Action is the Real Measure of Intelligence

For someone who is all about intentional, action-measured steps and processes, I sometimes have trouble moving forward with projects. And it’s not the typical procrastination excuse that keeps my feet fixed; it’s fear. Not just any fear, fear from too much ambiguity and the possibility of failure.

All my life I’ve fixated on a little thing called perfection, and let it trap me professionally, personally and spiritually. If I wasn’t going to be the BEST at something I wouldn’t do it because I couldn’t risk being called a fool or found inferior. 

I wasn’t the best at skiing (long legs and lack of natural lower body strength don’t do me any favors), so I stopped going on ski trips.

After moving to California from Oklahoma days after our wedding, I felt overwhelmed because I just couldn't figure out how to change my name. The process was different than that for people who end up living in the same state as their pre-marriage driver’s license, so I put it off for months. 

If a professional or creative idea didn't come with a fool-proof or templated plan for implementation, I avoided it like a door-to-door salesman. 

Many times since becoming a Christian, I found myself rebelling or pulling away from the Church. My thought process was always something along the lines of, "If I'm never going to measure up to be the 'perfect' Christian, why should I even try?" 

I once had my business coach tell me that my conflict with ambiguity and constant desire for perfection would be the biggest obstacles in my career. “The best leaders in life are comfortable with ambiguity” he once said. "Well then," I thought, "I’ll never be a good leader because I just can’t handle it."

I’ve often asked myself, how did people like Henry Ford, Walt Disney or George Lucas come to be so innovative? How did they break past the barriers of “I don’t know,” "what if this fails?" or “it’s never been done” to get to the outcomes of their entrepreneurship? How did they not get caught up in self-doubt, imposter syndrome and public judgment from failure? Well, I don’t know their answer, but I can tell you what's helped me move forward little by little. God continues to place reminders in my life to start before I'm ready.

My favorite push to move when I feel unqualified or scared is the encounter between God and Moses in Exodus 4. After Moses argued with God about leading, (actually made excuses for himself and argued with the Creator of the universe), God's response was priceless. “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” - Exodus 4:11-12

God placed a dream in my heart to write and speak to women about the freeing grace that comes with a life of vulnerable authenticity. I loved the idea of creating a personal brand that would help foster new and old relationships and increase joy and confidence for the many women (including myself) who struggle with comparison, imposter syndrome, and the insecurity of sharing personal stories in fear that they might be judged. Almost as fast as the dream entered my heart, the doubts set in. At this point, I had no freelance work published, no design experience, not even a personal laptop. All I had was an idea and a mouth to communicate it. And rather than pushing excuses aside and moving forward in faith, I stalled. Do you see the enemy winning here? The lies he tells sound a lot like the truth, and are incredibly convincing. 

But it’s in moments like these when I hear God repeating His speech to Moses, just in a new light. “Who gives you the ability to have a breakthrough when you’ve hit a roadblock, or to move forward with tasks when you don’t know the end-all answer? Is it not I, the Lord?”

Yes, Lord, it is you.

I’m not saying you have a fear of public speaking like Moses or a fear of public failure and inferiority like me. It may be the fear to get married, have a family, get healthy, stop drinking, make new friends, or quit your job. Whatever it is, if you’ve prayed about it and have gotten your answer from the Lord, leap. I’m not saying He will make your road completely clear or any less ambiguous, but He’ll be there every step of the way. Even if you fall or stumble, He can use failure on purpose to either grow you, teach you or get you to the physical, emotional or spiritual place where He can do the next thing in His plans.

I can’t break down how to get past all those feelings you’ve got in your head and your heart. There’s no to-do list to rid yourself of doubt, and I can’t create an action plan for you to take leaps of faith when your feet feel fixed to the floor. There is no self-help book I read, no class I took, no inspirational leader I listened to that woke me up. The only logical solution for how I was able to move when I felt fixed by fear was that I talked to God about it. The best intentional step I took that caused change was praying every day that God would fill me with the peace, wisdom, and courage to act without knowing all the answers ahead of time.

A quote in my Simplified Planner stood out to me one day and I wrote it down knowing it would someday be the name of a chapter in this journey. “Action is the real measure of intelligence.” It’s not intentions. It’s not planning. It takes faith-filled action to make your ideas and dreams a reality. You can’t get to the next level without leaving the step you’re on. Get going, friend!

Joyful Takeaway: If you’ve prayed about it and have gotten your answer from the Lord, leap. Even if you fall along the way, He can use failure on purpose to either grow you, teach you or get you to the physical, emotional or spiritual place where He can do the next thing in His plans.