A few weeks ago, I listening to a sermon by my friend Kenny Benge, pastor of St. Johns Anglican Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Towards the end, Kenny spoke on the subject of our purpose in life and read the following quote from the English Puritan William Perkins:
Concerning children: it is the duty of parents to make choice of fit callings for them, before they apply them to any particular condition of life. And that they may judge rightly what callings their children are fit for, they must observe two things in them: first, their inclination; secondly, their natural gifts—And here all parents must be warned that the neglect of this duty is a great and common sin—
— William Perkins, A Treatise of the Vocations (PDF)
When we think about callings, we tend to focus on our own calling, the process of discovering it and then fulfilling it. Perhaps we are part of a particularly self-absorbed generation, or perhaps this is simply human nature to think of ourselves first and others second. Rarely do we think about calling in terms of helping someone else find their calling.
Leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ve seen several articles that deal with the topic of mothering as a calling, either as a calling in itself, as part of a woman’s larger set of callings, or as a circumstance of life apart of any notion of “calling.” Never having been a mother, I won’t address that vocation. As a parent, however, this statement from Perkins caught me up short: Am I helping my children find their callings? How could I even begin to do that? Continue reading Helping Your Children Find Their Callings
This past week, my company held its annual performance evaluations. Our company has a pretty simple process – a short form completed by both the employee and the supervisor, then discussed in a one-hour meeting. The evaluations were partly about past performance, but largely dealt with our goals for the coming year and any obstacles to our performance. Our corporate culture revolves around weekly and monthly meetings that are focused on our tasks, so someone who was outright failing to live up to his obligations would know well before the annual evaluation. I found these evaluations to be a good time to talk about bigger picture issues, including longer term career goals.
I’ve been in organizations with more formal evaluations and some with much less or nonexistent evaluations, with both longer and shorter leashes. When I was delivering pizzas, your “performance evaluation” happened every single night. Poor performing drivers were weeded out quickly; if your work took a sharp dip south (as happened to one driver I knew), it didn’t matter what your annual record might be – you’d be on your way out.
In most corporate environments, though, my performance evalutions have revolved around annual goals tied to my job description. They’ve usually include a rubric of corporate values or performance measurements – teamwork, leadership, effectiveness – with some sort of scoring scale. Usually, these goals have related directly to my daily work, except in one unfortunate case when not only did my annual goals have very little to do with my actual work, but they were changed every few months by my supervisor, making it impossible to know whether I was really performing up to expectations.
Celebrating Achievements, Receiving Feedback
I find performance evaluations to be incredibly stressful. At the end of a typical day, I’m much more likely to worry about all that I haven’t gotten done than to celebrate the things that I have gotten done. When I started my current job, my wife bought me an accomplishments journal that I could use to keep track of what I’ve done. I don’t update as much as I’d like – due to forgetfulness and neglect, rather than a lack of activity – but I can use my daily journal as a reminder of how I’ve spent my time. Continue reading Evaluating Your Performance
The first time I was unemployed, I became an incredible basketball player.
Several players, in fact: a playmaking point guard, a high-flying forward, a 7-foot defensive specialist. Not real ones, of course — these were all versions of me that I created in NBA Live ’99 on the GameCube. Eventually, my team of avatars played for the NBA championship, and it felt — well, kinda awesome at the time.
That period in my life was hardly the most productive or rewarding one I’ve experienced. As I’ve reflected on why I spent so much time playing video games, when I could – should – have been doing so many other things, a few reasons occur to me.
A lack of urgency: My wife and I had very few bills at the time (we were living with her grandmother), and she had a full time job as a teacher. So, from my (mistaken) perspective, I could wait for the perfect job to find me. But here’s what I didn’t know:
- My wife would become pregnant while I was unemployed.
- It would take me 9 months to find a full time job, never mind the “perfect” one.
- Eleven years later, we would still be paying off the student loans that we thought would be “easy” to pay off once I got a job.
I should have felt urgency. I should have been doing much more with my time. There were ways I could have been making money that I didn’t even consider, and there was a tremendous amount of unpaid work that I could have been doing. (More on that in a minute.) Continue reading A Second Chance at Unemployment