TITLE: You Are Not Your Work AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 05, 2011 9:57 AM DESC: ----- BODY: It is easy for me to get sucked into a mindset in which I equate myself with what I do. In Five Lies I No Longer Believe, Todd Henry writes:
I am not my work, and I am especially not defined by how my work is received. That is not an excuse for laziness; it's permission to engage fully and freely and to bless everyone I encounter without worrying about what they think of me. This is hard medicine to swallow in a culture that celebrates title and the little spaces we carve for ourselves in the marketplace. Not me, not any longer.
"I am what and whom and how I teach." "I am the programs I create, the papers I write, the grants I receive." "I am the head of the department." It is dangerous to think this way when I fail in any one of these arenas. It undervalues who I am and what I can offer. It closes my eyes to other parts of my life. It is also dangerous to think this way when I succeed. Even in success, this view diminishes me. And it creates an endless cycle of having to succeed again in order to be. When we think we are what we do, we often constrain our actions based on what other people will think of us. That makes it hard to teach the hard truths, to make tough decisions, to lead people. It makes it hard to create things that matter. Even if we tune out what other people think, we find that we are always judging ourselves. This is as restrictive and as counterproductive as worrying about other peoples' idea of us. Having different roles in life and doing different kinds of things can help us avoid this trap. Activity, success, and failure in one arena are only a part of who we are. We have to be careful, though, not to equate ourselves with our the sum of our activities, successes, and failures in all these areas. Whatever that sum is, we are more. -----