The most effective people make career choices for fundamental reasons, not instrumental reasons.
That’s one of the key take-aways from Dan Pink’s excellent book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.
Dan Pink’s book is excellent on two counts. First, it presents the material in a creative and engaging way: the book is actually the first American business book in manga. I was slightly familiar with this approach because the resource team at DG worked with some people a few years ago to adapt some of John Piper’s content to a graphic novel format. Dan Pink has done the same thing here, except to teach career principles.
Second, the content is helpful — and counterintuitive. Here are the six lessons of the book:
- There is no plan.
- Think strengths, not weaknesses.
- It’s not about you.
- Persistence trumps talent.
- Make excellent mistakes.
- Leave an imprint.
If I can, maybe I’ll do a series that briefly covers each of these points.
For now, here’s some advice for those who aren’t sure what to do next: make your next choice for fundamental reasons, not instrumental reasons.
Here’s how Pink explains it (via one of the characters in the book):
You can do something for instrumental reasons — because you think it’s going to lead to something else, regardless of whether you enjoy it or it’s worthwhile.
Or you can do something for fundamental reasons — because you think it’s inherently valuable, regardless of what it may or may not lead to.
And the dirty little secret is that instrumental reasons usually don’t work. Things are too complicated, too unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen [and note that this is biblical! Proverbs 20:24; 16:9; James 4; etc.]. So you end up stuck. The most successful people — not all of the time, but most of the time — make decisions for fundamental reasons.
They take a job or join a company because it will let them do interesting work in a cool place — even if they don’t know exactly where it will lead.
There’s the key idea. If you don’t know what you want to do next, do what you think is inherently valuable. You don’t need to know where it will lead. And, almost certainly, it will lead to someplace interesting, because, first, you already are doing something interesting (that was the point of your choice!) and, second, we are more effective when we are doing what we love to do.
And even if you do have a clear goal for where you want to end up (which is a good thing), don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you will best get there by making a bunch of instrumental choices to do things you don’t really want to do, but which will “keep your options open” and eventually let you get closer to your interests. This approach usually backfires. Instead, have your large goal, but stay open to seizing unplanned opportunities to help get you there, and along the way seek to follow the path of doing what you find inherently valuable.
I’m excited about Crossway Impact, the new rewards program with Crossway Books.
I like this program because it not only offers readers several annual benefits, but also enables you to send 5% of the money you spend to a ministry of your choice. This is a helpful variation on the one for one idea, pioneered by places like TOMS Shoes (which gives one pair of shoes to someone in the developing world for every pair that you buy), because, in the very act of making your purchase, you are able to make an impact beyond your purchase.
So, way to go to Crossway for doing this. (And, if you can’t guess, I would suggest designating your 5% to go to Desiring God — but any of the ministries they offer would be a good choice!)
Here’s the description from the Crossway site:
Here at Crossway, we’ve been thinking of better ways to serve our readers and partner with like-minded ministries.
That’s why we’ve created Crossway Impact—a rewards program for readers who want to invest their resources wisely—buying books AND making an impact.
Crossway Impact is designed to reward our readers with the following annual benefits:
- 3 FREE books (choose print or e-books from a monthly list which must ship with a purchase of any amount)
- 25% OFF all your purchases on Crossway.org
- Free shipping on orders over $50
- Exclusive monthly offers
Crossway Impact also gives you an opportunity to make a difference with every book you buy by sending 5% of the money you spend at Crossway.org to a ministry of your choice. Now, ministries like Desiring God, The Resurgence, and Revive Our Hearts will benefit right along with you—a real win-win.
For the first year of the program, we’re making these benefits available to as many Crossway readers as possible by letting you determine the value of your rewards (worth at least $40 in free books alone!). The only thing you have to do is name your own membership fee.
It’s as simple as that.
Crossway Impact Members get a year-long discount, free books and shipping, special offers, and the chance to make an impact with every purchase. We hope you’ll join us by signing up today.
As we look ahead to Easter on Sunday, it is worth remembering that there is good historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Here’s an article I wrote in college (since posted to the DG site) summarizing some of the best of that evidence.
The article looks at three facts that virtually all critical scholars accept, and argues that the resurrection is the best (and only, really!) plausible explanation for them. These three facts are:
- The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion.
- Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ.
- As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.
Here’s what I find stunning: These are not three marginal facts. They include the empty tomb and the post-resurrection appearances. It is remarkable that the evidence for these realities is so good that even most critical scholars accept them. And, as I show in the article, if you accept these two realities, the only solid explanation is that Christ actually rose from the dead.
For further resources on evidence for the resurrection and Christianity, I would recommend William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Craig is one of the best apologists out there and gives a much more complete look at these facts in his book.
Of course the ultimate ground for our faith is not historical evidence, but the self-authenticating testimony of Scripture. But since the Christian faith is a historical faith, such that if Christ was not resurrected there is no Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:14), we should look at and be aware of the testimony of history. It is very encouraging as believers to see the strong historical evidence, and also helpful to share with those who are investigating the claims of Christianity.