Work and your values

How do you live out your values at work?

Work! For a lot of people there is the tension between viewing work as WHAT we do and not WHO we are. There is reason the tension exists. Work is an activity that we spend so much of our lives preparing for and eventually doing. The average time spent in education and training for most people is approximately 14 years. The average age for retirement is 60. Maths is not my strength but even I know that is ALOT of time.

My reflections on this topic are looking at work in the terms of an activity or area of life we engage in like relationships.I am therefore not going into the raging argument of the day; being employed or being an entrepreneur. In either forms, work is still being done!

My reflections in this post are geared more towards our attitude to work and how we interact with others in the course of carrying out our work .It is a reflection of a quote I stumbled on a few years ago(see below). It’s also been brought to fore by some of my personal experiences at work in the last couple of months. I am a Christian and so today’s post is very heavily tinted by my Christian worldview.

Photo credit -YouVersion Bible App

Christians often have a warped way of looking at work. Unless someone is working “in the ministry,” they see his work as secular. However, this view of work distorts the biblical picture. All of us — not only full-time ministers — have gifts and talents that we contribute to humanity. We all have a vocation, a “calling” into service. Wherever we work, whatever we do, we are to do “unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Jesus used parables about work to teach us how to grow spiritually. These parables deal with money, with completing tasks, with faithful stewardship of a job, and with honest emotional dealings in work. They all teach character development in the context of relating to God and others. They teach a work ethic based on love under God.

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

For a lot of people of faith,the secular and sacred are often on separate spectrums. Oyindamola in church on Sunday is different from Oyindamola in accounts on Wednesday. What the quote above tells me though is that the way and manner in which I carry out my work can be a reflection of my character and spiritual development.

Below are a few questions that I think we can all ponder on regarding how we view work especially if you are a person of faith?

Are my values reflected in my work ethic?

Does my character in the workplace reflect the fruit of the spirit( if you are a Christian )Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Do I show up and see myself as a Christian who works or as a Christian in the workplace? The Christian who works is someone who is a Christian that works. A Christian in the workplace is a Christian everywhere which includes the workplace.

Do I feel that work is just what I do and not an area where I need to live out my faith?

Work is a spiritual activity. In our work, we are made in the image of God, who is Himself a worker, a manager, a creator, a developer, a steward, and a healer. To be a Christian is to be a co-laborer with God in the community of humanity. By giving to others we find true fulfillment. The New Testament teaches that jobs offer more than temporal fulfillment and rewards on earth. Work is the place to develop our character in preparation for the work that we will do forever.

Boundaries’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

The quote above tells us that the God that we serve is a role model for how we should approach work.Our work is a way for us to contribute to Gods work on earth. I know work is not the place that we most associate with character development. However I think work is the prime playing field to live out our faith.

The scenarios below are some that we encounter in the course of carrying out our work;

That annoying colleague that you just hope will disappear for good -The perfect opportunity to display Love & kindness

The chance to coast and do the bare minimum even when no one will notice – the perfect opportunity to display faithfulness and forbearance

That email that you would love to respond to with the caustic and sarcastic message(that is absolutely well deserved)- The perfect opportunity to display self control and gentleness

That urge to hold back on that idea or solution to a problem for personal gain or self aggrandisement –The perfect opportunity to display goodness

The urge to want to show that you are right with an ‘I told you so’ as something goes on wrong on a project as you rightly predicted (me a lot of times LOL)- The perfect opportunity to display peace and love

Do good work and your name will be a currency!

We spend such a huge part of our lives at work which means that it makes no sense to separate our values and our work. I believe the ‘sacred and secular’ dichotomy is one that is harmful to our witness as believers. Most of us will not work in ‘full-time ministry’ but our work can be a way for us to minister to the world around us.

