The Lady or the Tiger
In my last blog we see a man running. A closer look shows he is chasing a beautiful woman. Zoom in and we realize that the man is being chased by a tiger.
What are we really seeing? Is the man running from the tiger or is he chasing the lady? Is there a difference?Running is running, you must admit. So, is running to catch something better than running away from another thing? It might be even worse.
I read an article by Leonard Kim in which he says, “When you decide to chase something, what you decide to chase starts to run away.” So with that in mind, can the man ever catch the lady? And, if the man does catch the lady, will he be happy?
What if it’s the chase that brings the rush and not the conquest? What if the conquest usually ends in disappointment? One of life’s rules is this: the fantasy of the conquest is almost always better than the conquest itself. Do we run because we believe we can, or run because we believe we must?
Let’s suppose that the man catches the lady and they stop to enjoy the bliss of the moment. As she falls in his arms, her kiss is everything he hoped it would be.
As they enjoy the fantasy fulfilled, they are eaten by the tiger.
The tiger did not stop to rest. The tiger that chases us never rests. Was catching the lady worth being devoured by the tiger? Most would say no. With that in mind, it would seem that we should face the tiger before we ever chase and catch the lady.
I’ve been lucky to achieve most of my life goals. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I have a wonderful marriage, three talented and loving children and a great job. I work for a company that puts people ahead of profit. Within this corporation I’ve been able to build a company that has grown from $5 million in sales to nearly $300 million.
I’m not boasting, well maybe just a little, but I’ve been able to grab almost every brass ring as the carousel of life went around.
What’s your tiger? Maybe it will help you identify yours if I tell you mine. I am one of those individuals that never stops running. I really don’t know how to rest and relax. In many ways it is my strength but someday it will probably be my undoing.
We will talk about both the hows and the whys, but for now, let’s discuss the whys. Let me start out by telling you, in my case, the why was the tiger. My motivation to succeed was my fear of the pain that comes with failure. To be first, for fear of being last, and at times in my life, to be first, for fear of being second.
My personal life is not much different. Every day I feel I must accomplish something because I do not want the pain of accomplishing nothing. So I run. Not literally, but figuratively. I get up early every day and I look for projects. I need something to do and something to accomplish. If I do nothing, it makes me an easy target for the tiger, and the tiger never rests. Neither do I.
There are three ways to live in the jungle. The most common situation is we forever run from the tiger. Second, we can turn and fight the tiger, but the injuries we would suffer could be terrible or even fatal.
But there is a third option. We can turn and embrace the tiger.
We can discover what chases us and instead of fighting it or running from it, we can use it to our advantage. If we no longer fear the tiger, and use the tiger’s pace to quicken our own, we might indeed catch the lady.
So what’s the moral of the story? Only by facing our tiger, and using that fear to our advantage, will we ever be able to catch the lady.
Don’t miss my next blog, Catching the Lady
Imagine you find yourself in the forest; deep, dark, and dense. You look and listen for things familiar. There is a faint sound in the trees. You sit quietly but you see nothing. All of a sudden, you see the source of the sound. A man is running and running fast. You wonder why.A closer look reveals a possible reason. Running in front of the man is a beautiful lady, long hair falling across her bare shoulders and down to her waist. She glances back, smiles at the man and picks up her pace even more.
Her allusiveness has made him out of breath and needing a rest, but the lady never stops, so the man presses on. The quest to catch the lady has consumed most of his life, but somehow he believes the prize is worth the sacrifice.
But another glance shows the shadow of a third figure. This darkness runs as fast as the man and matches his every step. A little light falls on the shadow and now we know the third figure in the race is a tiger.
His eyes are fixed on the man and his claws dig deep into the Earth as he runs. Never looking left or right, he has but one prey in sight. So what will be the outcome? If the man runs faster, he may catch the lady, but then what? He’s not sure, but he runs all the same. If he slows down he knows he will definitely be caught by the tiger.
