They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity.
You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are;
but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”
― Mark 12:14
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings,
or of God? Or am I trying to please people?
― Galatians 1:10
I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent
man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.
― Johannes Kepler
What does it mean to get someone else’s approval?
Usually, it means lowering and debasing yourself.
― Marty Rubin
We’ve come a long way together. We’ve looked at fifty pieces of advice, advice that is grounded in God’s wisdom and biblically-solid psychological concepts. Each piece of advice we’ve explored is a pearl, something we would be wise to accept and value.
Now comes the hard part.
The hard part is applying this advice to your life. If you don’t, it goes to waste and your life doesn’t turn out the way God intended it to. If you do, you give your life a chance to be better than you could have ever hoped for or imagined.
Poet Robert Frost’s iconic poem, The Road Not Taken, expresses the reality of every human being’s life in a powerful way. It talks about the fact that as we go through life, we come to various forks in the road where we have a choice to make, a choice between taking the wiser, healthier path and taking the foolish, destructive path. Frost rightly noted in his poem that the tendency among we human beings is to take the more traveled path of foolishness and self-destruction.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.
The path we choose each day, be it the wise path or the foolish one, will dictate the quality of our lives. Every choice we make either furthers our life in terms of growing into more mature, loving people or regresses our lives back to immature, selfish ways of being. We are never in neutral in life—we are always either moving forward and moving backward.
Pop has stood at that fork in the road thousands of times in his life, sometimes choosing the wise path and bringing good things into his life and sometimes choosing the foolish path and bringing bad things into his life.
However we define maturity, it has a lot to do with choosing the wiser path more frequently than you choose the foolish path.
Regardless of the path you choose, suffering will be involved. The two paths are a choice between two kinds of suffering.
If you choose the path of following the advice in this book, what I believe to be the wise path, you are going to suffer, but it’s the kind of suffering that will leave you better off in the long run in terms of personal growth and development.
If you go the opposite direction and live life in a foolish way, you are going to suffer, but it’s the kind of suffering that leaves you worse off because it inhibits your growth and development and leaves you a shell of a human being who harms yourself and others in the process.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that there is a non-suffering path in life. There isn’t. Each day has more than a few problems and difficulties wired into it, and, whether you face or avoid those painful challenges, you are going to suffer. The daily choice you get to make is which kind of suffering you want to experience—the kind that leaves you better off or the kind that leaves you worse off.
All of the advice I’ve given you in this book is going to go to waste if you don’t have the courage or discipline to apply it.
Applying this advice requires courage because you have to face that part of you that would settle for the status quo and stay in your comfort zone of doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result.
Applying this advice requires discipline because it doesn’t do us much good to do growthful things for just a little while and then quit.
You can’t afford to postpone applying the advice in this book until you’re emotionally ready and feeling motivated. If you do that, you’ll wait a long, long time.
Will Rogers rightly observed, “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll wait forever.”
You have to act now, whether you feel ready or not.
As Anthon St. Maarten put it, “No more excuses. No more self-sabotage. No more self-pity. No more comparing yourself to others. Time to step up. Take action right now and start living your life with purpose.”
You can’t afford to get started and quit along the way. You’re better off not starting than to start and stop.
Dragos Bratasanu noted, “Your persistent actions are the bridge between mind and matter, between the inner and the outer. Do what you’ve been called to do. Do it with grit, do it with courage, do it with boldness and faith, and do it every day for the rest of your life.”
You’ve got to take full responsibility for taking the path of growth in life. How you live your life is completely your responsibility, and you need to own that while you’re here.
St. Augustine insightfully observed, “God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” If you don’t raise your own sails and expect the wind God provides each day to push your ship out to sea, you are fooling yourself and looking at life all wrong.
You’ve got to learn to be okay with taking small steps every day. Peter Marshall stated, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” It’s interesting how often the smallest of steps seem to lead to more steps until you gotten a lot accomplished in a given day. Humble yourself to the fact the smallest of actions are the least we can do to put each day to good use.
You’ve got to learn to be patient as well. Take it slow rather than rush things. Not only do we need to be okay with the smallest of steps in life, but we need to take those steps slowly so that we fall into rushing our growth and progress in life.
There’s an old Chinese proverb, “Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.”
Be afraid of inaction in life, not small steps of progress done slowly.
Munchkins, I want you to face the fact that inaction is your greatest enemy in life and that what you know is not near as important as whether or not you apply it.
Norman Vincent Peale was right when he said, “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear.” And Johann Wolfgang von Goethe rightly noted, “Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
Because action is so important if you want to live a rich and meaningful life, I’ve written Pop’s Advice Workbook for you and put it in the back of this book. The workbook is more important than the advice I’ve given you.
Peter Drucker stated, “The greatest wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data.” That’s true, and I’ve written this workbook for you so that you will apply the best advice available to personkind so that it won’t remain “meaningless data” in your life. I strongly encourage you to complete the workbook so that you can put all of Pop’s Advice into action.
I leave you with some final quotes to post on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, and your computer at work.
Pablo Picasso said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.”
Maya Angelou observed, “Nothing will work unless you do.”
And Mahatma Gandhi stated, “The future depends on what you do today.”
Those are all words to live by, don’t you think?
Munchkins, I’m crazy about you. I think you hung the moon and are the best thing to ever hit the planet. Thank you for bringing all of us so much joy. Please spend the rest of your life taking all the advice we’ve covered in this book to heart, and please teach it to your own children as well.
Take the less-traveled path and watch it make all the difference in the world.