Read an Excerpt
Have you ever said “Thank God it’s Monday”? Why is that such an unbelievable statement? Why does “Thank God it’s Friday” just roll off your tongue? Why is TGIF an instantly recognizable acronym for the relief we feel at the end of a workweek, knowing we can spend the weekend doing something enjoyable? Why do we thank God for saving us from the one thing in which we invest up to 50 percent of our waking hours? If we dread the work we are doing, is it an honorable use of our time? Do you really think it’s possible to fulfill your purpose if you’re doing work that is not meaningful and fulfilling?
Maybe you’re one of the many who have gotten caught up in thinking work is just something you do to support your weekends. Work is that necessary evil in our lives, a means to an end, or just a curse from God. You probably take your role of providing for yourself and those depending on you seriously. But you don’t expect to enjoy your work–you just do what has to be done.
Only now you’re seeing that even loyalty and dependability bring no guarantees. Lately you’ve seen coworkers who have been let go after years of faithful service. Perhaps your entire industry has been shaken by outsourcing or changing technology.
Maybe you’re tired of the long commute and being tied to your desk when you know you could make your own hours and still be productive. You may have ideas stirring that you think could create new income and time freedom.
But here comes another Monday. Maybe feeling trapped is just the reality of the way things are. Doesn’t everyone dread Mondays? Don’t we put our true calling on the shelf when we leave for work on Monday morning? Does our work even matter in the final evaluation of a life well lived?
Don’t all responsible people just bury their dreams and passions in exchange for getting a paycheck? Absolutely not! Let me assure you that it doesn’t need to be this way at all. All of us, no matter how old we are or what kind of work we’re doing, can learn to bring the same excitement to our jobs that we bring to whatever we love to do on our days off.
I believe that each one of us can pursue work that is a reflection of our best selves–a true fulfillment of our callings. What we do on Mondays is a more visible expression of our applied faith than how we spend fifty-eight minutes on Sunday morning.
For many of you, No More Mondays will present a process of waking up the dreams, passions, and visions you had as a child. Have you ever met an unimaginative five year old? Probably not. And when you were five, you probably had a dream. Maybe in the still of the night you thought you heard God speaking to you– calling you to a certain type of life and a special kind of work.
So what happened? Well, life happened. Along the way, in our desire to be responsible, practical, and realistic adults, too many of us wildly imaginative kids lost touch with our creative abilities and gave up a commitment to translating our dreams into enjoyable and fulfilling work. But it doesn’t need to be that way. All of us, no matter how old we are or what kind of work we’re doing, can learn to bring that authentic, childlike creativity to our work.
In fact, the moment you express a desire for something more than repetitive, meaningless work, something more than simply punching the clock, the moment you realize that meaningful, purposeful, and profitable work really is a possibility, you’ve already taken an important step toward reawakening the dreams and passions you haven’t had in years–or might never have had at all.
All of a sudden, complacency and “comfortable misery” become intolerable. The idea of putting your calling on the shelf becomes intolerable. Not only do we have the opportunity, we have the responsibility to spend our working hours in work that will elevate us to our highest calling and transform the world around us.
No More Mondays will show you that meaningful work really is within your grasp. It will help you recapture that childlike creativity you may have lost. It may release the dreams and sense of purpose you had as a child. You may find your prayers invigorated, now knowing there is a day-by-day application of God’s design for your life. And once you’ve opened the door and seen all the exciting career opportunities that await you–whether you decide to revolutionize your current job or launch a new career altogether–you’ll find you can’t go back to the old way of working.
It’s like you’ve fanned to life some dying embers, ignited a new flame of possibility. That inner light of your childhood imagination might have been dimmed by your “adult” notions of work, but this book will help you rekindle it again so that you get a real sense of all the possibilities available to you.
We can find ways to express our hopes and dreams in our daily work. While I certainly don’t advocate confusing “who we are” with “what we do,” I believe that our work can be our best gift to ourselves, our friends and family, our communities–and the best expression of our purpose here on earth. Given the amount of time we spend working, failure to find meaningful, significant work is not just a minor misstep in living out God’s plan; it is a deeper kind of failure that can make each day feel like living death.
