Haven’t you noticed?
The road to success isn’t a straight road. It has many twists, turns, and zigzags. With lots of detours.
Today, I’d like to talk about the Principle of Obliquity.
Don’t be afraid of that word. What in the world is Obliquity? Obliquity is the state of being oblique. (Are you sometimes blown away by my genius?)
Let me share with you how obliquity works: A Detour can bring you to a Bigger Destiny.
When it comes to Detours, the first guy that comes to my mind is Joseph…
Joseph’s Dream Becomes A Detour
When he was 17 years old, this brash teenager appeared in one family dinner and announced, “Hi Dad! Hi Mom! Hi Brother One, and Brother Two, and Brother Three, and Brother Four, and Brother Five…” He had eleven brothers. After greeting all of them, he cleared his throat and said, “Last night, I had a dream. I saw all of you bowing low to me. Gee, isn’t that strange? But well, if this is my destiny, I might as well get used to it… Brother One, can you make me some iced tea? Brother Two, can you fan me while I eat? You guys might as well get used to serving me…”
In other words, Joseph was telling them, “One day, I’m going to lead you guys. I’ll be governor of the family business.”
You can imagine how his older brothers reacted. I’m sure they didn’t say, “We’re so happy that you now know what you want to do in life. Bravo!”
No. They were so angry, the Bible says they threw him into a pit. While in that dark hole, freezing and hungry, Joseph was probably praying, “Lord, this looks like a wrong step in my career path.”
It would get worse. The next day, his brothers sold him to the Midianite Traders for 20 pieces of silver—and these Traders sold him as a slave to an Egyptian named Potiphar. So from a son, he becomes a slave. Can you imagine how far this was to his dream?
His troubles weren’t over. Mrs. Potiphar wanted to be close to him. Very close. Being a person of integrity, he said “No” to her repeated seductions. One day, in some dark corner of the house, she grabbed him by the collar and said, “Bakit ngayon ka lang
Bakit ngayon kung kailan ang aking puso’y, Mayron nang laman… (Why did you come only now when my heart is already filled…”)
And he said, “Tukso, layuan ako…” (Temptation, depart from me…) and he ran away—leaving his shirt behind. Spurned by his rejection, she shouted, “Rape!”
And poor Joseph was thrown into prison.
So from son, to slave, to prisoner! His life was getting worse by the day. He was getting farther and farther from his desired destiny.
While in prison, he met two other prisoners—the baker and a butler of Pharaoh—had a dream that bothered them. They asked Joseph to interpret their dreams, and he did. Joseph said to the baker, “I’m so sorry, in three days, you’ll be hanged.” And that was what happened. Joseph said to the royal cupbearer, “In three days, you’ll be reinstated to your former position.” He then said, “When you’re back working in the palace pouring martini’s for Pharaoh, can you appeal my case to your Boss?” The cupbearer promised—but he totally forgot about Joseph.
Joseph had to stay in the prison for 2 more years.
Joseph’s Detour Led To A Bigger Destiny
But one day, the Pharaoh had two very disturbing dreams. And all his wise men couldn’t interpret them. That was when the Cupbearer remembered Joseph. He mentioned this to Pharaoh. And so Joseph was summoned from prison.
He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. He said, “Pharaoh, there will be 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. During the 7 years of plenty, I suggest you start setting aside 20% of the produce of the land and invest it in the Stock Market and Mutual Funds for the 7 years of famine.” His advice wasn’t that detailed, but you get the picture. Pharaoh liked his advice so much, he appointed Joseph as Governor of the entire country.
Many years ago, Joseph wanted to simply be the governor of his family. But God had a Bigger Destiny for him. He wanted him to be Governor of Egypt. That’s why God allowed a detour, because this detour led him to his Bigger Destiny.
I’ve seen the Principle of Obliquity work in the lives of almost all the successful people I know.
Right now, you may be in a difficult time in your life. Maybe the job that you wanted wasn’t given to you. Or the man that you wanted to marry walked out of your life. Or your plans to go abroad went up in smoke. Or you failed in a Board Exam. Or your business is losing money.
I’ve got news for you: You’re in a Detour. Gigantic obstacles have appeared between you and your desired destiny. You may feel like your life is getting worse by the day. You may feel farther from your destiny today than you were yesterday.
Why is God allowing this? Because He wants to tell you, “Your dreams are too small. Your goals are too puny. Your ambitions are too tiny. I’ve got a bigger Destiny for you!” God is telling you, “I’ve got a better job for you,” and “I’ve got a better man for your life,” and “I’ve got a better future in store for you that you want right now.”
Here’s an illustration of Joseph’s Journey…
This is what I mean by the Principle of Obliquity.
When he was already governor of Egypt, his brothers came to ask for food and for forgiveness. Joseph told them, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
Perhaps you have enemies today. Believe that what your enemies intended for harm, God will use it to bless you more!
Detours Led To Their Bigger Destiny
Let me give you examples of Detours that happen to three people and how these Detours led them to their bigger Destiny…
1. Steve Jobs
When he was 21 years old, Steve Jobs founded Apple in his garage. After a few years, Apple became a very successful computer company.
But 9 years later, his own Board of Directors booted him out from Apple. Perhaps you’re wondering, “How in the world can the Founder of a company be fired from his own company?” But that was what happened to Steve Jobs. Talk about a gigantic Detour! Suddenly, all his dreams crashed to oblivion.
But while Steve was away from Apple, many things happened in his life that prepared him for his comeback. Twelve years later, Apple hired Steve Jobs again. And he made Apple even bigger and better than ever. (Just to give you an idea, when Steve came back in 1987, Apple Stock was worth $4 per share. Last week, Apple was $610 per share.) Today, Apple, in terms of market capitalization,is the most valuable company in the world.
