Trey Campbell is a leading authority on utilizing biblically-based principles to help leaders and salespeople expand their influence.

What Does What You Collect Say About You?

Some people collect stamps. Others collect coins, artwork, porcelain dolls, and some even tattoos. Various collections range from the “normal” to the odd and macabre. What is it that makes us accumulators of… well, stuff?

If you name it, someone has surely assembled it in mass.

  • There’s Manfred Rothstein, a dermatologist from North Carolina. He has collected over 675 back scratchers from more than 71 different countries.
  • Dutch collector Niek Vermeulen has an odd obsession. He has over 6,300 “barf” bags from nearly 1,200 airlines and almost 20 countries.
  • Barbara Hartsfield has amassed over 3,000 miniature chairs. (She can’t sit on any of them…they are too little.)
  • There are over 11,000 “Do Not Disturb” hotel door signs in a collection owned by Jean-Francois Vernetti.
  • Of course, there’s Graham Barker, who has been collecting his own bellybutton lint since 1984. (Just so you know, he keeps it in jars).

So, why have I brought up the fact people collect things? I find it fascinating when I get a small, intimate glimpse of what people find intriguing. It’s part of who they are – no matter how unusual or peculiar it may be. Sometimes the more irregular is what makes them so special. And sometimes it also truly just makes them weird.

When I think about my personal collections, I can’t quite come up with something I physically collect. Rather, what I can come up with are two things I feel we all collect whether we know it or not: experiences and achievements.

Here are two questions to ask yourself:

What kind of experiences have you had that you would put in a photo album?

  • As I look back at the experiences I’m most proud of, they tend to be life moments that created the best memories. These include places I’ve traveled, hiking and camping in nature, and kayaking the rivers of Tennessee and beyond. It consists of times spent with family and friends laughing and loving life. It is skydiving, exploring the mountains of Colorado, and even becoming ordained so as to help others have wonderful experiences.
  • For me, these special experiences also involve my faith and times of worship. When I am able to combine several of my passions at one time, I am in the zone. Examples include travels, missions, and meeting new cultures. Or I might hike, camp, and have deep conversations about God with my friends around a fire. I also love to spend time with the college students at Southwestern Advantage and set up service projects for them that lead to teaching moments. Experiences can be bucket list items, but they can be personal as well.

This leads me to achievements:

What kind of achievements are badge worthy?

  • Think of these achievements like a Boy Scout or Girl Scout merit badge on your sash of life. Achievements are accomplishments that are notable or worthy of recognition. They warrant more than a participation trophy. These are triumphs that are feats of meaning and completion.
  • Professional achievements I’m proud of in my life include becoming Accredited in Public Relations, becoming an approved mediator and arbitrator, and being recognized with a lifetime achievement award in PR.
  • A few personal achievements are setting up eight service projects and four mission trips in five countries, and, of course, publishing two books. Not to mention being an awesome dad, husband, friend, and mentor.
  • My faith is the most important thing to me as a Spirit-filled leader. Some achievements I hang my hat on are baptizing my daughters and two college students with Southwestern Advantage, leading a Life Group that has become a second family, and this blog. Being known as a leader in a spiritual sense is much more important to me than the other things I spoke of previously. Spiritual badges would be at the top of my sash.

I’m all for collections, from cars to comic books. But what would happen if the effort, time, money, and other resources put into collecting items were put toward greater experiences and achievements? What kind of lives would we all lead? What kind of legacies would we leave? What stories would we have to tell?

(And, oh! I did think of something I collect! Each time I attend a conference or meeting that gives me a badge, I place it on the wall of my office. I guess I am kind of odd after all.)

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