I arrived last night in Chinandega, Nicaragua to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my daughter, who is on staff for the mission-based organization Amigos for Christ. It was almost midnight when I arrived. I found a bunk amidst 50 sleeping women in the common room.
At 5:00 am, the sound of a lone rooster called out, breaking the early morning silence. I rose and went to the rooftop deck to watch the sun rise over the Nicaraguan mountains. In that quiet moment, I was thrown back to my first visit here, more than three years ago.
I recalled how, on that first morning, I spent time on that same deck watching the Nicaraguan sunrise. At the time, I was reading a book by Bob Goff called Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. Even now, what I value from Bob’s writings is that each chapter is a stand-alone lesson in life and that interestingly, almost all can be applied within the business context.
Bob writes that living a life fully engaged is something many people want to do but along the way forget to do. People are so busy. We plan to do many things, but those plans are just that – plans – because we never find the time to “get around to it.” We can have many opportunities placed right in front of us, yet defer “to a better time.”
I have so often played that scenario over and over in my head, “Oh, I will go take that hike next weekend,” or “as soon as I finish this project, I will go see a movie.” Every time, the opportunity passes. There is no next time. Life becomes a string of non-stop deferrals. Sadly, those are simple examples. We have a long list of much more meaningful “next times” when we defer spending quality time with a close friend, or even your child.
Bob suggests that “passing on an opportunity is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision.” Sadly, that is exactly what my habits were….passing on life. I was pretty good at the “making the plan” part. On that morning in 2013, it was almost as if one of the statements spoke directly to me. Bob implores, “Stop plotting the course and instead land the plane on our plans to make a difference, by getting to the “doing” part of faith.”
For a year, I had been plotting the launch of a special program aimed to help women in their career. That morning, I knew I had to land the plane. There is just no telling what can happen when those wheels touch down for the first time. I am grateful for that moment and that message. It’s almost crazy to realize how much we can learn when we’re finally ready to take it in!
Amigos for Christ is an example of doing rather than dreaming. More than 15 years ago, a group of a dozen adults from a church in Buford, Georgia visited Chinandega, where they stumbled onto a community living by a dump. They went back to Georgia and fueled their “plane.” They returned to Nicaragua to make a difference. The results have been astounding.
The team working for Amigos for Christ believes that it’s not about how many people you impact, rather how much you can impact one person.
It’s easy to make the plan or even dream big. It’s easy to ask yourself, “now what?” As Bob Goff writes, “I usually try to figure out what the next step is and then do that. I know it sounds simple, too formulaic, it seems like there must be more to it. But there isn’t. For most of us, the next step is as easy as picking up the phone, sending an email, buying a plane ticket, or just showing up.”
I like that. It’s not so hard. Planning and plotting take time and energy. Just showing up is simple. It just takes some courage.
What would happen if you ‘landed the plane?’