I love animals. I wouldn’t be in the pet care business if I didn’t. When someone finds out what I do for a living one of the first things they say to me is that it must be the best job ever. I would have to agree with them, most of the time it is the best job ever. I get the freedom of running my own company, setting my own hours, taking vacations to the beach when I want, not to mention the pure joy in taking care of some of the most awesome furry friends ever! One thing about dogs; they are always happy to see you and they very rarely cause me any stress whatsoever. The stress part; that comes from me. Stress in this job is of my own making.
One of the things that causes me the most stress is my unfortunate need to help everyone. I am that person that everyone calls when they need help. I get calls for picking someone up and taking them somewhere, watching their children, watching their pets, praying for them, meeting them for lunch or coffee to talk and catch up, not to mention the needs of my family that come before me daily. And I seem to always find a way to “make it work”. When I die, I am pretty sure my tombstone will read, “She made it work.” Because in the end, that is my response to every person who asks me to do something for them. I make it work. I know I shouldn’t but I do it anyway. I will make it work, and it usually does.
But, there are those times when making it work causes me more stress than I can handle. It not only puts stress on me, but it stresses everyone else around me. I tell my pet sitters that no is an acceptable answer, but I can’t seem to accept that two letter word for myself. I don’t do no, not when I can make it work. But not having the word no in my vocabulary, hinders me from enjoying the freedom of doing something I love. I am stressed out and stressing everyone else out around me all because I can’t seem to pronounce the simple word “no”. Is there any hope for me? What then, is the answer to my inability to say no? Stop, look and listen.
One of the trails I ride my bike on has a blind spot where it crosses a highway. Right after you come up the hill there is a stop sign and next to that stop sign is big yellow caution sing that says, “Stop, Look, and Listen.” There are trees and a dense covering over the intersection and oncoming traffic cannot see you if you want to cross. So, for any joggers or bikers or hikers on the trail, if you want to get to the other side with your life intact you need to stop, look and listen. You have to stop what you are doing so that you can look around at your surroundings and listen for any oncoming traffic. If you want to see the other side of the trail safely, this is very good advice. It’s also some very good advice for those of us who have the “make it work” mentality.
Owning your own business can be tough. You want to be successful, you want to grow and you want to get to a place where you can enjoy the fruits of your labors. But, with my make it work mentality I can go from enjoying what I do to wondering why the heck am I doing this in a matter of seconds. I have this idea that if I say no, they will go somewhere else and then they will tell all their friends about the other company and I will lose out on all that business. I would rather make it work, gain a client then tell them no. But sometimes, no is the acceptable answer.
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 ESV
You are probably wondering what these verses written by Solomon have to do with Stop, Look and Listen, but in Solomon’s words are some hidden wisdom that I think is important for anyone who might have the same make it work mind as me.
First off, we need to stop. Solomon uses the phrase “guard your steps”, and they both mean the same thing. To guard your steps means to carefully consider your surroundings. Stop what you are doing and look around you. Consider the consequences of what you are about to do. Stop and ask the necessary questions of who, what, why, where, and how. Who is going to be affected if you try to make it work? Why do you want to make it work? What kind of commitment is it going to take from you, from others, etc. Where is this going to fit into my day, week, month, goals, etc.? How is this going to be accomplished if I make it work? Think about the consequences to you and everyone around you. We do not live on islands. Every choice and decision we make has an effect on the people around us.
Next, we must look. Look at the whole picture. In business having a one day at a time outlook is not always wise. You have to look at the bigger picture. You have to ask yourself where you want to be in the next year, two years, five years. What is it going to take to get us there? What are our goals, missions, plans for the business? Proverbs 4:5 tells us to “Get wisdom; get insight”, two essential mind sets we must have if we are going to be successful in business, or in any other area of our lives.
Lastly, we need to listen. If you were to ask me what was the one thing I would encourage anyone in business to do, it would be to encourage them to pray. Pray about everything. Solomon warns us in verse 2 not to be rash with our mouths or hasty in our hearts. Stop, look and listen. Pray and seek the Lord before you go and ride out into that oncoming traffic. There have been more than a few times when I have heard the Lord telling me no, but I made it work anyway. I ended up regretting those decisions every single time. If I would have stopped, looked and listened I would not have ridden my bike into oncoming traffic. I would have heard the danger coming and would have waited.
We cannot be hasty in business nor in life. We must learn to stop, look and listen if we are going to have any peace in our daily existence. No is an acceptable answer, because even our Father in heaven tells us no from time to time. Be prepared to consider the consequences. Ask the right questions and be confident that God who has brought you this far, He will continue to carry you through. Don’t try to make it work. You will end up riding your bike into a roadway of stress. Stop, look and listen and you will keep your head. Amen.