Will the seeds you plant today bear fruit?

“If we could unfold the future, the present would be our greatest care.”

Edward Counsel

It is intriguing to consider that we are all outcomes of decisions that our grandparents and great-grandparents made decades ago. Who we are, and more importantly, the lives of the people we will influence were shaped by others’ decisions.

Similarly, the decisions we make today will shape and influence the lives of the children and grandchildren we may not even have yet.

Every decision we make has an impact and consequences for both ourselves and those we love and influence.

Therefore today is the garden we are planting for tomorrow. Tend to it carefully. Be careful to plant vines that will bear fruit and not thorns.

landscape photography of green leafed trees
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

The first step is done in faith…

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes it is best not to see the whole staircase that lies in front of us. The number of stairs or the steepness of the climb might intimidate us into not starting at all.  

The most powerful thing we will ever do is seize the opportunity to take that first step in faith, trusting that it is taking the action that truly matters.  

What important decision lies before you? Have faith, take the step, trust your choice.

To become bold, you must make the bold choices…

“When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.”

W.J. Slim

What is the downside of bolder action? If the choices are genuinely even, then the risk/reward for each should be the same. However, this question’s very nature highlights that a “bolder” decision carries an additional risk or the potential for failure.  

Below is a picture of the many definitions of “bolder” from www.dictionary.com. Many of these definitions resonate and apply within the context of the quote, but perhaps a different question to ask yourself when you can’t make up your mind is, “Which of these choices will inspire my soul to put in the extra work and minimize any risks? Which of these choices will have more meaning to me in five years?” 

Perhaps an even better question is, “Which definition of bold do I want to leverage to define who I am as a person?” 

Courtesy of Dictionary.com

Boldly free…

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

Robert Frost

It is amazing how much energy can be wasted on time spent worrying and doubting. It is equally amazing how clarifying and liberating it can be when a decision has been made and action is taken.

So, when in doubt make the decision. Take decisive action. Do the thing you know needs to be done. True freedom only follows action and boldness. If you make the wrong decision, you can always make another one.

You just might find that true freedom is simply the ability to make a choice.

Learning to grow…

“Making a wrong decision is understandable. Refusing to search continually for learning is not.”

Phil Crosby

Are you more interested in being right, or doing what is right? One of these carries with it the ability to learn and grow, the other is all about self.

We will all make wrong decisions, the key is how you learn on the other side of the decision. Is it learning based on humility and growth or is it learning with a bent towards self and self-righteousness? I would argue that if you aren’t willing to be wrong, you can’t grow and you most certainly can’t learn…

Quietly bold…

“Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.”

Mike Yaconelli

It is interesting to me that so many associate the description of someone with “boldness” with the negative terms described above. I might argue that doing any of the things listed early in the quote changes the label to “arrogant, egotistical or narcissistic.”

If you are bold, it is because you believe in something yet unseen and have the willingness, the passion, the desire, to take the risks to bring that vision to life.

Where have you been bold in your life? Where do you wish that you had been? What does “quiet boldness” look like for you?

Decide!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Amelia Earhart

There is great freedom that comes when you make a tough decision.  It is like the clouds part and you can see the blue sky and the sunshine after weeks of rain and fog.  Just making that decision can feel like a tremendous weight is lifted from your shoulders. 

So make a decision!  If it is the wrong one then you can make another one but don’t wait.  Waiting for perfect information, perfect timing or perfect insight means that nothing ever gets done.  

I am reminded of this verse from James that has been a guide to me in my decision making many times in life.  “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

Good decisions start with good questions…


“Leadership isn’t making all the decisions. It is making sure the right decisions are made.”

Andy Stanley

Sometimes the best decision a leader makes is to ask the right questions.  When this is done effectively it puts the leadership focus on making the right decision, not on the decision maker themself.

I will fully admit that this is much easier said than done.  Knowing when to ask the right questions and when to be the decision maker is a delicate balance that comes through experience and trial and error.  But when it is done correctly it creates leadership growth both in the decision makers and those that they lead.   

