Friday, December 4, 2015

OPPORTUNITY, COMPETENCE, COMMITMENT: THREE KEY LIFE QUESTIONS.


For many years Rev. Edgar Hersh (b. 1927-d. 2015) was an ordained member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. In my view as an onlooker, his career peaked during the span of years during which he served as Director of the Council of Ministries of the Conference. He retired from service in 1997.


I always enjoyed conversing with Ed when I had the chance, usually at the annual meetings of the annual conference. Ed had a friendly smile. He knew hundreds of people and could call many of them by name. I remember him most vividly seated at a small table outside of the official meeting space of the annual conference, just chatting with people or waving a “hi” as they walked past. 




Ed served here in the 1980s: Woodland Park United Methodist Church, Seattle, WA

Ed, during a chat with me in 2007, provided me with three questions for deciding whether to undertake a potential project I was considering.

“Let’s see,” Ed said. “Don’t I remember three questions to ask? Yes. One, do I have the opportunity? Two, do I have the competence? Three, do I have the commitment?”

I wrote the three questions on the back of my professional card and I’ve kept the "card-with-key-questions" on my desk for more than eight years. I remember thinking, “If I’d had these three questions in my mind, how would it have changed my decisions over the years?” 

My introspection did not yield a lot of second guessing. Instead, it helped me to see that Ed’s three questions were much like the criteria I’d used frequently. However, I’d never stated the questions formally. That’s why Ed’s coaching me across the table was helpful.

My take on Ed's questions:

1   “Do I/we have the opportunity?” Opportunities don’t often fall into your lap. You scout them out like an African hunter prowling the forest, observing the surroundings, looking for movement. You have to search for opportunity and make sure you have it in range. Then work to capture it.
2
         “Do I have the competence?” Skills and the intuitive employment of them come from learning and arduous practice. Successful soccer teams practice before they play a match. Musicians practice before performance. 
3    
         “Do I have the commitment?” Projects always span time, sometimes as long as years of time. During that time you’ll have opportunity for breaks, but you’ll definitely have to give up some diversions for the sake of success in the project.

Just now, at the end of a year, you could ask: “What was my main project this year? Did I develop competence? Did I keep my level of commitment high?” More importantly, you can apply these questions to opportunities you have in 2016.


These three questions have helped me much since Ed shared them. Now, in celebration of Ed’s long life, which ended just a few days ago, I pass the questions on to you. You can pass them to others if you wish by clicking the “share” button below.

Happy holiday season to you!

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