Friday, July 22, 2016

Motivation and its impact on vocation

A fundamental variable between those who see success in their work and those who don't is the presence or absence of meaningful motivation. Meaningful motivation in vocation is driven by a deeper drive than a paycheck. That may suffice for a time but ultimately we need a reason to give ourselves to our work that transcends money and goes to a desire to please God in all that we do: to worship him through our work as the ancient religious orders practiced.

Seeing our work as an act of worship eliminates the unbiblical distinction between the sacred and the secular. With God, all is sacred: prayer, vocation, relationships, family, rest and all that makes up our lives. But it is also a great motivator. If whatever we do for a living is done for the King of Kings and if it matters to Him, how does that change our view of work? Ultimately we work not for ourselves or our employer alone but as an act of worship to God.

If my work is an act of worship to my God, I will give the very best that I have rather than the least I can get away with. And it matters not whether we are white collar or blue collar. In fact, God is not impressed by our credentials. He is pleased when we see our work as sacred and an act of worship of Him. If we were made for Him, then all that makes up our lives is given to Him in worship.

This puts to rest the distinction between ministry positions and secular callings. There is no first and second bench in God's economy - just His bench. All of our vocations are callings, all are acts of worship and all are done in His name. Every vocation is service to God, not just those who have been to seminary or serve the church. And that includes those whose work is in the home!

This Biblical view of life and work ought to cause all of us to look  more carefully at the how we view our work and it should motivate us to the very best that we have to give every day.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

No is a complete sentence

Many of us struggle to say no to expectations and requests of others even when we know that we don't have the time, interest or energy to fulfill them. It is perhaps why our lives often feel too busy and our energy too depleted. Yet without saying "no" to some things we cannot say "yes" to other more important things. Seen in this light, our "no" when necessary, is a positive and necessary word.

When we choose to say "no" we often feel as if we need to explain ourselves which indicates that we are feeling guilt over our decision. It is not necessary. "No" is a complete sentence which does not require us to explain why or to justify our decision. A gracious decline without explanation is a stronger answer than an explanation as to why we are saying no. If we feel an explanation is necessary, something like this suffices well:

"I appreciate the request. I regularly evaluate opportunities against those things that I know I am called to do and therefore need to graciously decline your request. Thank you for thinking of me."

While "no" is perceived as a negative word, it is actually a very positive word because it allows us the opportunity to do those things that are most important to us. No one accomplishes great things without saying no to many lesser things. It is a "boundary" word in our lives that indicates that the request is outside our present priorities. Therefore to say "yes" would be to violate our most important priorities. Seen in that light, "no" is a necessary and very positive word.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dangerous and hurtful assumptions

"If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don't tell us something we make assumptions to fill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don't understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions.  We make all sorts of assumptions because we don't have the courage to ask questions."
Miguel Ruiz

"And if you insist on continuing to make assumptions about my character, I'll advise you only this: assume you will always be wrong."

Tahereh Mafi

Every one of us has been the unwelcome recipient of assumptions made by others that were false. Yet ironically we do it to others as well. Unfortunately, assumptions are usually wrong, especially when it comes to motives behind actions that we find objectionable or things others have told us about another individual. And because they are often wrong, our view of others is often misguided and also wrong. I would suggest the following practices when it comes to assumptions made about others.

First, before we assume, we ought to ask the individual involved. It is enlightening to have a first hand conversation rather than to make assumptions (that are usually wrong to some degree or another). There is nothing wrong with asking and it might save us a relationship if we do.

Second, be wary of second hand information. All of us have a grid through which we see others and if the grid is wrong we will pass along untrue information or perceptions. And, where there is rancor involved, others have a vested interest in painting the worst possible picture rather than objective information. It is also true that the one passing it along does not have all the information themselves. It is amazing how much more quickly we grab onto negative information about another individual than we do positive information. It is our fallen nature.

Third. if you don't have all the information think grey. Understand that there is usually more than one side to a story and knowing that you don't have all the facts resist drawing rigid conclusions. Things are not always what we think they are. We ought to be circumspect in our thinking and comments.

Fourth, if you don't need to, don't share negative information about others. Scripture calls this gossip. Bad news spreads quickly and to the extent that we fan the flame we are guilty of gossip. And, if we don't have all the facts we may be guilty of worse - reputation assassination.

My assumption is that we would want others to practice these principles with us. Let's therefore practice it with others.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

What is God doing in your life?

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why leaders have an obligation to deal with situations when there is not a good staff fit

Perhaps one of the hardest responsibilities of leaders of teams or organizations is to deal with situations where there is not a good fit between a staff member and his/her role. What makes it hard is that it requires candid conversation with the individual as well as the effort to find a role that is a better fit in your organization or in another. Many of us don't like to have those conversations. However, supervisors have a real obligation to deal with these situations for reasons I will delineate below.

First, to leave someone in a job fit that is not good is a disservice to the individual involved. Almost always a poor job fit also means the individual involved is not happy or fulfilled. At some level they probably know the fit is not right and while they may not want to confront it for reasons of job security we don't do them a favor by allowing them to stay in a place that does not fit them. As one leader said to me recently about a staff member who needed to move along, "She won't like it in the short run but a year from now she will thank me for doing it." We are stewards of others and as such we need to act when necessary.

Second. When there is not a good job fit, others are impacted! Other team members are always negatively impacted by an individual who is not a good fit for their job. To ignore the issue is to disempower the rest of the team. Saving ourselves the discomfort of a potentially difficult conversation leaves other staff having to deal with the poor fit of one of their colleagues. As stewards we cannot do that.

Third, our own leadership credibility is at stake when we ignore these issues. When leaders ignore known issues they lose credibility with their staff who are also aware of those issues. Staff have a right to expect their leaders to have the best interests of the team in mind and to act accordingly. If we ignore issues out of our own discomfort we lose credibility with our staff.

We must deal with these situations with care for the individual involved. But we cannot ignore it.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Good leaders focus, notice but don't always fix

Good leaders are always focused - on a few critical areas that if they do not drive themselves the organization will not thrive and move forward. This is not as easy as it sounds. First one has to determine what those few critical areas are. Second, it takes a great deal of discipline for leaders to focus and not be distracted by many lesser things that need to wait so that the critical issues are addressed. It is their job to determine what those issues are and then to focus on two to three at a time.

The discipline of focus is a critical component of a leader's skill set. They naturally see many things that need to be addressed and the temptation is to do many things at once. Not only does it not work but it drives staff crazy who need to deal with the many things a leader might want to fix or do differently.

This does not mean that leaders do not pay attention to many things. They are constantly paying attention to what they see, hear or discover. They are naturally curious and asking questions. They have many conversations with staff to discern what is happening. But - and this is critical - they are able to assimilate a lot of information without automatically trying to fix what they find. 

Why? Because it is not their job to fix everything but to focus on a few key things. Second, they bide their time until they have a chance to explore their findings or observations with the appropriate individual without being controlling or micro managing. It means they are willing to think grey on some issues until the time is right to address it in a way that does not violate others or take on their responsibility. 

Good leaders:
  • Focus on a few critical things
  • Notice what goes on around them
  • Think grey on lesser problems
  • Wait for an appropriate time to address lesser problems with those who are ultimately responsible
For most this will be a skill that is learned and not innate. But it is a critical skill if the organization is going to grow.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at