How can we get from where we are today to the places in life where we want to be? How can we become the people that we want to be—that God made us to be? In a word, incrementally!
Fitter by the Day
One of the clearest examples I know of this principle is manifested in physical fitness. No one has ever turned from an overweight couch potato overnight. But many people have changed from a person 30 pounds overweight to a person 25 pounds overweight with an improved cardiovascular system. The activities, attitudes, and habits that brought the 5-pound transformation are the very ones that bring the 8-pound transformation the next month, and eventually result in a healthy, fit person with great eating habits.
Follow a Winner
The key in this area, as well as many other areas where this principle applies, is to find people who are where you want to be. That means people who are 8 steps ahead of you and people who are 2 steps ahead of you. By recognizing that they have the character, faith, or habit you want, you can then begin to model the life they live. You can see the choices they make, the council they follow, and the way they press on. As you watch them thrive and grow, you’ll be inspired to do the things it takes to take yourself to the next level.
One word of caution—do not be overwhelmed when you meet those people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you. If you go the gym and see someone snatching twice what you’re capable of, it can be discouraging to see that you have so far to go. Instead of allowing this discouragement to reign, let yourself see this person as having what you want long-term, and be happy for them in their success. Do not try to reach their place overnight, rather, identify your next level. What are the people doing who are just in front of you doing that you’re not? What are they reading or listening to that you’re not? How do they cultivate optimism and confidence in their lives?
Identify, Model, Own, Repeat
By recognizing the actions and attitudes you need to reach that next level, you’re most of the way there. As you begin to incorporate these practices into your life and being, you move that much closer to the place you’d like to be. And now that you’ve done it once, you need only take another step to reach an even higher level. Be intentional about those whom you choose to spend time around—they must be thriving in at least a few areas to a greater degree than you are, so that you can see what it takes and model their behavior. Not only that, but they must be growing themselves so that you can continue to learn from them. As we all walk this road together, we fulfill God’s design as expressed in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”