You Can Get Connected By Dr Henry Cloud / Dr John Townsend

Article, Christian Living by Dr Henry Cloud / Dr John Townsend
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. ~Michael. Jordan

Kevin, a friend of mine (John), is enormously successful in the construction industry. He is at the top of his field, well respected, and earns a great deal of money. At the same time, he is a person of great spiritual depth and commitment who gives generously to many causes.

From time to time, however, Kevin takes heat from people in his industry who don`t know him personally. A few people, mainly competitors, sometimes tell others that he is not a team player and does things too much on his own. I asked him about this one day.

€œDo you attribute your success to being the loner, I asked, €œpicking yourself up by your bootstraps, and all that?

He thought for a moment. €œMost of the time, I find that the perception that I`m a loner comes from people who don`t know me well. I can certainly be hardheaded, and I am pretty opinionated about my work, to a fault. Maybe that`s where the reputation comes from. But whatever success I have does not come from being a loner; it comes from the opposite.

€œWhat do you mean?

€œWell. I have constructed my life around being with people in all sorts of ways that help me succeed. I am in a personal spiritual-growth group, where I am accepted, supported, and pushed to be a better person. I have a few professional colleagues from whom I get industry perspective. I have a great administrative and support team that fills in all the gaps in my own abilities. They are behind the scenes, but they make me look good. I have a mentor who guides me in the big picture issues of my direction and path. My wife is my confidante, and she has made more suggestions than I can count, which have helped my professional growth immensely.

Kevin ended with a rhetorical question: €œSo I guess that`s how lone rangers operate?

Kevin gives us a key to how every truly successful person functions and thrives. They do not do it in a vacuum. They do not pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Although they are highly independent and do have their own values and opinions, they are still closely connected to the outside world, where one finds the resources for success.

If you choose to be a loner or insist on being independent of others, remaining in isolation and self-sufficiency, your failure to achieve your dreams and goals can be charged to no one but you. It will be your own fault.

The Ecosystem of Success

If you want to get ahead of the pack and achieve relational and career success, you need to understand that success operates much like an ecosystem. Ecosystem is a term from biology that describes a community of interacting organisms and their environment. A simple example of an ecosystem is a jungle. In the jungle, the sun provides energy to sustain plants, which feed herbivorous animals, which in turn feed carnivorous animals, and all the animals help fertilize the plants. Each component interacts with the other components in some way. The jungle is not a single thing; it is a system, and it only works successfully because it is a system.

Successful people understand that we are designed to function in a similar way. We operate at our peak levels when we work and network within our own ecosystem. God has created resources within our environment that we must interact with and receive from, or we will ultimately fail. Those who achieve their hearts` desires rely on their ecosystems and get connected to the resources they need.

The self-made man (or woman) is actually an absurdity. He may think he is self-made, but if you look below the surface you will always find that he owes a great deal of credit to other resources in his life that he may not be aware of.

Some people resist the idea that they are dependent on connections with others. They don`t want to appear weak, needy, or incomplete. They equate dependence on others with childishness, and it clashes with their view of what an adult should be. Or they may be concerned that connectedness puts them at the mercy of unscrupulous people who might set them back. Some people are simply too prideful to stoop to dependence. Or some idealize the fictional heroes of our culture such as Tom Cruise`s Mission: Impossible and Bruce Willis`s Die Hard characters.

Our need for connectedness is, at heart, a spiritual issue and a spiritual reality. God designed us to do better in life when we are connected to the right people and the right things. We simply don`t get ahead when we are disconnected from those people and those things. When you look at the grand design of Creation, you see that from the start God meant us to interact, reach out, and be connected in all sorts of ways. Here are his first instructions to Adam and Eve in the beginning of time:

God blessed them and told them. €œMultiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals. And God said. €œLook! I have given you the seed€”bearing plants in throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food. And so it was. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way. (Genesis 1:28€”31 NLT)

The first human couple had God, one another, and a world of resources that they were in charge of. That world was given for their benefit and nourishment, and in turn, they were charged to take good care of it. It was never the plan for us to reach deep inside ourselves, find the strength we need, and willpower our way to happiness and success. The sources of life have always been outside us, not inside.

