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Using Time to Rescue Yourself and Others

Josh Clark, CEO Richer Life
January 27, 2018

Creepy clown sightings are a strange and new phenomenon. What began in the Southeastern United States, with men dressing up as clowns and freaking out children has now spread throughout our great land. It’s good to know that weird isn’t confined to one part of the country.

Like with most odd things, I didn’t give these clowns much attention. Then the other morning, my wife caught our kindergartner trying to take a weapon (shishkabob skewer) to school. When mom asked him about its purpose, he replied, “It’s to protect me from the clowns.”

“Listen, anything that has my kid raiding the kitchen cabinets for defensive weapons has my attention.”

After looking into the phenomenon, I decided that the skewer was not enough. So I have enrolled my five-year-old in Krav Magra and a defensive shooting class with the NRA. JK – but seriously, this creepy clown phenomenon has got to stop. (And it will as soon as people stop blogging about it.)

These clowns may be new. But for decades now, clowns have been freaking people out. Why are they so scary? I think it’s because the best clowns blur the line between their identity (who they are) and their activity (what they do). Case in point, to this day, McDonalds will not disclose the actor who plays Ronald McDonald. Instead, they refer to him as if he was a real person. Freaky, right?

It’s true. The genuinely creepy clowns are the ones whose identity is wrapped up in their activity. But before you judge, please consider whether you are guilty of being a clown yourself. Have you ever confused your identity (who you are) with your activity (what you do)? I have. And to be honest, in those seasons of my journey, I too have been a creepy clown.

“We’ve all been clowns. It’s how we convince ourselves we have value. To feel better about ourselves we work harder and longer and become prisoners of our own illusions.”

As leaders, parents and managers, our work often requires so much of our time, talent, and energy that we begin to blur the line between our identity and our activity. Recognize any of these clowns?

  • A mother who lost herself in her kids for decades, then when they graduated didn’t know who she was anymore.
  • An entrepreneur who successfully exited her company, only to fall into deep depression.
  • A Pastor who identified so much with his church he thought everyone else should work there too.
  • A leader who defined himself by the results he produced, and killed his team to get them.

I can recognize these clowns because I’ve been one. Not the make-up wearing, lure kids into the woods kind, but a clown nonetheless. I’m happy to share that I’m in clown recovery and you can be too. Here are three simple steps you can employ to avoid becoming a creepy clown.

1. Remind Yourself – What you do does not define who you are. Rather, who you are must determine what you do.

2. Surround Yourself – Have teammates who are committed to you for you, and will tell you when you’re becoming a creepy clown.

3. Humble Yourself – Own your failures and learn from them. There is no effort without error. But when we own our failures, we gain valuable insights that lead to great work.

So there you have it. My three simple steps to avoid being an unwitting participant in the creepy clown phenomenon.

We don’t have to derive our identity from our activity. Without competition or comparison or insecurity, we are free to work in a way that blesses others. So explore who you are and the work you can do – then do the creative best you can with your life.

Thanks for reading. Keep on leading.

(And please let me know if you spot any clowns.) #iseeaclown

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