“Keep both hands on the bat and swing through!” My sons little league coach preached. “you’re timing is good, you’re contact is good but you stopped swinging and the ball isn’t going any where.” While I watched Jay wrestle with all the stimuli, the pitch, the instruction, the fact that I’m watching, a realization struck me right in the chest.
Follow through is really the only thing we are impressed by. Odds are you’ve had a good idea. Whether it was a concept for a business, an invention or a good date night, a light bulb has flickered once or twice in your life. Even greater odds are that you probably didn’t do anything with it… You didn’t follow through. The vision you had remained theoretical, suspended in space, rather than a reality you can touch and experience. The lack of follow through is what gives dreamers a bad name. People can only handle so much disappointment and there is plenty to go around. Our lack of follow through makes it easy to dismiss much of what we say to each other. “Let’s get together,” is more of a kind gesture then an invitation to actually spend time with each other.
The rare occasion when someone does what they say they is almost unnerving. It sticks in our memory. They become almost a hero to us. Self doubt turns into manifested destiny when we fail to follow through. Failure to follow through affirms our suspicions that we “just aren’t good at talking to people.” Or “I suck at measurements,” when we try to build something ourselves. This entitled way of thinking is the easy way out. We love to attribute impressive performance with an anointment of “talent.” “That’s just God given speed,” or “he’s a natural,” are statements aimed at giving ourselves a free pass. I believe we are bent in certain directions that make our skill development faster in some areas than others. But I refuse to believe God sprinkles good hitter dust on someone and not the other, given they both possess the same hand eye coordination and raw physical ability. When we chalk a great performance up to someone’s mystical talent, we rob them of their due credit. We choose to ignore excruciating practice in empty arenas to acquire this “talent.” It’s more pleasant to believe someone is better than me at something because God wants them to be and not because they worked harder than me. Not because they struggled more than me.
We all fall into Follow Through Canyon. We get an idea, we get really jacked up and can see the shiny finished product glowing in our head. Then there’s the space between concept and process. The land of struggle. The space where excitement and energy slam into confusion and lack of result. Follow through is the only thing keeping us from panhandling on the boulevard of broken dreams.
Edison remains right, “vision without execution is hallucination.” Execution despite how weird it gets is follow through. Follow through is interesting. Follow through sells out stadiums. So how do we do it? Just like growing a tree, prune your intentions. . Meaning well means nothing to doing things well. Most of us aren’t maniacal when we let people down. We promise too much, and consider struggle too little. Follow through is directly linked to a concentrated effort. Narrow your focus on one thing and the process that make the completion of that one thing possible. If you want to do it, you have to want to do it more than any other thing at that point in your life.
Have one simple filter you put decisions through. Will the finish be worth the race? I will remember whatever I have the strongest emotional reaction to. Will the endorphin rush of blessing someone, over ride the suckiness of having less money? If this balance doesn’t weigh out in the outcome’s favor, then the venture loses its value. The filter is essential. Other wise you stand no chance against struggle without it. Choose worthy of your effort. When value is clear, you strike a deal with struggle. You become aware of all the emotions on the table. There will be excitement. There will be dread. There will be joy at the finish line or regret at the midpoint. The emotions that mean the most will determine your idea’s fate. Choose wisely. Our character connected to our follow through. Children dream, and we should never stop dreaming, Men finish what they started. We need both sides of ourselves to create and finish. We have to be a Manchild.