Success in 3D(s)

A determined person gets far in life. Implied in determination is a goal, for why would we be determined if we have no objective? Determined people set out to do something. They’ll always get farther in life than the undecided or ambivalent. Implied is resolve. Implied is single-mindedness. Implied is the application of energy and movement. Implied is drive. Drive and determination go hand-in-hand.

Diligent people set their minds to do something and sustain their determination indefinitely without lag or loss. They keep fires burning. They’re like short order cooks. They don’t squander time. They make the most of it. In fact, they race against it. They don’t watch time from the grandstands like a parade as it goes by. Diligent people plan ahead. They’re prepared. Their brows drip from sweat, but they keep going. It’s a great feeling to see progress.

The disciplined are singularly focused. They’re unswayed by sideshows. You’ll not find them on rabbit trails or gazing into the sky. They’re all business. They don’t engage in small talk. They’re intense. They hate beating the air. Discipline is the engine of determination and diligence.

The detractors would say to all of this activity that you’ve got to stop to smell the roses sometimes. There are generations that can only pull this off for a few years before they must tour Europe. But the determined, diligent, disciplined person says instead that you can’t rest on your laurels. There’s another mountain to climb.

Read these words from the most determined, diligent, disciplined person I know. An apostle named Paul.

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Just a few words of warning on the application of another set of “D’s,” dedication and devotion. It’s dangerous to apply oneself wholeheartedly as described above for an organization or a boss. The favor may not be returned. All your work may turn out for naught. Always be aware that you are expendable. This may put you in a position to have to reposition yourself with another company or enterprise for which these industrious traits will be appreciated and remunerated! A good example is Jonathan. His father King Saul wanted David dead, leaving him a choice between loyalty to the king or God’s anointed. He chose the latter.

Here’s the key. Paul says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” In this way, you’ll not regret leaving it all on the field.

 

Stuck in the Gate

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

This verse, of course, refers to serious matters where righteousness hangs in the balance. But there’s a worthwhile principle in here. Once you know the right thing to do in a particular situation, to not do it is foolish.

Wisdom is applied knowledge. The flip side, therefore, needs consideration. To not apply knowledge is to be a fool. There’s a saying about leading horses to water. Have you gotten excellent advice and not employed it?

Surely procrastination could be categorized in the Christian life as sin, especially if God has directed you to the right road, and you hesitate to traverse it.

There’s another saying about it being easier to steer a moving ship. Is it that you haven’t begun to move that’s making it so hard? Ponder the concept of inertia.

Inertia, property of a body by virtue of which it opposes any agency that attempts to put it in motion or, if it is moving, to change the magnitude or direction of its velocity. Inertia is a passive property and does not enable a body to do anything except oppose such active agents as forces and torques. A moving body keeps moving not because of its inertia but only because of the absence of a force to slow it down, change its course, or speed it up. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

It’s demoralizing to stay at rest too long wallowing in self-pity. It’s discouraging to be stuck behind your intimidating fears and what-ifs. It’s high time to put the body in motion, or perhaps to burn an engine to gain more velocity.

It’s fascinating to watch the jockey guide his racehorse to the starting gates. A slow but steady walk. But once in the stall, it’s only a matter of seconds before a bell rings and they’re off!

Are you still stuck in the gate?

Author’s Note: In your career search, the right things to do are first to self-assess, then to strategically plan, then to select and seek out networking partners, then to generate sales tools (business cards, 30-second elevator speech, resume, Linkedin page), then to set narrow goals and go after them. In the meantime, you research the marketplace and your intended targets and read up on the trickiest interview questions. All this is done, as my old boss used to say, not in sequence, but in parallel. There, now you know the right thing to do and the onus in on you! I say this lovingly and empathetically, but somebody needs to light the fire under you!

