Life on the Beach
Once my daughter, Cindy, my son, Tom, and I went for a bicycle ride on the beach at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The ride produced more than just good, enjoyable family time; it also provided some lessons in the principles of life.
For the first five minutes of our bike ride, though the birds were flying overhead, and the tiny crabs were running underfoot, there was no activity that we could discern in the glassy waters of the Atlantic. Then suddenly, we were privileged to see a large number of magnificent dolphins break through the surface. It struck me that underneath the surface not only of the ocean, but also in the lives of people, there is much unseen activity, hope and potential.
As we rode further, I realized I was in the third slot, and the tracks my son and daughter were leaving were reasonably crooked, shifting left and right and left and right again. I thought to myself, "That's pretty much the way it is on our journey to anywhere. Seldom is the journey a completely straight line. We waiver either in determination or, like moving from hard to soft sand, the circumstances change, which necessitates a slight shift in direction."
And then, I thought of the people in life who make crooked paths by choice. My third thought was that each one of us leaves many paths, and our children often follow those paths. If we're in a leadership position, those who observe us figure that what the leader is doing must be OK, so they follow that path, whether it's straight or not.
I noted that my path must always be straight ahead, because just as I was following my son and daughter on the bike path, they have followed me in life. Examples are important.
We had ridden our bikes approximately 5 miles when we saw a huge sandbar we wanted to ride on, however, the incoming waves caused water to obstruct our path. Cindy noted that if we timed it properly, we could easily reach the sandbar without even getting our feet wet. Message: It pays to look and time your move to avoid the problems that lie ahead.
At the end of our pleasant journey out on the sandbar, we decided to go back to riding on the street, because the peddling was so much easier, and we had already invested more time than we had intended to in the ride on the beach. We made our way back to the streets and had a delightful ride through a beautiful, shaded neighborhood with gorgeous homes, beautiful trees, flowers and shrubbery. We commented on the fact that it was easier and more beautiful coming this way.
Then, I realized that while it was easier and more beautiful, we had to follow the pre-set bike path, which left us with only two choices of direction. However, we still agreed that the route was more pleasant and more fun because we could converse more readily and observe all the beautiful scenery. It also occurred to me, however, that if we rode up the beach every day, where the peddling was much harder, over a period of time, our physical health would be much better, as would our willingness to tackle the tough challenges of life.
Sometimes, the lure of the beautiful, easy way overcomes us in every area of life. If we never choose to take the harder route, we never develop the physical muscles or the spiritual and intellectual muscles we need to grow and be the best we can be. The same is true of business principles, ethics and character. Those people who make their way to the top while maintaining their integrity stay there longer and develop even stronger muscles in each area of life.
Take the moral, ethical, character-based faith approach to life, and I'll see you over the top!
To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.