I like succinct lists of behaviours that will help keep one on the right track. I have sometimes placed such lists on the wall in my office where they remind me to keep focussed. One of the most minimal of these is one I have seen as a screen-saver on a laptop: “Get-up, dress-up, show-up.” Steven Covey has his seven habits (first published in 1989) and adds an eighth habit in his book published in 2005. I recently read a list of “12 Things Successful Women Do Differently” and thought how it could just as easily have been named “12 Things Successful People Do Differently.” I appreciate that women need to hear from other women. I also did not find anything in the list that was only applicable to women and believe that men can learn from women in leadership. The fact is, many of them have had more obstacles to their success than their male counterparts and can teach us all how to get past the hurdles of life.
Of course lists are not enough. Motivational posters can motivate or demotivate for the moment; but they will not be enough to carry us through an entire life. Every book, list, and slogan has its strengths and weaknesses. I must be discerning as I apply someone else’s list to my life; particularly because my first allegiance is given to the Lord of the Kingdom of God. I must watch out for lists which make me important at the expense of others. I must look for lists that emphasise service to others rather than finding ways to get others to believe in and serve my goals for the world.
Intentionality is key. Drifting with the winds of the world has never been a solid strategy for finding our way. Looking down the road and targeting a specific end point will serve better. Yet, one does not look for a road-map so much as a sea-chart. The wind and sea will pound our ship as we work toward a destination but the chart will help us keep that destination in focus. Certainly, we will want to be sure that the destination is a good one. It will not do to find that at the end of the race I have gone in the wrong direction. I do not want to find that all of the things I thought would be there at the finish line are either, not there, or not as valuable as I thought they would be. So, checking the chart and conferring with others about the best destination must certainly be part of my strategy. Being a life-long learner will serve me well in this regard. I have not yet reached the full depth of knowledge in any discipline and I may have to adjust some of the things I think I have already learned to fit in the new data that comes along. I must be willing to make course corrections. One way or another, 2014 will move me closer to an end. My prayer is that we might all find it leads us closer to the truth.