Why doesn't all the hard work / discipline / auditioning / practice / religious ritual pay off?
It's a question I've been asked countless times over the last 15 years of leadership.
Joseph, I've been at "this" for years and I don't feel like I'm where I should be...I don't even know where "should" even is!
I completely understand this dilemma. For so many seasons of my life, I've burned the midnight oil trying to make progress.
I want my spiritual life to deepen
I want my financial situation to improve
I want to have a sense purpose in my work
I want my marriage to be in a different place
You get it.
You've been there.
You might be there now.
In recent years, I've unlocked a simple principle that radically reduces this frustration (I didn't make it up, it's a timeless idea).
In fact, when it came time to hang out my own shingle after stepping down from leading a church, I didn't have to think about what to call it. I named my new work after the powerful principle:
Aim, Ready, Fire
It's an obvious play on a common phrase.
But it's also a significant adjustment to a common handicap we create for ourselves.
So often in my adult life, I've filled my time with activity.
I studied and did OK in college.
I practiced guitar like my life depended on it.
I took every possible gig / job to pay the bills and feed my family.
I prayed, read Scripture, gave, and attended church religiously.
These aren't destructive or unproductive paths, but I never silenced that nagging voice asking, "But is it...enough?"
Until I recognized that "enough" is unhelpful unless it's in relation to something--some vision, objective, expectation, or goal.
"Enough" is unhelpful unless it's in relation to some vision, objective, expectation, or goal.
You see, most people I encounter (including yours truly) spend our lives operating under the assumption that if we work hard, study, prepare, habituate, we will get to where we're meant to be. We'll be satisfied. We'll finally "arrive".
But I would submit that we squander so much time because we've not done the deep work of aiming.
Not to the degree we need to.
I know this seems intuitive, but it's rare for me to come across someone with a crystal clear, white hot vision of what could be.
Like, less than 1%.
It's rare for me to come across someone with a crystal clear, white hot vision of what could be.
But if you and I would routinely (because visions can change!) revisit where we're intending to end up and why we want to be there, we can organize our efforts to greatly increase our odds and satisfaction.
So, here's the simple cheat-sheet for living a life you believe in and love:
Aim: Determine where you're going and why in a way that's so clear you'll know beyond the shadow of a doubt when you've gotten there.
Ready: Engage the practices, risks, experiments, people, habits needed to experience #1.
Fire: #2 creates your opportunities. Then, when the time(s) are right, leap before you have 100% confidence (you never will)
All 3 of these points can be double-clicked and explored. Maybe I will in the future.
But for now, I hope this helps recalibrate in a way that might change your entire life.