By David Hegg
It’s college graduation season and once again we turn our eyes, our hearts and our hopes to the next generation. Whether it is graduation from high school, or the garnering of some higher degree, it will mean a whole new flock of talented men and women are about to burst into the marketplace of ideas and industry. And yet, the stark reality is that many will fail in their desire to build a career and make an honorable contribution to society. Why? The reasons are myriad but one thing is for sure. Those with character, discipline, good hearts and good old-fashioned grit stand a much better chance of finding success on the road to achievement.
And so, in hopes that I can help others achieve success, I offer a few thoughts on running the race to win.
Learn to get more done in less time. A well-known maxim suggests that a task will normally expand to fill the time allotted to it. But successful people compete against such a view by planning their day well, preparing their minds for the tasks ahead, and working diligently and efficiently to accomplish more tasks in less and less time.
And here’s the important point. Invest the accumulated “extra” time, not in more tasks, but in personal growth and life-giving relationships. Simply put, get home earlier, watch more sunsets with the one you love, read more intelligence-building books, and continue honing your efficiencies on the way to even greater achievement.
Plan your future, but don’t live there. It is easy to find yourself “living for the future.” We all do it. And preparing for the next season of life, the next promotion, or the next adventure is certainly necessary. But be careful! As great as your dreams may be, today will only be here once, and what you accomplish today is a step toward what you may be able to accomplish tomorrow. As someone somewhere has said, “Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cash, so spend it wisely.”
You can’t hurry experience. This goes along with the previous maxim about making sure today gets your full attention simply because each day has its own full share of experience. And, as talented, bright, industrious, and good-looking as you may be, experience is the real currency of achievement, and experience can’t be rushed. However, if you can find an experienced, successful, older mentor you might just be able to get ahead in the competitive race of life by borrowing some of what their experience has taught them. Be patient. Be learning. And most of all, use what you learned yesterday to make today and tomorrow better for yourself and all those around you.
Be more generous than you think you can afford. First, understand that generosity – giving to, and helping others with no strings attached – isn’t really about money. It’s about loving other people, seeing their needs, and being compelled to help them in any way you can. Generous people have generous hearts that drive them to realize how helping a fellow human being is one of the greatest privileges we have been given by our Creator. And don’t wait! Be generous with what you have, and who knows, God just may increase your ability to be even more generous in the future.
Give credit to others as often as you can. Today’s world is awash in self-centered, glory-hogging grandstanders. Don’t be one of those! Don’t be the hero of all your own stories. Don’t dominate all the conversations, and for sure, don’t take all the credit for the successes that come your way. In fact, go out of your way every day to turn the spotlight on others. Thank them for their contribution, and advertise their competencies while letting the watching world know how much they contributed to the win. Look, life has always been a team sport. Be a team player, and you’ll find the team gets stronger and stronger, wins more, and has more fun doing it together.
So, here’s to our grads! Congratulations on your success but remember, the effort that got you this far must now be doubled in order to gain the perseverance, character and knowledge needed to win in the future. We’re all proud of you, and pray that your talents, wisdom, determination and grace will help make our society one where honesty, integrity and accomplishment reign. Now … go get em.’
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.