So here is the question: Why does the man run? Why do we all run? Are we running from or running to? Is it the prize we seek that makes us run, or the fear of getting overtaken? Most would say the prize, but I disagree. I believe for many, it is the hot breath of the tiger that quickens their pace.
We all recognize the lady. She’s the ribbon for winning the race or the good grade on a test at school. Later, she’s the promotion at work or the bonus for achieving a goal. We know the lady very well, but what about the tiger. Most of the time we’re not sure what the tiger looks like. We would rather not imagine the sharpness of his teeth, but still, we shudder at the thought.
Do we run the race to get the trophy or not to be overtaken by the runners behind us? Do we make good grades in school for our own achievement or to avoid our parents’ disappointment? Do we study hard for the college chemistry to pass or not to fail? Do we marry to be happy or not to be lonely?
I’ve had the good fortune to manage a very large sales force and have always considered myself a leader that motivated others to achieve by painting the dream for them. I was in a meeting with an attorney I admire and trust. He asked, “Do you know why people perform so well in your company? It may be different than you think. They perform because they don’t want to disappoint you.”
I must admit, I was taken aback. But when I think about the man, the lady and the tiger, it makes sense. I have come to believe that most decisions in our personal and business lives are made from fear of loss rather than pursuit of gain. We are running from something rather than running to something.
But is that so bad? Maybe not. Thinking of the tiger’s teeth creates the urgency that may be much greater than the pleasure of the lady’s kiss. Isn’t it results that we desire? Just a thought.
Now you can resume running.
Can a connection to morality be repaired once broken?
Let me propose this to you. If you are lost, you cannot find your way until you find yourself. You cannot find yourself until you face the fact of who you really are and admit that you are lost. Lost, alone and confused, but ready and willing to be found.
Found in this context is an interesting word. Can someone who was lost, grab hold of something stable and find their way? Can they write a narrative for their life and maybe a new code to live by or are they forever lost? I hope to answer that question in this blog. To give you a hint of my position on this matter, I don’t believe anyone is incapable of salvationI had an interesting experience the other day. I was talking to a friend about morals and ethics and said to him, “I want you to imagine something for me.” He seemed perplexed, but willing. “I want you to imagine you grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Your father was a drunk and left your mother when you were only 6 years old. Your mother never got over the hurt and turned to drugs to medicate the pain. With no functioning family, you got in with the wrong crowd and became a troubled youth and then a real problem as a teenager. A few brushes with the law and some time in juvenile detention were just the beginning. But somewhere in your 20’s something changed. A close friend died from an overdose and another went to jail for dealing drugs. You wanted out. Out of the life that was spiraling to destruction. You needed to start over. “What would you do?” I asked this of my friend and he quickly said, “Not an easy answer.” Not an easy question, is it?
Let’s think of it another way. You’re the captain of a sailing ship lost in a storm. When the winds subside and the seas calm down you realize you are truly lost. How do you find out where you are so you can set a course to where you want to be? Can you ever navigate to where you want to be if you don’t know where you are? I don’t think so.
Seems to me you are just like the captain in need of a star. A fixed point in the sea of confusion. So maybe that’s the key but where do you look for a star? Just like the captain, you look upward, of course. In navigation we must first find a seemingly non-moving object in order to use as our sextant or our senses to chart a course.
Where can you find this object that is so solid it can’t be moved? For some it’s family. Family is the solid rock they can navigate toward and from. For the sea captain and many others, it’s the heavens where they came from and where they lean, in times of chaos.
Find that still, unchanging point to look toward, and then build your map around it, no matter whether it’s family, faith or a faraway star. If you want to be found bad enough, you will find yourself. I am sure. Once you are ready, that stable thing in your life will start you building a new map. A moral map based on principles that you can build a life around. But the process of building a new moral map is not easy. It’s not. It first requires desire to change and second a commitment to weather the storms that will surely come.
There’s an interesting force in nature that will pull you back to your past ways. Nature might welcome change in the form of evolving of species but in the case of a persons’s moral direction, change is much more difficult.
