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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 Jan '13

Finding the perfect chair

Posted by T.J. Addington in job fit, job satisfaction

I have a fondness for comfortable leather chairs. In fact, I recently spent several months looking for the perfect leather chair for my home study. In the process I sat in many chairs in many stores, looking for the one that fit me the best. From that chair I can comfortably write this blog post.

Finding that perfect chair is a lot like finding the perfect work spot where our work responsibilities are uniquely designed to fit our passions, our skill sets and our sweet spot (those areas where we have great skill and strength). If you sit in a chair like that in your work you are a lucky individual indeed and it often does not take place until our forties and fifties when we understand ourselves more fully and have a team around us that makes it possible for various members to play to their strengths and thus, we to ours.

Our sweet spot is where we are most effective, where we are energized and where the responsibilities of our jobs are in line with our unique gifting and wiring. For me that means a job that allows me to architect the vision of an organization, mentor key leaders of the ministry, resource the ministry financially and otherwise and write. If I can spend a minimum of 60% of my time in those areas and better yet 80% of my time in those areas, I will be happy, challenged and effective. That is my perfect chair.

When less than 60% of our time is spent in areas of our sweet spot (which means that we are not that effective at them and that they drain rather than energize us) we will find ourselves fatigued and not very satisfied. If we agree that God wired us in a certain way, it then becomes imperative that we do what we can to spend as much of our time in the zone where he wired us rather than trying to do (not very effectively) those things we were not wired to do.

We usually start out our work careers doing many thing. Over the years we recognize that out of those many things we actually are best at a few things (none of us are great at more than two or three things). So our challenge is to figure out a way to get seated in a chair that has us doing primarily those things that we are really good at doing.

Some suggestions on getting there:
  1. Talk to your supervisor or board about how you are wired and where you are most effective and satisfied and ask if you can dialogue about a restructuring of your job so that you are able to spend 60 to 80 percent of your time in those areas
  2. If you are a ministry leader, intentionally build a staff or team around you that allows you to play to your strengths and offload to other gifted people those things they do well but you don't do well.
  3. Be willing to give up things that you feel are obligations but not in your sweet spot and allow others to take them on. The fewer things we do that are focused in our sweet spots, the more effective we are.
  4. Build a culture in your organization that says, to the very best of our ability we get people into their sweet spot even if it means that we annually look at job responsibilities and how we can best configure our staff for maximum effectiveness and job satisfaction. The book, Leading From The Sandbox can be of help to you in this.
  5. Don't be satisfied with a chair that does not fit you. When you are uncomfortable you won't be happy or effective. If you cannot redefine within your organization you may need to look for a chair in another. Your legacy (what you leave behind) is dependent on it.
It takes time to find the perfect work chair but if you can and when you do you begin to live in the flow of everything God made you to be and it is a wonderful experience.