I spend my workdays trying to mine the potential out of teenagers who desire to graduate, but also tend to want to accomplish that with as little effort as possible. When I taught at a traditional high school, I would open my first day of class with motivational candor, hoping to push my students to set lofty goals and expect more out of themselves than they previously had. In an effort to support them in goal setting, one of the first things I would write on the board looked like this:
Mr. Almond’s Grading Scale
I would then ask, “What’s missing?” and they would respond, “There’s no ‘D’!” Emphatically, I would agree and follow with an explanation that I don’t give D’s, because D’s are grades for intellectual cowards, and that it takes ZERO ambition to aim for a D. This challenge to pursue academic excellence without excuses would be greeted with interesting silence, and I often wondered what they were thinking.
As I’ve grown in the teaching profession, I’ve recognized that students, and all of us in general, tend to be afraid to set concrete goals, especially if it means pursuing something we have never experienced or in an area where we have never experienced success. Despite that, we ALL need to be setting goals, and we all need to be moving toward them purposefully, because if not, we will look back on our lives and recognize we wasted much of our time wallowing in the mediocrity caused by fear.
In order to undertake the process of setting and pursuing goals, we must develop and display certain characteristics that must grow to define us. If we are obedient to grow in these areas, we will each find that goal setting will both liberate us and focus our energy. Four things we must master are FADD:
Faith – Believe in God, His promises, in ourselves, and in the vision that He’s given each of us. Build yourself up in your faith so that you are convinced that your destination is attainable.
Audacity – Develop the courage to spit in the face of fears and foes (not literally, please) Act on your faith in spite of the odds that may be against you.
Discipline – Master the skills necessary to achieve your goal, and master those things within you that may prevent you from reaching them. Some will require that you challenge your abilities and others that you challenge your character.
Diligence – Continue pursuit of your goals in sincerity. There will be setbacks and we will each suffer with discouragement. However, once we’ve started the race, we must endure until the end.
This is a good starting point; if we are to fulfill our God-given potential or even come close to touching it, we first must ensure we have our minds made up to deal with the process.