Do you have a younger sister or brother? A niece or a nephew?
Let’s pretend you were being a very gracious big sister or auntie and offered to teach your little protege how to drive.
After an encouraging pep talk and a run down of what needs to happen, you buckle yourself up in the passenger seat as they begin to back out of the driveway. You are a little nervous because you know they’re driving ability won’t be perfect, but you also know they’ve been taking driver ed classes for months and learning how to drive is something they really seem to want to do. You lean over, pat them on the back and say “you got this!” and you mean it — they really can do this, easily even, if they simply do everything they’ve spent months learning.
All is clear as they back out of the driveway, put the car into drive and begin dutifully coasting at 25 mph to the end of the neighborhood block. After looking both ways and seeing that the road is clear, your loved one makes a left turn onto the main street and cruises a few feet until they encounter their first intersection.
The light is red. Unphased, you begin messing with the radio, looking for some good music. It’s a beautiful day outside and you know your younger relative is going to do just fine. You have full confidence in them. In fact, you are even looking forward to the ride now!
After finding the perfect station, you look up and notice the light is green. But your young driver hasn’t moved. Confused, you say “Hey, uh, the light is green…” They look at you and nod affirmatively, but still fail to step on the gas. Growing more impatient you ask, “What are you waiting for? Don’t you know that green means ‘go’?”
What would you do if your younger sibling or niece still refused to move the car? As in, they never took their foot off the break? If they continued to look at you and say all the right things but they never. moved. the. car. forward?
The car has a full tank of gas and was just tuned up so you KNOW it’s working properly. Your loved one got 100% on all the drivers ed exams and attended all the training classes so you KNOW they know what to do. There are no accidents ahead and the road is completely clear.
If they continued standing still, this would start to make you really mad, wouldn’t it? If you’re like me, you’d probably get out the car, walk around to the drivers side, tell them to get out the drivers seat and go sit in the passenger seat, and then you’d drive yourselves home. It would be a loooooong time before you’d give them the opportunity to drive again, if ever.
Do You Stop at Green Lights?How many of us get green light after green light in our own lives, yet we continue to sit at the intersection? We have every opportunity in the world to step on the gas yet we don’t move our ideas, our dreams, our goals, forward.
Maybe we tell ourselves that we aren’t ready. Or we are nervous about what lies ahead. Maybe we don’t know what the speed limit is. Or we don’t know how long its going to take for us to get to where we are going. So we continue sitting still.
Would any of the above be valid excuses is someone else were driving the car? If it was your younger niece you were with and she was sitting at a green light, would you give her a pass to stay still indefinitely because she said she “wasn’t ready”? Or because she’s nervous about what’s up ahead? Or because she doesn’t know the speed limit? Or because she doesn’t know how long getting to her destination is going to take?
Of course you wouldn’t give her a pass! And you shouldn’t because those excuses are ridiculous! If she’s nervous about what lies ahead you’d tell her to take deep breath and drive anyway. If she doesn’t know the speed limit, she can drive at a reasonable speed until she sees a sign. If she doesn’t know how long the journey is going to take, she can simply enjoy the ride. After about 2 minutes of the back and forth, I bet you’d be like, “Giiiiiirl, if you don’t take your foot off that brake and start driving…”
So why do we accept these same excuses in our own lives when it comes to pressing forward towards our dreams? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I continue to personally fight through my tendency to over plan, over analyze and not DO.
Three Lessons in Pressing the Gas
Have you ever been mulling something over that you were on the fence about then had few back to back circumstances happen to you that seemed to confirm to you that you are on the right track? This has been happening to me this week as I encounter stories of other inspiring women who are putting the pedal to the metal at the first sight of a green light.
Lesson #1 – Move Past the Fear
The first instance happened yesterday when I received an email from GG Renee of Allthemanylayers.com. I’m on her newsletter list and her latest email really spoke to me. In her email, she writes:
“I get lots of ideas. I have journals and notebooks and post-it notes full of ideas and possibilities. Perhaps you do too. Perhaps you hoard these ideas and don’t share any of them because you are afraid that they won’t be received well. Maybe no one will care or worse yet, people may criticize. I’ve been afraid to host an event because 1) I suck at event planning and 2) I was scared that no one would come. I’ve been afraid to do videos and conference calls because 1) What if I’m boring and I forget what to say and 2) Again, scared that no one would sign up. But I’ve been scared of lots of things lately and I’ve done them anyway. What they say is true, with practice, you learn to move forward even with your fear.”
That email resonated with me so hard, I had to email GG back! I’m at a place right now where more possibilities are available to me than ever before, but I find myself stalling for incredibly dumb and irrational reasons. It makes no sense. I had no problem pressing the gas on bumpy roads full of traffic, but now that I’m facing an open, 6-lane highway with little traffic and virtually no speed limit, I get way too cautious.
Lesson #2 – “Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can”
No sooner did I receive GG’s email, I stumbled on this wonderful blog by a motivational speaker named Stacey Flowers. In one post in particular, she interviews Estelle Archer, a regular girl who lost a ton of weight and started a 160,000 follower fitness movement through instagram. Stacey’s interview with Estelle is soooo inspiring. I encourage you to watch both parts below when you have a chance, but the gist of it is, after being obese, broke, and depressed for too long, Estelle simply decided she would finally “go” when faced with her life’s “green light”. I actually got the “green light” analogy from Estelle, as she describes how she was watching a sermon one day where the pastor said he was going to quit being a pastor to become a driving instructor because he was sick of seeing people sit at the “green light” of their lives year after year.
Not only was I inspired by Estelle’s tremendous success after deciding to “go” — she sells ebooks, produces her own fitness DVDs, leads classes, and is touring the country to do classes in all 50 states — I was inspired by the fact that she let NO excuse stand in her way. I mean, homegirl shot her first fitness DVD on her iPHONE!!! It doesn’t get more “start where you are, use what you have” than that!
Lesson #3 – You May Not Get a Second Chance
As if that wasn’t enough confirmation, while reading the book Success God’s Way by Charles Stanley on the train during my commute to work, I came across this scripture:
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
I’ve read that scripture several times before but I don’t know, this time it lighting a fire under my butt! In fact, all the inspiration I’ve come across is lighting a fire under my butt!
So no more waiting, stalling, excuse making for me. I’m declaring that I’m no longer sitting at any intersection of my life when the light is green. Green means ‘go’!
Will you step on the gas, too? Let me know by leaving a comment.