About his Detour, Steve Jobs said: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
Have you also been fired? Have you been rejected? Has a door closed in front of you? Don’t be discouraged. You’re in a Detour. Believe that God is preparing you for a bigger door!
2. Col. Sanders
Harland David “Colonel” Sanders owned a regular restaurant.
But one day, a literal “Detour” came into his life. The government built a huge highway that made everyone bypass his restaurant. And he was forced to close it down.
This happened when he was 66 years old. Because of closing down his restaurant, he became broke, living from one social security check to another. His monthly check? $104.
If you were 66-years old, and your cherished dream of owning your own restaurant goes up in smoke—what would you do?
The only thing Col. Sanders had in his hands was his chicken recipe. So he went from one restaurant to another, knocking door to door, offering his chicken recipe in exchange for a little royalty for every chicken sold.
Guess what happened? They said “No!” In many places, he was thrown out. How dare he offer his chicken recipe? Their chicken recipe was better.
Do you know how many restaurants rejected his offer? 1009.
If I was Col. Sanders, I don’t think I would have lasted beyond 50. If I received 50 rejections, I would have just given up and retired a retire—living in my small house, collecting my social pension checks every month.
But Col. Sanders didn’t. True enough, one restaurant said “Yes”. And Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. Nine years later, when he was 75 years old, there were 5000+ restaurants that were using his recipe and ordering sauces from him.
Imagine if that Detour didn’t happen. Imagine if that highway wasn’t built that detoured all the customers of Col. Sanders away from his restaurant. Perhaps he’d still be managing one restaurant, perhaps two, perhaps three. But because of that Detour, KFC today has 20,000 branches around the world.
Here’s the truth: Small Dreams will have to die so that Bigger Dreams will come true. If Small Dreams don’t die, you won’t even think of the Bigger Dreams.
3. St. Alphonsus Ligouri
Alphonsus Ligouri was a brilliant young lawyer. He was such a good lawyer that for 8 straight years, he won in all his cases.
But one day, when he was 27 years old, he lost one case because of a simple error he made. He misread a document—and he was totally humiliated in court.
But that was the Detour that God used. When he was very depressed at what happened, that was when he heard a call from God. He left his profession and joined the seminary. Three years later, Alphonsus was ordained a priest. Years later, he formed the Redemptorist Congregation and became a Bishop.
Are you going through total humiliation today? Don’t give up. This is a Detour that will lead to a bigger Destiny for your life.
A Detour Can Be The Road To Your Bigger Destiny
If You Do Two Things…
Let me teach you how to make your Detour bring you to your Bigger Destiny. To move from slave to prisoner to governor, Joseph did two powerful things…
1. Remain Faithful
No matter what happened, Joseph remained faithful to God.
No matter how deep the pit or how dark the prison, he just kept doing the right thing.
For example, when Joseph was a slave working in Potiphar’s house, Joseph could have said, “I don’t deserve to be a slave. What a crummy life! This is so unfair!” And he could have just acted in a lousy way. But that’s not what he did. Joseph said, “I’ll be the great slave in the world!” He did such an excellent job as a slave—Potiphar appointed him Mayor Domo—head of all the other household servants.
When Potiphar’s wife wanted him, Joseph could have said, “Oh, what the heck. Life is unfair anyway. I might as well have a little fun…” But he didn’t do that. He said no to sin.
When he was thrown in prison for a crime he did not do, Joseph could have just thrown in the towel and say, “The hell with life! The hell with being good.” But he didn’t do that. He said, “I’ll be the greatest prisoner in the world.” No matter what happened, he just kept doing the right thing. He was such a good prisoner, the Prison Warden appointed him to be the prison’s Mayor too, to manage the other prisoners.
Joseph bloomed wherever he was planted. If you want to be successful, you too need to bloom wherever you are planted.
Wherever you are right now, remain faithful. Always give your best. You may not be in the right job, you may not have the right tools, you may not be in the right place, you may not be with the right people—but do the right thing anyway—and God Himself will give you the right reward.
Think about it. Where did Joseph learn to manage a country? He took up management 101 in a prison. Before he managed the country, he managed fellow-slaves and fellow-prisoners.
That’s why the Bible says, Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. (1 Peter 5:10)
However, Joseph wasn’t passive. Yes, he was being abused, but he kept looking for an opportunity to get out of the abuse.
2. Remain Open
As you walk through a Detour, believe me, there will be wonderful opportunities that will appear before you. Opportunities to leapfrog to your success. The reason why a lot of people don’t see the opportunities is because opportunities come dressed as responsibilities.
Look at Joseph. When Potiphar asked him to take responsibility over his household, he said Yes. When the Prison Warden asked him to take responsibility over the entire prison, he said Yes. When Pharaoh asked him to take responsibility over the entire country, he said Yes.
But some people are allergic to responsibilities. And these same people will complain why they don’t receive more blessings. Here’s the Truth: If you want more blessings, you’ve got to want more responsibilities. Blessings and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin.
Let me give you an example. Why do Managers earn more than Messengers? Because Managers have more responsibilities than Messengers.
No Matter How Long Your Detour Is…
By the way, do you know how long this circuitous Detour was in the life of Joseph? He became a slave when he was 17 years old. He became a Governor of Egypt when he was 30 years old. He was in Detour territory for 13 long years.
Perhaps you too have been waiting for a long time, seeming trapped in your Detour.
Here’s my final word to you: No matter how long, remain faithful and remain open, and one day, you’ll see your bigger Destiny become your reality.
May your dreams come true,
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