Let’s look at this in the case of coping skills. We might work very hard to develop skills to handle difficult situations and in most cases these skills work fine. But what about those situations that push us past our ability to cope? Here’s what happens. We resort to old behaviors in order to survive. That could be shutting down and refusing to engage but it might be the opposite. Our fight or flight system kicks in and we chose to fight. This could be a verbal, but unfortunately, in some cases it results in violence. But that might be the only coping mechanism you know.
Let me give you a sports example from my own life. When I started snow skiing, many years ago, I began with my skis in a wedge. This provided the best control.
Later I graduated to a more parallel position and 95% of the time I glide down the intermediate runs in great control.
But from time to time I become overconfident and stand at the top of a black expert slope. I start down but eventually realize I’m past my skill level and so to regain control, I resort to what? You guessed it. My wedge. My survival skill. Think of this as coping in the worst of situations. Life mirrors the mountain and from time to time we are faced with an expert run full of bumps.
This same situation can occur whenever you’re faced with tough moral and ethical decisions. I can promise, you will resort to old habits unless new habits from your new map are developed and old habits are erased. So how do you develop a new habit if the one you have keeps getting you into trouble?
You must build a new you.
Building a new you starts with your moral map. Try to erase from the map all the toxic rules you have been living by. The ones that hurt you and can hurt others as well. Erase the ones that are only self-serving and do nothing for the betterment of humanity. If you want to feel better about you, do something for someone else.
Remember, this moral map is really a decision and behavior filter, full of the ethics and beliefs you will use in making your toughest decisions. To build this new map, look to those unmoving objects and ask how they decide what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. Something that is stable and unchanging. Maybe family or faith or in some cases real friends. I mean real friends. Not the ones that suck the life out of you but the ones that breathe life into you. The friends that celebrate you and lift you up. The friends that always leave you feeling better about yourself.
Ask yourself if their moral code would fit the person you want to become. If the answer is yes then lean on that rock and start building your map.
Being found sometimes requires reaching back to continue forward. It’s not the total answer for finding yourself and your way through life. But it’s a great place to start your long journey of being found and not lost anymore.
– Steve Haberly
Do not miss my next blog, The man, the lady and the tiger
Why do we get lost? When the connection between our map, compass and alarm is broken, we get lost. It’s the broken connection. The map that you build could be of the highest moral standard or it could be totally self serving. When the compass and the map lose connection altogether, you can become disoriented. Even worse, when there is no connection at all between your compass and alarm, you don’t even know you’re lost, until you are completely lost.
So, where does your belief system, or map, come from? For some of you, it’s the standards, morals, customs, ethics from the society in which you were raised. For others, it’s the religion followed and practiced from youth into adulthood. For many, it’s your family who taught you right from wrong and good from bad. But for most, it’s a combination of all these factors that formed the rules they live by, right or wrong.
What if you had no strong moral fiber in your youth. There were no pages written by your family or society, other than those that were self-serving. You could easily navigate through life with a bad map and a broken compass. Without a moral map you jump from experience to experience, learning many of the wrong lessons. Each time, you are in uncharted territory, without a clear way forward.
When you look back after straying off the right path, the path you made is gone. It’s grown over by time and your missteps. You don’t know how you got there and haven’t the slightest clue which way is home. The few moral lessons you left behind have been scattered by the chaos and confusion that is your world today. You look for the right path, but it’s nowhere to be found. There’s no path ahead and none behind. You feel lost and confused. The pages in your book were the markers of your decisions made by reaction rather than reason.
A few of the pages left on your life’s journey might have shown you the way back, but back to where or what? Back to where you came from? Maybe. Back to where you started? Possibly. But what if you came from a broken home or from a group of individuals that had no morals? There would be no sane place to go back to, no ethical model to filter your decisions through.
Along your journey you are faced with many decisions that arise from problems or opportunities. You might make these decisions in three very different ways.
