I’ve read a number of self-help books and I’ve found that they often fail in two areas: one, they focus too much on the problem and not enough on the solution. You might say they focus more on the “self” part than the “help” part. At first they seem helpful because they described your problem well but then you realize you are no better off.
The other problem with self-help books is they are too complex. Either they tell you way more than you need to know or they use terminology that is best left in the classroom. People don’t need to know the name of the psychologist who first proposed a theory. They need to know the next step to take TODAY to recover from the mess they are in.
Andy Stanley Knows Good Decision-Making
One writer that understands how to help people is Andy Stanley. He speaks on a variety of topics but the area that he excels at is how to make good decisions. It seems so easy, yet a series of bad decisions over a period of days can get you in so deep that it takes years to recover.
The Principle of the Path
In his book, The Principle of the Path, Andy starts by telling how he and his buddy narrowly avoided driving off a newly constructed freeway that led right into a swamp. They bypassed barriers late at night thinking the freeway was nearly complete. It wasn’t. He takes this simple analogy to teach what he calls, The Principle of the Path: direction, not intention, leads to your destination.
He and his buddy were headed into a swamp. It didn’t matter that they didn’t know about the swamp. It didn’t matter that they didn’t want to crash into the swamp. It also didn’t matter that they were hoping to save a little time and get home early. The minute they bypassed the barriers and headed down the freeway, their destination WAS the swamp. It was only a fluke encounter that kept them from reaching their destination.
What Barriers Have You Crossed?
You might look at that analogy and say, “Well, duh. Only idiots bypass road construction barriers.” But stop and think about some of the barriers you’ve crossed, maybe not on the freeway, but what about financial barriers, or relational barriers, or sexual barriers…areas you knew you shouldn’t go but went anyway, hoping for the best…only the best didn’t happen. Or there might be spiritual or health barriers you crossed.
I’m going to take a few days to walk through some of the better insights in The Principle of the Path. Look for them in the days to come. My hope is to help us see the “swamp” coming up before you hit it and avert some disasters.
Question: What are some of the “swamps” you drove into from bypassing barriers?