When I was in school, I hated to prepare for tests. I had this strange idea that, if I didn’t get the material in class, I probably wasn’t going to get it doing homework or studying for tests, especially if it was a subject I didn’t care a lot about anyway. So I put off studying until usually a day or so before the exam. And while I did well enough most of the time (and failed spectacularly several times), I was always tense as the teacher made the rounds, handing out the tests. I could have known a month in advance and still, I would not make myself study until I absolutely had to. I “wanted to”. At least that’s what I told myself. But in reality, I didn’t want to bad enough to put school in front of leisure.
I’ve talked to a lot of people in life who “want to” prepare for things much more serious than a physics test. They “want to” get their finances in order, or prepare for their family’s future, or get in better shape, or start a new business – any of a number of things that would make life better for them and those around them.
And months or years later I see them and things are no different from before. The reason is simple: they didn’t “want to” bad enough. Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing, we’ll change.” Continue reading
A road I travel weekly has one of its three lanes closed for a construction project. That single lane has been closed for well over a year, no traffic at all. It’s easy to notice the debris that has collected in that lane over time, but there’s something else worth noticing in that lonely lane – weeds and grass poking up through the cracks in the pavement.
Over the months, having no traffic to keep them pushed down, they took advantage of their situation. They soaked up the little bit of light that slips through the cracks, drank up the water that trickles down to them, and in hopeful defiance sprang up. That was all they needed, because weeds and grass are opportunistic.
They did not wait for someone to scrape all the pavement from around them. Nor did they hold out for fertilizer to accelerate their growth. They did not need any more than the smallest of opportunities and a little bit of time.
And up they came. And there they will sit until the construction crew either paves them over or opens the road to traffic again. Then they’ll be dormant once again. But they will not despair; no, they will be waiting for that sliver of hope and seizing on it when it comes.
In light of that, what excuse do we have? We complain internally that our situation is too overwhelming, that we cannot overcome it. We think we must wait until conditions are ideal, talking ourselves into holding back our efforts. And while we do, someone else may spring up in our stead. Careful – we may risk that opening being crowded if we tarry too long. Soak in the light, the water, and use the energy they provide to defy the hopelessness that you thought had smothered you! For when you sprout, you may drop a seed that gets carried and dropped elsewhere, to start a new field.
And what would happen if you believed the lie that it is useless, that the pavement far outweighs and outnumbers you? No! Be opportunistic, be hopeful. For all it takes is a little light.