Invest your effort into asking the questions that drive towards making the right decisions.  It creates a double win.  The right decisions are made, and so are more leaders…

Do not be afraid…

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Rosa Parks

The minute that you let the fear of being wrong, of failing, or of making a mistake paralyze you you have already lost.  You will make bad decisions when you are trying not to lose or if your decisions come from a place of fear and doubt.

Taking action is what allows you to break free from fear.  You don’t have time to focus on being afraid if you are making decisions and implementing those actions.  So what if you make the wrong decision?  What if it gets worse?  That’s okay, if you have a bias towards making decisions and taking action you can make another decision, you can learn and get better.

Did you know that “Do not be afraid” or “do not fear” is written in the Bible 365 times?  One of my favorite verses (any many others folks I am sure) is Psalms 23:4. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Make up your mind to make up your mind.  Decide to address whatever it is that makes you fearful and take action.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

Start. Stop. Continue.

“The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”

Oswald Chambers

This might be the biggest challenge a leader faces. For that matter it might be the biggest challenge any person faces.  Saying “yes” to something means that you are saying “no” to something else.  

Do you have a crystal clear understanding of your priorities?  I’d like to think that I do, but honestly I struggle at times to say “no.” There is always more than can be done than should be done. For me it helps to break the question into two parts.  

  1. Should I do this?  Does it align with my priorities and goals?
  2. If yes, then can I do it?  If I say yes will I be able to complete it at an acceptable level without impacting my previous commitments?  

Sounds easy right.  If only that were the case.  

Less is more…

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Herbert Simon

This is our society today isn’t it?  There is so much information available that we can only consume it in 140 character soundbites.  Or so much information available that we never want to make a decision because we can always find “just a bit more information” to ensure our decision is the right one.  What if we had less information, but more focus?  Is the old adage that “less is more” more appropriate now than ever before?  

I have been spending a ton of time lately reading everything I can get my hands on regarding focus and intentionality. I am actively seeking out secret tips and special tactics to be more productive with my time. I found myself reflecting back to the “good old days” when there wasn’t a constant barrage of information coming at us 24/7.  But then I picked up my copy of “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker (a gift from a very wise friend) and challenges back then were the same challenges we face today.  (By the way, that book was written 50 years ago)  How do you make the best and biggest impact with the time that you have?  As much as we’d (me especially) like to make it a modern problem, it isn’t.  I’d say it’s a human problem.  Why do you think that is?

One step forward…

“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

Abraham Maslow

Growth is uncomfortable if you are stretching yourself.  It’s fun right?!  It’s exciting and it’s scary.  But in a good scary kind of way.  The kind of scary that makes your heart beat fast and your palms sweat.  Like the first day you drove a car by yourself.  Or the first time you had the courage to pick up the phone and call your crush and ask her out.  But what if we never did?  What if we were always safe? Safety scares me more than growth.  Because “safe” means stagnant, or complacent or perhaps death. I mean, what if we still thought the world was flat?  That would have been the “safe” choice back in the day…

What do you think?

 

Our choices define us…

“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.”

Omar Bradley

I loved this quote this morning.  It puts a very fine point on the importance of daily choices, of making decisions that matter to you, your life, your goals, your priorities.  We are all going to die.  Yes, that is harsh to think about, but it is the truth.  We all have one life to live.  One life to make a difference and have an impact on this world and the lives of others.  I have long believed that there are two types of people in this world.  Those that happen to the world and those that the world happens to…

This quote resonates for me because it speaks to how much we as humans lets our circumstances define us, to define our decisions on action, as opposed to taking an active step in the outcome we want to create.  I’ve recently read and put into practice a phenomenal book by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy on this topic.  The books title is “Living Forward” and if you haven’t read it then I highly recommend it.  The life we live is either accidental or intentional, either way it is your choice…

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