When you don’t know which path to choose, sometimes you just guess and pick one. No rhyme, no reason, you just take door number one. Because there was no filtering process in your decision making, there is no process learned that can be repeated. So, there are no important pages left behind to show you the way.
The second way you might make decisions is greed. “I will make the choice that benefits me the most.” A lot of bad decisions are made in these two processes. Let me explain. Your decisions and actions, as you travel through life, write a line or even a page in your book. A page can become a marker of the path once taken and the decisions once made.
The third way you might make decisions is by following a standard or code. A code defining who you are and what you believe. Some might call it a belief system. Every time you make a decision by filtering it through your belief system it strengthens your resolve and it lays down a marker on your life map.
A life lived without a belief system has no process, other than chance and selfishness. It leaves no marks on your map that can be easily followed by showing you the way back or the way forward.
Any markers left are just bread crumbs and will be scattered by the wind or eaten by the birds. A weak map is covered with lost travelers. You will need a belief system that builds a strong map. But that isn’t enough. You will need an alarm that warns when you have strayed off course.
Your belief system or life map is housed in your head, but your warning system or alarm is in your stomach.
Connect with them both. Follow one and listen to the other.
“When I lost me, you knew where I left me.”
I heard this line a few days ago and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was the “lost me” part that hit a nerve. LOST brings a powerful picture and sends chills down my spine.
If you tell me you’ve never felt lost then you’re lying to yourself and me. I don’t mean lost because your car GPS is out of order and I don’t mean lost because you can’t find your favorite coffee in the grocery store.
Lost, standing at a turning point in your life with no clue which way to go. Faced with a decision without the knowledge or the courage to choose a direction. Lost, really lost. It’s a frightening place to be, this place called lost. So how does this happen? How do you get lost and why do some never find their way back?
I like to think of it this way. When you are a child, your view of life is like an open book. A book with lots of open space on which to write your story. The beginning is filled with experiences. Some of these are insignificant but others are dramatic and important. The important things that you learn become a significant part of your story. The very important ones might even become chapters. They rarely get erased or forgotten and over time they become rules by which you live.
A simple example might be that fire is hot and will burn you, don’t touch. A rule written from personal experience. There are many of these simple rules, but also some that are harder to learn and have a more dramatic effect on our life. Some pages are written by experience but others are written by the environment in which you grow up. This environment might be your family, friends, school, church or society. They all have their book of rules.
Rules they live by and try
to pass on to you.
sometimes successfully and sometimes not,
Over time, your book becomes filled, page after page. Maybe you should call them standards, morals and ethics, or life guidelines by which to live. No matter what you call them, they become your belief system. This system of beliefs helps you discern right from wrong. It’s the filter you pass things through to accept or reject them. It’s the foundation of your future.
Along with this experience and environmentally created map you also need a compass. A life compass that points true North. A direction you can depend on. A compass that points to a path forward or even home. Let’s start out assuming you have a strong moral and ethical map. Unfortunately, it may not be enough to navigate through the turbulent waters and rocky narrows of life.
You need more. You need to know when you have veered off course.
You need an alarm. If your life map and compass are in your head, the alarm is surely in your stomach. I’ve stated many times that your head might sometimes lie to you, but your stomach never does.
In summary, your environment and experience builds the book of your life. From this book you build a map of how things should work and that map resides in your head. Over time, you develop a compass that shows you a direction on the map. That compass also resides in your head. When making decisions, you filter the data through your book and see how it compares to the map of your belief system. You make a decision and then check your alarm system to see if you are on course. The alarm lives in your stomach.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Why do we get lost? It’s the subject of my next blog. Don’t miss it, it could change your life.
Please leave a comment.
I long for the days when I could believe what the news anchor said. When I was a young man, Walter Cronkite held our trust in his fatherly hands and he held it honestly and tenderly. Over the years, I have become such a cynic. There is no real news. There is nowhere to go and get the truth. What we get are faux facts, manufactured to look like truth but spun to become sensational. Or we get half facts. Facts that are pulled out of context so the real meaning is completely lost.