The same can be said of you today, believer. Your workbench is an altar. Your desk is a cathedral. Use it to worship today—to “do good to all people” you come in contact with at work, and in doing so, glorify our great God. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)

Jordan Raynor, Author of Called to Create & Host of The Call to Mastery Podcast

The quote above was one that really stood out to me from Jordan Raynor’s weekly Newsletter- The Word before Work. He is an author that has written extensively on the topic of faith and work and so if you liked this article you would definitely enjoy the newsletter. He also has a podcast called,The Call to mastery where he interviews Christians on how they live out their faith in the workplace.

The quote really resonated with me as I was going through a transitional and tumultuous period in my working life. It reminded me me that my work is definitely not WHO I am. So whatever happens in the workplace is not an indicator of my worth as an individual .However my work can be used as a medium to worship God regardless of the circumstances all around me.

As we go into another working week and day,I hope this also encourages you to see your work,vocation,industry etc as an arena to display and live up to the values that you profess.

As usual thank you so much for reading and wish you a blessed week ahead.

Much love,

Oyindamola

5 Fun Reading Tips

Reading can be less ‘boring’

We all love to be entertained. I know I do especially after long hectic days.This quest for entertainment is why reading is not the unwinding activity of choice for most people.

For a lot of people,reading as an activity is closely associated with being in school/academia. Even as a young adult who loved reading and studying literature, I know studying the bulkiest volume of The Complete Works of Shakespeare was not exactly comparable to watching back to back episodes of Prison break. I remember watching the DVD of Season 1 in one weekend back when I clearly had loads of texts to read(as an English literature major).

If someone like me who is quite literary can admit that TV did ‘seem’ more relaxing, let’s think of that person whose biggest reward for after school was never having to read big volumes ever again.At the time I graduated social media didn’t even exist like it does today. I am not one of those people who blames social media for every new societal ill. That said,it’s not hard to see the impact that social media/instant entertainment has on people’s reading habits. I know it’s a constant struggle for me to stop the scrolling for the pages. One of the biggest habit shifts that moved me from reading 0 books in almost 5 years to 42 last year was being more mindful of how much time i spent on social media or watching tv.

A study of 11,000 children tracked from their birth in 2000 conducted by the University College London found that “social media could be detracting from reading and homework, with a potential knock-on effect on their literacy,” suggesting a link between time spent on social media and levels of literacy. Similarly, the American Psychological Association recently published research finding that less than 20 percent of US teens “report reading a book, magazine, or newspaper daily for pleasure,” yet more than 80 percent say “they use social media every day.”

AT WHAT COST SOCIAL MEDIA: ARE PEOPLE STILL READING?-Instinctif.com

I am more a carrot than stick person. So I would rather spend more time thinking of ways to make reading more appealing than making people feel guilty for being on Instagram or Netflix.So how can we make reading seem like an equally gratifying activity? I thought it would be a great idea share a few tips;

1.Read a book that is also a movie/tv series; Personal caveat here;I will ALWAYS prefer the book to a screen play. That said if you struggle with enjoying reading or following the story in a book,it might be worth reading a book about a movie or tv series with a storyline you absolutely loved. A good recent example of this is Bridgeton by Julia Quinn that was recently adapted as a series on Netflix. A lot of people who might have never picked up the book have now decided to read the book to get a fuller picture of the story that they enjoyed on screen. I have not watched or read this particular story as romance is not really my genre,that said you can use this tip over a wide selection of books that have made it onto big and small screens.

Photo credit -Amazon

2.Skip over or skim part the book; Cheating! I know! But similar to reading summaries shared in my last article, the point of these tips are to get you to enjoy reading. Some authors are wordsmiths and love words. This tendency means that sometimes a book can go and on before getting to the point that it is trying to make. If this is making reading a chore for you, you can choose to make it less boring for yourself by just skipping straight to the part that interests you. This tip goes against my natural literary grain. But it’s not about me,it’s about how making people who are less enthused about reading viewing it as an enjoyable activity.

