Guidelines vs. Guidewires

A guideline is a heavy, anchored cable; some can be as thick as your arm, sustaining a tower. I bet you have seen them holding the ubiquitous cell towers around your city. They anchor and stabilize that massive tower, allowing it to support the multitude of antennas that catch and broadcast life-sustaining cellular signals to your community. From those towers come communication and stability to the people around you.

In new building design, guidelines give the pattern and structure to the project under construction. A guideline may mark a foundation or perhaps the second-story closet in a new home. Everything is drawn out on a blueprint. Then, using the blueprint as a model, it is marked out on the land- and measured twice- before construction begins. The blueprint is regularly consulted throughout the construction process.

Likewise, guidelines can be rules or principles that guide our actions and behavior. Guidelines are essential within our life-creation process. Without specific, focused, and measurable guidelines, your figurative closet could be in the bathtub!

You can also figuratively draw a line in the sand that you will not cross and call it a guideline. Examples might be: I will be honest in all of my dealings with my fellow human beings. I will build healthy relationships. I will be self-sufficient or fully present as I move through my days. I will not fear. The scope is as broad as people are unique. ‘Lines’ are foundational life principles or doctrines to which we ascribe.

Some people make rules to support their lines. For example, I chose the guideline of ‘I will have total fidelity to my partner.’ One of the rules I have created for myself by this lifeline of complete fidelity is not watching movies or consuming media that give me examples of infidelity. (Remember- everything begins with a thought.) I chose to create a rule for my media consumption that will help me steer my thoughts – supporting my life guideline. I choose media that illustrates fidelity and strengthens this line.

The rules we create are subsets of the lines or boundaries we create for ourselves. They are like guide wires. Guidewires provide lighter-duty support for our foundational lines.

When our internet provider came out to work on the radio line that provides service to our home, he noticed that the reception tower in the backyard that houses the antenna was leaning. It’s 40 feet tall, and a slight lean can be quite a concern.

The tech’s suggested plan to straighten things up was to anchor the tower with guidewires. A set of 4 wires would be attached to the top of the tower and then be anchored into the earth some distance from the tower. (For you math guys, it was about 40 feet out) The technician hoped that the tower would be straightened and supported indefinitely with the guidewires. If we anchored them to cement, it would be fine, but if not, we might need guidelines to keep the stakes to which the guidelines were anchored stable in the earth.

Are you beginning to see how vital guidelines and guidewires and their support can be to us? Like the guidewires, our rules support our lines and keep us stable and anchored.

Now comes the real question. Have you drawn lines in the sand of your life that you simply will not cross? Do you have a set of firm guidelines? And if so, what guidewires or supportive rules have you established to support your tower? Note what matters to you- for me, that is God, family, relationships, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning. (I’m not too fond of bugs, sweat, or stink.) Then, create your guidelines accordingly. You can get a good start on your lines by imagining your ideal self and describing that person. What is she like? Who is she with? How does she move through her life? Ideally, your heavy, cabled guidelines create structure and harmony for what matters to you most. They are supported by your guidewires, a set of lighter duty, more frequently accessed rules.

One concluding thought. Even perfectly installed guidewires will corrode and sag with time when left to the daily elements of life. Likewise, our foundational life rules can erode when weathering our world, family, work, and friends’ daily sun, rain, and wind. To preserve their stabilizing influence on the guidelines in our life, periodic maintenance is essential. Keep those lines bright!

It’s a creative priority to keep those guidelines well maintained. That means small habits will keep them clean, shiny, straight, and tight. Our rules (guidewires) support our lines. Our lines support our one incredible, amazing, perfect life. Each part of the equation is essential.

If you want an incredible life, focus is essential. It could be as simple as focusing on the now- the beauty of the air moving within the room. Perhaps it’s the magic of the blood pumping through your veins 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while you appear to have nothing you must do to make that happen. It could be as elaborate as creating a foundation to serve and support the cause you feel called to develop while here on the earth or raising a big, busy family. Whatever it is, a central focus is critical. Guidelines will establish focus, and guidewires will support and anchor the incredible tower those lines sustain.

This week I challenge you to take a look at the worksheet and begin to establish your set of guidewires and guidelines. Take some time and write it all down. You’ll be glad you did!