COMMENTARY: Your fuel must be checked
FARGO — In 1794, Thomas Mead patented the first gas engine and Robert Street patented an internal combustion engine, which was the first to use gasoline. These engines were modified, improved and eventually used to transport people in boats, automobiles, trains and planes. The fuel for these engines has also been modified and improved over the years.
Emotionally, as humans, we all run on some type and quality of fuel. And our fuel will determine how efficient, effective, long and successful we run. We must regularly ask ourselves, "What fuel am I burning? What are the motivating factors for my ambition?" The reason highly successful people can burn out at best and crash at worse is because they did not pay attention to their fuel. I pray that today's column may serve as a cautionary sign for you if you are ignoring your fuel!
There are several common fuels that are significantly dangerous to run on. The first is the person who is driven or controlled by something outside of themself. Their fuel may be a fear of letting someone down, a fear of embarrassment or a fear of being hurt and alone. Their fuel may be the desire to prove themself as worthwhile or adequate in the eyes of others. Maybe you had a father who was hard to please and quietly you are still hoping for those powerful words that a father can bless his child with, "I am proud of you."
I will never forget when NBA player Kevin Garnett won the NBA championship for the Boston Celtics in 2008 and Celtic icon Bill Russell came out on the court. As Garnett was celebrating he saw Russell and gave him an exuberant hug as the cameras picked up Garnett saying, "I hope we made you proud."
Another dangerous fuel is the person who is driven by obligation. This is the person who does not feel it is safe, acceptable, or even an option to say "No." So, day after day they perform to keep people happy; telling themselves internally "I should; I ought to; I need to; I have to." I once had a coworker who did the work of an engineer but did not have a college degree in engineering. He worked long hours never turning down a request or assignment believing that if he lost his job he would be unable to find another job like it.
The third dangerous fuel is the person who wants to achieve. This person constantly wonders what others think about them and seek to impress others. Every day they are a "student at school" or an "actor on stage" waiting for their report card. They need to be the expert, the hero, the person that everyone seeks out. This pressure to perform and be the savior or expert is exhausting. It lands us in isolation both internally and externally.
Perhaps you can relate to one of these unhealthy fuels. I can and I've discovered running on an unhealthy fuel is very dangerous. Next Sunday I will share with you some thoughts on healthy fuel.