We all face limitations.
Some are self-imposed. Others are not.
Some limitations are mental, some emotional, some physical.
Regardless we all face limitations.
What we do not want to do is limit our ability to maximize our lives. Of course, we do this in a variety of ways. For instance, we waste a lot of time on unimportant matters and miss opportunities on things of significance. I am guilty too.
But in a series on developing a SYSTEM that is designed to help us make decisions to achieve our ultimate goals (whether the period of time is short, or over a lifetime), we should not start with an approach which will limit our possibilities.
However, many people do.
We make these limitations by starting with who we are and what we can do instead of considering what is possible. Again, I am guilty too. That was truer of me in the past, than it is now, but it is still true.
<Now, let me pause to say that I am a firm believer that we should maximize our strengths as compared to strengthening our weaknesses. Most people can make a much greater impact (particularly leaders) by further developing strengths and helping others to develop their own strengths as well. But that is another post for another time.>
So, how do these limitations fit into the design of a SYSTEM?
Before we consider the SYSTEM, let us first consider an example of buying a house.
The cost of a house is more than the sales price (or the monthly payment). Property taxes must be considered. Insurance is a must. New items must be purchased (like blinds or curtains, let alone the possibility of furniture, etc.). If the house has a yard, then equipment must be purchased to care for the lawn, and maybe some plants or a garden. Additionally, the possibility of repairs or improvements must be considered. As we can see, the initial price (or payment) of a house is far less than what is actually needed on a month to month basis.
Therefore, if someone only factors in the cost of the house (or monthly payment) without considering other factors, then they are looking at a much smaller picture than what is the most likely scenario.
Compared to the SYSTEM, this would be like developing a STRATEGY before considering what the MISSION or VISION is. For instance, one of the elements of my STRATEGY is to Read. If I started with Read (and even qualified it with my full statement – Read God’s Word and quality resources for continued personal growth – the question must be asked, Why? Why Read? Why Nurture? Why Action? Etc.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the STRATEGY is the HOW. Before we get to the HOW, we must consider the WHY (the VISION) and the WHAT (the MISSION). Once these concepts have been developed, then we are prepared to consider the HOW (the STRATEGY) and further drill down to the process (the STEPS) needed to execute the STRATEGY.
Thus, the design of this series of blog posts has been to start with the overview and steadily move to the more specific.
This idea is what I meant at the end of last week’s post when I said we need to start with the big picture and work inward to what will help us create that picture. If you start the other way you can limit the effectiveness of your SYSTEM and short-change your goals and objectives.
As I have mentioned time and time again, this SYSTEM can work for most any goal or objective, from planning a trip, saving money, considering a new job, or as is the real purpose of this series, developing a true SYSTEM for the decision-making process for your life.
So, start with what the ultimate objective (big or small), and then consider the next item. In other words, add specificity as you consider what is necessary to achieve that goal.
For me, my STRATEGY is based upon the acrostic LEARN. Each component is broad enough to be flexible in executing my STRATEGY (the STEPS get more specific), but these components are designed to help me fulfill my MISSION. I have listed the key word here. (To see the rest of the definition, see last week’s post.)
- Love – God and others (Mark 12.29-31). That is broad enough it can fit anything, if we properly understand love. I may have trouble loving in all circumstances, but it is key to my STRATEGY.
- Exercise – discipline (1 Timothy 4.7-8). If I started with the STRATEGY instead of the MISSION, this item would require anyone to ask, for what purpose? Is the discipline to be rich, to win a competition, or what? But if you read the MISSION first, it makes much more sense.
- Action (James 1.22). – Ok, but what kind of action? Again, based upon the need for this word to fit within my MISSION, it is Action that shows my faith in trusting God and in His provision.
- Read (Proverbs 1.5-6). I covered this above, but to Read what I choose to read, helps me to “grow in my knowledge and understanding of God’s truths and His will for my life.” (That quote is directly from my MISSION Statement.
- Nurture others (Ephesians 4.12-13). This idea comes from my desire (and calling) to teach and help others to grow as people and ultimately in their relationship with God.
Again, the components of my STRATEGY are specific enough (and developed over enough time) that they work well FOR ME. Over time, they have been crafted to work both ways – from the top down (MISSION to STRATEGY) and from the bottom up (STRATEGY to MISSION).
So, the key for you is to now take your initial VISION and MISSION and determine HOW you can accomplish what you desire to accomplish. If you are a Christian, then I encourage you to consider how God is directing you, which is the reason that all of actions in each part of my SYSTEM have a biblical reference. It helps to remind me that my SYSTEM is ultimately not just about me; the SYSTEM is about God getting me to where He wants me to be.
In next week’s post, I will move to the final part of the SYSTEM – the STEPS (or PROCESS) needed to execute the STRATEGY. We still have a few more weeks in this series, but we are moving closer towards the conclusion. So, if you have waited, now is the time to get started developing your SYSTEM.