A book I am currently reading has a number of inspirational and relevant quotes in the margins. One that I just read, and had never heard before, is an Irish proverb that says, “Pray for potatoes with a hoe in your hand.”

A few days after I read this quote, I was at Sunday Mass, where one of the readings – from the Book of James – was about the relationship between faith and works. Specifically, the message is that if you say you have faith, but don’t put that faith into action through the work you do, your faith means nothing.

Similar or related sayings have been coming to mind ever since. Among them: Put your money where your mouth is.

The message in all of these is hitting home with me right now for two reasons. One is that it’s a foundational element in the coaching I do. The other is that I realize I’ve been falling a little short lately.

The first two sessions of my coaching practice deal with intention and integrity. Intention refers to what you say you’re going to do, and integrity refers to the follow-up work of actually doing it. It’s a matter of being true to your word, whether it’s a promise you’ve made to yourself or a commitment you’ve made to someone else. So first you make the promise or state your intention, and then you do it. Keep doing this, and not only will you put your faith into action, but you can accomplish any goal you set for yourself. It’s as easy as that.

But, of course, it isn’t really easy. Many of us put too many items on our “To-Do” lists. Or we set overly ambitious goals. Or we agree to do something, without thinking through whether we have – or can find – the time, resources, skills, or whatever else it will take for us to fulfill our commitments.

That’s been my problem as I’ve embarked on a few new plans and projects, while also working on others I already have in the works. In the process, I’ve slipped up on some promises and obligations. Not the big ones with major payoffs or consequences, but lesser ones with relatively minor implications. That’s part of the problem, I think. While focusing on the biggest and most significant tasks, I let some of the smaller ones slide. Or they’re simply still on my list when I run out of hours at the end of the day. And when they don’t get done, that puts a dent in my integrity and my credibility.

I’ve started adding an asterisk to items on my “To-Do” list that have to do with agreements and promises I’ve made – to myself and others. I’m hoping this will continually remind me that it’s not enough just to say that I believe in something or intend to do it. I have to do the work – both the heavy lifting and the minor details – that can bring about the answer to my prayers, the accomplishment of my goals, and the fulfillment of all my agreements.

Not to mention a bumper crop of potatoes.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 17, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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