It’s no surprise that we often choose to dismiss work’s importance by reducing it to a necessary evil that merely provides a paycheck. But as long as we view work as simply something we have to do to pay the bills, we keep ourselves from embracing our talents and gifts, from recognizing our visions, dreams, and passions. Fulfilling work, work that integrates our talents and our passions, work done for a worthy purpose, has always been a sign of inner–and outer–maturity and wisdom.
And there’s an even more urgent need to seek out more meaningful work. In today’s fast-changing world, we can no longer afford to simply show up at work, punch a clock, and expect payment for our time; in fact, we put ourselves at tremendous risk if we do. Many of us have been raised to think that all we need to do to achieve success and security is finish school, get a job with the right company, put in 35 years or so, and wait for the proverbial gold watch. But those days are over, never to return. In today’s volatile workplace, the average job lasts a mere 3.2 years. Companies are dismantling pension plans, cutting health insurance benefits, and replacing the gold watch with a pink slip. So has the workplace become a hostile environment?
Have all the good opportunities disappeared? Have we been doomed to lives of financial mediocrity and soul-crushing work conditions? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding no.
But the workplace has changed. And we need to change along with it. We need to change the way we think about our jobs, about work hours and salaries, and about job security. As we witness the destruction of the old model of work, is it possible to imagine a new model that’s about more than drudgery, boredom, and a paycheck that’s never enough? The answer is an enthusiastic yes.
Everywhere you look, you’ll find new and exciting opportunities. Keep in mind, however, they are a lot different from the choices of previous generations. I have had the privilege of experiencing these changes firsthand, so I know how scary and intimidating they may seem at first. The future that was presented to me when I was a young boy was a lot different from the varied but exciting path I have taken.
If I had followed the career path my parents laid out for me, there’s a strong possibility that today I’d dread Mondays and despise my daily work as many of you do. Breaking away from the life expected of me was not easy; in fact, it caused a severe breach in my relationship with my parents, as walking away from the work also meant leaving my family’s religious culture. But I’m forever grateful that I did not forsake my search for my true calling– for a daily enriching spiritual life and work that fulfills God’s purpose for my life. And let me add that time is a wonderful healer. As with any change, there are fears and growing pains associated with the search for meaningful work. Over time, however, I was able to reestablish family bonds and share the joys not only of connecting grandparents with grandchildren but also of newly discovered meaningful work.
I was born into a conservative rural Ohio family. Torn between the need to provide for our family and the desire to embrace his spiritual calling, my father both worked as a farmer and served as pastor to the little local Mennonite church. His double life instilled in me the idea that work was just a necessary evil, while a calling had to be squeezed in around the realistic demands of working.
Hard work meant being responsible, and it left little time for anything playful or pleasurable. Frankly, anything that provided enjoyment was suspected as being self-serving, which further reinforced the idea that there was no merit in expecting joy in work. Amusement parks, fancy cars, TV viewing, ball games, and higher education were more examples of useless and dangerous activities that would likely pull a person away from what was eternally important.
Exhausting farmwork was a matter of survival; work that you enjoyed demonstrated egotistical selfishness. Despite the limitations on the things I could do or the places I could go, nothing could stop my mind from wandering. As I was working out in the fields, I was also imagining a world I had never seen.
Somehow in that restricted world, when I was about twelve years old, I was able to get a copy of the little 331⁄3 rpm record by Earl Nightingale titled The Strangest Secret. On it I heard this gravelly-voiced man say that I could be everything I wanted to be by simply changing my thinking. He talked about six words that could dramatically affect the results of my best efforts: We become what we think about. I recognized that, if that were true, the possibilities of what I could do with my life were limitless. Nightingale’s Secret, the Biblical principle “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” and Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking all came alive as more than just words.
Knowing this radical way of thinking would not be welcome in my house, I hid that little record under my mattress, bringing it out night after night to hear again the promises of a better life.
While friends were hiding their girlie magazines under their beds, it was this message of hope and opportunity that captured my imagination.
