Fill in the blank: “Before I die I want to ___________.”
No matter how you finished the sentence, there is an innate awareness that you haven’t achieved that goal. The simple fact is, everyone wants to be known for something, to leave a legacy that reflects the truest intentions of their existence. As people of faith, we know that everyone has a unique mark to make but, many of us settle for comfort over meaningful contribution. So how do we add value here and now take steps daily toward building a body of work that we can be proud of and represents us well?
Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, recently published his latest offering, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. Despite the ominous title, Henry seeks to remind each of us that we have a finite amount of time and that when we’re gone, our work, defined as anywhere that we add value, will stand as the biggest testament to who we were and what we believed. It’s the sum total of our focus, assets, time and energy.
Henry divides work into three parts:
Mapping: planning and plotting objectives and setting priorities.
Making: the actual doing of the work and tackling objectives.
Meshing: the work we do to acquire new skills or enhancing knowledge in order to increase
He explains that when any one of those three forms of work is out of balance our overall body of work slides toward mediocrity. Henry lists what he calls “The Seven Deadly Sins of Mediocrity” and spends much of the book teaching the reader how to overcome them. Perhaps one or more of these “sins” are guiding you toward mediocrity:
Aimlessness: A general lack of cohesiveness within your day-to-day activities.
Boredom: A trigger for productivity or stagnancy.
Comfort: A refusal to innovate after relative success.
Delusion: An inaccurate sense of your skills, weaknesses and core drivers.
Ego: Inflexibility and unwillingness to adapt or learn.
Fear: A paralyzing affect rooted in imagination.
Guardedness: Neglecting community and embracing isolation.
Die Empty is divided into three parts with the majority focused on overcoming “The Seven Deadly Sins of Mediocrity.” Henry offers key questions at the end of each chapter to help you stay aligned and focused on unleashing your best work. He concludes with this statement:
“Ultimately, your life will be measured by what you gave, not what you received. Don’t hold out on the rest of us—we need you to contribute. Spend your life building a body of work you will be proud of. Engage today with urgency and diligence. Plant seeds every day that will yield a harvest later. Tomorrow is only an unfulfilled wish, so live and work as if today is all you have. If you do, you will be able to lay your head down each night satisfied with your work, and in the end, you will die empty of regret, but full of satisfaction for a life well lived.”
If there is anything worthy of your best efforts, it is the cause of Christ and the message of hope our churches are meant to proclaim to the world. You have been uniquely placed where you are to confidently carry out your calling and unleash your best work.