I am an introvert. Every personality index I have used confirms it, my heart of hearts knows it, and no one who knows me believes it. But trust that I am. Nothing thrills me more than quiet time alone to reflect, read, relax. . . recline.
But as I wrapped up what is undoubtedly the busiest two weeks of my professional life, I found myself either in a delirium-fueled adrenaline rush, or with a new realization. Having wrapped up two days of meetings for a board on which I serve, I find myself more charged up than tired.
I realized that, first and foremost, for this to work, you MUST be committing your talents to a well-matched job or role professionally, while seeking out ways to share those same talents to improve the lives of other people in your community. Second, you must ensure your professional philosophy is tightly compatible with the mission and practices of the organization for which you work. Its got to be more than “just a job.” And finally, if I may oversimplify the psychology of optimal performance, you have to have a unquenchable intellectual curiosity.
DELIRIOUS OR CHARGED-UP?
But back to me! At the end of those two weeks of reorganizing our department, and being given up to three times the responsibility I had just three weeks ago, I felt more energized than daunted. But trust me, “daunted” reared its head often enough. I feel the opportunity to align three groups of staff gives each of the people involved a quantum increase in the maximum performance possible from their existing efforts. That is purely a function of more-frequent contact and communication about shared goals. No-brainer.
Second, I believe profoundly in the mission of the College and the leadership’s commitment to being elitist. I also believe fully that elitism, as defined by Evan Peterson, former headmaster of Hampton Roads Academy, is a good thing. Elitism, he argued when I worked for him, helped everyone in the organization — from parents to students to faculty — understand clearly what our performance expectation was. Elitism is not about superiority relative to other people. It is superiority relative to your stated performance standards. We should also strive to be elite! I believe the College is turning a corner and embracing the possibility of greatness, rather than modesty. If it works properly, we won’t have to toot our own horn. We will simply have to acknowledge that, yes indeed, our educational design is impactul and effective. The opportunity to be elite is a powerful motivator to me.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Third, I am excited to have a whole new set of challenges ahead for me. I think the opportunity that exists if we can, as my pastor says, be faithful over a few things, are astounding. Every answer we provide to a challenge offers up new questions simultaneously. I am driven to find these answers because they hold the key to unlocking the powerful potential of an organization and a community fully united, fully motivated, and fully committed to excellence. More importantly, it will be easy to explain and demonstrate why each person ought to step and be accountable for that victory.
So that brings me, finally, to the point of this whole post. If you want my own recipe for charging your batteries, flushing your system with adrenaline-fueled power, and to ultimate satisfaction with your contribution to “the cause,” it is simply this: DO MORE! And make sure your “extra” helps something larger than yourself.
You have to do what motivates you, and rid your over-busy life of those commitments that don’t charge your batteries, and leave you with some extra fuel! Do what creates within you an almost childish enjoyment of seeking the next piece of the puzzle, the next challenge, the next chance to contribute to the cause. If you align yourself with the right causes professionally and personally; and you approach each of these with a fresh and honest desire to unravel the challenges and reorganize them into opportunities, and you commit for long enough to really see the impact, you will find yourself sitting on Saturdays missing great football games because your mind is racing trying to figure out the next piece of the puzzle, recharging itself fully, with power left over, and sincerely enjoying the journey.
This is where I find myself at this moment. May you also find ways to make your vocation more enjoyable and fruitful, causing you to let that power fuel your involvement in other pursuits to improve your community, your family, your church, your world. And may I find myself constantly in this position of ideal interplay between my professional and civic commitments, optimal mental clarity, and maximum energy.