Recently I had a far-reaching business decision to make. It involved my sense of my own mission in life, my focus, my direction, and what it would take to get me where I wanted to go. It was also a highly complex matter, and whichever choice I made would change things for me in a pretty radical way. So I really wanted to take the right path. To go the wrong direction would be costly€”professionally, financially; and personally.

I thought long and hard. Actually, in my heart, I really wanted God to make this decision for me. I was looking for a sign, a miracle, a voice in the night, a burning bush€”it didn`t matter as long as it was clearly a signal from God. The reality was that I didn`t want to take ownership of the consequences of my decision. I didn`t like the idea of the wrong choice being my fault. I wanted to blame God, not myself, if anything went wrong. I wanted him to do both his job and mine in determining my direction.

One day during this period I was reading my Bible and asking him to show me what to do. €œI`ll do whatever you say, I said, €œjust make it clear to me. And I was really sincere. The scripture passage in my devotional plan for that day was in the book of wisdom, Proverbs. I thought, A wisdom passage. This is cool. I`ll read the wise solution here and get moving. So I read, €œLeave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment (Proverbs 9:6 NI.T).

I couldn`t believe it. I reread the passage. It said the same thing. I really didn`t like what I was seeing. I didn`t think God would just kick the decision back to me and hang me out to dry. Still, the passage seemed to he saving some thing like that, and it certainly wasn`t what I wanted to hear. But as I thought on it more, I began to realize what I was reading.

I was to leave my simple wars behind: I had been thinking in a very simplistic manner that God would tell me what to do directly. And he does that sometimes. But not all the time. This time, I was not to demand that the answer come to me the easy way€”directly from God. I was begin to live: In the Bible life always involves connectedness to relationship. When we are disconnected from God and others, we are separated from life and from what is most important. I was truly connecting to him, but I wasn`t connecting to people, which is a big part of the spiritual life. I was to learn to use good judgment: I didn`t want to do any evaluation or analysis of the matter. It was too complicated and overwhelming, with too many variables. I just wanted words of fire written on the wall telling me exactly what to do.

As far as I could tell, the message for me was this: I was to quit asking for God to make my decision for me, and instead use the resources he had already put in my environment to discover the answer. So that day I spent an hour or two thinking, analyzing, and calling a couple of my close friends, who spent a lot of time unpacking the complexities of the issue with me. Soon a pattern and a path began emerging from all the chaos in my mind. Using all I had gleaned from praying, getting advice, and using my best judgment, I closed in on what, as far as I could tell, was the right way to go. All the sources seemed to correspond with each other, and they felt consistent to me. So I chose my path, and it ended up being the right decision.

The real breakthroughs happened when I went over the issues with my friends and interacted with their perspectives. Things started moving when I entered the ecosystem.

All this is to say that success comes when we submit to the way God designed things and take advantage of the ecosystem we`re in. When we do that, we are moving with the river current of reality; not paddling desperately against it. What I learned is this: you will succeed in your dreams to the extent that you connect to the eternal world. Connection is that critical.

Find the Fuel

Connections are the gasoline providing the drive and energy you need to reach your destination, whether it is solving a relational problem, finding your dream career, building a healthy marriage, or conquering a troublesome habit. You need to know where the fuel is, and how to get it into your tank.

Successful people turn not just to a single source, but to several to find the connectedness they need. Your journey will be filled with many different challenges, and one source of connection will not be adequate to meet all of them. Each connection will supply one of the fuels you need for that particular facet of the journey. In the next several pages we will introduce and discuss some of the primary sources for the fuels you will require.

