From Above




Cape Town is a fickle mistress, hey. She is gorgeous and she knows it. She also changes her mind at a whim, leaving the rest of us to scramble to adjust to the current mood.

Case in point was this morning. I was all set. It had been cold in the am, and I put on my hoodie. But then the sun came out, the skies cleared and I was feeling warm. So I swopped the hoodie for a lighter cotton top and started loading the kids in the car for school. Now loading the boys in the car, never mind getting them dressed, is a blog for another day. Or just rewatch Michael McIntyre on the subject, the dude gets it.

I digress. The weather is warm, I look good in my black bargain-bought Daniel Hechter. I’ve thrown the ball for the dog, I’ve kissed my wife, my laptop lunch and sunny attitude are locked and loaded. But just as I get the kids in the car and I am about to jump in, the skies go dark and little itty bitty drops of rain start falling on my head, and not in a musical way.

I jump in the passenger seat. And I am filled with two choices.

Option A: Get out in the now falling-faster rain and go swop back out for the warmer hoodie. Not appealing because the young ones can quickly turn on you and each other if you leave them alone for a single second. Plus it’s raining, and I think I’ll defer getting wet…

Option B: Trust that the weather will once again improve, I’ll be ok for the short walk to the office right? Start the car and get going otherwise I will face the wrath of the pre-school teacher again for being late.

And, of course, I went with Option B. I deferred my pain. Hope is not a strategy, and as it turns out, the temperature dropped even further, the rain did NOT stop, and my boys decided today was the day that they would play mind games with me for getting out of the car, leaving a wet, exasperated middle-aged man on the pavement pleading with a 4-year old tyrant to please please let’s go…

I could have done so many things, hindsight being my absolute best subject for all of my academic career. Just thrown an extra top in the back of the car. Grabbed the umbrella downstairs. Not taken the hoodie off and checked the weather forecast. Listened to my wife when she remarked I might get cold. The list goes on…

Jim Collins, he of the GOOD TO GREAT book, has some thoughts on my morning existential crisis.

Collins says it is all about carrying the duality of concept. Be committed to what you do and how you do it, and don’t get distracted (The Hedgehog Concept). This does, however, not mean you get to be an idiot and ignore reality. Confront the Brutal Facts and course correct is also in his core rules of business. Yet so many of us will rather stick our heads in the sand than face up to changing realities, challenges and opportunities.

Anthony Robbins, that other big-handed fleshy talking guru of coaching and NLP technique, talks about long-term pleasure and pain. How we will often take long-term pain in order to have short-term pleasure, but the other way round is super hard. Pain feels a lot bigger in the moment, even if YOU KNOW that you can get wet and cold once now, but be sorted for the rest of the day. No no no, you’ll rather choose to get wet and cold the rest of the day, cause that’s a problem for later right?

I don’t have a solution, btw. We’re all human, and I think we all still make this mistake. I do think there’s something to be said for stretching before moving, though, and just taking a minute, slow down for a deep breath… if I can just remember to do that as a habit, I might make more good decisions. I might integrate new data, that my environment has changed, that my wife does know better, and that an extra minute won’t break the bank. Jack Carr likes to quote Navy Seal training on this: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I like that. The quest continues.

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