Are you hacking through the wrong jungle? Are you working hard? Sweating over things you’re trying to change in your life, furiously chopping away at the tangled mess that life sometimes becomes? But are you clearing your way through the right jungle?
Author Steven Covey suggests that managing and leading are different. Managers supervise the folks doing the chopping to clear the jungle. Managers respond to problems. They sharpen blades. They teach better techniques, and shout encouragement. But the leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree to ensure the group is going where they intend. He’s the one who begins with the end in mind.
Do we lead our lives, or manage them? Do we have a clear vision of the end product, or are we too busy hacking away from Monday to Friday to think about where we’re going?
Begin with the end in mind. It’s what builders do. They have a blueprint before they build. Writers have a story to tell before they just start splattering letters across a page. Marksmen have a target in their sights before they pull the trigger. As Covey says, “As things are created twice.” The first creation happens in the mind of the creator before the second takes place in the physical realm.
Beginning with the end in mind is God’s way. Notice Ephesians 3:11, he had an “eternal purpose” in mind before he created our world. He “prepared in advance” good works for us to do (2:10), arranged “before the creation of the world” (1:4). God knew where he was going before he started the trip.
What about us? We must preview our path before we pursue it if we hope to end where we hope to end. “If you don’t know where you are going,” it has been said, “you will probably end up somewhere else.”
How do you preview the product before it’s produced? Here’s a suggestion. Go to your own funeral. Go now! That’s right. In your mind, picture the funeral home and see yourself lying in the coffin. Now, imagine four people delivering your eulogy – a family member, a close friend, a co-worker, and your preacher. What will they say? What you hope they say tells you the end product that is really important to you – the one you should be working toward today.
Clear a path! Just be sure that you’re hacking away at the right jungle.