Fuel Source No. 1: God

Though it seems to go without saying, God is the connection we need most to find success. It`s important to not think about this need as some religious abstraction, as when people say, €œReligion is a good thing for people; it gives them peace and helps them solve their problems. The truth is much bigger than that. It is good for us to trust and believe in God, not because it helps decrease our blood pressure or calms us down or improves our mental health. Exercise and journaling could do that!

Connecting to God is making an attachment in a very real, profound, yet also a practical way, with reality itself. He is the Author of reality. As Creator and Designer of the way life should work, he empowers, guides, and supports our efforts to have a better life and better relationships. God is in both the background and the foreground of these matters.

Therefore, it is much more than merely a good and practical move to reach out to God for help with our success journey. It is a necessary and critical move. Success doesn`t happen outside of him. We need him and his help, and it is impossible to find our way out of bad situations and into better ones without his leading and his hand.

In ancient times when Israel was a kingdom, its leaders stayed connected and dependent on God for their success and dreams, and for those of the nation. Over time, however, these leaders began to disconnect, to go their own way and lean on themselves. Though God continually invited them to return to dependence on him, they listened to false prophets and, more often than not, walked away from the connection. As a result, over time the kingdom deteriorated and was finally destroyed. Israel`s people were dispossessed from their own land for many years. During the kingdoms last days, as the nation was being attacked by invaders, one of its true prophets named Isaiah spoke God`s words to the people.

During the twilight of the nation, the leaders in the capital city of Jerusalem were trying to defend and fortify themselves against imminent enemy aggression. They wanted to make sure they had enough water to withstand a siege. Anyone would call this an important task to resolve problems and achieve success! But God`s response was not encouraging: €œBetween the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But all your feverish plans are to no avail because you never ask God for help. He is the one who planned this long ago (Isaiah 22:11 NLT).

Those words were addressed to Israel, but the truth behind them is timeless and still of great value for us in today`s context. Don`t let this passage draw you into the question of which matters: God`s will or our efforts. The relevant point for your success is that it certainly makes sense to work hard at making your plans, but it makes just as much sense to ask God for help. His nature is to help and guide his people. He is the foundation of any dreams you want to achieve.

Check in with God about all aspects of your efforts to have a better life. Tell him you have a desire, a dream, and a passion to build a Company, or find a relationship, or start a ministry to people who need it, or heal a broken relationship. Submit that desire to him; ask if it is from him and if it fits his plan for you. His affirmation is one aspect of the connection. But there is more. Go further and ask him not only to affirm your dream, but also to give you the strength, the guidance, and the wisdom to make it all happen. Ask him to open doors, to change people`s minds, and to give you opportunities and ideas you have never had before. He is invested in our success if it originates from him and advances his kingdom and his values. When you are connected to him in your dream, you can €œdelight yourself in the LORD: and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4 NASB). The desire you feel within you has its birth within him.

God is the source of all your connection fuel. But, as in my own example above, he connects with us both directly and indirectly. We look not only to him, but also to the connections he places in our environment€”our ecosystem. Let`s look at some of the indirect types of connection fuel God sends that can propel you toward your goals.

Fuel Source No. 2: Relationships That Guard Your Life

People who are escaping a culture of blame and entering the world of success create a team around themselves. They understand that we all need a few people surrounding us who are in our corner. This team is composed of individuals who are with you and for you. They are willing to be involved in your life, to help guard and protect it. They have the time and commitment to walk with you each step of the way. They are the ones you turn to when you feel crazy, discouraged, or like a total screw-up. In a sense they are family, the relational €œhome you go to tot help, support, and encouragement. As the saying goes when friends support one another: €œI`ve got your back.

These connections serve a particular purpose. They are not people you go to for specific, technical competency or specialized information. They provide a foundation of safety, validation, feedback, confrontation, and cheerleading. Information-based connections are also important, for they primarily guard your dream. We will show you what those are about in the next section.

