Author Marshall Goldsmith wrote an excellent book a few years ago named Triggers – Creating the Behavior That Lasts. The first part of the book was kind of a slow read, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I was getting much out of it. But that changed with the second half of the best-selling book.
Goldsmith dived into the power of ‘active’ questions. Instead of asking yourself passive questions about your day or your accomplishments, or lack thereof, he recommended the need for active questions as well as doing this with an accountability partner.
The author arrived at a list of 22 action questions that his accountability partner would ask him at the end of day. These included:
Did I do my best to set clear goals?
Did I do my best to make progress towards goal achievement?
Did I do my best to be happy?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
Did I do my best to learn something new?
Did I do my best to be grateful for what I have?
Did I do my best to avoid proving I’m right when it’s not worth it?
Did I do my best to say or do something nice for [insert name]?
Did I do my best to exercise?
So, start today. Come up with 10 items and evaluate your performance based on “Did I do my best?” It may be a sobering test but life changing.
One of my favorite film series is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien crafted a wonderful story centered around an ordinary hobbit named Frodo Baggins. Frodo wasn’t the biggest, fastest, most skilled, nor most educated. He wasn’t that good with the sword nor the bow. He was given an impossible task…journey into enemy territory and destroy the “evil” ring of power. In one powerful scene in the first movie, while all the more “qualified” people debated about how impossible the task was and who was going to take the ring, Frodo stood up and shouted, “I will go. I will take the ring!” And he did…and we watched (through 9 hours of movie) as Frodo and his companions braved all dangers (even the dangers within themselves) to achieve their goals.
None of us are going to have to achieve such a fantastic goal. We don’t have to battle orc, and evil wizards, and Sauron the great, and Nazgul. But all of us who set out to achieve big dreams and goals must fight that same inner battle with the forces that shackle us and keep us in our comfort zones. The biggest obstacle that most of us have to overcome in achieving our goals is fear.
Fear, in my opinion, is the single biggest contributor to mediocre lives. In my position as minister, I see people every day who are stuck because they don’t take that first step toward their goals. Some don’t even set goals for fear of failing. That’s not the way we were created to be. When God made Adam and Eve, they had no fear. They walked in perfect harmony and peace with God and with his creation. They were so at peace that they were naked. Fear does not appear until they break God’s only rule and eat from the wrong tree (Gen 3:10). Then fear sets in and we’ve been battling it ever since.
How many people are crippled by a fear of public speaking? How many people would be incredible singers but they’re afraid to sing in front of others? How many people could have the dream job they wanted but they’re afraid to apply for it or to leave the job they have? As humans, we tend to find comfortable spots in our lives and stay there. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” wrote Henry David Thoreau. Why are the majority of men and women living lives of frustration and mediocrity when they have it in themselves to be so much more? Fear!
We all have dreams and goals. If fear is the one thing keeping us from stepping out and pursuing them, then fear has got to go! Most people do not realize that the most frequent command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.”
In Psalm 56:4, David writes “In God I trust, I will not be afraid.” He wrote this when he was a prisoner of his enemies, the Philistines. Ever since he was a young man, David showed the ability to face fear and overcome. While Saul and the whole army of Israel cowered in fear from Goliath, David was the one that stepped out with a sling and a few stones “in the name of the Lord Almighty” and brought down a nation’s biggest fear. Was David without fear? No, he feared just like you and I. In Psalm 56:3 he wrote “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” David’s philosophy was simple, when he was afraid, he took his focus off the fear and put it on God and did what he was afraid of doing. That’s something we all can do!
So what are you afraid of? Start attacking fear today so that you can achieve big things tomorrow! Write down something of which you are afraid. Now go out, face your fear, trust in God, and do it. Only by doing this will you see how big your God really is!