It’s easy to miss your awesome if you keep skimming the surface. The temptation to stop digging when the creative-going gets tough is very real. There’s a noisy world intent to bring you back to shallows so they can lay another sale to your account.
I want to encourage you instead to go deep.
Leonard Ravenhill said of the church, “People say the church today is ‘growing and expanding.’ Yes, it’s ten miles wide now—and about a quarter-inch deep.”
Jim Cymbala, one of my favourite teachers on prayer expanded on this in his sermon, “deeper, not wider”:
“The tendency today is to merely splash around in truth for a while . . . and then jump outside the well to the surrounding soil. “Look at this—God is doing a new thing!” people proclaim. In six months or so, of course, the novelty wears off and they jump again to a new patch of grass. They spend their whole lives hopscotching from one side of God’s well to another, never really probing the depth of the living waters inside.”
True of the church, and also very true in the realm of business, perhaps more so.
The very nature of selling things demands that “new things” populate the shelves in order to keep the coffers rolling.
The FOMO vacuum is always sucking otherwise intelligent entrepreneurs back to the surface. But the surface is not where you will discover the kind of genius that impacts people at a heart level. As the Scriptures say, “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7).
Digging deep is harder work than surface skimming, which is why it is not so popular. It takes discipline to stay the course through discouraging seasons, or hard-rock problems. When all you see in front of you is more dirt to dig and the diamond remains elusive, it’s tempting to return to the surface for a zirconia fix. It looks just like the real thing, and doesn’t take nearly as much pressure and time to form.
Buying a new shiny provides the fix we need to numb ourselves to the reality that work, and sometimes much work, is required if we ever plan to discover our deepest and most impacting contributions to the world.
Cal Newport, in his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World pointed out that “the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”
Sounds marvellous right? Who doesn’t want to thrive? The issue is that I want to ‘thrive’ by the end of next week, Cal, not in ten years time!
I’m not suggesting all breakthroughs take ten years, some can happen in a lightening moment of inspiration and fortunate connection, but often they do not.
The cost of discovering your deep it seems is adding up: work and time. Both are necessary components in the push to plumb your potential.
Newport also warned, “Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction.”
Distractions of the obvious kind may be easy to stave off. Will power can stop the scroll (but the undercurrents are strong so doing so swims against the relentless tide). But it is the zirconese distractions, pregnant with the promise of a new future, that may be the most dangerous. Glittering with ease and effortless relief from the grind of growing, your breakthrough is just one click away (plus you’ll get all of these bonuses!).
As digital entrepreneurs and creators, there is always another “great opportunity” knocking on our door. Another course, the latest app, yet one more tantalizing challenge to tip your life into glorious fulfilment. Our garden of life gets hole-ier and hole-ier with every passing year. Instead of fruitfulness, we find our patch of life piled high with disappointed hopes and spent efforts.
Whether prayer, your craft, or your business, the ability to stay the course and dig deep without fear of missing out on what everyone else is doing and the directions they are taking, is one we must cultivate.
3 Key Skills To Digging Deep and Discovering Your Genuine Diamond Subjects
There are many facets to the deep digging commitment but here are three that will crop up again and again as you pursue your passion.
1. Align Your Pursuit With God’s Purpose
Ephesians 2:10 teaches that you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works that He has already prepared for you to walk in. God’s purpose for you is sure and certain, not fickle and fleeting. Digging in to find your zone of genius is as much about prayer as it is about prowess.
Make prayer a priority. Take a leaf out of Mary’s book and sit at the feet of Jesus. His pace may not be the adrenaline fuelled mad dance the world plays, and your dopamine levels may be cold-turkeyed by His refusal to keep jabbing you with a new hit of excitement every six seconds, but when you relent and allow the Shepherd to lead, your FOMO will be washed away and the delights of deeper connection with God, and with your work, will reveal themselves in beautiful and unexpected ways.
2. Keep Digging
I have alluded to this previously. The treasures you seek are not on the surface, and the house and legacy you want to leave is not built on sand. Don’t be discouraged if results don’t drop instantly like ripe fruit from a shaken tree. I know this is easy to say, and to be honest this piece of writing is being inspired by my own deep excavation. Stay the course.
Don’t give up right before your breakthrough.
If you know that your direction is set by God, aligned with His purpose, and fitted with your passion and personality, be ready to settle into a rhythm that consistently moves you toward realization. Create something every day.
Build habits that strengthen your resolve. Continue to add value and share generously even when all you see is more dirt and rocks. This kind of resilient commitment to help others and bring your best to the table will develop the kind of character needful to carry success with grace.
3. Travel light
In the drive to discover your deep, you may find yourself diverted on many occasions. Despite firm focus in one direction, the siren calls of opportunity may bring you to the surface, only to be let down once again. And even if not diverted, some of the subterranean lessons you need to learn on the way to your treasure will be taught by the master mindset coach, one we are all tutored by and whose disguise is one we tend to abhor, failure.
Failing is future success wrapped in a lesson to learn.
Learn the lessons well and carry the wisdom forward with you, but leave the baggage behind. Don’t let yesterday’s mess-ups and missteps weigh you down. Take the next step, dig the next spade, and keep hope and faith as your light-filled guides. Even Jesus was led to times of testing in His wilderness experience, only to return in the power of the Spirit. You can do the same. Wilderness moments are part of the training.
People of Depth
Let’s be a people who are deep, not just wide. Dig with purposeful intent to become all you are created to be. Don’t let the hardness of the way stop you in your tracks. Your diamond day is coming, and the world will be a richer place because you chose to keep digging.