Several months ago, in preparation to travel out of town to attend a ministry event, I set my phone alarm to wake me up at 2:00am. The flight I had booked was a very early one, and I figured setting the alarm that early would give me the time I needed to pack and make it to the airport in time.
Well, it turned out that setting the phone alarm for 2:00am was a great idea; I woke up with plenty enough time to do all I needed to do. But there was only one problem: the location of the alarm.
For as long as I can remember, I tend to leave my phone under my pillow when sleeping. Doing so helps me to hear my alarm as soon as it begins. However, keeping my phone under pillow also enables me to easily select the snooze button whenever I desire, causing me to wake up late much later than I would like to. And that’s exactly what happened at 2:00am on the morning I needed to fly out of town.
I hit the snooze button.
Again. And Again. And Again.
Needless to say, I missed my flight on that day. But I learned a valuable lesson in return. More often than not, as leaders, it is extremely important for the alarms that we set in our lives concerning our goals and ambitions, to be placed at a considerable distance.
When our sources of accountability and alarm are comfortably placed in arms reach, or as it was in my case, right underneath my pillow, our tendency to lean towards what is most comfortable is at its strongest. However, when we look to set and place our alarms at a distance, we are forced to either lie still and pretend we do not hear the sound of accountability calling us, or we can get up and begin moving in the direction we know we need to go.
Today, some of my most important alarms are located in different states. Some of them are organizations, yet most of them are people. Over the past three to four years I have learned that your current circle of friends and associates are not always the best gauge to show you where you are going, but rather where you have been.
If you’re not careful, the only alarms you will hear from them are those that can be easily turned off. But those alarms that you place at a distance, those that inspire you to stretch beyond what you thought was possible, are what may be necessary to accomplish the dreams God has planted deep inside of you. Be sure to examine during these last few months of the year your present source of accountability.
I have a feeling 2011 may be a year for distant alarms. As for my own, it has remained set at 2:00am since that day. It no longer rest underneath my pillow. And I have yet to be late to anything ever since.
*Sidenote: Waking up that early positions me to be done working by noon, leaving me the remainder of the day to dream and plan.