The Scoop @ MSCO

2011

Walking Backwards at the Speed of Light

It seems to be quite often that I talk to people who tell me they really don’t like their careers, plan to do something else but are just waiting for the time to be right. For the planets to align. For who knows what.

For the most part, they never stop talking about it (how frustrated, often miserable they are) but never seem to quit, find a new path, make a U-turn, take a chance, extract themselves from the morass that deprives them of the exhilaration life has to offer to those who reach for it.

I have never understood this feet in quicksand way of living. Whether it applies to a career, business strategies, artistic endeavors, ¬†relationshipships: if it’s not working, it if fails to bring passion and joy, if it is like going through the motions in wet clothes and heavy boots, it needs to be tossed, junked, bypassed, viewed as an experiement that failed, that we learned from and that we use as a launch pad for a new adventure into the wild blue yonder.

None of these excuses to remain stalled in a hopeless holding pattern ring true. None of them work. Zero are authenic. All of them lies designed to buy time, to postone the pain and/or fear that will come for awhile as you walk the shaky bridge to a new life, a new business, a career change, a relationship that actually needs no work and affords immeasurable rewards:

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In The Valley of Doubt Lies the Mountain of Truth

There have been times in my life when I was uncertain whether I would be able to achieve anything worthwhile and once when I was uncertain of my ability to survive.

The first bouts with doubt occurred early in my career, when a road I was on suddenly turned into a brick wall, leaving me pole-axed and uncertain as to my ability to recover. The last was six years ago when I was facing major surgery and the nurse taking me to the O.R. asked me my favorite psalm. When I said the 23rd psalm, we said it together. “Yea, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall feel no fear…..” I didn’t feel, but I wasn’t certain that I would come out of the anesthesia to see my family again.

A business reversal and serious surgery seem to be eons apart but they have a profound common denominator: each time I allowed myself to slip into the valley of doubt I found the mountain of truth. A truth that left me stronger and wiser than I was before the free fall took place.

This was not some mystical intervention but more powerfully and reliably it was based on a process I have used to deal with the potential game changers I am faced with. Each time, I reverse engineer the danger at hand, fast forward to imagine what would happen if the worst of my runaway fears came true. When I look at the issue, the circumstances, in the cold light of day, I see that although it is far from attractive, there is a way out. An escape hatch that leads to a ladder that brings me not only back to the surface but better than that, to a level of strength, confidence and clarity of vision that surpasses what had been my high point before my world appeared to invert.

As we look out to the new year, bound to face setbacks as well as triumphs, we should tell ourselves the following whenever the earth shakes under our feet and doubt drives our thoughts:

  • The fear is always greater than the reality.
  • When we force ourselves to imagine the worst case, we see that it is not as bad as it looks from a distance.
  • There is always a way out and up.
  • The smart and the tough do not whine, they find a way to beat the odds and win.

The valley of doubt is a test of sorts that can lead to weakness or, if we understand what it is and how to navigate it, turns out to be a mountain not only of truth but of strength.

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Playing Ping Pong With Jesus

The holiday season that is now sparkling all around us is exceptional for many reasons, not the least of which is that it prompts us to put aside our work as the days get ever closer to December 25th and to think of family, friends, priorities and our place in the universe. It is warming, genuine and truly profound.

And it all eminates in the name of one man, Jesus. Through the millennium, war, peace, love, hatred, kindness and cruelty have been levied in his name. In all cases, those taking action in his name do so based on a personal
interpretation that may or may not jell with the “Christ”-mas spirit. Or with the true beliefs of Jesus. He is, in a sense, a Rorshach test: people see in him what they want to see and act in his name based on a personal bias that his philosophy is aligned with theirs.

Which makes we wonder how Jesus would see it all now: the world in the midst of the Christmas of 2011. What better way to find out than to imagine a casual game of intellectual ping pong with him, asking a series of questions that unlock the views of Jesus– not from scribes and “holy men”– but from Jesus himself.

Here is what I would ask him as I paddled ideas and questions across the table and waited for his returns:

  • Billions use your name in the cause of peace but the world is tangled in war after war. Why does this happen?
  • Are you a pacifist? Do you believe in war when property and/or liberty are threatened? Should we always turn the other cheek? Is war ever holy?
  • You appear to be anti-materialistic but people love to acquire things: homes, cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, boats. And for many, the more, the bigger, the better. Is this selfish? Greedy? Is it wrong to pursue material things? Why are houses of worship often decadent palaces? Do they get a pass?
  • Is dashing into mobs at Wal-Mart to amass gifts in the Christmas spirit or does it defy it? Denigrate it?
  • Are you happy with the state of mankind or saddened by it? If the latter, what went wrong? What do we fail to see?
  • The most religious people are often the most intolerant of other religions. Is that a strength or a weakness? A blessing or a sin?
  • There is a widely held belief that there should be a separation between church and state. Do you believe this is correct or is it a rejection of all that you have preached?
  • Should members of the clergy be held to a higher standard than all others?

If so, why?

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A Hostage To The Wind

Every time I hear a conversation about “fate” my eyes glaze over. I am asked, ¬†”Do I believe if all in life is dictated by an invisible script or am I convinced in the absolute randomness of events?”

There is no reason to answer the question because there is no way to prove or to disprove either belief. It is all conjecture: a parlor game that leaves the players as baffled as they were before the speculation began.
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When There Are No Words

1354791_14808834More than anything else, marketers play with words. Invent them. Embellish them. String them together in luscious archipelagos that excite and tug at the mind, emotions and spur people to action.

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