Scarcity of thought produces scarcity of action.
What I mean by this is that we can fall into a trap of thinking that we never have enough time to get it all done. Time is an interesting concept because it is both abstract and concrete. What makes it one or the other is our perception.
I first came to realize this dichotomy when my son Michael was in and out of the hospital. Time seemed to move fast and slow all at once. You learn to settle down in your cage. The little hand on the clock moves slowly, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. Because you have little to do but wait — for doctors, medications, results, and meals–time seems to move at a snail’s pace. But, then, before you know it, you’ve been there, waiting, for a week or more.
When I was far more naive, I used to think I could move time. I believed that I could make twenty-four hours stretch into thirty-four plus. What I didn’t realize was that in taking on more than I could handle, I was stressing out those around me. Somehow they always paid a price.
The object of the game, I’ve learned, is to do more with less energy. So, what’s the secret?
Live from Intentional Congruence
This is a premise that my friend and mentor Nido Qubein taught me years ago, and it changed my life.
Nido is the most productive person I know. Among other things, he was instrumental in starting the National Speakers Association, and he is now the President of High Point University. In this role alone, Nido has raised millions of dollars for the university. Over the past several years, he has literally reinvented how we think about education and campus life.
How does does he do it all?
Nido practices intentional congruence.
The best way to be in service to others without falling into the trap of people-pleasing is to have a focus and to align every thought and action with that focus.
Intentional congruence essentially means that every commitment you make is deliberate. And, those commitments are aligned with your purpose, your values, talents, and, your other commitments. The thread that keeps all this tightly woven is passion. This approach to life grants you space and permission to target when you will offer up acts of service.
Here’s a simple example. I’ve defined one component of my purpose as helping others reach their highest potential. I do this via my speaking, writing, and in my role as a strategic business consultant. How this plays out in relation to the rest of my life is that I don’t commit to things outside the scope of my focus or my talents.
For instance, when I volunteer to serve at my church, I do so within the realm of these categories. I may sit on a committee and offer up strategic ideas. Or, I may assist in designing a leadership curriculum for women. These are concentrated efforts that I can schedule and commit to for a specific amount of time, yet they do not interfere with my daily responsibilities to my family or my clients.
Sounds simple enough, but it is far more challenging to live this out. The key is to do the hard work of defining your purpose. Then, you guessed it, you must learn to set boundaries.
Intentional congruence starts with passion. Begin with that question in mind. What is it that you care most about? How has God designed you to fulfill that passion? What are your talents? What are your values? Map it out on a piece of paper with colored markers. Watch your purpose unfold. Then, I challenge you to live from that magical place.
May I suggest, it’s why you’re here.
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