Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In Yann Martel's novel, The Life of Pi, Pi ends up on a lifeboat with a tiger. Both parts of that are scary - the ocean, and the tiger. From this place of vulnerability, Pi analyzes his fear:
"I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread..."
Reading his description reminds me of some of the super-spy movies (Bond, Bourne, etc.) or the comic-book super-heroes (Spiderman, Superman, etc.). Seemingly fear has a counter to everything we throw at it. But Pi reveals fear's kryptonite: truth.
"You must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you."
I don't know if this has an application to you this week, or not. But my guess is that we all have fears to battle. Every defeat sets you up for future defeat. Every victory sets you up for future victory. So I am praying for the truth to set you free.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Do you ever second-guess where you are going? Sometimes you wrestle with the Spirit, "Did I hear you right?" Sometimes you have to duel with your own subconscious, "This isn't going to work, is it, Dave?" Should you be doing this kind of mental gymnastics? The answer is, "It depends."
Seth Godin, in a blog, lays out the wisdom of both not reconsidering, and reconsidering:
There are two common mistakes here:
Frequently reconsidering decisions that ought to be left alone. Once you enroll in college, it is both painful and a waste to spend the first five minutes of every morning wondering if you should drop out or not. Once you've established a marketing plan, it doesn't pay to reevaluate it every time your shop is empty. And once you've committed to a partnership, it's silly to reconsider that choice every time you have a disagreement.
In addition to wasting time, the frequent reconsideration sabotages the effort your subconscious is trying to make in finding ways to make the current plan work. Spending that creative energy wondering about the plan merely subtracts from the passion you could put into making it succeed.
On the other hand, particularly in organizations, failure to reconsider long-held decisions is just as wasteful. Should you really be in that business? Should this person still be working here? Is that really the best policy?
Jay Levinson used to say that you should keep your ad campaign even after your best customers, your wife and your partner get bored with it. Change it when the accountant says it's time. And Zig Ziglar likes to talk about the pilot on his way from New York to Dallas. Wind blows the plane off course after a few minutes. The right thing to do is adjust the course and head on. The wrong thing to do is head back to New York and start over (or to reconsider flying to Dallas at all).