What does it mean when the walls we’ve built come crumbling down?
I’ve honestly never seen anything like this before.
Traffic to my China-focused websites has fallen more than 80%. My travel guide book sales have completely dried up. Affiliate sales for all China visas, China flights, China tours…China anything…have all but disappeared.
This is not a stock graphic. These are my real analytics.
This is what happens when an entire country’s tourism industry gets shut down because of this new coronavirus in China.
I keep telling myself that this is temporary. It has to be.
But for now, this is real. If I were a publicly-traded company with earnings expectations, I would be issuing a revenue warning to investors right now.
These walls that I’ve spent so many years building are starting to crumble, but it’s not the first time this has happened.
I’ve Been Fired…Twice
Do you remember the first time that you were ever fired from a job?
Not “let go”.
I know I do. And for those of you who know me and think “Nobody would ever fire Josh!”, I can assure you that yes, yes they would.
And each time was a crushing blow to my ego. I was angry that my boss had the audacity to fire me; I was embarrassed to come home and face my family; I was confused as to what was next.
I found myself saying a line similar to what I’ve heard other people say who have also been fired:
“If I’m not a [insert job title here]…then what am I?”
It’s a dangerous line of thinking, one that sends some people into a tailspin of depression. Unfortunately, it’s one that you’re probably guilty of encouraging in your own kids, even if you don’t realize it.
What Do You Want to “BE”?
We’ve all asked the question to a child before, likely because someone asked us this same question when we were younger:
What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Take a moment to look at that question carefully.
The choice of verb is important. We’re not asked what we want to DO with our lives, we are specifically asked what we want to BE.
We’re unintentionally teaching our children the lesson that our job is our identity.
If this is even remotely true,
- What are we supposed to think when we eventually get fired?
- How are we supposed to cope when our business income starts to dry up?
- What do we tell our kids if we’re unemployed?
One Thing That Can’t Be Taken
We set ourselves up for huge disappointment when we elevate our work to a position equal to that of our identity; when we think of work as what we ARE as opposed to what we DO.
How do we know if we’ve done that? These are a few red flags I’ve seen in myself:
- My wife knows how business is going based on my mood;
- It feels impossible for me to take a vacation;
- All my free time is consumed by thoughts of work;
Any of that sound familiar? These are tell-tale signs that our identity has been too closely intertwined with our work.
But we can lose our jobs…
…clients and customers can be taken from us…
…our ability to physically perform our jobs can be stolen in the blink of an eye by some freak accident.
The beauty of your true identity is the confidence that it can never be taken from you.”
But if your identity isn’t your work, what is it?
I propose the following definition:
You are a child of God who has been created with unique gifts and passions.
This transcends any specific company, job title or income level. In fact, it’s not dependent on any one of those things.
It’s a recognition that no matter what happens with our business, with our jobs or even in our life situation, the core of who we are is rooted in something greater than ourselves.
Something that can’t ever be taken away from us.
It is possible to have joy when your business is crumbling and your job status is in flux. I know, because by God’s grace I’ve been wrestling with this over the past decade and I’ve been doing battle with an old identity that wants to measure my worth by my work.
The walls will eventually crumble.
Hopefully we won’t be using them as our foundation when they do.