Muck and Mire, Blowing Up Your Life, and the Cost of Growth

What if you wanted to get to the other side of the canyon and the bridge was blown up?


We often think of learning as mountain climbing. With this minset, it’s hard to get started. First you have to climb the mountain and then you get to the summit. Up there it’s easy and it’s effortless to descend on the other side.

But if you really think about it, it’s more like a ravine. It’s easy to get started, then you plateau and there’s a climb to the finish.

Yes, you can glide across, but you’re not going to learn much. Yes, you could build a bridge, but who really has the time? Besides, you’re not looking to get back to where you are now. Your path keeps moving forward beyond. So you have to do what most people are unwilling to do. You have to walk through the vallley, knowing full well there may be muck and mire to tread through. Real learning is hard work. No ifs ands or buts. It’s easy to get down into the valley, but many won’t venture because they know there’s only one way out once they do and that requires sweat.

So what if you look at the muck and mire as part of the package and decide to risk blowing up your life anyway. That would be foolish. True faith requires risk, but that doesn’t mean risk that isn’t calculations. Even Wile E. Coyote had enough sense to put his designs to capture the Road Runner on paper. They never worked, but it’s still a good idea.

Blowing Up Your Life and the C.O.G

Instead of blowing up your life, what if you looked at your next venture as an experiment. For example, you could experiment with growing your organization by 10% in the next month, or learning a new skill such as Calligraphy or C.A.D. Rather than looking at it as something to be feared, what if you decided it’s just an experiment. But not just any experiment, an ultra- experiment. Which means you’re going to do the hard work of getting down into the ravine and getting out the other side, mud, mire and all. Maybe you’re not burned out right now, just under challenged.

Yes, growth will cost you, but the rewards are worth it. Your discipline and dedication may keep you from doing all of the things you’d like to do right now, but discipline will help you do in the future what can’t be achieved by simply trying. No amount of trying compares to discipline.

If you don’t pay the cost of growth now, you’ll pay later in the form of regret. As Henry Cloud says, ‘Pay now, play later or play now and pay later’.

Now, back to going through the ravine. The reason people don’t like to get down into the mess is because they think it’s going to take too much time and energy. For many people, the thought of spending 4 years in pursuit of a degree or 6 months studying a subject is too long. In some cases it may be. So why not focus on just 4-6 weeks? Remember, it’s just an experiment. For example, you can decide to teach yourself a subject for the next 4-6 weeks. There are plenty of free and/or inexpensive resources online and at the library.

Or you could decide to talk with every expert you know on the subject. That’s faster in some cases because someone can be a very wise thinker and not be able to put their thoughts on paper.

Whatever you do, you’ll need three things.

A goal.  Decide what you want to learn ahead of time. Be specific. I want to learn three ways to effectively reach my community with the gospel is specific. I want to learn more about Evangelism is not so specific.

Next, you need a strategy. I’m going to read 6 books on Evangelism is specific. I’m going to read some books on Evangelism is not so specific. Your plan will only work if you work your plan and a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Action. The best plan is just some words on a piece of paper unless you implement it. I’m going to spend 1 hour each night researching is specific. I’m going to read a little bit every night is not.

If you’re going to learn, you’re going to have to go through the muck and the mire. There are lions and tigers and bears out there and wishful thinking doesn’t just make them go away. No, you don’t have to blow up your life in the process. Take 1 class rather than three each semester if taking more is going to have a negative impact on your marriage. But whatever you do, realize ahead of time it is going to cost you. Growth does not come free but it’s worth every effort.

What ultra-experiment are you considering and what difficulties, risks and costs do you see in your future? Please comment below and I’ll do my best to respond to as many people as possible.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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