You don`t need many people on your relationship team; in fact a large number doesn`t really work. It takes a lot of time to develop a relationship in which the people know each other well and there is deep trust. Quality is much more important than quantity. When choosing your team, don`t make easy availability the primary requirement. My experience is that people who have all the time in the world are often not much in demand for a reason. People who have something to offer you are probably offering it to someone else as well, and you may have to carve out time for your relationship with them.

If you want to realize your dreams, you will likely need to put some structure on these relationships. For example, I have been in a personal growth and support group for many years. The relationships in that group began as casual friendships that involved occasional lunches and evenings out. Gradually, however, we all noticed a simpatico of values, directions, and personality styles. We have widely different personality styles, but that keeps it interesting. All this was happening before the small-group phenomenon emerged in the church world, so I wasn`t thinking along those lines at all. But I began to notice that I found myself going to these individuals for support and advice more and more. When I had a dream or a problem, I would call them first. When I wanted to do something socially, they were on my mind. And the same was true with them. We all sought each other out for encouragement, support, and social involvement. At some point we all began to realize that it might help to meet on some sort of regular basis. We became aware that we needed continuity and structure in our social relationships, so we decided to form a group and start meeting together for life support, prayer, and personal growth.

Now I cannot imagine going through life without these people. We have been through just about everything together, including parenting stuff, marriage issues, life stresses, career questions, personal failures and struggles, and spiritual quests. We know each other extremely well, and there are few if any secrets among us. When work or travel causes me to miss our meetings, I find myself wishing I had their support and input. Life is better with these folks, and it`s not the same without them.

In terms of dreams and success, this group has been crucial for all its members. We know one another`s goals and passions, and we keep ourselves up to speed on them. We also make sure that we connect outside of the goals. It`s important to connect with the heart and soul beneath the dream, and not just with the dream itself. That is what you need your team to do. They need to know the life you lead, your background, your character, and your weaknesses. Otherwise, they cannot really fuel your progress toward your goals.

This is an important point. You need to bring all of yourself to your team, not just your idea of where you want to go. Focusing on your goals without attending to yourself is like attempting to make your e-mail software work better when your operating system is broken. With computers, the operating system always trumps the application. Everything stops until the OS is working, because it is the architecture under girding everything else. You don`t want to handicap your team support for you by neglecting to be vulnerable, open, and honest about who you really are and what you really need.

So build your team, and choose its members well. Find people who care about you. Who have similar values. Who are relational, nonjudgmental, but still direct and honest with you. And who are available on a regular basis. The ideal is to find those who want the same support from you that you want from them. Then everyone on the team receives a mutual benefit. You learn both to receive and give to each other. This fosters a warm, family feel that will take you through many a dark night in your journey to find your goals. The right people are out there. Maybe they are also looking for you, and when you find each other you can achieve your goals together. Be guardians for each other`s lives, hearts, and souls.

Fuel Source No. 3: Relationships That Guard Your Dream

I serve on the boards of some nonprofit organizations whose missions I believe in. In a recent meeting of one of these boards, some of the leaders were discussing whether to change the organizations focus from serving its original target population to a group with a different demographic. Neither group was more deserving than the other; it was more a matter of evaluating the board`s interest and the structure and fit of the organization to its beneficiaries.

I was surprised when one of the board members spoke up and said, €œThis organization was created to serve the population it is serving now. All of us signed on as board members because we felt a need to help these types of people. If we change the focus, we no longer serve the group I signed on to serve, and I`m out. I`ll find an organization that helps the group I want to help. My first thought was, It`s not about you and what you want. It`s about the organization. I got the impression he wasn`t truly interested in serving, but rather in pushing his own agenda. But then, the more I listened to him, the more I realized he was right. And I agreed with him. What had drawn all of us to helping out was that we felt something inside and had a personal investment in that particular set of people in need. We felt called to it, and we wanted to help the organization accomplish its mission because it fit with our own calling.

This man`s comments helped refocus the original mission of the organization. In short, he served as a guardian of the dream. Things could have gone differently. We all could have agreed that our passions and callings had changed. Or we could have left and found another place to serve. Those options would have been okay. But in this situation, we kept our original focus, and the right thing for all was done.

