Recently our little four-year-old granddaughter was trying to get her message across about something she wanted very much. It involved extra playing time, when she was supposed to take a rest. Her efforts at communicating were frustrating her. She didn’t have quite the language skills to convince her parents that her idea was best (at least in her eyes). Tears sprang to her eyes as she stamped her little foot and said, “I want to do it NOW!”
Her parents dealt with the situation kindly, and firmly. They lovingly picked her up and carried her to her room for her rest, all the while showing extra patience and love as they listened and helped her to express her feelings.
Since that time, I have thought how much I am like the four year old child when I want something to happen as a result of my goals, my wishful thinking, my planning, my desires. I want it to happen NOW! I want to earn the money NOW! I want to go on the trip NOW! I want to see what I envisioned made manifest NOW!
We went to the garden center and purchased a lot of seeds. I can’t plant the tomato seeds now and expect to pick ripe tomatoes for my salad tomorrow. The evolution of a plan or vision into fruit, both literal and conceptual, takes a certain amount of time.
This is the law of GESTATION.
Fortunately, we know how long it takes for some things to happen. After eight children, I know that a baby takes about nine months of development in the womb before it is born. If I’m having an elephant, though, I have to plan on a LOT longer!: 18-22 months. If I’m growing lettuce, I can plan to see some leaves popping up and maturing into edible leaves in a few weeks (if conditions are right–more about that later). But if I’m planting a giant Redwood tree, I won’t be alive to see it grow to adulthood.
So we’ve been able to figure out the gestation period for a lot of things: most animals and plants on the earth. But ideas? Now, there’s a whole ‘nother issue.
When we get an idea, we have a dream, we see a vision of possibility, often our excitement level is off the roof! We can envision it, and we can see the difference it would make in our lives to obtain this thing or achieve this goal, and we are READY for it! We are so excited. We just can’t wait. We want it NOW.
If I’m going on a trip, I can’t just climb into the car and wish myself there. If I’m going clear across the country, the trip will take time. It will take planning. It will take preparation. And the same goes for ANYTHING we want to have, experience, or accomplish.
There is a natural order to things. We have to learn to respect and honor the process. It can be difficult to be patient when we want something NOW, or we want a specific outcome, but we absolutely MUST be patient and trust that things are unfolding in our favor, as long as we have “prepped the soil,” so to speak, and done the work to create, insofar as we are able, the conditions under which that goal has the best opportunity to come to fruition. Then we trust and continue the course. It is critical to have faith in the process. It’s also crucial to put in the work, and the time, to bring about as much as we can with our efforts.
Maya Angelou said, “All great achievements require time.”
We have a family joke about the Law of Gestation: when the kids were little, and we were on trips with all eight of them in the car, the inevitable question would come frequently: “How much longer until we get there?” After hours of patiently looking up the time and the schedule and predicting arrival, my husband Stan decided to just say, “Four more hours.” One hour would pass, but the answer would still be, “Four more hours.” Another hour. “Four more hours.” Eventually the children got the message. We would get there when we got there. We were on the right road, we were moving forward, we had the map and gas in the car. There were things we could do while we drove. We could play games. We could enjoy the scenery. We could stop for a while and have a picnic lunch. But we were on course and we would get there. Four more hours. Now that they are all grown, they do the same with their children. It made for a quieter, more peaceful trip. 🙂
Let’s look at some of the common elements of aligning ourselves with the Law of Gestation for maximal benefit and efficiency in achieving our goals. Stephen Covey incorporated the Law of Gestation in teaching some of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His habits are:
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen the Saw
When we lived in Billings, Montana, we envisioned how wonderful it would be to design and build our own home. We spent a LOT of time looking for property where we could build. We set a plan in place, and we created a budget. We also did some preliminary sketching of a desired floor plan incorporating concepts I had collected and filed for over 20 years. Our plan had some themes: we wanted lots of windows, an office right off the entrance, a lovely spacious great room that combined living and dining space, a large kitchen with enough space for everyone to be working on a meal together. We wanted a study area for the kids, and a family room with a fireplace. We wanted to be in an area that was private, where we could watch wildlife and look at the stars through our windows at night.
We wanted a spring on the property, with natural spring water that was healthy and tasty. We wanted a place to grow a garden.
It didn’t happen immediately, but bit by bit, our vision became a reality. We discovered a gentleman who had 23.5 acres for sale in the area we wanted. His price was an incredible $69,000 for that acreage. Just to the north of us were one acre home sites selling for $25,000 an acre. (Now keep in mind, this was a LONG time ago, when land prices were much lower. But still our property was a miracle, in our eyes, that we waited for until the appropriate gestation period had taken place for it to be available to us).
