Perfection is a word that I used to aspire to. Growing up my dad was a perfectionist, and I wanted to be just like him.
I also saw him be hard on himself for not being perfect.
I thought perfection was…well, perfect. Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be?
It was my wife that opened my eyes to the negative aspect of perfection. She pointed out that perfection was impossible to attain. Afterall, God was the only one who was perfect. Excellence is a much better goal.
Striving for perfection can lead to a lot of issues. These include the feeling of falling short of the goal. This often leads to depression. The notion that we aren’t good enough is encouraged when we see other people who “seem to have a perfect life” on social media.
Too often, we feel that we don’t have what it takes to succeed.
As we start our journey through the Old Testament this year, we read through the first sixteen chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 16:1-6, we read about Abram’s wife Sarai taking matters into her own hands when she felt imperfect.
She had not been able to have any children up to this point, and not having a male child to carry on the family linage was a big deal.
As we humans too often do, she decided to take control of the situation herself.
Sarai told her husband to sleep with Hagar, her slave, so that “if she has a child, it will be mine”. After Hagar realized she was pregnant, she began to treat Sarai hatefully.
Then, Sarai blamed the situation on Abram. So, Abram told Sarai, “All right! She’s your slave, do whatever you want with her.” In turn, Sarai began treating Hagar so harshly that Hagar ran away.
Well, that plan didn’t go so well.
Looking forward to next week’s reading we learn that even though Sarai and Abram are beyond the normal age to have children, God gives them an heir, Isaac.
With God’s promise to Abram, He tells him that He will be the father of many nations and changes his name to Abraham which means “the father of many”. God also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah which means “princess of many”.
Too Often Once the Goals Are Planned…We Forget the Achieving Part
This is like having plans to build a building and once you get the blueprint drawn…you stop. You have a picture you can hang on the wall, but the building never gets built.
Having a plan before you start is good, but it’s not enough. If you don’t dig some dirt and drive some nails, nothing is accomplished.
Accomplishing anything requires action and action requires decisions.
This book gives us Seven Decisions shared with David Ponder while on his travels bout how we should live our lives. I review and contemplate these decisions daily.
We’re nearing the end of another year. The closer we get, the more we beat ourselves up because of the things we didn’t get done. It’s easy to get caught up in the things that we didn’t accomplish and overlook the things that we did. We all have visions of what our dream life will look like. This can be frustrating and depressing when things don’t turn out like we planned.
We need to remember that we can’t change the past, only the future. The key is to not give up.
Giving up is like dying while you’re still alive. Don’t give up!
Last week I wrote about how we can use urgency to accomplish more. Urgent things become a higher priority. This moves them up higher on the list. As an example of how this works, let me tell you a story that happened just this morning.
As Katie (my awesome assistant) and I were working on some website things, I realized that I couldn’t log in to the Solution Building site because I had waited too long in setting up my two-factor authentication. This is something that Stacey (my amazing IT person) told me to do a month ago.
This meant that I wasn’t going to be able to publish this week’s solution until I got this taken care of.
As it is with busy people…I kept putting it off to do other things. The level of urgency ramped up though when I couldn’t get into the website. I had to decide what I was going to do. At that point, it became the highest priority.
We all deal with these kinds of choices. The key to accomplishing more is to decide early on what is important and what isn’t. No matter how clear we are on our life and business plans, things are going to happen. Some are within our control, and some aren’t.
The more answers we have to big life question, the easier the smaller questions are to deal with.
Ultimately achieving goals comes down to decisions and deciding is up to us.
As I think about life and decisions, once again, I’m brought back to Andy Andrew’s book, The Traveler’s Gift. I know, I refer to this book a lot. As I was thinking about goals and decisions, I was reminded about the profound impact this book had on my life as I recovered from my concussion.
The Responsible Decision
I accept responsibility for my past. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. I am responsible for my success.
“THE BUCK STOPS HERE.”
“If decisions are choices…and our thinking dictates our decisions – then we are where we are because of our thinking.”
President Harry S. Truman
The Guided Decision
I will be a servant to others. I will listen to the council of wise men. I will choose my friends with care.
