Monday, January 26, 2015

Checking Our Compass

For many of us the pathway to obtain the specific goals that we set is relatively unknown, at least to us.  We’re in the dark.  It’s somewhat of a mystery to us and we have to figure it out in order to reach our desired destination. 

Imagine if we took a journey through a wilderness that we have never traveled through before. We wouldn't know the way.  We may not know east from west unless we had a compass.  If we had a compass and knew the general direction we needed to go was north, we could use this tool as a means of checking our progress. It would be like a guide. It would provide us with feedback and validation so that we would know when we were on the right track, when we were deviating off of it.  It would be important to know not just that we were deviating but to which direction so we could know how to correct our course.

Those whom we choose to put our trust in to guide us are like a compass.  With their help we can be aware of whether we're on the right track or not before we arrive at our destination.  This is helpful because goal achievement journeys can be long and costly.  We invest a lot of time, money, and energy into them.  Large investments make it more difficult to change directions. We don't like to waste our time or money. And once habits start forming they are hard to undo both spiritually and physically.  If where we end up is desirable THEN THIS IS GOOD!  Desirable destinations become abilities, talents, good habits, sustainable joy, and sustainable relationships.  Undesirable destinations become weaknesses, bad habits, virulent sorrow, and black-hole relationships.

The Little Things
President Gordon B. Hinckley told the following story about how even a small change of course can end us up at a destination very far from where we intended to go.
President Gordan B. Hinckley
“Many years ago I worked for a railroad. I was in charge of what is called head-end traffic. One morning I received a call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey. He said, “Train number such-and-such has arrived, but it has no baggage car. Somewhere, 300 passengers have lost their baggage, and they are mad.
"I went immediately to work to find out where it may have gone. I found it had been properly loaded and properly trained in Oakland, California. It had been moved to St. Louis. But some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just three inches, a switch point, then pulled the lever to uncouple the car. We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana—1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three-inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go.
"It is the little things upon which life turns that make the big difference in our lives, my dear young friends" ("Words of the Prophet:  Seek Learning" by President Gordan B. Hinckley). 

A true guide provides feedback along the journey to confirm when we’re on the pathway to obtaining our goal and warn when we deviate from it. 

Feedback along our journey makes our journey more efficient.  We don't have to reach the end of every trail to know we took a wrong turn.  We can sense it in the beginning stages and make our course adjustments before we're thousand of miles away from where we intended to go.

The Listener by James E. Christensen
Because there are a variety of guides that conflict with each other in their prescribed pathways, their feedback will be conflicting.  Thus, it is crucial to have chosen who to put our trust in before embarking on our journey.  Which guide's feedback will we listen to?  If we don't make a firm choice, we will have to deal with conflicting feedback, which will confuse us and slow down our progress.

I have found the following questions to help me and my children when we’re trying to find our way through the wilderness of conflicting feedback coming from a variety of sources.

Have you chosen a someone to put your trust in?

When you engage in your journey, when do you receive confirmation from that person?  When do you receive warnings from him?

Are you experiencing conflicting feedback?

Who else is trying to influence you?  Who do you worry about what he/she/they thinks about you?

Who is on the same team as this person you have chosen to trust?

Who conflicts with this person?

Even if others are on the same general team as the person you chose, do they know about your specific goal and have you chosen them to help you obtain it?  Do they have the hope in you that your personal guide has?  Do they even know your potential like he does?