How much do you really want to win? How badly do you long to achieve your goal? What, if anything, are you not willing to give up for the effort to arrive at your destination?
These are simple questions that haunt every competitor. The questions also lurk in the background of every difficult quest. Often we lay out our plans in a way that we think we know what our real goal is. We believe we understand ourselves. As the process unfolds and circumstances change we often begin to discover the truth that we failed to see ourselves. I caught myself looking in the mirror the other day after watching a documentary on Ernest Shakleton’s voyage in the early part of the 1900’s to Antarctica.
Shakleton was obsessed by the thought of regaining his place as the preeminent explorer of Antarctica. His goal, or so he initially thought, was to take a band of men and cross the Antarctica continent in a way that no person had ever done before. Before the trip was over he discovered that his real goal was to go and come back with every man’s life intact.
The documentary revealed yet again (since I had read the original book on the voyage and seen a previous documentary twice) the flawed nature of Shakleton’s character. This man was weak, egotistic, and arrogant. Flaws in his character often caused immeasurable grief in the lives of those around him. They also blinded him to the gaps and weaknesses in his adventure.
The crux of the story pivots on two points. First, the ship and crew was locked and stranded in the middle of the Ross Sea by the fall season ice. This triggered a realization on everyone’s part that their lives were in the balance. Second, Shakleton saw himself, realized his true goal, and put God in charge.
Things often work out very differently than we expect. The crux is that when you “put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” (Proverbs 16.3) Is this what you want?