Why we should focus on foundations.
I recently visited a construction site where a close relative of mine is putting up a new house. We’ll call this relative Joe. Joe had been talking so much about this project that I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. He spends all his free time either at the site or on the phone discussing the construction, and it has become very obvious that he is investing quite a lot of his money in this work.
When we arrived at the site a few days ago, I was disconcerted. There was practically nothing to show for all the talking, working, and investing Joe had been doing. Joe, on the other hand, was very excited about what was there. As we walked around, he started explaining things to me.
“We just finished laying the foundation for the house,” he said. “The foundation required an investment of a lot of money, time, et cetera because of the kind of structure I want to build on it. In fact, this foundation is strong enough to hold a house that is larger than what I intend to build.” He then proceeded to describe the final structure of the house to me. As he spoke, I began to understand and share his excitement. He concluded by saying, “If you don’t invest ample time and resources in establishing a strong foundation, the house you build will eventually crumble to the ground.”
My experience with Joe was so meaningful because it reminded me of my status in life. I entered 2016 in a state of psychological unrest owing to my inability to make new plans for the year. I have a personal tradition of taking some time at the end of each year to reflect on my accomplishments and failures, and identify lessons with which I can make new plans for the upcoming year. However, at the end of 2015, I couldn’t quite seem to make any new plans for 2016. As I tried to resolve this dilemma, I came to realize that I have enough plans that aren’t fully worked out yet. It would be unwise to turn my attention to new plans without seeing to the full development and execution of the existing ones. The things in which I am currently investing all my resources – travel, work, family, knowledge, faith, network – are laying the foundation for the kind of life I want to build eventually. It is therefore critical that I patiently and conscientiously work on these components of my life’s foundation. Like Joe’s house, if I don’t invest ample time and resources in establishing a strong foundation, anything I build will eventually crumble to the ground.
So I finally have a plan for 2016: Continue building the foundation, be patient, and follow where God leads. I may be far from my desired position in life but I understand that my ability to maintain that position when I get there depends on my discipline in building the appropriate foundation today.
I implore you to also evaluate your current foundation. What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? Are you building a foundation that can first, enable you to build that kind of life, and second, keep that life from crumbling to the ground after you’ve built it?
Remember that the tallest and strongest trees often spend a long time establishing firm, extensive roots underground before sprouting. In the same way, building your foundation could be a long, drab, and inconspicuous process that requires patience, discipline, and endurance. I am choosing to employ these virtues in building my foundation this year. You should consider doing the same.
Happy New Year!