3.Read socially; I know this one seems pretty obvious but please stay with me. Joining a book club/getting a reading buddy is a great way to get reading, meet new people, hear recommendations and generally get into more contact with books. In pre-covid times one of the most discussed office banter topics was favourite TV shows. Book clubs or book buddies allow you to do just the same. They give you a forum to discuss with others what you enjoyed about the book,what you didn’t like it, social themes, issues you had with the writing etc. It is also a good way to encourage yourself to read books that you wouldn’t have normally.The social element also makes it something different from your day to day activities. I host a virtual bookclub called BookMark bookclub. The bookclub meets every four to six weeks to discuss a chosen book. Our bookclub pick for March 2021 is Girl,Woman,Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

Join  BookMark  BookClub
Join BookMark

4.STOP reading books that bore you; This is another pretty obvious tip but is one some people feel guilty about. Reading will be a chore if you’re just trying to get to the end of a book that you are not enjoying. I would always say give it a few chapters. If you have given it a few chapters and you are still bored out of your wits,then it is ok to stop.Move on to another book. Reading books that bore you further reinforces the notion that ‘reading is boring’ . So if you find a book that just can’t seem to spark your interest, do not feel guilty about abandoning it.You do not have to finish every book you start. The more you read books you enjoy,the more you begin to view reading as an enjoyable activity.

5.Reward yourself for reading. Remember I am a carrot girl. And nothing motivates most people like knowing that there is a reward at the end of an activity. So if you struggle with reading, think of unique ways to reward yourself when you do read. It could be something as simple as ’A chocolate bar after 10 chapters’ or more elaborate as a ‘New pair of boots for finishing 6 books in the next 3 months’.

Rewarding yourself when you achieve your reading milestones and goals will be very personal so it would be best to set it based on what you think would spur you on the most.Rewards are a great way to keep the motivation up when you feel yourself struggling to keep up with the habit.

Photo credit -Zippy Pixels.com

I hope you find these tips useful and hope they help in changing the ‘reading is boring’ narrative. Please do feel free to share with me any other tips or tricks you have employed to make reading a more enjoyable activity. Please do also share this article with someone who might find it useful.

As usual thank you so much for reading and have a lovely week ahead.

Much love

Oyindamola

The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would want done unto you
The Message Bible Translation

The quote above is called the Golden rule. Its one that reminds us to think of the impact of our actions on those around us.It sounds like such an easy concept and one that most of us will agree with in principle… But in action? Well that’s a different story!

Being respectful of other people‘s time is one of the ways we impact those around us. Just think back to an incident when someone was not respectful of your time. How did you feel? Now try to replicate that feeling when you are tempted to be tardy when meeting up your friend for brunch(when we are able to do that again).

Have you ever felt annoyed when someone refused to wait for their turn on a line? Well think about that feeling when you CAN use your position or privilege to your advantage that might have a detrimental impact on others.

I also know societal or ‘common good’ issues are never just black and white. This post is not an attempt to evoke guilt about privilege. It is a call to reflect on how individual actions can impact those around us. How can we begin to think a bit more collectively rather than what would work to our advantage?

It is very easy to apply the golden rule when it comes at no personal cost. Choosing not to park in the empty parents bay might come at a cost of circling the car park for minutes that you don’t have to spare. That cost to you though might mean that a stressed out young father who has not slept well in days gets a parking spot.I know the car park issue seems mundane. But it is an intentional example. This is because the golden rule is not thought of in those little things that we do in our day to day lives.

We often think of the golden rule in broader terms like ‘I am kind to others‘. But how does that truly play out in action. Other times we excuse our actions with ‘looking out for number one. And I get that! It is human nature to look out for one‘s self. “

There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The quote above highlights that individuals will always have selfish interests. What is clear though is that some of these interests will often conflict with the interests of others.

The golden rule in true action means that sometimes we might have to sacrifice some of those interests for the common good. The golden rule talks about our needs but also highlights the ability to see past our needs. It has to be learnt behaviour to reflect on what it would mean to be the recipient of our actions.

What if I was the cleaner clearing up the waste I just dumped next to the trash can?