I began to see the impact of that thinking on my belief system. Any complacency I might have held about my future disappeared forever. I became intensely curious about the world and began to explore the way things worked, how they could be made better, and what possibilities existed for change and innovation. I would take the lawn mower engine apart to see if I could improve its power and efficiency. I improvised new machines and inventions from old parts I salvaged from the local dump. I was drawn to the Biblical stories of Joshua, Joseph, and Solomon. I saw them as examples of people who dreamed things that others thought impossible and who created plans of action to make their dreams a reality.
I became adept at coming up with new solutions to problems in my little world. Since we lived miles out in the country and it was impossible to get to town on my own to see my buddies, I devised a way to turn our small Ford tractor into a makeshift hot rod. I took the rear-end assembly from a junk car and attached the driveshaft to the power takeoff (PTO) on the tractor. After pushing the tractor to maximum speed, I could take it out of gear, engage the PTO, and push the tractor much faster than it was ever intended to go.
The farming environment exposed me to carpentry, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical systems, but I began to seek out new opportunities–everything from selling Christmas cards to setting up my first roadside business–wherever I could. After my mother canned all the sweet corn our cellars would hold, I would get up at five o’clock in the morning, go out and pick the remaining corn, and head for the main road with our little tractor and a trailer full of excess corn. With my homemade sign, I would sell ears of corn for thirty cents a dozen and collect my growing nest egg. Meanwhile, my infatuation with fast and fancy cars grew stronger, thanks in part to the fact that my grandparents on both sides were horse-and-buggy Amish–no cars were allowed in their households. Even when my parents decided they would have a car, the car had to be black. Some of you have undoubtedly experienced the attraction of those things that are forbidden by religious legalism.
My first car was entirely handmade. When I was eighteen years old, I purchased a 1931 Model A Ford for fifty dollars. Slowly and meticulously, I began building a running street rod. Every time I found myself with an extra five dollars, instead of blowing it on candy or clothes, I would go to the junkyard and buy a generator or a set of seats. I learned by doing, as well as by listening and talking to anyone who knew more than I did. Remember, I didn’t have a dad who would take me into town to purchase a “cool” car. In our family, cars were strictly for transportation.
Anything that accented visual appeal or high performance was nothing but “worldly.” So while my friends conned their parents into buying them their first cars, I put in every spare minute in that unheated old chicken coop where I was building my car. One year later I drove out with an eye-stopping hot rod with a Chrysler hemi engine. This simple farm kid suddenly had a car that outshone those of most of my friends.
Seeing these simple dreams come true fueled my desire for new experiences. Upon completing high school, I was expected to become a full-time member of our family farming operation.
But I wanted more, and I knew that college would help open new doors for me. Against my father’s wishes, I decided to further my education. I was required to help with the dairy and farming chores beginning at 5:30 A.M. But I didn’t let that little detail deter me. I enrolled in a branch campus of Ohio State University, where I could attend classes from 6:00 to 10:00 P.M.
As a poor kid with good grades, I qualified for an eighteen hundred dollar tuition grant. However, my predilection for seeing things in new ways was already hindering a “normal” view of having money in the bank. The tuition was not payable immediately but would be due over the next several months–which meant I had eighteen hundred dollars in hard, cold cash sitting in my bank account.
Surely, I thought, I could leverage that money into something more. I responded to an ad in a magazine much like the ones many of you have seen: “Get into the vending business; you don’t have to sell anything. We install the machines–all you have to do is collect the money.” My eighteen hundred dollars purchased ten hot cashew machines. What could be more appealing than hot cashews? I thought. Cashews are the perfect snack food– wholesome, nutritious, and a perfect complement to any beverage.
This was going to be too easy. I envisioned my machines finding homes in ballparks, family recreation centers, and the local convenience store. But things didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned.
A representative came to place the machines. Unfortunately, the company rep preferred to locate the machines in the sleaziest bars he could find. Picture it: a shy, backward Mennonite kid discovering that his machines were being installed in places he himself had never been allowed to enter.
Guess what else didn’t turn out as I expected. Do you know what happens to cashews under heat if they are not stirred about once every twelve hours? They mold! I immediately began getting calls from these sordid establishments telling me to get those machines out or suffer the wrath of their inebriated customers. I picked up my ten precious machines and hid them in an old storage shed where my dad would never be made aware of my stupidity. Months later I sold them for roughly ten cents on the dollar. When it came time to pay my tuition, I had to get out and hustle for the money I had lost. I squeezed in odd jobs around my already busy schedule of farm chores and college classes. It was my first of many painful lessons that looking for a quick buck is typically a recipe for disaster.