You are the keeper of your dream. It is yours alone, and you hope it was birthed by God in side you. Its destiny is to grow and bear good and long-lasting fruit. But though it is your own dream, you must not guard it alone. You need people to stand with you who will join you in protecting and developing that dream. The relationships you need to find are people who will focus specifically on helping you achieve your goals. While your support team is guarding your life, this guardian team is about getting you to the success you want. That doesn`t mean there can be no overlap between the two. Heart relationships and goal relationships can be the same. But achieving success generally takes people and teams, each of which is intentionally dedicated to only one of your tasks.

In choosing those who will serve as guardians of your dream, here are the two most important types of people you need to look for.

Peers in your area of interest. Find people who have experience and interest in your specific target area. If your desire is to pursue a graphic arts career, then talk to people who are headed in the same direction. Ask friends who they know. Do a World Wide Web search for people. Call businesses that are involved with graphic arts and ask if they have people or groups you can interact with. If your goal is more personal, for example, learning how to deal with emotional struggles, the process is the same. Call churches, counseling centers, and schools where there are people who have experience in these areas. Meet them and start asking questions. Whether it is a career or a problem, individuals in the same area of interest have a lot of knowledge about what you want to do. They can give you information, short cuts, and introduce you to other people who can help.

Coaches and mentors. This area has become its own industry in the last few years, and for good reason. Coaches and mentors have tremendous experience and competency in their areas of expertise. But just as importantly they know how to teach, lead, and train others in those areas. To invest in a coaching relationship is to get a focused experience of growth that is tailored to your personal situation. It is highly intensive, provides a good return on investment, and can be a quantum leap for you.

My friend Jim is a man who certainly doesn`t live for his work. He works so he can pay for his biking hobby He is seriously into the sport, owning several hikes for different terrains, training for hours every week, and competing in century races (one hundred miles long) on weekends. This man is insane for his hobby.

Recently Jim wanted to go to the next level of ability, and to do that, he knew he needed a coach. He did some research and found the perfect person. She was a former Olympic cyclist, and her expertise was in working with guys like Jim€”bikers who were good but wanted to get better. The only hitch was that this perfect person lived in another state. Jim found, however, that she coaches people all over the world through the Web and phone calls. He signed up with her and, after she got to know his background and goals, she provided him with a training schedule, a fitness regimen, and a diet plan tailored specifically for him. He worked the program. Within a couple of months, Jim was beating his own personal records and still improving at a significant rate. He has never met his coach face-.to-face, nor does he think he ever will.

That is one of the differences between those who guard your life, and those who guard your dream. The €œguard-your-life support team really needs to be face-to-face for the personal contact, unless you are in some remote situation and it just isn`t possible. The technical team, or €œguard-your-dream team (peers. coaches, and mentors) should ideally be face-to-face, but it is not as critical. More critical are aspects such as their knowledge base, experience, competency, and ability to convey the information.

Other Fuel Resources You Will Need

Connection isn`t always about relationships. It is also about resources that will help you reach your goal, some of which people can provide, and some of which you can get in other ways. You need to plug into the external world of information and resources related to your goal. The idea is the same as in your people resources: those who break out of the pack know they don`t have it all inside their skin. They reach outside themselves for what they require. Here are the principal types of external resources to look for:

Information. You need to know a lot of stuff to reach your dream. Be humble enough to admit your lack of knowledge. Only fools pretend to know things they don t, and they end up with less knowledge than anyone. People have been accomplishing great dreams for centuries, and they have amassed incredible amounts of valuable information along the way.

If you want to get a slim, athletic body, dig into the diet and exercise info. Become an expert in the field. If you want to run the company, read books on how others have done it. If you want the greatest marriage in the world, study the best thinkers and authors on the subject. Become an info junkie. Tons of information on every conceivable subject is out there just waiting to be tapped. You can find it in libraries, on the Web, in computer programs, in audio and video tapes, CDs, DVDs, and a host of other sources. The information you need is available. If you don`t avail yourself of it, it`s no one`s fault but your own.

