Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Making the world go round

Sometimes there are these thoughts which sound so clear and true in my head, and once I start writing they send me to explore all sorts of paths. Take this one:

Life is not about taking the right decisions. Life is about spotting options...

... and taking decisions at all! Aren't we all a bit jealous of those people who just go for things and it always seems to be working out for them? Whatever they do, they always come out on top. They surely must somehow be able to always take the right decision. Thing just is: There is a quite big likelihood that this is not always true. They might be starting off with one idea and ending up with having achieved something completely else. What we see is the success. What we don't see are the stages during which they turned corners and changed direction, and we usually don't know what they actually had set out to do.

But isn't determination, sticking to a plan, and pulling through important for being successful?

YES! I do think that in order to be successful one has to be determined. With that I however mean, being determined about a goal, and not necessarily about how to get there. And it does not mean that along the way one is not allowed to learn things that open other options, which may be even more attractive, beneficial, efficient, or promising. And it definitely does not mean that by achieving something else first, the initial plan is necessarily abandoned.

The important thing is to get moving in the first place. 

Even taking a decision against something is a way of 'moving forward'. It is one obstacle out of the way, opening room for thought and further actions.

I find that two main things can be blamed for not moving forward: Fear and laziness. Taking a decision is always done out of an information background. If this background is insufficient we usually respond with fear. We cannot assess the risk - risk for our life, health, future, or just plain 'keeping face'.  If we only would know more... and that brings us to laziness: Learning means effort. Effort to study factual things and effort to understand the minds of others and ones own.

Actually: I think it is OK to be lazy!

... as long as it is a decision consciously taken. All to often we are lazy because it is the simplest option of all. And the longer we are lazy the more we are afraid of the things we don't fully understand. Laziness and fear oh, so easily can form a vicious circle.

We all take decisions every day: Crossing a street is a decision, even a dangerous one. Aren't we lucky that our parents taught us at an early stage on how to assess this risk? We intuitively know what food is safe and what clothes are sensible... As children we absorb this essential knowledge like a sponge. The one thing that  successful people have in common, is that they still have this capability. And out of experience they know that should their assessment be incorrect, they will find a new piece of information that will help them turn the wheel round. As the wonderful Randy Pausch once said: A brick wall is not to keep you out, but  to show you how badly you want something.

Bricks are like pieces of information, make them your own and a door will open in that wall. Successful people don't mind if the door does not open in the place where they expect it, they just trust that this wall will break, if not in the middle, then left or right, and they don't mind that they might not arrive in the expected place when they get through, they just keep moving.

Probably I should elaborate what I mean with successful people. I don't mean the ones who have a high position and a big salary. I mean people who are happy, who do the things they love doing, who are spreading this happiness and who enable others to achieve their goals. They are explorers! They take decisions well informed yet swiftly, buzzing of excitement to see the options resulting. 

For them the world is a wonderful ocean of options. Every decision they take is like choosing a stone for a skipping game. It will cause ripples which may reach the shore line just in time when someone else is ready to get their feet wet. They are not worried that their ripples might not be appreciated. Yes, these ripples will hit the shoreline, but the people standing there have a choice. They can walk right in and take on the options given to them, they can just watch, or they can walk away. This is their decision to take!

Let's not deprive the world of our ripples, however small they might be.They could still be washing free the perfect skipping stone for somebody else.

... and that will make the world go round!

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