Three C’s

The inspiration for this post comes from the biblical character Daniel. No, we’re not going to talk about him in the lion’s den, but the characteristics Daniel exhibited administrating and leading under four kings. This is a remarkable feat by itself. Basically the whole time Judah was in captivity in Babylon, Daniel was behind the scenes. While an incredible tenure, Daniel exhibited the same godliness and integrity throughout that time, unmoved by all his trials and tribulations.

It makes one happy to stay consistent at something, maybe at a job for 20 years, or staying fit, for example. Godly living over 70 years with no blemishes on the permanent record is noteworthy. What in your life or in your vocation can you be more consistent? Such a change requires starting somewhere, so don’t quit something before you start mainly because you’ll have to do it for a long time for it to matter! There’s a saying about a journey of a thousand miles. It starts with one step.

I was also struck recently of something new in the familiar story of Daniel cutting a deal with the overseer under Alphanaz to  not eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine. You’d say that a man so consistent would not be prone to compromise. But lest we forget, Daniel was first and foremost a politician–in a good sense. From his earliest years, he struck compromises that allowed him to stay true to his Lord, and still keep his head–until it was all about him praying to his God. What struck me is that the vegetables he ordered up were still prepared by the king! And the water, who can complain about just wanting water? So the plan was uncanny and it worked. The lesson: Are you sticking to your guns about something that might be holding you back? Have you thought creatively about the issue? Have you prayed for wisdom? You may have created an unnecessary logjam in your career. So try to find a suitable compromise.

Finally, everything that Daniel did from the very beginning required courage. Our crude society calls this trait any number of things, but like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, most of us lack courage to make the BIG DECISION, whether to own up or to step out on your own or to stand up for yourself. Whatever it might be, what would you do if you just had the courage to do it? Well, what are you waiting for!

 

Blow Your Own Horn

Those forced out onto the street may be forced for the first time to become their own publicist. It’s do or die time now. You don’t work, you don’t eat!

While you might not like to blow your own horn, you’d better get those chops in shape. No matter how many hot shots you may know, no matter how many achievements you’ve racked up, you’ll still need to sell yourself.

I love how the Apostle Paul makes his own case in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. So worried that he’d sound full of himself, his preamble was loaded with disclaimers. He announced that what he was going would sound insane (11:23). But he spoke within his sphere (10:13), and within the measure of this sphere, he was a rock star. Not in his eyes, but in those to whom he ministered.

The takeaway is that he was a humble guy, aware of his shortcomings, like his contemptible unskilled speech (10:10), and perhaps his stature, yet he was super-confident. In his case, the power of God was behind everything he did, and his confidence was in Him. As such, he was able to take on the detractors, the naysayers, and the hungry wolves at his door (11:32).

When finally in front of a potential employer, it’s time, within your sphere, to make your impassioned plea. Your particular set of skills are worth a lot to somebody, but more so is your unbridled passion.

In Paul, this was clearly demonstrated in his many trials and tribulations. Don’t lose sight that despite the 195 gashes in his back, he was bound and determined to share the gospel to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the world, where no one dared to go. And he did, because he was worried sick about their welfare! (11:28)

Transmit your passion with what you’ve done, despite the obstacles and challenges, and you’ll impress!

Cast Your Bread

1      Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
2      Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.
3      If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.
4      He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.
5      Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.
6      Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Cast your bread—market yourself.

You will find it after many days.

Divide your portion—on a number of fronts.

You’ll avoid misfortune.

Clouds are full, they pour out rain.

Be realistic. “It is what it is,” as they say.

You’ll avoid rabbit trails or chasing windmills.

Tree falls, there it lies—accept results and move on.

You can’t grieve. You must keep going.

You do not know—what God is up to.

Watches the wind…looks at the clouds.

Don’t just stand there. Have a bias for action.

God who makes all things.

Openings, interviews, champions, offers, etc.

Sow your seed—full time.

Morning and evening—until you’ve earned the right to take the night off!

Do not be idle.

You can’t be if you want to succeed.