find Kevin on Google+

Amazon Kindle
  • Citadel: First Colony
    Citadel: First Colony
  • Citadel: Paths in Darkness
    Citadel: Paths in Darkness
  • Tin Man
    Tin Man
  • College Made Stupid Simple
    College Made Stupid Simple
  • A Little Bit of Everything
    A Little Bit of Everything
  • Getting Gone
    Getting Gone
Books in Print
  • Citadel: First Colony: Book One of the Citadel Trilogy
    Citadel: First Colony: Book One of the Citadel Trilogy
  • Citadel: Paths in Darkness (Volume 2)
    Citadel: Paths in Darkness (Volume 2)
  • College Made Stupid Simple: A guide to getting more than a diploma
    College Made Stupid Simple: A guide to getting more than a diploma

Entries in planning (2)



I was reading Following Your Bliss, Right off the Cliff on the New York Times website. Long and the short of it, "Following your dreams is risky and sometimes you fail." 

Duh. But yeah, it's true and it's something to think about during the planning process for your business (or your side business, or your community program, or wherever your dreams fit in the scheme of things). Sometimes the dream isn't enough.

There's some science in this article, about the part of the brain that controls worry and the pain that comes from it. And to overcome that physiological reactionso that we can take action and attempt to make our dreams come true, despite the risk of pain and failurewe feel hope.

I love this line from the article:

As paradoxical as it sounds, [Michael Derring] said, “If you stop worrying about the outcomes, you will achieve a better outcome.”

Stop worrying about the outcomes? Yikes! Most of the time, it seems like "worrying about the outcomes" is all we do! But there's a sweet sort of logic here.

The article is more or less saying, "Don't let your emotions become invested in the business." Don't put your self-worth on the line for a shoe store or an auto shop or a novel. If you fail, you'll believe you are the failure. But that's not how failure works. A person isn't a failure. Only actions can be failures. A person is a decision-making, action-taking, hope-and-faith-having machine. We make decisions, we take action, we have hope and faith that it will work out. And if it doesn't ...

If you approach a business or any other endeavor with the attitude that, should it fail, it isn't the end of the world, you can pick up and recover, you're chances of success actually increase. You're willing to take more risks, for starters, and risk is the price of momentum. You may take actions you wouldn't have taken before, in a more cautious mindset, and those actions lead to results, and those results may end up bringing you increased benefits. Or they may blow up and fade out. It happens.

From a financial standpoint, this is why you want to be smart about the way you invest in a business. Make the decision early on to stay away from debt. Take on investors, but don't take on loans. Investors know that they're taking a risk, and that it may not make a return. Lenders don't care either way if you succeed or fail, they expect repayment with interest and they'll try to destroy you if you don't follow through. Investors empower, lenders enslave. 

Trust me on this one ... I'm enslaved to a lot of lenders at the moment.

From a spiritual standpoint, this is why you want to ensure that your business is built to glorify God. God likes it when we do things that are empowering, that build something that brings good into the world. Staying focused on God's Ultimate Rule—Love your neighbor as you love yourself—means you're doing everything right. You won't have to worry about mistakes coming back to bite you in the ... assets. The business may fail, due to a lack of demand or bad timing or myriad other reasons, but it won't take you with it. 

So what happens after failure? Learning. This is the point where you pray and ask for wisdom. "Show me, Lord, where it went wrong. Show me how I can pick up and start again. Show me how to change my plan and build something that glorifies you." God never denies the request for wisdom. He just requires you to commit some brain power and effort to it.

This article ... I'm on the fence about it. I get a real "don't pursue your dreams because they're risky" vibe from it. But there are points made that are more encouraging. Hope—that's a good message. So read it as a cautionary tale. Have hope, but also have a plan. Have a goal, but don't worry about the outcome. Invest, but don't enslave yourself to the dream. You belong to a greater power than dreams.



Things don't always turn out the way you blue bird in that tree outside my window.

But that's the point, isn't it? Life ... it's like it was meant to be unpredictable and unknowable. Yeah, we can predict and know a lot of the bits that are a granular part of this nutritious existence, but we can never see the whole. We don't have the perspective. Ain't no mountain high enough.

We set ourselves on a path, with every intention of just keeping one foot in front of the other, only to discover that the path itself is moving. We thought we were walking in one direction, when all along the path was taking us in another. In fact, we weren't walking at all. We were being carried, the whole time. We were essentially marching in place.

I believe in choice, and purpose, and goals. I believe that you can't have success without those. But God is teaching me that I can only choose and plan so far ahead. I can choose the next step. I can pick the next direction, the next distant goal. But I can't determine the journey as a whole with my "planning." Life happens way too often for that.

Recently I've watched my amazing wife deal with changes to her plans. And, just as she (and me, too) was thinking, "OK ... that didn't work out, so I'll pick this direction instead," it all changed again. And then, quicker than we could blink, it all changed AGAIN, and even the small bit of planning she'd committed to was shot, worth nothing. Ferriss Bueller was right, life does move pretty fast some times. It's like a slight of hand trick, and in the end your wristwatch ends up in someone's bag of Doritos, and you're asking, "How'd that HAPPEN?!?"

The most important thing about expectations is how you deal with them when they aren't met. 

Right now, I have a vision for myself—for my career, for my marriage, for my physical fitness. I'm making plans, and I'm acting on them. I'm praying that all these plans will glorify God, because that's the rule of my life now. And even as I'm planning, I have this awareness, tickling at the confident bits of my soul, that these plans, too, shall pass. Tomorrow I might have to improvise, because everything I thought was anything is anything but everything now. 

That's the point, though. When God says "have faith," it's not just a command to "shut off all your thinking and let me drive." It's about choices, really. It's about choosing to stand back from the plans you had, the expectations you were cultivating, and say, "OK. I planned, God. You laughed. So what's next? How do I serve you with the next choice I make and the next action I take?" And then you shut up and listen.

Advice even I should consider taking.