to see. Kids were afraid of her when she walked into the room. So she embraced the idea of creating a new job title for herself. She came up with Nurse Quick Shot. She started to introduce herself this way and it changed the way kids saw her. She was no longer the nurse coming to hurt them with a shot. Instead, she was the one who was trying to minimize their pain and help them with their allergies with a quick shot. Kids started to ask for her by name. Looking at Nurse Quick Shot and others, researchers found that job burnout decreased and job satisfaction increased when people were allowed to name themselves.
What about you?
What if you thought of yourself and what you do in a new way?
There is a passage of scripture in Galatians you may find applicable. It was written to people in the context of a church and it may help us reimagine our lives and what we do in a new way:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you’ve been given and then sink yourself into that.” (Gal 6:4,MSG)
Make a careful exploration of who you are. To explore is to discover. This small shift in our approach may make a big difference. Real change that matters does not necessarily come as a result of resolving to live differently. We may lose weight, complete the goal, or get the promotion and still find ourselves lacking. When our doing is separated from our being our purpose can become separated from our action. Real change often comes when we are attentive to what we cannot control. Real change comes by discovering something beyond ourselves. There is another way to be. There is a new world we can enter into - God’s. We can live a life of the spirit. Just before that little verse in Galatians it says:
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. (Gal 5:25,MSG)
Joel Mandy writes, “Be goals are about defining the kind of people we want to be instead of what we want to accomplish.” ** Everything changed for Nurse Quick Shot when she redefined who she was. Her being gave her doing new life.
As you begin a new year, explore who you are in light of who God sees you to be. Explore who you are in light of how God asks you to live. The only way to do it, is to step into his world. When you try to live God’s way, it moves you beyond your appearance, your performance, your health, your wealth, or your bucket list.
And how does God see you? He is not angry with you. He is not disappointed with you. He looks at you with love. If you want to know what God is like and how he thinks about you, turn to Jesus. When we look to Jesus we see that God always loves us. As sure as the sun will keep shining, so is God’s love for us.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you’ve been given and then sink yourself into that.” (Gal 5:25, 6:4,MSG)
*WorkLife with Adam Grant Podcast, “Jennifer Garner Realizes Her Hidden Potential”
**Joel Manby, Love Works