Several years ago, I read a magazine article featuring interviews of two of the best guitarists in the world. One of these virtuosos kept mentioning how much he was still a student of other people`s techniques and artistry and how much he learned from them€”even from people who claim him as their own role model. The other guitarist spent a lot of time talking about how he was his own person, with his own style, and he didn`t really gain a lot from other musicians because he listened exclusively to his own muse. The contrast was amazing. The interesting thing is that now, several years after that interview, you still hear the contributions and songs of the first guitarist, but the other one has fallen off the radar screen.

You don`t have to re-invent the wheel. There is a treasure trove of information out there about exactly what you need to learn.

Training and experience. Information and knowledge are a good beginning, but they are not enough. People who reach their goals become skilled and experienced in their dream area. There is only one way for this to happen, and that is through training. Training puts the information to use in your mind and in your life. Don`t stop with head knowledge.

People sometimes avoid the process of training and acquiring experience because it takes work, time, and forces them to admit failure. But there is no shortcut and no substitute. There is a saying: Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment. You had to fall off your bike a few times when you were little, but you learned to ride that way.

Training can be formal or informal, depending on your context. Coaches, mentors, and classes are the more structured and formal means. Their advantage is that the structure guarantees you certain experiences in a certain amount of time. Informal training can include volunteering to be a gofer for a coach whose sport you want to learn, or helping out at a service organization that provides assistance to the needy, or asking a friend in the insurance industry if you can shadow him for a day to see what his world is like. Generally, the informal training is more suited to finding whether you are interested in a particular area. When that is determined, you can move to a more structured experience.

Time and space. This resource is often harder to connect with than any other, but connect you must. People don`t find their purpose in life on the fly or in off moments. Achieving your success depends heavily on the time and space you allot to it. And the exceptions to this principle are extremely rare, like maybe lottery winners. The reality is that most of the time the people who want to reach for better lives are already quite busy. They have jobs, relationships, families, and obligations, and those are all real and substantive responsibilities. These responsibilities and connections consume a lot of time, and it`s hard to find the extra hours you need to advance your dream.

But it is doable. Everyday people with full lives like you are moving step-by-step on an intentional path toward great goals. If others can do it, so can you. Here are some tips to help you.

€¢ Trim the fat.

Put the next thirty days of your life on a calendar, either on a hard copy or on your computer. Write down all the essentials of your life, as well as the nonessentials that keep you balanced, such as social connections and hobbies. Then survey the entire month and evaluate your entries in light of their value to you when compared to your dream. You will often find some significant fat that you can trim off to allot more time to the goal.

€¢ Farm it out.

Is there anything you are doing that you should let others do? Maybe you`ve been chairing a committee for many years, and it`s time to step down. Can you work out a communal arrangement with other parents for taking each other`s kids for an afternoon a week? Could a college kid do the tutoring of your child for you a couple of evenings a week? Can your spouse do more of the grocery shopping?

Sometimes we don`t let go of tasks we`re doing simply because we are control freaks. But more often than not, you`ll be pleasantly surprised to find that when you farm unit a task, the world doesn`t fall apart, It was your own codependency that kept you locked in.

€¢ Put the dream first.

When you have finished your Calendar, put it aside and start over with a blank calendar. This time, your very first entries should be the blocks of time you need to get moving on your goal. Include such things as time for mentors, reading, training, and so on. Then arrange your life around those blocks of time and see if it works. Often people find that the important things still get done, this is similar to the financial savings principle in which, when you pay bills every month, the first person you pay is yourself (or more specifically, your savings vehicle).

€¢ Find your space.

