"Men who succeed reach decisions promptly, and change them, if at all, very slowly. Men who fail, reach decisions, if at all, very slowly, and change them frequently, and quickly." Napoleon Hill
It was third and goal. Our opponents lined up with extra blockers stacked on and behind the line of scrimmage. The opposing quarterback approached the line, unsure of whether our defense might attempt a blitz. The moment the ball was snapped our middle linebacker zipped past the center and guard, exploding into the unsuspecting QB. Mid-handoff the ball popped out and was recovered by our defense. By decisively calling his own blitz our linebacker made the play that would ultimately secure the win for our team.
How often do split decisions like this change the course of a game, a day, maybe even a life? You are faced with a perilous situation: do you stand down or do you attack? In the case of my college teammate that game day he chose to fight. He made the decisive call to attack the ball and should he fail, at least fail with giving it all he had.
Attacking with Courage
In his book, "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Change America", Michael Beschloss describes how several of our country's great Presidents dealt with similar circumstances. It was the heroic call to action by several of our great leaders that prevented potential disaster for the United States.
George Washington faced a dire situation when the country turned against him for his handling of a potential treaty with Great Britain late in the second half of his presidency. The country, furious over his envoy John Jay's handling of the treaty discussions, erupted in furor toward both Jay and the President. To make matters worse, one of Washington's own cabinet members was accused of treason by another trusted advisor for self-dealing with the enemy.
Washington chose to first deliberate on the facts surrounding both issues and then to act decisively. First deciding to move forward on the treaty, with the removal of one key article, the President sought to keep the infant country from reengaging in a war they weren't prepared for. Then with the issue of the treaty behind him he would confront the potential traitor face to face to determine his guilt. In the end, Washington guided the United States in avoiding war. He also removed his enemy from office as the accused traitor chose to quickly resign after the confrontation, though not without lashing out publicly.
In attacking the ball, or the problems before him, Washington lead from a place of strength. He relied on his conviction of what he believed was best for his country. Rather than letting the issues fester for too long, he acted swiftly once he came to a decision.
Ignore it, Accept it or Face it
"One goes ahead, stands still, or goes backward in life." Napoleon Hill
In our own daily lives we too face difficult questions. How should we react when they appear? It has been said that decisiveness is one of the core qualities of a great leader. In almost all cases when faced with a problem you have three main responses: 1) Ignore it, 2) Accept it 3) Face it head on.
By ignoring a problem you are only prolonging the pain to your future self. Washington could have ignored the treasonous cabinet member but what might he have tried to ambush him on next? It was wiser to deal with him right away than to leave him still capable of creating future problems for the President.
Accepting the problem is a bit better but once again will not help you in fully overcoming it. Our linebacker could have accepted that he would be blocked on the line of scrimmage. He could have waited momentarily to see if it was a run or a pass. By doing so he wouldn't be taking the play in his hands but instead reacting from a less advantageous position. Better that he not only acknowledged the situation but also took action to rectify it quickly instead.
Lastly facing it head on does not mean that you have to blow things up necessarily. Washington took time to go to his estate at Mount Vernon to think clearly and review the documents at play. He spoke in counsel with trusted advisors including his wife. He likely prayed about it and even lost sleep over it. But when he set his mind on his decision he didn't delay action any further.
Face Your Giant
We see the opposite of this often in the Bible. Some of our heroes, when approached by God, were the same ones who doubted or even questioned God regarding their responsibilities. But one who stands out for not doubting God, a person God even described as a "man after my own heart" is the hero David.
When he was sent to bring food to his brothers at the battlefield, David heard the giant Philistine named Goliath calling out to the Israeli soldiers who shuddered in fear. He heard the feared warrior curse the God who David solely honored and followed. And David choose at that very moment to slay him in battle. Even as the king himself questioned David's decision and those around him gave him zero chance of success, the definiteness of purpose drove David to act quickly in defeating the dreaded giant.
David, already predestined to become King by God through the prophet Samuel, used this momentous win to propel him to greatness in God's honor. But what might have happened if he simply ignored or accepted the taunting giant? When we follow God and choose to honor Him regardless of the fears we face we allow for our full potential to be realized.
Attack the Ball
Recently I drove one of our sons to a soccer match and we spoke about the pending game. "What are the three things I want you to do today buddy?" I asked him before continuing, "First, listen to coach and be a good sport. Second, have fun. And third... attack the ball!" He attacked the ball with decisiveness and scored several goals that day. When we have a determined focus to act on our decisions we will score just as many goals in the game of life.
Where might you start attacking the ball more in your own life? What problems have you simply ignored or accepted? Find ways to take decisive action and face them. Then you too will have the chance to make the big play and secure the win for your team.