What makes you come alive?

On the heels of unexpectedly hitting a wall, I've been thinking about what drains me and what energizes me.

My wife is a big fan of the enneagram popularized by Ian Morgan Cron in his book The road back to you (paid link) so we have regular conversations about personality types and that sort of thing.

It's enjoyable. It's good conversation.

I wonder though if sometimes it creates uneasiness about not fitting cleanly into one category or another.

I am an enneagram 7 with an 8 wing.

But here's the thing - I often don't want to go out, I have no patience for small talk, and social gatherings are on my list of least favorite things.

How is that possible?

I remember having a conversation with my best friend over a decade ago about how I was an introvert.

He didn't believe me!

One of the people I spent the most time with who had known me for years did not believe I could possibly be an introvert.

I guess maybe to him it meant I should be socially awkward or something like that.

It's not that.

It's just that I get little value out of being in a large group of people, talking about nothing.

I would much rather be alone or with a small group of close friends talking about something meaningful.

I'd rather be reading a book, building an app, or going for a run.

So here's the list I came up with:

Things that energize me

  • Running
  • Time alone (& time with God)
  • Music
  • Brainstorming / ideating
  • Creating something new
  • Meaningful discussion
  • Coaching
  • Inspiring content (books, podcasts, etc.)
  • Strategizing solutions to clear problems

Things that drain me

  • Being around negativity / complaining
  • Work without clearly defined objectives
  • Detailed or menial work
  • Pointless conversation
  • Social gatherings
  • Lots of noise
  • Trying to "sell" an idea I'm not 100% bought into

These are not exhaustive lists, but it's a start.

It's helpful for me to acknowledge these things.

It helps to know which things lift me up and which ones wear me down.

It's only when I'm operating in the context of those things that energize that I'm able to provide real value.

The rest are just a necessary evil.

I wonder though to what degree they are necessary.

If I can find a way to limit those things that drain me and make more room for the ones that make me come alive, maybe I can stave off some frustration and avoid burnout.

Isn't that all burnout is?

Like an engine sputtering and grinding to a halt when the fuel runs dry, the soul not fed is eventually famished and ceases to function at all.

It's the soul that gets you out of bed in the morning, ready to take on the day.

It's the soul that summons eagerness to tackle a difficult challenge.

But the soul won't run on empty.

Man was not made to live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

The soul needs food!

The ultimate renewal of the soul happens in that quiet place, where the word of God is allowed to permeate into every crack like a soothing balm.

I obviously haven't figured it all out. But I'll continue to work at it and trust that as I rest in Christ he'll give me discernment to know where to lean in and where to drop back, what to hold tight to and what to let go of.

Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong

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