Catching Foxes

“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes” – Song of Solomon 2:15

Little Fox, Big Damage

During my summer outdoor runs, I occasionally catch sight of a little fox. Whether it is the same fox or not, I am not certain. The fox, unlike me, runs free without adherence to property lines and observation of traffic patterns. Foxes are small and appear harmless on the surface. But in the field of grapes and vineyards, they are pesky. For their size, they can do irreparable damage to a vineyard. They dig and burrow through the root of the vines, cut off nutrition to the rest of the plant, essentially killing it off. 

In life, there are little foxes. They dig, burrow and chew within us, sap us of vital energy needed to pursue our visions, dreams, and goals. At first, they appear innocuous and inconsequential. We let down our guard. Little by little, they roam around our lives, and if not caught, cause grave damage. Bent on stealing our future, these foxes once recognized ought to be nipped in the bud. Foxes are notorious for appearing at the bloom stage. When the plant is on the cusp of producing its fruit and reaching its full potential. This vulnerable stage is ideal for the fox. By attacking at the stage of potential, the fox renders the plant unproductive. 

At the Edge of a Harvest

Our potential staggers and falters on the trip hazards of “little foxes” that invade our lives. Our potential carries within it the DNA to reach our goals and dreams. For many of us, our goals are beginning to bloom. Using our potential, we have created a rhythm throughout January that is beginning to reveal signs of progress. Momentum is growing steadily and surely. You see a harvest in sight. This tender grape juncture is exciting. Results are imminent. But lurking in the shadows are little foxes, small things that seem unimportant but can spoil the vineyard. How do these foxes find their way into our lives?

Manner of Entry

“Improvement is a battle that must be fought anew each day,” says the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear. Yesteryear’s accomplishments have a way of impeding opportunities for greater progress today. We can rest too long on the laurels of what we did that we overlook how much more we can do. James Clear continues, “Your next workout doesn’t care how strong your last one was. Your next essay doesn’t care how popular your last one was. Your next investment doesn’t care how smart your last one was. Your best effort, again.”

When we stop improving, we create an entryway for the little foxes to come in. Without our best effort daily, our blooming vines start to shrivel. The little fox of past achievement tells us we don’t need to give our best today. It whispers our past successes to justify a laid back, meet-the-bare minimum approach to life. Little by little, day by day, this little fox’s whisper keeps us in our comfort zones. 

The Zone of Comfort

According to Wikipedia, “a comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person, and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.” Improvement calls for challenges that draw us out of our comfort zones. Our aversion to challenges pushes growth and change out of our reach. In the comfort zone, excuses are the raw materials to build houses of stagnancy.

Catching Foxes

This month, we will identify three little foxes that we need to watch for and catch as we progress through 2021 with our sights set on reaching our goals and impacting the lives of others along the way. These three foxes restrict us to our comfort zones. They are justified with excuses that resemble an alloy, lessening our value and slowing our progress to our goals. Inventor John Landis Mason captured it superbly, “When you’re good at making excuses, it’s hard to excel at anything else.” Mixed in with our dreams and goals, excuses dilute our passion and turn the sweetness of our dreams bitter. Contrarily, living an excuse free life rapidly increases the probability of our goals coming to pass as you improve your life daily. Additionally, your value in relation to other people will rise. Your dependability and integrity will be difficult to ignore. 

The foxes we will arrest this month are:

Complacency  – Arriving February 11th

Apathy – Arriving February 18th

Compromise – Arriving February 25th 

Final thought: To wrap up today’s post, here are some questions to posit in your thinking:

  1. What have you identified as an area for improvement?
  2. What is driving this need?
  3. What excuses are holding you back from beginning the process?
  4. What picture do you see on the other side of your improvement plan?

Keep on keeping on

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