By definition, the word “motivation” means “a reason to move.” If worms were piped straight to the robin’s nests, their bellies would be full but their hearts and wings would atrophy. Robins know they have to move to get their food. They also know where they have to go to get it. Their reasons for movement are clear and consistent.
Humans, on the other hand, move for reasons that are less clear and consistent. Sometimes we find ourselves looking for spiritual nourishment in what for us is the equivalent of Astroturf. When that happens, we run the danger of becoming misdirected, and striving to become what we were never meant to be.
Parker Palmer, in his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, was certain that he had been called to become a minister:
So it came as a great shock, at the end of my first year [in seminary], God spoke to me—in the form of me-diocre grades and massive misery—and informed me that under no conditions was I to become an ordained leader in His church.
Palmer went off to eventually find his true calling, as a teacher and a writer.
Whenever resistance fights against the force of your motivation, you have to find out why. Is it something destructive inside yourself, or is it God’s way of saying that the endeavor is not your vocation? Palmer writes:
Vocation does not come from willingness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about—quite apart from what I would like it to be about—or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.
That insight is hidden in the word vocation, which is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.
We can safely assume that when we identify the kind of “food” designed for us, we won’t find ourselves stymied by Toady conditions. In other words, the flow of our life gets easier when we align ourselves with our vocation.
Our concern in Living Toad Free is with those situations in which we encounter resistance to motivation. While motivation is a reason to move, resistance is what impedes flow. We call these impediments Toads because it helps us visualize them. (They are then easier to identify and squash.) Toads prevent us from becoming who we should become; they are self-defeating beliefs and behaviors that we receive from others, or generate and nourish ourselves. Toads are obstacles to success.
Robins have no inner resistance to looking for food (their fulfillment). If physically healthy, they are out there every day hard at work. But when internal resistance impedes our flow in the pursuit of our vocations and motivations, we need to ask “why?”
Are we striving to do the wrong thing, something not connected to our true vocation? Or are we harboring and nourishing Toads, unconsciously resisting our innate de-sire to move toward our potential?
It is our hope that this book will help us find fulfillment in our vocations as well as eliminate the Toads that prevent us from answering the call to those vocations. There is much wisdom in learning to listen for the voice of your true calling, as well as learning how to ignore the ugly voices of Toads.
By the way, in another unique parallel, we find it ironic that just as Palmer says we must listen for our calling, robins do not scratch and peck for worms and bugs; they “listen” and look carefully to find the nourishment they need. Bottom line, fulfillment begins with listening.
Dan Bobinski and Dennis R. Rader
The first four sections of this book are about helping you recognize Toads for what they are. We’ve also included a section with tips for how to eliminate Toads from your life (section five). Then in Appendix B you’ll find a suggested reading list to help expand your Toad-eliminating skills. Living Toad Free is a lifelong process, so we encourage you to keep reading about life skills. The more you learn, the more effective you will be in everything you do!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Few Clarifications:
I set before you life or death, blessing or curse.
Therefore, choose life. - Deuteronomy 30:19
We would like to emphasize that toads in our gardens are just fine and they’re great to have around. It’s the Toads in our heads that we want to eliminate.
To differentiate between the two, we use an upper-case “T” when talking about the Toads that hold us back—the Toads in our heads.
Second, it’s important to remember that people are not Toads. People can act very Toad-like if they have a lot of Toads, but they themselves are not Toads.