What if I was the neighbour trying to sleep after a long night shift with my music blaring too loudly?

What if I was the person who can only shop weekly but cannot get 1 pack of toilet roll because I just bought 10?

As we go into the week, my urge is that we take some time to pause and reflect outside of ourselves.. The world would be a marginally better place if everyone who reads this does. Thank you so much for reading and have a lovely week ahead.

Much love

Oyindamola

5 ‘No-Time’ Reading Hacks

No -time to read? You still can!

The biggest barrier to reading for most people is finding the time. I am going to be very mindful with my words here to acknowledge that it is a valid reason for a lot of people and not an excuse.

One of my objectives and goals is to take the guilt out of reading.There are already so many things that people feel ‘guilty’ about not doing /doing and I don’t think reading should be one of them.So I will be sharing5 tips to help you cultivate the habit if time is a scarce resource or commodity.

Read shorter books– This one seems pretty obvious but is one that most people neglect. If fiction is your thing go for short stories,novellas etc If you are more the non-fiction person go for smaller abridged versions(100 pages or less) of areas of interest.

Repurpose ‘waiting’ times– Doctors appointment,waiting in line at the post office,waiting at the hair dresser/mechanic etc etc Use those times to get a few pages in. Every little counts

Read in short time bursts – Its very easy to set a goal of ‘Read for an hour everyday’ but we all know that it might be very difficult to get that hour in with all the things competing for our attention. So set shorter time goals e.g. 10 mins in the morning,10 mins at lunch,10 mins at bedtime. Do what works for your current season.

Read’ an audiobook– This is pretty self explanatory. This is time saving in the sense that you can do it while doing other things like walking,cooking,cleaning etc .This is classic habit stacking. I have a series on my YouTube channel on the book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear where I go into this concept a bit more.Click on link to watch Atomic Habits Series

Read summaries– Yes I know this is sort of ‘cheating’! But you know what? there are millions of books in the world and so it’s unrealistic to expect that we can read them all. For me reading is also about learning. Sometimes all you need are the key learning points from a book to set you on the path to wanting to know more. There are loads of apps like blinkist, Instaread etc which are good tools to utilise. There are also loads of blogs/websites and book review(including some of mine). This is time saving as you get the essence or lessons without having to spend the hours reading the book itself.

My bibliophile self would always prefer that you read the book but I am willing to concede that time is such a scarce and valuable resource that we need to adapt and flex as we see fit. I hope you found these tips useful. If you did please do share with others who might also find useful.

Here’s wishing you a lovely Tuesday and week ahead!

Much love,

Oyindamola

My 2020 in Reading

Looking backwards in Gratitude and Forward in Hope!

So it’s the last two days of a year that has had every sort of adjective attributed to it … I guess everyone’s descriptor for 2020 will vary especially as our experiences of it are not the same but I am sure we can all agree that it’s a year that we will not forget in a hurry.

I remember writing Read more in 2020 around this time last year. At the time I was completely oblivious to what 2020 was going to turn out to be. Like a lot of my other blog posts, it was me basically writing out loud my thoughts and sharing it with others.

Photo credit -Pinterest

I reflected on my reading journey in 2019 and what had worked for me. I shared those tips as I knew that a lot of people (similar to myself in the recent past) often had the goal of ‘read more’ as they approached a new year. If you do click on and read that blog post, I still believe that all of the tips I shared are still relevant and would put you in good stead to cultivate and maintain an effective reading habit moving forward.

So as we approach the dawn of another year, I am once again reflecting on my reading journey this year and thought to share my highlights and lessons I have learned.

Despite initial struggles at the beginning of the pandemic, I was able to keep up a consistent reading momentum. Yes there were peaks and troughs,but reading was one of the ways I was able to entertain,educate and enlighten myself through the quarantine periods and even when things loosened up a bit in the summer.