Over the next several months, we tested the land and got building permits. Amazingly, our property had not one, but two natural springs on it. The water was good water. We checked into homes that had been well built and asked their owners who had been the contractor. Were they happy with him? We hired the guy to be our contractor and found him to be wonderful to work with.
We drew the design, and took it to an architect who drew up the official blueprints. We sold our other home and began the process of building.
Things fell into place in ways that we had planned, but they also fell into place in ways that were serendipitous! Some things just happened, even better than we had envisioned them. Several months after we had begun the actual process, our home was built and it was lovely. We named our street Legacy Lane, and we lived there in gratitude for several years.
Telling you this experience has made me realize how important it is to be very clear about what we want, and take appropriate action steps to get there.
As Covey says in his first habit, Begin with the End in Mind. We have one life. What do we want it to look like? What experiences do we want to have? What are we willing to do to create the process by which those experiences and dreams can happen. If the end results are clear in our mind, we will know when we have arrived. We won’t constantly be pestering: “How long before I get there?”
Although it took time for our home to be built, we enjoyed the process. The process of watching each step was exciting. We took lots of pictures. We evaluated; we made adjustments. Our contractor had suggestions. Some we approved; some we did not. Our vision was clear and we knew what would fit and what wouldn’t. “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting”. – Anonymous
While the builders were pouring the cement and raising the walls, we set to work creating a sprinkler system with one of the springs as the water source. We hired our neighbor to build a road for us, in exchange for a half acre of our land, and it created a friendship and synergy for both parties involved.
Our home became an object lesson for us of the Law of Gestation. We had to occasionally adjust our schedule, because we would realize we had not anticipated contingencies that arose. For example, our home design created some space underneath the front porch. Did we want to fill that in or could we use it some other way? We hadn’t put that in our design, but we had our contractor make it into a root cellar.
David Allen said, “Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.” We learned that in gestation, as in building a house, things don’t always go EXACTLY the way you plan. Learning that helped us to have greater faith in a God who had better plans for us than we had for ourselves.
If we are going after a goal, or a desired result of some kind, we need to be very clear on what it is we want! We need to understand it, and we need to know that we have communicated exactly what we desire to God. I think part of why this is so essential is so that we know to Whom credit is due when our wish is reality.
“God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith but it’s worth the wait.”
Although Covey’s habit to “think win-win” doesn’t specifically attach to the law of Gestation, it’s important that we recognize when setting our goals that there is abundance for everyone. There is no need to poach on another person’s property, intellectual or otherwise. We can be specific about what WE want by observing others’ gifts and offerings. And then we can be specific about the gifts and talents we can develop uniquely to achieve our goals.
Step by step, our plans took shape. We set in motion the efforts and steps to accomplish the goal. Some of it was action we could take ourselves. Other responsibilities had to be fulfilled through other means, other people and we had to allow for time so that all of those things could happen to attain the best possible outcome.
In aligning with the Law of Gestation, we can set certain things in motion ourselves, but others’ efforts or expertise may also be necessary to make our goals a reality. Sometimes people will come through for us; other times they won’t. That’s also part of the process. We can be frustrated, discouraged, confused, and take a wrong direction for a while, but if our vision is clear, we keep going back to the plan and doing what we can do to achieve it. We can also change our mind, or decide that we really didn’t want to achieve that goal after all. How wonderful that we have that amazing power of choice!
Jenkin Lloyd Jones said, “Life is just like an old time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
Let’s recap some of the important steps we can take in aligning ourselves with you can tap into divine help by recognizing that God sometimes has a better idea. So when you write down your very clear goal, you can allow for “this, or something better.”
1. Take the time to prepare: gather needed materials; establish contacts with others who have gone through similar or same experiences, study it out in your mind, create your roadmap. Get supplies. Figure out the budget.
2. Do as much as YOU can to make your dream come true.
3. As the process continues, have patience. You can reevaluate. You can make adjustments. You can make the choice to modify the goal or eliminate the goal altogether. You have the power of choice.
4. Allow for God’s timing. Aristotle said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
Stay patient and trust the journey.
Once your goal is reached, express gratitude to God and all who helped you. Gratitude is a powerful factor in goal achievement. Instead of complaining about what you lack, be thankful for what you have!
As Napoleon Hill said, “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
I wrote this little couplet to remind myself of my role in partnering with God to make my dreams come true, in the right time, allowing whatever time is necessary for my vision to become a reality:
“Oh may I say, each end of day, Dear Lord, I did my best. Though measure small, I gave my all.” Then leave to Him the rest.
For more on this topic, read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (free).