I worked for a couple of hours trying to write a piece about surrounding yourself with people who support you. Then I discovered that Mark Twain said it much more succinctly than I did in just a few short sentences:
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly assoiate. Hang out with friends who are like minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.
To tell you the truth it kind of irritated me that I had worked hard just to find the same thing written decades ago. Unfortunately I’ve noticed a new tendency to get more than reasonably irritated over things having to do with my purpose and vision. To be completely transparent, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging the last couple of months. Other than the Twain incident above, I’ve faced the following:
- I’ve been trying to piece together a possible book and in doing research I picked up the new book by one of my mentors (I’ve never met him, but I consider him a mentor) and every chapter was a chapter I had been brainstorming through for my book – and, naturally, done far better than I could even dream.
- An acqaintance of mine who was sharing a similar path to mine – roadblocks and setbacks and lots of hopes and prayers – suddenly found breakthrough into her dream job that sort of fell into her lap. Jealousy settled in on me. I wanted to give up. It was never going to happen for me…
Getting that down in writing and reading through them, it’s easy to see now that it was ridiculous for those circumstances to hold me back from my entire future. But when you’re in the midst of them and they are frustrating you and chipping away at your confidence, it’s not so easy to see the big picture.
The only reason I began to crawl out of the pit I was in was when I read about how other people climbed out of their holes, reading my own journals about circumstances I’ve conquered in the past, and – most important of all – setting aside time for serious prayer and asking God to help me change my way of thinking.
One of the things that He showed me was that I was spending way too much time with people who didn’t support me. They didn’t come right out and say that, but when I would share about things that were starting to happen they would caution me about getting too excited. Or comments would be made about the time I was spending pursuing my vision vs. the “real” responsibilities of life. Or they would tell about how their other friends’ dreams fell through and now they were flipping burgers at age sixty.
It only took one 30-minute visit with a friend full of encouragement and optimism to start me back on the road to my goals. Since then I’ve been looking for advocates who will stand beside me – and they’ve been coming out of the woodwork. They are people who are also chasing a purpose-filled life and are facing the same set of emotions I am. And I plan on becoming their biggest advocate as well.
The naysayers are still there – but my percentage of time with them is going to decrease. I am also going to be careful in what I share with them. I’ll give them generalities, not specifics, and it will mostly be successes already achieved rather than hopes that are still blooming.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible. (Ronnie Oldham)
…and I would add that it is pressing in harder than YOU think is wise, safe, practical, possible.
This is a reminder to myself – but you can use it for yourself if you find yourself needing it:
Struggles may arise, but they are defeated. Distractions, temptations and plots against you become irrelevant . You become like Nehemiah, who said to his enemies, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down…” Purpose creates not arrogance but vtality, focus, courage. (Stephen DeSilva)
My purpose is set by God – and He remains faithful to me and His plan for me, even when I do not.