Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trust30; day 19: Facing (and Fearing)

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

By now, many of you know that I am a firm believer that all is choice. This is the engine that drives the gears of life onward as choosing begets creation from which results further choosing, more creating...

Welcome to eternity.

But that is much too big for the cloak of human scale we wear and the stories that we author. Our importance plays as the "micro to the macro," exercising our power and changing/altering perception around and about us.

If this sounds complex, here is the basic element to consider; We are always and eternally asking questions about all that we perceive in either a conscious or unconscious fashion. If we ever find ourselves caught on the proverbial "horns of a dilemma," it is because of the particular questions that we are asking in that moment as well as the ones we asked leading up to it.

Today's prompt is but one example of a method that can serve us all well; if we want better results, ask better questions.

"What are the costs of inaction?" When open and ready, this can produce a mother lode of acidic information, the kind that stings as it is considered

"What kind of person do I want to be?" Careful as this can cast a very bright light. Are we living up to our dreams, goals and aspirations or are we staggering under the weight of family or societal expectations?

Boy, have I "been there, done that." This revelation sucked in the highest magnitude (and nearly sucked the living spirit out of me.)

"In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?" Does lying on the floor, naked and sobbing in a fetal position count as an alternative positive outcome?


How about rallying to survive from that ultimate "ring of hell" to realize that a) One is still alive; b) Has options (small as they may be) and, c) Can summon the courage to make one tiny choice in the direction of the light? That the choice may be to shower for the first time in a week, put on clothes and turn mortal eyes towards the sun to see if it still shone... how about that?

Yeah, I've gotten "dramatic jollies" of the highest order in years gone by. I won't pin this one on anyone else; there is always a reward in seeing "how low can you go." It may be the most fornicated-up reward in one's life to date but that doesn't mean it isn't real or valid.

The other thing that I understand better now is that if I ask myself any of these questions and the answer comes back, "I don't know," that's either a lie or a stall. One could choose to then ask:
  • If I did know, how would I feel?
  • Could I know this and still survive?
  • Am I willing to receive the gift that answering this would give me?
That's just a few but there are countless others. It's never "one size fits all." It's" what works for me? What works for you?"

The real fun comes from staying awake, aware and fully engaged in the game. We are all more powerful than we dare dream. The fun comes in taking the reins and exercising that power, asking better questions and adjusting on the fly.

I learned from my days working in international shipping that huge containerized freight vessels, circumnavigating the great oceans of the world, are almost constantly off course. One captain told me, "If I left port and was as little as one half of a degree off course and never bothered corrected that as I went along, I'd miss my target port by hundreds of miles."

Today, computers on ships and airliners constantly churn out data, reference the laid-in course and ask two questions; "Where am I compared to this course?" and "What adjustments must be made now?" They use the feedback. It is vital.

Fear is feedback; are you ruled by feedback?

That's the power of choice, the power of asking better questions.


  1. The analogy of the ship captain correcting the course really resonated with me. It helped me think in a new way.

  2. I loved this one, Rich!
    I can relate to the fetal position very much and not being able to shower for weeks, stinking like a sewer rat. But as you say, to muster enough courage to make the choice to take that shower even if you feel it's useless somehow, is to change step by step one choice at the time.

    The captain of the ship analogy is great and makes me look back at my life realizing that I have been captain and adjusting my course as I live, but not necessarily aware of it.

    Fear is feedback, as long you are willing to look at it as such.

    Thanks for this. Your thougths and musings is highly inspirational and profound.

    In'Lakesh, Michi

  3. 'We are all more powerful than we dare dream.' This one is going on my list! As well as Michi, I have been in that fetal position more times than I care to remember; dreading and not taking a shower until I am forced to make myself. I can so relate to this. Thank you for being so honest with us. This is a great read. I understand. Take care.
    Peace, Nico

  4. I am enjoying that those who are reading my thoughts are finding their own inspirations and rewards here, simply disguised as coming from me. I love witnessing that. Thanks to you all!