Friday, May 29, 2009

Turtle on a Fencepost

I had a 15-16 hour drive to PA where the AWDF Championships were held, and made good use of my time by listening to motivational tapes. By the time I arrived, I was energized and had a positive attitude. On one tape, Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, spoke about the turtle on a fencepost. The story was so true and something we should all keep in mind. Back at home, I found an internet entry on a "Familiarity in Ministry" web site. I have made editorial changes to make the references reflect what we do in dog sports:

Turtle on a Fencepost
I became intrigued recently by a book written almost three decades ago by Allan C. Emery and Mary C. Crowley entitled “A Turtle on a Fencepost, Women Who Win.“ In the first chapter of this little book, Emery asks us to think about life in a deeper way by eliciting the picture of a turtle on a fencepost. I have been thinking about how well the image of a turtle on a fencepost depicts our role in dog sports and life in general.

What are a few things we know about a turtle on a fencepost?

A turtle on a fencepost didn’t get there on his own.
Turtles lack the attributes needed for climbing posts. Unlike the forlorn midnight cry of the neighborhood cat from the top of your backyard tree, having been able to “get up, but not down”, turtles lack the attributes necessary for post climbing.
Not only do they lack the attributes, turtles also lack the resolve for post climbing. On their own, they would see no benefit to climbing the post.
How like us! To make progress we must first acknowledge our inadequacy to climb that post. We must all rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us for the task, and people who serve Him by helping others. We cannot get up on that post by ourselves. In dog sports, that means helping the next turtle upward, giving them a boost by encourage, support and mentoring.

A turtle on a fencepost is outside his comfort zone.
The turtle on a fencepost would rather be on terra firma where his natural attributes give him stability. The flailing of turtle legs midair is disconcerting both to the turtle and the observer. To make progress we need to take ourselves outside that comfort zone and challenge ourselves. It may feel uncomfortable,but the view is great!

A turtle on a fencepost isn’t going anywhere unless someone moves him.
The turtle finds himself powerless to make productive progress without help. He may struggle and fall off the post, but that is the unintended consequence of his being unsettled by his place. Only when some caring person gently relocates him does the turtle find himself able to move forward without negative consequences.

The lesson of the turtle on a fencepost is quite simple, really. We can't get there on our own. We often find ourselves outside our comfort zone. We need help to make productive progress. We are all turtles on a fencepost and at the same time, have the ability to lift up another turtle. We need other people to mentor us in the sport, and in turn, have an obligation to do the same when we have that opportunity. If you can be selfless in these acts of serving the Lord by helping others, when it is your time, you will find yourself lifted back up when you fall. I was reminded of this when a gentleman at the AWDF Championships told me he had met me years before at another event, when he was new to the sport, and that myself and the two friends I was with had taken him under our collective wings and spent time talking about the sport and encouraging him. And here he was, a few years later, as a competitor in a National event, telling me how much it meant to him to have met one of the "nice people" in the sport.

We all have those opportunties to set ourselves aside and do things for which we might not see an immediate personal benefit. But do them anyway. You may fall at times and not feel like getting up again. But get up anyway. Remember the turtle on the fencepost. You have the power to make a difference.