The key to real success is not about jumping on the latest, greatest idea you read about in a magazine or on some website; it’s not about trying to make a quick buck. It’s about knowing yourself so completely that you can identify a work fit that you will find enjoyable, rewarding, and profitable. Unfortunately, I was a slow learner. This was not the last time I found myself on the receiving end of this message. Years later, I was reminded of this basic principle again after buying a health and fitness center.
Now keep in mind, I personally don’t like the fitness center environment. I am much too impatient for the socializing and the slow pace of workouts in that setting. But I saw the bottom line and thought I could make money. Boy, was I wrong. After three frustrating years, I sold that business at public auction, taking about a $430,000 loss. It was just another of the many hard lessons that taught me the importance of finding a proper fit when it comes to type of work and work model.
Now, the answer was not to take the safe path and avoid taking chances, but rather to stay true to my unique, God-given talents and not try to duplicate the successes of someone else. This is one of the core concepts of No More Mondays: You have to look inward for the keys to your success. Knowing yourself well will give you the necessary insight for choosing work that leads to both fulfillment and financial rewards. Trying to mimic someone else’s success will usually lead to heartache and disappointment. Since the fitness center disaster, I’ve been a lot more honest with myself about the kind of work that’s right for me. I have built service businesses and provided consulting, speaking, and public seminars. Along the way I got multiple college degrees in my ever-expanding quest for new knowledge and information. I even found time to marry a beautiful wife and be a daddy to three wonderful children. For decades my wife has loved me, encouraged me, and helped me through all of this learning, mistake making, and learning all over again.
Today I provide executive career coaching, develop innovative personal improvement products, write books, and run a virtual business. While my businesses have neither physical facilities nor employees, I have multiple revenue streams and an income that puts me in the top 3 percent of America’s earners. My family’s lives are streamlined and focused. My wife and I have more control of our time than we had imagined was possible. Our children and grandchildren are integral parts of our work and play activities. We enjoy the feedback of other people who have benefited from our efforts and consider ourselves to be truly blessed with the multiple characteristics of true success.
Let me emphasize that the process of getting here was not wasted time. I loved the variety of things I did–and I don’t regret the bad choices. I was not prepared or qualified by life experiences at twenty-five or thirty-five to do what I do today. There is value in the process of finding your true calling–and it may include some bumps along the way. I know we all wish for that “road to Damascus” experience where God clearly and dramatically reveals the plan for our life. But in my experience, clarity doesn’t often come in that way.
If you are always successful, it’s unlikely that you’ve really stretched yourself to see what you are capable of doing. Like a high jumper, if you always clear the bar, you don’t really know how good you could be. It’s only when you trip the bar that you have a true indication of where your limits lie. Don’t be afraid of failing, for it’s in failing that we grow and expand our boundaries.
A life of seeking God’s perfect will and path does not guarantee a smooth and trouble-free journey. “If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, GNT).
It is out of this backdrop that the material in No More Mondays has been refined. I hope you can bypass some of the lessons I learned from the school of hard knocks and still experience the absolute joy that I have had in finding meaningful and fulfilling work. Even on Monday mornings.
No More Mondays will walk you through the process of embracing change–even when that change is unexpected and unwelcome. We’ll see how old models of work are disappearing but new ones are unfolding right before our eyes. We’ll explore how to recognize and capitalize on these changes. You won’t have the job your mom or dad did, but you can prosper and thrive as you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your work life. You can identify your best fit as an employee, a free agent, an independent contractor, a contingency worker, a consultant, an entrepreneur, or a business owner and be confident that you have chosen meaningful, fulfilling work. The Bible doesn’t talk about computer programming or being an airline pilot, but it gives us solid principles for work that matters. Your options are not shrinking, they are expanding.
You’ve shattered any comfortable misery. You’re past the point of ever being content with just getting a paycheck. Get ready to remove forever the stigma of Monday mornings. From now on, every day is Friday!