By Matt Levy, Halftime Alum
There’s been a lot written about finding our purpose in life. While our purpose may be fixed throughout our time here on earth, how it plays out as we move along can change. At least that’s how it has worked for me. Thankfully I have found my purpose, and that drives me every day to live it out and to be intentional in doing so.
Living Out My Faith in the Business Sector
At my core, I think I have always been an entrepreneur. That’s just the way God wired me.
When my partners and I launched our company, Credera, back in 1998, we did what all entrepreneurs do: We dreamed big, we took risks and we leapt out into the deep waters. Yes, there were the occasional storms out there, but for the most part, it has been pretty smooth sailing. Hard work and sweat equity have yielded a thriving consulting company that is making a difference in the world. I am proud of that.
I’ve been called to be a Christian in the business world. I’ve found that when I really believe that and apply scripture to what I do every day, it changes everything.
For one thing, it takes away the fear that can be so much a part of beginning a new endeavor. Fear is a powerful hurdle, and I have discovered that it’s easy to let the voice that whispers in my ear convince me that I’m not up to the task. But believing I am called and led by a God who loves me, helps muffle the lie that says I shouldn’t be here in the first place.
Secondly, it has changed the way I see people both inside and outside my company. They are sent from God to be in my life for a reason. No relationship is trivial, and everyone matters. When conflict arises (as it inevitably will), the way we resolve it changes. I’ve learned how to resolve things while allowing people to keep their dignity – even if we both disagree. There are no nuclear options in these kind of relationships. The template of love works everywhere, so it is in business, too.
My relationship with and understanding of money has shifted too. In Matthew 6, Jesus says that we cannot serve both Him and money. That makes a lot of sense to me. He doesn’t want me to whip out my spreadsheets or do a feasibility study when He calls me. He wants me to obey—period— and leave the rest to Him. It is easy to say but difficult to live. I think that’s why He goes on to say He takes care of the lilies of the field. I’m reminded that He loves us a lot more than those same lilies. If all of that is true, then He is my source. Always. They don’t teach that in business school, but it has been one of my most profound learnings as a businessman and believer.
So, with these and other godly principles in mind, my partners and I have run our business for two decades with increasing success.
Sensing The Need To Pivot
Success brings its own issues that cannot — or at least should not — be ignored. For one thing, your calendar fills up quickly with meetings and duties. When we began this enterprise some two decades ago, we all hoped there would be a day when there was so much activity that we would have trouble keeping up with all of it. That’s a good sign of a thriving business, right?
To be honest, there were parts of the business that I was doing that I didn’t enjoy. I did them anyway. But as we grew, we began to have more options.
I began to rethink my priorities – not only with my company but in all areas of my life.
Things had changed for me. My young children were getting older. Like most kids, they had lots of activities and I found myself missing those events more often than I would have liked. I couldn’t ignore the conspiracy of events in my life that were bringing me to make some difficult choices about the way I allocated my time, energy and talents.
At first, it was a quiet whisper, a ‘smoldering discontent’ as my friends at the Halftime Institute call it. But eventually, I couldn’t ignore it. I was in halftime. And, I was in my early forties.
I had been in a high impact leadership role for years and we were doing well in many ways. The very idea of scaling back or changing things seemed daunting.
How would I explain what I was proposing, whatever that turned out to be? Whatever the outcome, I knew I had to figure it out.
A Shift For Greater Freedom and Purpose
In some ways, it’s probably easier to ignore the whisper and keep moving forward. But discovering what’s next requires that we step out in faith. We must be intentional about the search.
Like most people I had lots of questions. Where will this halftime journey take me? What will it mean for my family? For my business?
Thankfully, I enrolled in a Halftime program and began working closely with an insightful and engaging Halftime Certified™ coach, Jeff Spadafora, who guided me through the process.
Just knowing that there were others who were experiencing this phenomenon confirmed that I wasn’t crazy, instead this was a part of living an intentional life and paying attention and caring about what I should be doing in all aspects of my life.
During the course of that year, I made some firm decisions.
I decided to scale back. I committed to do (as much as possible) only those things that I loved and was truly passionate about. This came out of a process of self-discovery and then a coaching process that helped me turn those findings into an action plan.
For example, I came to know that at my core is a passion for winning. I am fiercely competitive. I like the chase. The short two-to-three-month cycle of strategizing and rallying the team to figure out how to win a new client gives me such joy and satisfaction. But, that process is kind of like a dog chasing a bus. What’s he going to do with it if he catches it? In the consulting business those wins turn into long term relationships with lots of details and work that, quite honestly, others are better at than me. I wanted to hand that part of my work off to people who loved it. And that took a bit of surrender, which wasn’t easy. I faced head-on the problem with my ego in making a decision like this. I had to get out of my own way and be humble enough to admit that I couldn’t do everything and that my ceding at least some of the spotlight to others was the best thing for everyone involved.
Once I identified what I wanted, I approached my Board of Directors and engaged them in next steps. They are amazing people, so I didn’t have to worry about their response. They understood completely, and I set about restructuring my work day and duties to have more time with my wife and kids. I even co-wrote a book around my passion for being a Christian in the business world – another endeavor at the heart of my passions.
Halftime for me was about preventing burnout. It was a mid-life renewal. It has given me the opportunity to be more present in the areas of my life I care most about.
It has required me to be more humble. To slow down and take stock.
But here’s what I’ve gained: I’m still able to lead and achieve, but I’m doing it selectively. I’m going to bed each night with more peace and joy, knowing that my talents are in play in the marketplace. But I’m also more present than I’ve ever been in the everyday aspects of our family – and that is just as important.
Matt Levy is a Halftime Alum. He is the co-founder and managing director of Credera, a management consulting, user experience, and technology solutions firm based in Dallas, Texas. He is also the co-author of “The Business of Faith: How to Lead Yourself, Unify Your Team, and Create a Remarkable Organization.”