Developing a personal plan: Reeb’s From Success to Significance

Posted by on Jun 24, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s the marking time of the year – oh joy. Actually sometimes it is a joyous occasion, when a student greatly exceeds my expectations or highlights something I have not thought about before. True, it can take a fair few essays before I read one in that category, but it happens just often enough to keep me hopeful… perhaps this time. Today I was marking the personal formation plans that students in my ministry formation class have drawn up, and I’ve gotta say, there were a fair few heartening moments.

Some of them used Lloyd Reeb’s book From Success to Significance, to structure their plan, and delved into some of the penetrating questions he suggests we ask ourself as we contemplate the kind of future we hope to live. If you haven’t come across Reeb’s book (its a bit of a classic), he tackles the question of finding significance in the second half of life, arguing that in the first half of life we tend to be captive to the ideal of being successful, whereas in the second half of life it dawns on us that it is more important to do things that are genuinely significant – things that actually make a bit of a difference – regardless of if we equate them with success or not. Reeb suggests some specific questions we should ask as we try to devise a plan and while he imagines those who use his questions will be in the second half of life, my students are largely in the starting off stage, and found them just as useful.

It is a ten step process, and here are the key areas Reeb asks about. Why not take some time to attempt an answer? It could give a lot more direction to your future…

  1. Write down what makes you most passionate. Who are the people or groups you are most concerned about? What change do you most want to help bring about in the world? He suggests you list your top two areas of passion.
  2. Pinpoint your three greatest natural abilities. While you might know what you are generally good at, try to be more specific and narrow it down to your three greatest strengths.
  3. Identify your spiritual gifts. Now I realise that not everyone interprets this in the same way, so just answer from where you are coming from. Where are the areas that God seems to use you? No, I don’t mean to change the world, but to make a bit of a difference. What are the things that you do that seem to bless others? If you draw a complete blank on this, google “spiritual gifts test” and a fair few options will come up for you.
  4. Develop your personal mission statement. This is the space where your passion, potential and ability overlap and help to point to a possible path ahead. It helps you to enter into the realm of your personal calling – the way in which your particular life will make a difference. A personal mission statement helps you to answer the question of why you do what you do. It helps to give direction and purpose.
  5. Define the position you play best on the team. Many of us don’t think about this. We sometimes lament that we are not the leader, but most people are best in a supporting role, and few things are achieved without plenty of buy in from people in supporting roles. Some are encouragers, others help to keep the team focused on goals, yet others boost morale, while others creatively help to find unexpected solutions. Of course, if leadership is your call, lead confidently. The key thing is to get a sense of what your best position is. If you are not sure, why not ask others about how they see you. Their eyes might pick up what you can’t see in your self.
  6. Discover your spouses goals and desires. Surprisingly, while we love our partner, we sometimes don’t know what their highest aspirations are… but then, we often haven’t worked out what ours are either. When both you and your partner know, you can be so much more effective in helping each other live your best possible life. A simple starting point could be to suggest that your partner works on these questions as well.
  7. Discover where your life needs better balance. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself so that you can finish well. Make sure you have enough time for the four f words – faith, fitness, family and friends.
  8. Plan your finances with an eternal perspective. Because Reeb has a special focus on those who are entering the second half of life, he has some particular suggestions and challenges for those at this stage.
  9. Set five goals. Reeb urges that we define what are the five most important goals for the next year or two that will help us to live out our mission statement.
  10. Decide how you will measure results. We often shy away from the results question, but Reeb will have none of this. He wants us to look for specific indicators that can serve as a measuring stick for us. Of course as time progresses, we might decide that some other indicators are more relevant, but don’t draw up a plan that is too vague and can essentially mean anything. Make sure it gives you some direction and helps you to determine priorities for yourself.
I guess this is a post that can be hurriedly read through and forgotten… or it can become a friend, where you take the time to answer and reflect. If you do that, it could be that the plan you come up with could decisively change your future. If that is the case, this is a good post – for my mantra is simple… a good post is one that does good.
Oh, and one last thought. A quote from an unknown source but given by one of my students… “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, do you see Christ in me at all?” Not a bad question to keep coming back to.
Nice chatting…

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