When we are looking at a "MAYBE" moment, how do we decide if it's worth our time to try it?
How do we free ourselves from the grip of indecision?
Let's brainstorm some different ways to weigh our options.
Those all seem like solid options, except for one thing...
They M.A.S.K. the problem of trying to make sense out of our "MAYBE".
Make. Ask. Sleep. Keep.
This approach can fall in the category of what I call "Best of Intentions". On the surface they seem to have value. And the fact is, they still might...but we have to do something else first to see if they'll make the cut. It's the opposite of the "Best of Intentions". It's being INTENTIONAL.
We need to "Begin With The End In Mind".
A number of years ago I was watching a documentary about the making of "Toy Story". I can't remember who actually said it, but it still sticks in my mind today. They were talking about the moment when they were showing the film for the first time. It wasn't a public showing. In fact, it was closed off to only senior leadership at PIXAR (the company producing the film), some investors, and a handful of "need to know" team members.
They settled in to watch the film with a mix of anticipation, excitement, and hopefulness that the countless hours of hard work poured into the making of this film would make it a resounding success.
By the time it was over, they realized something went very wrong.
The lovable character of Woody had been made out to be a bit of a bully.
It wasn't what they had imagined at all.
There was no doubt that the team would have to go back to the drawing board and figure out where they had gotten off course.
And there is the key.
We don't know if we are on one unless there is one.
The PIXAR team had one. And because they did they didn't have to start over completely, they simply had to look back at their path and pinpoint where it had gotten off course. Once they did they made the necessary adjustments that helped them reach the end they all wanted.
That is what it means to "Begin With The End In Mind".
When we know where we are going, we can set a course to get there.
Does it mean we'll be perfect? Nope. We talked about that yesterday.
But if we notice something doesn't seem right...if we've made a wrong turn along the way...we need to have a map that will help us get back on course.
If we don't?
We M.A.S.K. the problem with "Best of Intentions".
Now, I mentioned that those four options aren't inherently bad at all. The way we can be sure they help is to filter them through the lens of where our ultimate destination is. If they help us to intentionally stay on course, that's great. We can celebrate this wisdom found in them.
If we make a list of pros and cons, it needs to be based on if they will help/not help us stay on a specific course. If we ask someone else for their opinion, we can take it to heart if they are basing their response on our desired destination, not just their own inclination. If we are going to give it the overnight approach and sleep on it, any thoughts that come out of that rest have to pass the destination test as well. And if we are going to keep trying options to see what fits, we have to make sure we aren't wasting our time, energy, and resources with "MAYBE" solutions that don't stick to our vision.
A few years ago I had the honor of sitting down with a man I considered to be extremely talented, full of integrity, and a blessing to me early on in my writing journey. I was feeling led to write a book, and wanted to be sure I was doing it the best way that I could. Without knowing it, I was bumping into what it meant to "Begin With The End In Mind". And through an introduction from my brother, Matt, came a sit down with Holt Vaughn.
As his Twitter account says, Holt is a pastor, writer, CEO, musician, creative producer, and I'll add visionary. He asked me two questions during our time together that have never left me.
One...if I were the only person to read what I was writing, would I still write it?
Two...What is the salient point of the book? (the main point)
I answered yes to the first question without hesitation. I knew in my heart that I was feeling led to write it. And second...I promised him that at least four people would read it. We had a laugh when I told him I was pretty sure my wife, mother, and mother-in-law would all read it as well.
The second question was harder than the first. It was when I learned what it really meant to "Begin With The End In Mind." If I didn't know what point I was trying to make (ending), I would drift all over the place in my writing. Holt was generous with his time that day as he listened to me share my heart about the book. He probed my heart with questions, and shared feedback that would help me arrive at my salient point. And some time later, I had it.
"Comeback Bringing: How To Launch A Comeback That Will Leave A Legacy Of Impact."
And that is when the hard work began.
I had the destination plotted out, and my feet on the starting line. I knew the point I was trying to make, and was ready to start the journey to get there. Everything along the way had to pass through that filter.
Hours turned into days, weeks, months, and ultimately about a year later I had the manuscript written. Some days (and many very long nights) were easier than others. Sometimes my hands were typing so fast I was shocked not to see smoke rolling off the keyboard. Other times the cursor on the computer screen would seem to taunt me as if the writer's block I was wrestling with was going to bring the project to a screeching halt.
It was the destination that kept me moving forward.
I had notes...pros and cons if you will. Sticky notes full of potential chapter titles. I had advice from others. None more popular than what I should name the book. I had been told I should change the title by family, and even my editors. But I didn't waiver, because I knew it was perfect based on where the book was headed. They weren't doing anything wrong. It was just that there wasn't any way they could climb inside my heart to see everything through the lens...in it's totality...that I could. And when it was done? No one second guessed it. I also had plenty of sleep-filled and sleepless nights. After each one, I'd filter any additional thoughts through my salient point. If they made it, they stayed on the wall. If they didn't, they hit the cutting room floor. And last but not least, I kept writing, editing, and rewriting...thinking constantly about the salient point I was making. I repeated that process over and over until it was finished. And when it was done, I was confident I had done everything I could to express my heart to the best of my ability...and was content at whatever came from it because I had arrived at my destination intentionally.
I don't know what "MAYBE" moment you are wrestling with right now, but I hope this process helps you decide if it is worth your time to try it. I can't tell you if you should go for it, or shut it down...go all-in on this "MAYBE", or walk away because it's an unwanted detour on your journey.
I do know you have a calling on your life.
And I do know that if you "Begin With The End In Mind"...
"...It MAY BE that..." you'll arrive at your destination before you know it.
And once you do?
Something very cool is about to happen.
It's what we will talk about tomorrow...
"Once your reach it, this is how you can teach from it".
Part of me wishes it was tomorrow already!