What do military operations and political campaigns have in common? Smokescreens. In military operations a smokescreen is used as a cover to conceal troop movements. In politics, smokescreens are applied to deflect or hide the discovery of what is true.
We also face smokescreens in life akin to driving in a fog. Our destinies and goals are often veiled behind smokescreens which if given enough attention to will deter us from realizing what we were meant to accomplish in life. Consider these three smokescreens:
- Approval: We often seek approval from people because we hope their validation will be the proof or the sign that we were meant to do what was already designed for us to do. We keep waiting for an approval that turns into a smokescreen holding us captive from reaching into our destinies. We end up exhausting our resources trying to appease people all the while blinded to this truth; if God deposited a gift, dream, or idea in you, its all the approval you need to pursue it. Whether a gift, dream, or idea, build on it day by day never surrendering your life to the approval of others. Approval should never be the basis of appraisal for your value. Don’t use the ebb and flow of views, likes, and followers as the foundation to build a successful life on. It’s like building a house on quicksand. One proven way to kill your need for approval is to give appreciation. While approval is based on performance, appreciation is based on a relationship.
- The Whirlwind: In the book, “The Four Disciplines of Execution” authors Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, and Jim Huling juxtapose the Whirlwind and W.I.Gs (Wildly Important Goals). The Whirlwind represents what you have to do. These are the daily tasks or the routines that are part of your day to day and cannot be avoided. They are what occupy most of your time. W.I.Gs are your Wildly Important Goals and they are what you do outside of the whirlwind. They are goals that will radically change your life when they are realized. While the whirlwind is continuous, W.I.Gs are Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-stamped (SMART). For example, as a writer, my W.I.G is to write 1 book every year. This is life changing for me. W.I.Gs should be no more than three to ensure you maintain focus, apply discipline, and maintain a measurable scoreboard to track your progress. Often the whirlwind will act as a smokescreen hindering your view of your W.I.Gs and stealing your attention for what will be life changing to you. Do you have any W.I.Gs?
- The Middle: Have you ever been in the middle of doing something and ask yourself, “What made me think I could do this?” We start with so much promise, hope, and enthusiasm but at some point we hit “the wall.” I have been a victim of this in my writing on multiple occasions and the remedy is to continue writing and silence that voice of doubt that rises to question my resolve and stifle my momentum. It’s in the middle that the fog seems to intensify and going back or quitting is an easier option than forging ahead into the unknown. The joy of advancing despite any smokescreen is that eventually the ‘middle feeling’ subsides and you are re-energized by your cause to bring about a great effect.
Final thought: The more attention you give to what matters most to you and serves others, the clearer you will see past the smokescreens in your path. And be committed to the level of execution required to actualize what is now in the raw material form of a dream or an idea.
Keep on keeping on!