When I was in the 6th grade, all the 6th graders were bussed up to a retreat in the mountains. All the schools in the area would do this every year. It was our last time together before we moved on to the big and scary Junior High. One of the biggest life lessons I learned that week, I learned on a nature walk during that trip.
Our guide on the nature walk had us split into groups. Our mission was we had to pretend that we were lost in the forest and we needed to build a shelter for the evening. The guide, after the time was up, would pick the best team. I saw 2 fallen trees laying side by side perfectly parallel. Our whole team could have easily fit between them. If we just laid a bunch of branches over the top it would have been the perfect shelter. The problem I had (and interestingly enough our whole group had) with the trees was that it was just too easy. It was like someone had purposely laid the trees down perfectly to make it easy for us. We all ignored the trees and began creating an elaborate tent. For being a group of 6th graders we did a pretty good job but with just a little gust of wind it would have fallen over.
As you might have guessed, we lost. The group that used the 2 trees won. Back then I felt we were cheated and that the group that won took the easy way out. Looking back on it years later I realize how stupid I was for not just going for the fallen trees. Our group found them first but passed on it.
The lesson I learned and I continue to learn is that I tend to want to do things the hard way. I want to invent something new that no one else had ever done before. The truth is that in this life we aren’t called to just pull thoughts or ideas out of thin air. We build on those who came before us. I need to be okay with taking those ideas that have been successful in the past and put my own spin on them.
Every great invention was inspired by something or someone that came before. Are you trying too hard to do things your own way? Are you feeling anxious and burned out? Are there 2 fallen trees that you are ignoring?
Don’t feel stupid for asking for help and allowing other people to come along side of you and help you. We are all on this journey of life together and we were never meant to do this alone. Build on what came before you and learn from those who have walked a similar path.