One of the best books I’ve read in recent years is 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. The book was written by Dr. Henry Cloud (you can buy the complete book or a condensed version). The basic premise of the book is identifying the difference between people who win at love and life and those who fail. Dr. Cloud said that when he carefully observed successful people, they gave him a certain “déjà vu” feeling. It wasn’t that he had met them before, but he had met people like them. The result was nine different “practices” that set them apart.
One of the practices identified in the book was that Déjà vu people (his name for successful people) “play the movie.” Now, I know that sounds a little crazy, but keep reading. His point was that Déjà vu people…successful people rarely take any action without considering its future implications. Another way to say that is that they never see any individual action as a singular thing in and of itself; they “play the movie.” And by playing the movie, they see how actions and choices today can impact tomorrow. This is how Dr. Cloud describes it in the book: “Any one thing you do is only a scene in a larger movie. To understand that action, you have to play it out all the way to the end of the movie.”
One of the difficulties of being a leader is that you not only have to give your best to each and every moment or day, you also have the responsibilities of thinking about and planning for tomorrow. That means you’ve got to spend time “playing the movie.” This isn’t one of my favorite things about being a leader, but I certainly understand the importance.
Life will always be filled with difficult choices. Oftentimes we choose the immediate comfort that comes from doing nothing. The problem with that, though, is that while it will bring immediate comfort, the comfort will be short-lived. The third servant in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) who received only one “talent” from his master chose the immediate comfort of doing nothing (remember he buried his talent in the ground). However, when the master returned (the future will always come), he paid for his choice (vs. 24-30).
Most people don’t live the individual scenes of their lives today with the end in mind. Most people aren’t interested in “the big picture” or “the final scene.” But while the Bible gives us clear instruction about not worrying about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34), it also shows us the value of living in a way that allows you the privilege of one day hearing the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” When you’re faced with a difficult decision…when you hear about difficult decisions that have been made by others…play the movie. There’s more going on in the story of your life and my life than what happens in each day (scene). At least there should be…