Moving on your goals requires physical space that is yours alone, at least for adequate periods of time. You need an isolated place of your own in which you can brainstorm, dream, pray, and plan. These activities don`t work well around kids, televisions, workplaces, or family activities. If absolutely no isolated space is available, you may need to tell everyone that you`re holing up in the bedroom for a couple of hours, and you don`t want to be interrupted. Or you may be able to go to the office after hours. Or even go to the library. Wherever it is, get a place where you can focus totally on working your plan.

€¢ Get a friend to help.

Show your calendar to someone you trust€”someone who manages time well and understands reality. Ask him or her to help you slash the time budget. A friend is likely to be more objective and able to see possibilities more clearly than you are, and that will help you do the necessary surgery on your time budget.

Feedback systems. Successful individuals generally adopt some sort of way to get information on how they are doing, monitor their progress, and see where they might be getting off track or out of balance. This is called a feedback system. Feedback systems can save you time and effort, keep focused, or even improve your rate of progress. Coaches and friends are certainly part of that monitoring and feedback. But you can also set measurable goals (revenue, competency, weight loss, number of healthy dates per month) and periodically check your progress toward them.

For example, I base a simple Excel spreadsheet on my computer that has columns for the date, my weight, my workouts, my eating, my Sleep hours, and comments about the day. It takes less than a minute each night to put in what I did that day. This little spreadsheet is a feedback system for my own physical health. Not only does it chart my progress, it also provides discipline. Knowing I will open it every day gives me a little more self-control. As the saying goes, that which is observed tends to improve. Feedback systems help you observe yourself in reaching your dream.

As you can see, there are lots of resources out there, and they are designed to propel you to success, People who are into ownership are always on the lookout for more resources, because they understand their value.

As we said at the beginning of this section, you need to find the fuel. And you find it by connecting to the right resources. But that is not enough; finding the fuel is just one part of the story here. The next step is to know how to burn the fuel. Learning to burn the fuel efficiently will propel you that much closer to your dream. If it just sits there in your tank, it`s dead weight The next section will help you use the resources you find.

Burn the Fuel

I have known many people who are no different from anyone else wanting a better life. They are bright, talented, and goodhearted. But often they don`t reach their goals because they don`t know how to use the resources they have. They are connected to the right people and places, but they don`t get the results they want. You can avoid this failure and maximize your resources with the following recommendations. They are simple, but they work for people who are on their way to achievement.

Invite the feedback from your life guardians. You can pretty much assume that your goal guardians€”those experts you tap for specialized information€”know they need to give you helpful feedback. That`s automatically built into what you go to them for. But with close friends who are part of your feedback system, things are different. Don`t make the mistake of assuming that they also know you need their input. They may think that all you want from them is encouragement, acceptance, and grace. They may also think that if you want feedback on something specific, you`ll ask for it. Often your friends just don`t want to sound critical or hurt your feelings, and you can`t blame them for that.

But you don`t want to miss out on the tremendous help and value these people can bring to you. Your life guardians€”as opposed to your goal guardians€”can give you advice, insight, ideas, corrections, and confrontations that can literally make all the difference in the world to your goal.

When you are creating your support team, be sure to give each person permission to tell you the truth, not only with love and support, but also with directness and clarity. They may not at first believe you are serious. So when they venture out and say something like, €œWell, I`ve noticed that you seem to waste a lot of time blaming others for your lack of progress, you need to say, €œThank you for that correction. May I please have another? After they see that you didn`t curl up into the fetal position or get defensive or act out a victim role, they will begin to tell you realities that can protect and enhance your growth. That is, if they are the right people for your team.

Keep resources separate from the outcome. You will inevitably get close to your resource people, certainly to the life guardians, and often to the dream guardians as well. A sense of connectedness is a natural result when people open up their lives to each other over time. And that`s a good thing. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how valuable these people are to you, the final outcome is your responsibility; not theirs. This is your dream, and you need to stay in ownership of it. There is often a temptation to let the team share the burden. Some sharing is helpful, but their role is really to support and assist you. If you stumble or fail, you must take responsibility for it and repair the situation. It`s not their fault when you fail. The outcome is yours.