“I WILL SEEK WISDOM.”
“God moves mountains to create the opportunity of His choosing. It is up to you to be ready to move yourself.”
The Active Decision
I am courageous. I am a leader. I seize this moment. I choose now.
“I AM A PERSON OF ACTION.”
“My future is immediate. I will grasp it with both hands and carry it with running feet. When I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, I will always choose to act!”
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
The Certain Decision
I will not wait. I am passionate about my vision for the future. My course has been charted. My destiny is assured.
“I HAVE A DECIDED HEART.”
“Truth is truth. If a thousand people believe something foolish, it is still foolish! Truth is never dependent upon consensus of opinion. I have found that is better to be alone and acting upon the truth in my heart than to follow a gaggle of silly geese doomed to mediocrity.”
The Joyful Decision
I will greet each day with laughter. I will smile at every person I meet. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit.
“TODAY I WILL CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY.”
“Our very lives are fashioned by our choices. First we make choices. Then our choices make us.”
The Compassionate Decision
I will forgive even those who do not ask for forgiveness. I will forgive those who criticize me unjustly. I will forgive myself.
“I WILL GREET THIS DAY WITH A FORGIVING SPIRIT.”
“Forgiveness is a secret that is hidden in plain sight. It costs nothing and is worth millions. It is available to everyone and used by few. If you harness the power of forgiveness, you will be sought after and regarded highly. And not coincidentally, you will also be forgiven by others!”
The Persistent Decision
I will continue despite exhaustion. I focus on results. I am a person of great faith.
“I WILL PERSIT WITHOUT EXCEPTION.”
“Great leaders – great achievers – are rarely realistic by other people’s standards. Somehow, these successful people, often considered strange, pick their way through life ignoring or not hearing negative expectations and emotions. Consequently, they accomplish one great thing after another, never having heard that something cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing!”
Achieving our goals comes down to decisions.
Starting by deciding what our priorities are.
Deciding to be responsible. Deciding to be wise. Deciding to take action. Deciding to believe in ourselves. Deciding to be happy. Deciding to forgive. Deciding to persist.
You Never Know How Big the Hole Will be Until You Start Digging
Have you ever had a vision for something that you weren’t sure what needed to be done or how to do it? If you’re not careful planning and analyzing can lead to overthinking and overthinking is just another word for procrastination.
Overthinking has kept me from accomplishing things too many times.
My assistant Cathleen had a vision for creating a safe place in the small back yard for her young daughter to play. This vision included a trampoline and swing set. The problem was two clothesline poles in the way. Compounding the problem…they were set in concrete.
She started digging around the first one. She had no way of knowing how much concrete was around the pipe or how deep in the ground it went. After a few days of digging and more concrete than expected, the hole was getting pretty big.
She did not let overthinking stop her from moving forward with her vision.
Some people would say that in her youth and lack of experience she bit off more than she could chew. She could have done more research and procrastinated over this for a while. She could have saved up some money and hired a professional. She did neither…she started digging.
The importance of getting this play area ready for Luna was the determination she needed to push toward the vision. After digging for a while, she could have quit, but she didn’t. She had an objective, she knew what it was, and nothing was going to stop her.
Determination and action kept her moving forward.
There was a point in the process where it was evident that she wasn’t physically going to get the pipe and concrete out of the hole. After some re-evaluation and research, it was decided to cut the pipes off. She needed some help with this, and I happened to have a cutting torch. After this was done the dirt was put back in the hole burying the concrete and a trampoline was set up.
Cathleen’s project is no different than any other endeavor we face. It may turn out to be bigger and more time consuming than expected. There may be unanticipated circumstances that raise questions and create doubt. We may need to incorporate some help to achieve our goal.
Moving forward and not overthinking is critical to getting things done.
By nature, I’m a thinker and planner. Too often I procrastinate by overthinking everything. This is compounded by a long list of things to think about and plan for. There are so many people to help and things that need done. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when standing in the shadow of a huge mountain that needs moved.
What makes the mountain ominous is trying to figure out every detail that we’re going to encounter before we start. Are we going to run into rock, how much, what will we do with it when we do…and on and on? Thinking keeps us from moving anything and the mountain just stands there.
