Setting Yourself up for Setbacks – My 100 Book Challenge

Not trying to start with the excuses this early on, but had a rough week fitting in the minimum 2 books per week on my 100 Book Challenge, but had a breakthrough this week and made some great progress. See, that’s the thing with ambitious goals; you need to account for what you’re going to do when you do have set backs. With 100 books, my average of course has to be roughly 2 books every week with a 2-week margin for catching up if I miss that target. When the week started to get away from me I thought about what I would do if I ever did get behind.

What do you do when you get behind on your goals? Do you immediately throw in the towel? Do you punish yourself with negative self-talk? Do you see one setback as an overall failure, and toss the entire goal aside? Do you say, “What’s the use, and go back to your mundane, empty, and listless life?

I’ve learned personally, and experts and research have proven, those who naively set ambitious goals without taking into account the almost inevitable setback will likely not succeed. They almost go as far as to think they’ll “automatically” be a success and can be positive enough to overcome discouragement. They set lofty goals and think only about the achievement without considering the potential for discouraging obstacles. Sadly, the science says, those are the ones that fail.

However, those who anticipate they’ll run into obstacles can, in my own words, brace themselves for impact. You know you’re going to hit a wall sometime. This isn’t self-fulfilling prophecy mumbo-jumbo, but it is taking into account the occasional curve-ball life inevitably throws your way. Good hitters know how to hit a fast-ball. Great hitters learn how to CRUSH a curve-ball.

Now, these thoughts are overly simplified, but the principles were the mode of survival  for Admiral James Stockdale. He spent 8 years as a POW in Vietnam and was tortured 15 times. In his book, “Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot” he provides readers with a gritty account of his imprisonment and subsequent release.

From Wikipedia

“In a business book by James C. Collins called Good to Great, Collins writes about a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp.[16]

When Collins asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.[17]

Stockdale then added:

This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.[17]

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.”

Try not to fall into the trap of being so focused on your goal you don’t take into account the resistance you will face. The attainment of the goal is great and will say a great deal about your grit, but the wisdom you gain along that journey is, in my estimation, just as valuable as the attainment of a goal.

In short, set yourself up for setbacks. Anticipate there will be challenges along the way. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. No matter the goal you set for yourself, don’t lose sight of the lessons to be learned along the journey; they’re often just as important as the goal itself.

Feel free to leave me comments on your best kept secret for achieving your goals when the temptation to give up strikes!

100 Book Challenge Week 2 Progress – 5 of 100

I’d like to start this post with a caveat; my motives for this quest and even chronicling it on my blog are simply for archival purposes. A goal of this magnitude, at least for me, is daunting, and trying to capture which books I read and when is daunting as well. So I apologize if my posts, or even sharing this journey comes across like grandstanding. This is certainly not my goal.

I get asked a lot in my ministry about which books to read and to turn to for wisdom or advice, honestly, it just makes sense having this blog to point them to, not out of need for clicks, but more out of need for convenience and archival purposes.

So, I hope the spirit and sincerity behind these posts is felt and that in some small way, if you happen to stumble upon this blog and like it, that you’ll be blessed as well.

Week 2 of my 100 Book Wisdom Quest Challenge brings 2 interesting titles to the mix and both related to coaching.

1. “Uncommon – Finding Your Path to Significance” by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker – With the distinction of only 1 of 3 players to win a Super Bowl both as a player and a coach, Tony Dungy (with Nathan Whitaker) delivers a book jammed pack with wisdom from a player’s perspective and a coach based on his Christian values. You can tell he truly put his heart and soul into this book being at times very transparent about some of the challenges of maintaining his Christian faith through some serious hardships, not the least of which was the suicide by his 18-year-old son Jamie.

Tony’s integrity and sportsmanship shine through this book and reads like one huge book packed with advice for teenagers to adult men, from professionals to those just striving to be good, upstanding Christians. I have a great appreciation for men like Tony who can survive the world of professional sports with his integrity still intact. This book was extremely encouraging and insightful and would be an excellent read for fathers AND sons to read to emphasize how vital it is we live an “uncommon” life of honor and integrity in a world where it appears they’re in short supply.

2. The Coaching Habit – Say Less, Ask More Questions & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier – From the “Box of Crayons” Coaching and Consultant Firm’s founder comes this timely, concise, yet simple way to effectively coach in a variety of settings; from bosses and CEO’s to sports, to even your children, this book is both theoretical and practical. Michael’s clever style and wit brings culminates into the most valuable coaching question in the world; the AWE question…”And, what else?”

From this very memorable acrostic AWE, Michael expands his all-important question to include variations on the question to avoid sounding too mechanical and repetitious, and follows this up with a total of 7 important questions keying into such questions such as, “What’s the biggest challenge you see?” Or, driving it even closer to home, “What’s the biggest challenge FOR YOU here?”

Easily one of my favorite books so far, I will personally be drawing from this wisdom for many years to come. The major theme throughout is helping people discover solutions to their own situations while also guiding them to do so without dismissing your leadership.

Related Links:

In addition to these 3 titles, I am in the middle of doing daily devotions spread out over several books:

  1. “With Christ in the School of Prayer” by Andrew Murray
  2. “God’s Wisdom for Today – Scriptural Devotions”
  3. “Jesus Always – Embracing Joy in His Presence” by Sarah Young