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When Did I Stop Exploring?

Alright, maybe I never stopped exploring, but I certainly recognize that there are times when I stepped back into my comfort zone and I slowed way down. I certainly want to think that I’ve done everything I can do; but I would only be lying to myself. The question that I wonder, am I more afraid of failing; or am I more afraid of success?

Fear of failure makes sense, at least initially.

Who likes failure? Well, I know now that those who appreciate failure understand that failure can lead to learning, and learning leads to improvement, and improvement leads to getting better and getting better leads to success. I know I have feared failure because I used to think failure was bad. To minimize the chance for failure, I sacrificed big success for incremental and safe improvements. There’s nothing inherently wrong with incremental improvements, but I have learned that there is not a lot of celebration in living safe.

I’d venture a guess that most of us feared the dating scene when we were in high school. As a guy, there’s a fear of rejection, and it’s silly really. I have learned a new perspective that I love to share. As a guy, looking for a date, (rhetorical thinking now, honey, I’m not looking for a date), when we see that pretty girl that we’d like to get to know - we have to make a choice of whether to ask or not ask, right? If I do not ask her out - I will not have a date, same status as where I am now.

Consider what may happen if I do ask, and she says “yes?”

That is the only situation in which the date status changes. Sure, she may say no, and I will not have a date, and I’ll feel some stage of rejection. However, if I believe in myself to ask her out, then I have to believe that she will miss out on something if she says no. (This is what I call Circle of Control - keep reading for more on this.) And to those who truly know and understand success, especially those that follow John C. Maxwell - we want to remember that we must keep failure and success close together.

There is an inseparable advantage to failure and success.

Now that I have made such a big career change (after 33+ years as a chemical engineer, 14 years in a pastoral career, 9 of those in serving a church), I look back at my journey and see that I could not be where I am today, without the experiences of each of these. The only way that I could have made it to this point more quickly, would have been to accelerate any of those choices. I am back to what I call my Circle-of-Control. (In person, I use a lawn mower belt - a sample from my engineering days.) That is - I only control me. I may influence others, and others have the opportunity to influence me as well, but I must take all the responsibility for the decisions as I go down a path. Any excuses are just feeble attempts to tell ourselves that our lack of results is within someone else’s control. I am not saying that it should be easy, but if I want it; I have to decide how hard I want it.

After having coffee with a friend recently, I am once again reminded of how awkwardly slow and behind some places of worship are and how slow to change they are due to fearful (& lack of exploring) type of people we can be. Times are changing now more than ever for us.

We can fight the changes, or reflect and make our move.

Since when did anyone make a significant discovery by first making the statement, “We’ve always done it this way.” ? And yet, we frequently get stuck in habits that no longer serve us. Maybe we are too close to them to do anything about it? Here’s a simple action that has taken me months to do just to begin the process to change - I cleaned everything off my desk that wasn’t of consistent daily use, so that I had room in which to create a better “work desk” experience. I realize that if I can’t change a simple thing like my desk, I can’t begin to change my focus in order to advance my “exploration” attitude. In fact, I am about to do it again, to make further progress.

Consideration number 2 - a fear of success.

I think most cannot picture this fear as being real. I think it’s simpler than the fear of failure. When we find some form of success, I think we wonder (and fear?) how far can we really go? There’s a good chance this comes from my personal drive for perfection. Actually, I frequently call myself a “recovering perfectionist.” Perfectionism is what keeps me from acting…..I fear that I am and/or will not be good enough; therefore, I fail to act. I know - a backward concept. John Maxwell has helped me significantly in this area. In fact, the Maxwell master speaking teacher, Roddy Galbraith, will concur, a person will not be good the first time, probably not even the second time, but each and every time, with reflection and change, one gets better!

I am becoming the best version of myself every day. I hope your takeaway is that each day you are too!

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