The Successful Approach

On December 31, 1967 Evel Knievel prepared to jump 141 feet over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada on his Triumph Bonneville. Unfortunately, during his approach, his motorcycle lost power and his jump fell short resulting in a crash that crushed his pelvis and femur, fractured his hip, wrist and ankles and left him in a coma for 29 days.

A little less than thirty years later, on March 19, 1997, an experienced, F18 fighter pilot prepared to land his $57 million jet on the flight deck of the USS George Washington. Unfortunately, the unnamed pilot overcompensated for movement of the ship and the harsh side wind resulting in a crash landing that nearly cost him his life.

On January 19, 2008, the Seattle born skier, Scott Macartney, was completing his run in the Hahnenkamm downhill World cup ski race. Unfortunately, as he hurled down the course at 87 mph, he entered the final jump a bit too wide, and took a horrific tumble that left him unconscious with numerous broken bones.

On Friday, April 4, 2008, at Texas Motor Speedway, Michael McDowell was taking his qualifying for the Samsung 500. Circling the track at speeds of 180-190 mph. Unfortunately, his Toyota Camry lost traction just before turn one and slammed in to the wall at full speed, sending his car hurdling and tumbling through the air.

At first it might seem that the only thing these stories have in common is an unfortunate endings. Yet, there is another factor that links them together: the approach. Though each story ended with an accident, the failures took at the approach.

Evel Knievel’s jump failed because his motorcycle lost speed ON THE APPROACH. The F-18 pilot crashed because the pilot was a bit off ON THE APPROACH. Scott Macartney lost control on the last jump because he came in too wide ON THE APPROACH. Michael McDowell slammed into the wall because he lost traction ON THE APPROACH.

It’s all about the approach. Whether you are trying to make a jump on a motorcycle, or a sharp turn in a car; catch a loose pet, or a dangerous reptile; diffuse an angry spouse, comfort a distraught child, encourage a discouraged friend, or meet a new person, it’s all about the approach.

It ‘s all about the way you move toward others as we initiate contact. It’s all about the approach and the attitudes we present as we relate and interact. It’s all about the approach we take to the conflict we experience, the work that we do, the relationships that we value and so forth. More than anything else, how we approach the events of lives, both large and small, has a direct influence on the outcome we experience, and says a great deal about what we believe to be true.

For example, if I truly believe God's grace is big enough to cover all my sin, that should influence how I respond to others when they sin. That should make me more likely to demonstrate grace when my children spill soda on the sofa, even when they are not supposed to have soda in the living room. That's not to say that I won't be a bit irked, or that there won't be consequences. It simply means that I will approach the situation with compassion, mercy, kindness, grace and so forth, even as I am administer justice, because that is how God approached me.