After only three months as a team manager at a Fortune 500 company, I realized I had made a mistake. Decisions impacting my team came down from higher-ups without consultation. The team was disheartened. Despite sharing their frustrations, I found myself at a loss for how to instigate positive change. Consequently, I requested a demotion.
As expected, my boss rejected my request. Nonetheless, the disappointment that marked his face and the words he spoke had a profound and enduring impact on me. “I never pegged you as someone who would shrink from responsibility,” he said, his words echoing like a challenge. “What kind of person are you, Harvey?” At that moment, I recognized that I wasn’t who I wanted to become.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
Two millennia ago, a determined fisherman hesitated briefly at the edge of a boat before stepping onto the water. His action might have been impulsive, but it was rooted in faith. One step, then two—suddenly, he questioned his sanity. The wind howled around him, flinging water droplets into his face, making him feel overwhelmed. Realizing the impossibility of his actions, he began to sink.
At that critical moment, a calloused hand reached out—Jesus of Nazareth grasped him firmly, pulling him up from the water. With a gentle tone, Jesus asked, “Why did you doubt?”
Is It Faith or a Delusion?
The story of a fisherman named Peter walking on water seems extraordinary. If we met him today and listened to his account, we might doubt his sanity. Could it have been a mere delusion?
Some delusional beliefs are easy to identify, as our behavior shows others we are out of touch with reality. And delusions follow common patterns: blind faith and baseless expectations.
Many of us don’t particularly enjoy studying, but we recognize that positivity alone cannot guarantee an A on an exam. So, we put in the work. Relying solely on faith for such results is a delusion. While a positive mindset is essential for success, we must add dedication and hard work. Diligence in study yields favorable outcomes.
Growing up, I lived in a remote community accessible only by gravel logging roads. En route to town, the road traversed numerous small rivers and creeks with culverts to provide drainage. Occasionally, a family of beavers would repurpose the road as a makeshift dam by obstructing a drain, creating an ideal habitat—until a flood washed it away.
Once, my father braked abruptly to avoid plunging into a washout, remarking, “All the positive thinking in the world won’t help you when the road is gone.” Despite optimistic thoughts, continuing to drive would have been ill-advised. Similarly, a person attempting to fly by flapping their arms is usually considered unhinged.
“Positive thinking won’t allow you to do anything, but it will allow you to do everything better than negative thinking will.”
― Zig Ziglar, Born to Win: Find Your Success Code 
However, discerning delusions isn’t always straightforward, as the inner thoughts and feelings of others remain hidden. Ultimately, each person is the most qualified judge of their own aspirations. Even well-meaning people who know us best may discourage us from taking risks they perceive as delusional, despite our faith being firmly rooted in our gifts and calling.
If we never question whether our dreams are delusions, perhaps our dreams are too small. Consider the following insights to help you ground your positivity in faith and reality.
1. Accept Uncertainty
Dismissing the notion of faith demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the damaging effects of doubt. At the very least, a small amount of faith, grounded in experience, is necessary to believe that our senses accurately reflect an external reality. Absolute certainty remains elusive, making every commitment reliant on uncertain factors. We must embrace ambiguity and unforeseen outcomes.
Peter, who understood water very well, had reasons to be skeptical. Yet, he walked on water because he witnessed his master doing the same. He placed more importance on his knowledge of Jesus than his doubts. To avoid becoming trapped in analysis paralysis, we should adopt a similar approach.
2. Assess Carefully
Although we can’t eliminate uncertainty, we can alleviate it through careful analysis. I took on a middle management position without fully considering the reality of the situation, which would have shown me it was an imprudent decision. The prestige and salary increase drew me in, despite the discord between my desire for strategic input and growth and the company’s top-down management style.
Faith alone cannot compensate for imprudence. Positive thinking should be rooted in reality, supported by clear-headed discernment, and receptive to the insights of those who know us well.
3. Remember the Cost of Omission
Even failure holds significance. While we cannot avoid regret, adopting a proactive approach can help minimize it. Embracing challenges, regardless of the outcome, exposes us to opportunities for rapid learning. Contrary to popular belief, revealing our vulnerabilities doesn’t often lead to a loss of respect from others. People tend to relate to our flaws and appreciate our accomplishments despite them.
Inaction inevitably produces failure. Conversely, taking action grounded in faith and informed risk assessment paves the way for personal growth and unlocks doors to new possibilities and lasting influence.
4. Keep Your Eyes Up
The moment has arrived. You’ve embraced uncertainty and taken a leap of faith, leaving the boat behind. Astonishingly, the water feels firm under your feet. You might question if you are worthy of such triumph. How did you succeed against all odds while others wouldn’t dare to take such a bold step?
Perhaps you feel remorse for stepping out of your comfort zone, thinking you overestimated your capabilities. These emotions, however, serve as a valuable reminder that we’ve shifted our focus in the wrong direction. By taking our eyes off the goal, we allow external circumstances to bring us down. The power of the obstacles we face only intensifies when we concentrate on them.
After struggling as a manager for several months, I ultimately resigned. I saw only one path forward: a new role at a different company. In hindsight, I may have missed an opportunity to exercise faith, accept my shortcomings and those of the company, and achieve success against the odds. While leaving was likely a strategic move, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of defeat.
The lack of a motivating factor prevented me from persisting. A deeper motivation than prestige and a salary increase might have enabled me to remain, develop my team, and enhance the company culture. We’ll never know, and I won’t dwell on it. In a way, leaving the company was also a leap of faith into a new growth opportunity, and that’s where I focus. I stepped out of the boat.
Now it’s your turn to risk a plunge and step out of your comfort zone. You might begin by embracing uncertainty since we cannot know everything. Alternatively, you may feel drawn toward a new, potentially risky venture. I hope you find the courage to step out after evaluating the risks and identifying a compelling reason for your decision.
“Every Monday is like a mini New Year, giving you the chance to start fresh with a clean slate. That‘s why the weekly emails are a blessing. You can choose to complain and hate Mondays, or you can be among the select few who embrace a new, fresh start. Today with Purpose provides a pep talk, wise principles, and a vision that can help you see that life and work are meaningful. I encourage everyone to read it and start their week off right with a vision and principles that don‘t conform to the world, but instead seek to serve others and better yourself!”
A Writer and Coach Finds Simple, Actionable Advice
“I truly enjoy receiving Harvey‘s email messages. They are easy-to-read, but packed with helpful and encouraging information. I created a separate email folder to store them just so I can refer back to them more easily. His topics are very timely and seem to address issues I am currently experiencing, like self-doubt and problems completing what I start, or they address topics that can help me personally and professionally, such as ways to provide more impact at work. I like to keep Harvey‘s messages because they provide simple, actionable steps to implement, but can lead to a significant return. Referring to the messages weeks later provides good accountability to ensure I‘m following the advice.”
“Spending a few minutes reading a message from Harvey has become something that truly has been meaningful, thoughtful, and encouraging.”
— A Local Business and Ministry Leader.
A Coach and Author Sees a Message of Hope
“The value I find from Harvey‘s messages is an acknowledgment that many people feel dissatisfied, even with seemingly successful lives. His writing is such a reflection of him. Not a ‘get happy quick’ message but a message of empathy, compassion, and hope. He walks in his readers‘ shoes towards more purpose and impact. It is not quick and easy. But very possible.”
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