Effort and Results

“Never confuse effort with result.”

The first time read this quote, it caused me a bit of a problem.

See I buy t-shirts from some smaller businesses, usually military themed. I have a deep respect for those who serve, so if I can use my money to support veterans in their new endeavours I will.

The quote at the top was on the back of a t-shirt that had a menacing logo, worn by a guy with far more muscles than I would ever have. The t-shirt was cool, he was cool, and if I ordered the t-shirt he was wearing, maybe a little of his cool would rub off on me.

Here lied my problem.

How could I put on this tough dudes shirt if I had no idea what the statement even meant? The fact that he had battle scars heightened the fact that he was legit and, me… well… not so much.

I could understand what the words meant individually. I was being implored to never to confuse something important. It was the lack of the “why” it was important, that I should never confuse effort and result, that had me baffled.

I couldn’t close the gap, so I dropped the saying off in my long term memory, never really expecting to hear from it again.

Then one day I stumbled upon a blog from Shane Parrish about Speed and Velocity that included a little Steve Jobs on the side.


T-shirt guy was back.

Here’s a few portions of the article:

“Velocity and speed are different things. Speed is the distance traveled over time. I can run around in circles with a lot of speed and cover several miles that way, but I’m not getting anywhere. Velocity measures displacement. It’s direction-aware.” -Shane Parrish

“People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying “no” to 1000 things.” -Steve Jobs

If anyone else is like me, the first paragraph resonates clearly. A lot of energy being expended without moving the needle nearly as much as I hoped. This is where crack of insight started to shine through.

The correlations that linked up in my mind were between Effort and Speed, then Results and Velocity.

Speed/Effort gives the illusion of progress, but falls short because doesn’t make a choice in where its trying to go. Then to Jobs point, saying ‘Yes” to everything is choosing nothing, and outcome bears the fruit of that by not really arriving anywhere substantial.

There are two fundamental distinctions to be gained from this. Firstly, being thoughtful and deliberate in saying “Yes” and “No.” Secondly, understanding that each will have its consequence that will play out over time. Being direction aware of our efforts allows a person to gain velocity, and ultimately get the results we are looking for.

Back to the real world, Parrish and Jobs words provided some context to the t-shirt guys tag line. For me, `I am a little more confident that in the future, I will not “confuse effort with results.”

And if you’re wondering, I never bought the t-shirt. I just couldn’t pull it off.

Spiritual Durability. Part 2.

Desiring a pain-free life is denying reality. The good thing is we can prepare for those events by developing durability. We can inoculate ourselves by introducing a serum that boosts our immunity to hardship of life.

Training for Spiritual Durability is about perspective and preparation. It is taking the things people have being doing unwittingly in their lives and present them as tools upfront, so that they can start to cultivate these mental skills in the hope that they will become spiritually resilient.

A person can live a life of faith 70, 80, 90 years with their faith intact, living purposeful, meaningful  lives as followers of Christ. and can readily handle stress in crisis.

Don’t wait for life to happen.

The key to developing durability in life is to continually challenge yourself in the places that make you uncomfortable.

I don’t think I am alone in this, but uncomfortable is often daily exercises like kneeling to pray or memorizing a bible verse.

It is also not letting a worrisome thought circulate in our heads. Worry can be oddly comforting because it distracts us from the real issue of trust in God.

When we are uncomfortable, especially when it means that should have faith in spite of our circumstances, we develop this response to turn away from the source of discomfort, hoping it goes away.

We need change that response to keeping your head up and eyes open, not hiding from the pain a person feels when they reject passivity. Drawing from the constructive quality of adversity is the path to strength.

When we meet a challenge, we get to choose our response. The right one is doing not what you want to do, but doing what needs to get done. This builds the character, confidence, and commitment to keep going when the chips are down.

It takes courage to have faith in the unseen. By continually applying courage we change who we are. We begin to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Going forward despite not knowing exactly how something will turn out. True confidence is not a dependence on innate ability but byproduct of repeated courage in areas that we are weak.

Till next time…

Spiritual Durability. Part 1.

If you have been around Christianity for any length of time, you probably know someone who has gone through some tough times or you may have experienced them yourself. Life has a funny way at chipping away our joy and contentment as Christians.

During times of struggle, faith can erode to the place where a person finds they are no longer standing on a rock. As water rushes around their feet, to their horror they realize they are standing on sand. but end up getting washed downstream.

People “drop out” of a life of following Christ because of lack of spiritual and mental fortitude. Quite honestly, I think a lot of people never knew they needed it.

It’s like a page was missing from the manual they read or they maybe they missed that class in school. So as the drag of discomfort sets in, their spirit and mind because they have had enough.

Why? Because life is harder than we want. Life brings us unexpected adversity or pain and we get discouraged or, at times, even mad about it.

There is something in that deserves some thought. Why do we resent unplanned struggle so much? The heart of the matter is that we like to be in control and want to retain the ability to choose struggles that suit us.

We don’t mind adversity if we can sign up for it. We can train and complete some physical challenge of our choosing, then get a medal of completion at the end. Some people decide to push themselves intellectually, then stand in a line to receive a degree that acknowledges their efforts.

These things are good and are to be celebrated. It does opens the question ourselves to a question:

“How durable are we when we get to choose the circumstances we have to over-come?”

When it is up to us, we have a funny way about choosing adversity in areas that we have some level of basic talent to work from. Success isn’t guaranteed, but it is within the realm of possibility.

So what is our response when life brings a challenge which we never saw coming, we have no built in ability to draw from, and have no obvious win in sight?

What happens then when life bring a person adversity that we may never get a medal? You are never going to get sense of closure that comes with the of completion a challenge but you have to face it anyways?

Now that’s a lot of questions. This is what looking into spiritual durability addresses and hopefully provides some clarity. The ability to be resilient in following Christ, no matter the circumstances.

More on that next time…

Cadre of Faith

A brother is born for adversity.

A friend loves at all times.

Those verses from come from Proverbs 17. Someone who is Never Above, Never Below, Always Beside. Is there anything more that a person would want for a friend?

In a formula, Cadre of Faith = Brotherhood + Intention x Faith

This is under construction. Hopefully launch soon.