I was reminiscing to when my own children were younger. One of our holiday activities was to steer a paddle boat on a small lake. This involved two or even four people on a plastic boat with two sets of paddles and a rudder. The two people on the boat could peddle as hard as they wanted and their combined peddle power would move the boat forward.
You would move as fast as you could peddle. Between the two peddlers there was a small handle which controlled the rudder. From time to time, one of my kids would insist on controlling the rudder. This generally meant that they would pull it towards themselves causing the boat to go around in circles. But peddling faster did not assist them in progressing across the water.
A Storybook Lesson
The above illustration is often the same in our lives. We become so focused on peddling through our days and the workload on our desks that we forget to decide where we are going, let alone enjoying the view along the way.
In the book, Alice in Wonderland, we hear the following conversation:
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: So long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
There are several lessons from these pictures of Alice and the peddle boat which stand out to me. Firstly, activity does not necessarily equal forward movement. We live in a society where “busyness” is glorified and hailed as the measure of success. Sometimes it seems that the busier we are, the more important we must be.
Secondly, we need to make a conscious decision as to where we are going. If we just react to the circumstances like Alice or even just follow the flow of the water on a boat we will not reach our goals or achieve our dreams. We need to be guiding the rudder in the direction we want to take.
Thirdly, we need to be clear as to what we will allow the rudders of our lives to be. What will we allow to guide our direction?
My encouragement is to review your activity. I try and follow a practice of a weekly review at the start of every new week. During this time, I stop the activity and think about the week that is past. What went well? What did not? What from the previous week needs to flow over into the new week? Where do I want to take my business in the week ahead? Where should I focus my time and attention?
To address these questions effectively, I regularly need to pause and think about the bigger picture. Where am I going? Where am I taking my business? What am I wanting to achieve? What am I desiring to create? I usually do this through stepping out of my usual context and stepping away on my own to have time to think and pray.
Be Clear about the Rudders
I also need clarity as to what rudders I allow to move me in life. It is tempting to move direction based upon the person shouting the loudest or demanding the most. It is also sometimes easier to follow the route of least resistance, particularly when we are tired or battle weary.
However, I have decided that my rudders are what God is saying to me through the Bible, the peace that rests in my heart, the bigger picture of what God has called me to as an individual (aligned with my gifts and abilities), and my sense of what the market is looking for. On the basis of these criteria, I then act.
My biggest learning is always to seek first the guidance of Scripture. As we read in Isaiah 30:20-21: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” May you too take steps in the right direction.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.