I’ve written about how one of the gender differences we see in leadership research is this idea that a mistake or failure somehow defines our personal value. Women are tremendously resilient, but they can also be incredibly hard on themselves to the point of allowing fear of failure to paralyze them from progress.
In today’s study of The Best Yes, we explore Chapters 6 and 7, the latter aptly titled Analysis Paralysis. But before we settle in there, let’s look at the incredibly sage reminder Lysa offers in Chapter 6, “Our decisions aren’t just isolated choices. Our decisions point our lives in the direction we’re about to head. Show me a decision and I’ll show you a direction.” She goes on to cite a passage from Andy Stanley’s The Principle of the Path which underscores our direction determines our destination.
That is a powerful reminder. Because we allow ourselves the excuse when making an unwise choice that it’s a small decision. But that small decision builds on more small decisions and they end up setting the course for where we end up. Foolish spending, unwise eating, distance in our marriages, inattention to work, each choice builds up to a far greater set of problems if we don’t start setting boundaries and offering strategic nos. What is a choice before you? Where will that one decision lead you? And then where? Is that the direction in which you want to head?
After you’ve “chased down that decision,” it’s time to ban analysis paralysis and the fear that we’re not enough. This quote I led with is one of my favorites this week; all too often we worry that if things don’t turn out perfectly, or worse yet, exactly as we imagined, then it’s the end of that dream or opportunity. But it’s just an error NOT the end. You redirect. Recalibrate. Revise your course. The verse builds this concept around is from Proverbs 3:
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Before you make the decision, you have to trust God to direct your course. And then AFTER you’ve made the decision, you have to trust Him to carry out the course. Or as the book puts it, “If I’m trusting myself, I will stare at all the possible ways I could fail. If I’m trusting God, I will stare at all the possible ways He’ll use this whether I fail or succeed.”
All to often, what is holding us back from making a decision, whether it be a yes or no, is fear. Fear of failing or fear of succeeding (and yes, that’s a real thing, I can attest). Fear of looking foolish or being rejected. Fear of setbacks and or wrong timing.
We’ve got to release that fear that paralyzes us from acting. Because nothing we ever do will be perfect. We will make wise choices that still have flaws in them. We will make poor choices that won’t foreclose all opportunities ahead. And while we shouldn’t act rashly, we do HAVE to act. We do the best with the facts we have in hand knowing the direction we need to go. A season of career growth. A season of time with our kids. A season of focus on health or relationships. I think we Type A perfectionists think the world hinges on whether we say yes or no. It doesn’t. There’s freedom in embracing that:
My imperfections will never override God’s promises.
God’s promises are not depending on my ability to always choose well,
but rather on His ability to use well.
So what about you? What paralyzes you when it’s time to make a decision? What frees you up to act as wisely as you can in the season you’re experiencing? What did you read that helped you chart your course this week?