It`s a little like a company that tries to be so democratic that no one at all is in authority; seems ideally equal and cooperative until there is a problem. If no one is in charge, then no one is responsible. €œWe are all responsible doesn`t lend itself to cleaning up messes. President Harry Truman`s €œthe buck stops here accurately defines your responsibility for your dream. That slogan is worth adopting as your own.

Be grateful, open, and non defensive. Be thankful every day for the people in your life who have signed up on a volunteer or professional level to walk with you toward your dream. They are a tremendous gift. The more you appreciate their contributions, the better you will utilize the wisdom and help they offer you. Be open to what they tell you, and never get into power struggles with them. Try their suggestions, even if at first they don`t seem to make sense. Certainly you should question and challenge, but remember that you probably need to listen to these people more than talk.

When Jesus taught, trained, and resourced people, he said lots of things that either made no sense to them or were highly confrontive:

€¢ When Peter wanted to prevent Jesus` death, Jesus said, €œGet behind Me, Satan.

€¢ He told the disciples that the way to save their lives was to lose them.

€¢ He told Nicodemus he must be born twice, which totally confuses him.

€¢ When people wanted to know when the kingdom of God was coming, he told them it was within them.

€¢ When people wanted a miracle, he told them that he would rebuild the temple in three days, but he wasn`t referring to a literal temple.

€¢ He said that being sad could be a good thing for people.

Yet today the words of Jesus still bring illumination, insight, and help to all areas of people`s lives, if they truly have ears to hear. Successful people don`t mind being confused by their mentors, It is just another step in the path of learning and growing. Be open to what you hear from guardians, even if at first it doesn`t go down very well.

Normalize complexity and different viewpoints. One of the greatest ways to burn your fuel efficiently is to normalize, or become comfortable with, complex situations, answers, and varying viewpoints you encounter from your resources. You need the ability not to feel derailed or overwhelmed by gray areas and ambiguity, for that is the way life really is.

Most meaningful goals and dreams, and most of our most challenging problems, have several levels of complexity and more than one approach to addressing them. It is tempting to simplify and look for the one right way or the three steps to get you there. But that is a child`s way of organizing the world. Grownups don`t want to have reality digested into an easily swallowed capsule, for the reduction process may dump needed information. They want the feedback or perspective even it the subject is so complex that various people advising them disagree with each other. Sorting through competing options can be one of the most helpful experiences you will have. Having to make the choice yourself will assist you in taking responsibility for your path, your progress, and your outcome.

A friend of mine assessed his financial situation in relation to his current job, and he was dismayed to find that if things did not change. he would not be able to retire at his targeted age. He went into a research mode to determine the yearly income he needed from that point on. It was more than his current position would generate, but he liked his job and didn`t want to leave it. So he searched for ways to supplement his income.

Eventually he found a part-time business that wouldn`t take too much of his time because it generated passive income. (An example of passive income would be interest on a savings account.) Before he plunged, however, he resourced financial experts, successful people in that industry, insurance people, accounting people, and other pertinent sources of information. The resulting data was quite complex. The experts` recommendations were not all consistent with each other, and they addressed several different levels of his situation, in addition, all these people represented different industries and used different terms and almost different languages. It was highly confusing for a while, but he stayed on the learning curve and committed himself to making sense of all the opinions. In a short time, he became more conversant with what all the experts were saying, and he was able to pick and choose what he needed from their input. He is now well on the way to meeting his financial goals. He still consults with his experts, because now he knows how to use them in the way that furthers his own dream.

Don`t be afraid of complexity and conflicting advice. Listen, learn, and you will soon be able to equip yourself with the information and experiences you need.

Connecting Will Bear Good Fruit for You

It is not good to be a1one, especially when you are stretching your life and working hard to achieve a cherished goal. You need to connect. It is far better to reach out and find the people, the information, and the experiences that will empower you to take the next step, and to make sure it is the right step.

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