When Cathleen saw her vision of Luna’s place to play, she started digging. She didn’t let the size of the mountain stop her. We need to take a lesson from Cathleen.
This isn’t to say that planning isn’t important, because it is. If we don’t have a plan the vision gets stuck as a dream. Like building any construction project, you need to have a plan, but nothing gets built until we move some dirt.
If you’re going to achieve your goals and accomplish your vision, you need to do some shoveling today.
The Focus Needs to Be on the Accomplishment, Not the Setting
We all have visions of what our dream life will look like and it can be frustrating and depressing when things don’t turnout like we planned.
In my last post I referred to Hallmark movies and how people tend to like them or not. The more I’ve thought about this the more it seems that those who like them are generally positive and those who don’t…not so much. (Keep in mind that I have done no scientific study about this.)
As I look back over this past year and my goals that were not accomplished, it’s disappointing. Sure, some goals were, but many weren’t. I find myself beginning to get negative. If I’m not careful I start believing that I can’t really do those things anyway, who am I kidding. It’s just some unrealistic fairytale dream, like a Hallmark movie.
Giving up is like dying while you’re still alive. Don’t give up!
So, it’s a new year full of new opportunities and possibilities. I don’t know about you, but I’m setting some new big amazing goals for 2020. What, you might ask, is going to make this year different than the rest? The others are in the past and can’t be changed. This new year is a clean page to write whatever I want on.
I have to be careful when putting my dreams on a new page. There are so many they begin to overlap and run off the edge. There are so many big wonderful things to do, it’s easy to continually dream more and bigger. What’s hard is clarity and focus. This year we’re going to clarify our mission and narrow our focus. One tool we’re using for this is Donald Miller’s, Business Made Simple.
A goal without clarity of mission is like a small boat without a rudder.
There are tons of goal setting systems and programs out there, I know because I’ve used many of them. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of them. Many of them I’m still using. What I am saying is that I need to clarify my mission. I’m tired of ending up wherever the current takes me. Goal setting is an important part of accomplishment, but the mission needs to come first.
I can set goals all day long, but if I’m not clear about the mission, I may be setting the wrong ones.
If I hope to accomplish that which I have been put here for I need to start with clarifying my mission first and set my goals accordingly.
If all goes well, we hope to have the new Solution Building web site operational later this week.
On the other hand, Amazing Things Can Be Accomplished by Over Promising
This is not to say that we should make promises and not keep them. Keeping a promise is important and speaks to who we are as individuals. We’ve become lazy in our use of words and the English language in general. We throw words and clichés around without considering what we’re saying.
“Under promise, and over deliver” is one of those truisms that at face value sounds like a good way to treat customers. It looks great on a business card.
What are we really saying if our goal is to “under promise”?
He says, “…this false wisdom encourages mediocrity. It grants permission to make small, flaccid commitments and then gleefully celebrate delivering them. The very nature of the argument suggests holding back on achievements that can actually be attained. Simply put…
Under-promising is a promise to play small.”
Most businesses don’t want to play small. There are so many great things that we want to accomplish and so little time to do it. This is why we over promise.
It’s been said, if you want to get something done you should ask a busy person to do it. On the surface this appears counterintuitive. It would seem the person with spare time would be more likely to do something than the busy person. In reality it isn’t in the time available, rather it’s in the person’s level of drive. Busy people are doers.
The more we want to do the more we get done.
I’ve come to realize that the tighter my schedule is packed, the more I get done. It’s frustrating to have things left on my list at the end of the day, however when I step back and look at the bigger picture, I can see the benefits of “over promising”.
What we need to do is to rethink the terminology. To come up with different words that better serve our purpose. To be our most productive selves we need to push ourselves beyond our existing boundaries without lying to others or ourselves.
We need to keep our promises.
This is where things get difficult. How can we grow and do more, if we don’t push against the walls and move them out?
“I don’t think we have any choice. I think we have an obligation to change the rules, to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible.”
Be careful to be true and honest, keep your promises to yourself and others as you continue to raise the bar of expectation.
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