“There are seasons, in human affairs, of inward and outward revolution, when new depths seem to be broken up in the soul, when new wants are unfolded in multitudes, and a new and undefined good is thirsted for.
There are periods when … to dare, is the highest wisdom.”
William Ellery Channing
“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.”
I decided to come back to it because, if you are in business, you carry around a pocketful of fear wherever you go.
In your universe you are constantly faced with some things that are known … faced with a shitload more things that are unknown and … well … you are constantly demanded to face some fucking door and open it <and go through it>.
Of course … you could choose to wander aimlessly in the wretched in between of unknown and known never opening a door. Well. Someone could … I could not.
A person who elects to wander has elected to give up the world … choice by choice … decision by decision … all choices & decisions of nothing. Nowhere is nowhere and fear is fear and where you are is nowhere with fear.
“You give up the world line by line.
And then one day you realize that your courage is farcical. It doesn’t mean anything. You’ve become an accomplice in your own annihilation and there is nothing you can do about it. Everything you do closes a door somewhere ahead of you. And finally there is only one door left.”
Let’s face it.
Assuming you have any responsibility at all in a business <and it increases the higher up you go> no matter what you do, no matter which direction, or fear, you face … the reality is that as you turn away from one fear you will end up facing another. Basically your universe is one in which you will forsake one fear only to deal with another.
All that means to mean is … well … you may as well hitch up your britches, accept the fear and take action. Embrace the wisdom … to dare to open one of the doors.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious on occasion or thoughtful with regard to the degree and extent of any particular fear … but you may as well do something.
You may as well try to improve your station and lot in Life despite whatever fears you may have.
I will say that some of the best of the fearless-like people have an inner fear compass which enables them to navigate fear a little better than the rest of us every day schmucks.
They are born with it.
To be clear.
They are actually also born with the guardrails which keeps them from the chaos of ‘do anything just to do’ which truly only a psychologically screwed up person would ever embrace. That means they don’t simply ignore fear … they accept it and manage it.
But going back to ‘do not want to act more fearfully than I have to’ I would suggest that not successfully living with fear is probably the biggest impediment to success <even beyond poverty, existing circumstances, etc.>.
I would also suggest we are not successful in living with our pockets full of fear because we far too often give our fears far too much power by believing they are bigger than they really are.
I am not suggesting that fear doesn’t exist I am simply suggesting we do two diametrically opposed things in our heads:
<a> … we often permit fear to take on superhuman powers and intergalactic sizes in our minds.
<b> … we like to look at it with rose colored glasses and put a positive spin on it <embrace fear as proof you are doing something new and something that matters !!!>.
Both of those are kind of silly and absolutely counterproductive.
Fear is fear.
And maybe we would be better off if we didn’t call it anything other than what it is.
Sometimes we call it uncertainty.
Or we call it ‘the unknown.’
You know what? It doesn’t matter what name you put on it. It’s fear. You don’t have to like it or dislike it … just accept it is your constant companion and use it as a nice counterbalance to doing shit <rather than not doing shit>.
Alll that said. I do have a phrase to share … l’appel du vide …French for ’the compulsion to jump from high places’ … or … the call of the void.
I think the phrase itself is specific to that one instance … but I think it’s a cool phrase which creates great imagery.
I have read in a number of places that our intelligence is built around modeling our situation and contemplating alternatives. The truth is that most of us think about what to do incessantly … in fact … at any given instant we are potentially viewing gobs of possible “alternate futures” in our minds <whether we recognize this consciously or subconsciously is another discussion>.
I would suggest that each of these alternative futures … these things we try to envision as we decide to step into some void as ‘edges.’
Frankly … it sounds more risky than ‘paths.’
Alternate futures sounds like ‘paths’ which implies you can veer off at a leisurely pace and retrace steps if needed and … well … there may even be a nice bar with a cool cocktail so you can rest at some point.
But edges mean impact. Impact as in ‘splat’ or impact as in ’that made a difference’ or impact as in “I did not want to act more fearfully than I have to.”
Let’s face it … standing at the edge of a high place, staring into the void <or wide open spaces if you want to be poetically beautiful> … represents a possible future of “I step forward.”
However, since we know that this could bring highly unfavorable consequences, our internal decision filter often whispers in our ear … “no … do not take the step … terrible things could happen.”
That is the battle inside your head where … well … you ponder “I do not want to act more fearfully than I have to.”
Any sane person is going to hesitate and think a little before jumping from an edge <versus simply meandering down a new path>.
Any sane person is just taking ‘the void’ into consideration just the way we do with all we consider on all our alternatives.
We keep “jumping” from thought to thought … alternative to alternative … weighing opportunity <for happiness, success, improvement, pain, etc.>.
But the void is different.
Or at least I think it is.
I don’t think it’s as straightforward as contemplation of the possible or assessing alternatives. I think it has more to do with that wretched place in between the known and the unknown.
I say this because there a shitload of choices and alternatives that appear before us … many with painful or grave possible consequences … but they do not have a similar call of the void.
Perhaps it’s the contemplation of the possible … with some added element of desire … tinged with danger <risk>.
Perhaps it is because we know in our heart of hearts … we know that big risks are the things that reap big rewards. We know we should feel fear and, yet, we desire to not want to act more fearfully than we have to.
I feel confident that 99% of us ponder a leap into some void at some point in our business lives <if not several times>. I feel that confident to use 99% because I believe most of us are attracted to the unknown and the unknowable.
In general I believe most of us are hardwired to be curious and to learn.
There is an attraction to the unknown because we inherently want to learn and to know and to try to figure out shit which we do not understand and not only try something new but, on occasion, reach for that star – the big prize <and business is strewn with tantalizing prizes>.
I am not suggesting all business people actually hear the call of the void <that is a smaller % of people> and even those who hear the call of the void <curiosity and ‘new’ whispers in their heads> does not always answer it.
But will suggest that everyone faces the void … a space between what is known and unknown. And I could also suggest whether you jump or not … Life will inevitably push you into the void whether you want it or not.
And maybe that is where the quote truly comes into play … you do not want to act more fearfully than you have to.
Fear & dare are two words which seem to take on a big Life of their own.
And you know what?
They are littler than they imagine.
And you should treat them as littler things.
Because 99% of us do not want to act more fearfully than I have to. The business world can be unforgiving at times but it is particularly unforgiving to those who permit fear to drive behavior such as standing in between the known and unknown and be unwilling to open a door.