A long, long time ago, in a writer’s galaxy far, far away I wrote an article entitled “Taking Action.” The article dealt with an approach to achieving goals and finding more success in life using the following steps: 1. determine what it is that you want and state it, 2. determine what you are willing to sacrifice to get what you want, 3. develop a persistent attitude, 4. have faith, 5. develop organized planning and 6. execute. Once you have these details you write out a short paragraph and read it several times per day religiously until goal attainment. I first learned of this by reading “Think And Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill many years ago. I modified his approach by simplifying down to 6 steps and it has worked for me in every instance I had desire for something. I have talked about having true desire, not wishing or kind of wanting, but a true burning, unquenchable desire to obtain something. We have touched on having a persistent attitude and talked about working through difficulties. The one element of the system that I struggle with is having faith and it is faith that supports desire, persistence, planning and execution! (Side note: Try reading this article title without hummimg the Billy Joel song “Keeping the Faith!” That tune can get stuck in your head…you’re welcome!)
Merriam-Webster defines faith as “a firm belief or complete trust in something for which there is no proof.” When most people think of faith they immediately begin thinking in religious or spiritual terms. And most of the time the word faith is used in this context. But, people exhibit faith each and every day. There is no definitive proof that employees will receive a raise or promotion, yet they work hard all year believing that their hard work will be rewarded. I drive my car each day believing that I will be safe, whereas, there is no definitive proof to this belief. Entrepreneurs start up businesses having faith people will buy their product or use their service, without knowing how the future will unfold. Orville and Wilbur Wright worked to design a vehicle that would fly when there was zero evidence that it would ever leave the ground. A kid living in poverty lives his life believing in his heart that one day he will play football in the NFL. He devotes his entire youth to this goal, with no proof that he will ever get drafted. Yet, he has faith that his hardwork will pay off and perseveres. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL are littered with these types of stories. Sports achievement helps me to understand faith as the statistical data would discourage most from even trying. Here’s context: a high school athlete has a .03% chance of playing in the NBA, .2% chance to be drafted in the NFL, .5% chance of putting on a MLB jersey and a .000006667 chance of playing on the PGA Tour. But with all that said athletes play in these leagues every day so somebody is taking the challenge, having faith and reaching their goal!!
Recently, I have challenged myself to let go of worry and develop the habit of practicing faith that life will take care of itself. Notice I said “develop the habit” of practicing faith! Like other skills used in designing a successful life, practicing faith takes diligence, focus and hard work. (When I say life will manage itself I do not imply that this will occur while you ride the couch to victory each day watching Maury munching on corn chips!) I struggle sometimes with wanting to control every aspect of my life and when things don’t work out or follow my plan I get stressed. Then when I get stressed I become very un-fun to be around. A recent bill issue is a perfect example. Evelina and I had a bill come in that was unexpected and had a fast approaching deadline for payment, for which I had not properly budgeted. I immediately went into my “how in the world am I going to pay this in 10 days??” mindset. Usually, my mind starts running crazy with worry and fret as if the world is about to end. Running through scenarios, crunching numbers, demanding we stop spending money…I basically become a mess. In this instance I looked at my wife and I explained to her that I was going to change this habit of worry immediately. I decided that my focus would be to believe beyond doubt that somehow, some way, we would pay this bill on time and in full. I would work diligently on the things I could control and trust that things would work out. In the end, we paid the bill on time and in full and life continued to roll along. I must be honest in explaining how difficult it was for me to change my thinking. Every single time my mind started reminding me of the impending doom, I said to myself “I can only control those things that I can control and I believe things will work out. I must focus my energy on working hard, being diligent every day and working my plan. If I do so and practice faith I will achieve my goal.” I said this to myself 50 times per day for a week and a half and my belief, faith, was confirmed when the bill was paid on time and in full!
I truly did not know how we would pay, I just believed beyond doubt that we would. The college footballer may not know how he will make the NFL, he just believes beyond doubt that he will. Faith requires more of me than does trying to control every detail of the outcome. It requires me to let go of the end result; and for me that is difficult sometimes. I think many people spend valuable energy focused on the wrong end of the equation. We spend our time worrying about the final result instead of developing a plan and executing the steps necessary to achieve success. Control what you can control.
One thing that I appreciate about the experience is the liberation I feel being relieved of the burden of the outcome. I realize now that the result will be what the result will be and my responsibility is to develop my plan, maintain my daily to-do list, remain determined and work with focus. To some letting go might be common knowledge, but for me it is a foreign mindset. Letting go can be tough as we hold to worrying as a badge of honor, as if the more we worry means the more we care. The real truth is worry is a sign of “process focus” failure!
I thought I would have some deeply insightful conclusion, as the topic of faith would seem to deserve. But sometimes life is not fireworks and roller coaster rides of adrenaline and excitement. There are moments when you are presented with a fact of life and you either accept it, integrate it in your life and succeed or you ignore it, avoid changing, complain and continue your life struggle. The fact is faith must be exercised to find success. You must decide to change your lifestyle habits and change your mindset in order to begin using faith in your life. I highly recommend you read more about the necessity of faith in achieving success, and more specifically, Napolean Hill’s description of faith. He provides great insight to how faith works and the power of auto-suggestion. Remember, when worry rears its ugly head, remind yourself, “I can only control those things that I can control and I believe things will work out. I must focus my energy on working hard, being diligent every day and working my plan. If I do so and practice faith I will achieve my goal.”
Faithfully…Dream Big, Dream Often.