Reading was also the activity that made me tap into the more introverted side of myself. It was a part of myself that really shocked me because I thought that I would get cabin fever after all of the time that we spent at home. I realised that I did not resent staying home as much as thought I would. In fact with a good book and good food I actually found that I ENJOYED it.

So yes, I did miss certain elements of human interaction but no, I actually did not (and still haven’t) gotten fed up of being stuck at home. I guess we evolve because even my husband who is more the home body has been shocked at how I eventually adapted to staying at home.I do believe having a steady supply of books(Amazon can attest to this) contributed to this.

In total I read 42 books and finished 41. And like my tastes,passions,interests they were an eclectic mix. From non-fiction books on writing,to prayer,to habits,to change to productivity to finance etc And fictional titles ranging from mechanics to serial killers, it surely was a varied mix.

My GoodReads Year in Books

Other noteworthy reading news from me in 2020 was me hosting two Bookclubs. I had always wanted to host or build a sort of community around reading and had started and stopped a number of times. 2020 gave me the opportunity to not just do this but twice!!

I started hosting the Chapters bookclub in the Super Abundant Woman (SAW) community in January. I can’t even begin to describe what a privilege it was to host and read with such an amazing set of women. Being the host,meant that I had to challenge myself to read all of the books and prepare the structure of our sessions where we met to discuss the learnings and takeaways from the books. These sessions proved me to me that we all read and process information differently. It was also an avenue for me to learn and glean insights that i might have missed while reading. It really is an amazing community and was one of my highlights of 2020.

SAW reading list 2020..Send me an email if you would like to join SAW when enrolments start in 2021

In June, after a lot of persuasion from people who had followed some of the content I shared on social media,I also started the BookMark bookclub. This bookclub was open to people who might not be members of the SAW community and wanted an opportunity to rekindle or cultivate a reading habit.Like I shared in my previous blogs,it is my hope that adult women especially those of African descent begin to view reading as an activity that they can enjoy. It was always a relaxed fun atmosphere when we met on Zoom(like everyone else LOL).We read six fiction titles in total.

You would think fiction =stories =no learning? WRONG! The amount of lessons I learnt from all of the women in the bookclub over those six sessions on empathy,kindness, love,parenting were absolutely phenomenal. The sense of camaraderie is second to none and I feel a sense of gratitude that I have been able to bring together a great group of women around a shared love of reading.

BookMark reading list 2020
Join BookMark bookclub

This blog is getting far longer than I intended it to and I haven’t even touched on the book review videos, podcast appearance,book interviews and a host of other reading/book related things that I also got the opportunity to do this year. I even had the opportunity to proof text and edit a book that was published in December 2020. So yes,2020 was not all roses in some other areas of life but it surely was a fulfilling one for me on the reading and impacting others to read front.

All of the above said though, I am always one to review,reflect and respond. And as great as 2020 was on the reading front both for me and the reading communities that I serve,I know there is always room for improvement.

My reading focus for 2021 will be much more immersive.I might read less books than I did in 2020 and believe me that will be tough as I am always stumbling on books I want to read. My Want to read Bookshelf on Goodreads currently has 462 books and I keep stumbling on new books every single day.

That said though, I am going to be a bit more intentional about my reading choices.They will become more concentrated and focused around areas I want to grow and improve in. This doesn’t mean that I won’t read for entertainment(as most of my fiction reads tend to be) but it means that 2021 would be far less about quantity but more about reading for growth.

It has also meant-reconsidering the quantity of books that we will be consuming in both Chapters and BookMark book clubs. We might be reading LESS but we will be reading BETTER. There are also loads of ideas that are forming on the content and ways I can serve people to become better readers(and learners).

Photo credit -YourQuote App

I am really grateful for the gift of creativity deposited by God in all of the authors I read in 2020. I am also grateful for all those who have allowed me to be part of their reading journey in 2020. As a result of all this I am really looking forward to my reading journey in 2021 and beyond! I really do hope that you will come along with me.

As usual thank you so much for reading and wish you a healthy,happy and peaceful 2021.

Much love

Oyindamola