What kind of world are we living in? Do they think we’re too stupid to understand? Have they forgotten it is government by the people? I believe if we are given the facts and educated about the problems, we could make good decisions.
What we need is a hero. Someone we can believe in. Someone we can trust.
When I was young there were heroes, people who rode white horses and rescued damsels in distress. Good triumphed over evil and the day was saved. The good guys had names like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Audie Murphy. If it was on television it was true. How dare somebody get on television now and say something that is not true. In those days, even senators and congressmen understood their responsibility to the people who elected them. Do you think our children look up to the politicians they see on television today? I hope not!
Where are our heroes? I feel so discouraged at what I see and hear. I want someone to look up to. Someone who grabs the microphone or the podium and tells us the truth. But I know I can’t change the way television networks fight for ratings or what lies politicians will tell to get re-elected. So what can we do? We can express our beliefs using the freedom we have in this country, our vote. Vote your conscience.
But there is also something I can do every day. I can be the person that goes to work and treats people fairly every day. I can be a husband that shows my wife how much I love her every day. I can be a model of honesty and kindness for my children and grandchildren. I can be the best friend my friends could ever have. I can be the best me that I can be.
So here’s the commitment we all need to make:
First, we will do the things to become a hero in the lives of the people we love. And then, we will reach out and find those people that are disillusioned and be a hero for them. Heroes aren’t dead they’re just waiting to appear when they are most needed. They’re needed now.
Be a hero.
What is my purpose? Why am I here? If I just knew the answer to those universal questions, maybe I’d know what to do next.
I’ve reached this point in my life where the end seems near, but I know I’m not done yet. I have another game to play. Another chance to step to the plate and park one over the left field fence.When I die and face St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, what if he says “Nice try. You did play hard, but you always played it safe. You hit a single when you could’ve pounded one into the left field bleachers. You didn’t make an out, that’s for sure, but you also didn’t make a difference.”
And I ask, “What do you mean?”
“The game was lost. You’re single just wasn’t enough.”
“I didn’t know I was supposed to reach for the seats. I didn’t know it was my job. I didn’t know that my purpose was. I thought I was just a player. It was someone else’s job to win the game. Someone else’s job to be a hero.What if I’d hit a home run and won the game? Would it have changed the life of one or even many? I just didn’t know. I just didn’t know.”
That’s how I feel sometimes. Maybe you do too. Why am I here and what part am I supposed to play? What can we do to find our purpose? I read an article by Mei Mei Fox about an interesting approach that may help us get started. She suggested creating a vision board.
On a wall or a poster board, if you can’t use pins or tape on your wall, we’ll create this vision board. Out of a 3×5 card cut out the word purpose. Put this cut out in the middle of your wall.
Now, over the next few days or weeks, cut out pictures of things that excite you, ignite you or make you happy. Put these on your wall around your purpose. As your Vision Board fills up, take time to look at the pictures. Is there a trend to the images? If so, maybe you should explore what it’s trying to tell you. Then, is what you’re passionate about the key to your purpose? Maybe not the only key, but at least a place to start exploring.
Is this really why we’re here, just to find out what we are passionate about? Somehow I don’t think so. Let’s look at it another way. Our life on Earth could be defined in 3 simple ways.
First: Our life has a positive impact on the world.
Second: Our life has a negative impact on the world.
Third: Our life has no impact at all.
Which path do you choose? Most people would probably choose the first option. Now that was easy, wasn’t it? Now that you’ve decided on at least one of your goals in your life’s purpose, how do you make it happen?
Since that you have chosen to have an impact, the next step is to uncover the tools you already possess that could fashion this impact. What if we make another board? This will be the things we’re good at. Our abilities. Cut out pictures that represent your skills and talents. Place them on the second board around the word skills. Include all the things you do well. This could be based on the quality of what you built or created or maybe even what others said about your creations. “Wow, you have a future as an artist. That painting is beautiful.”
This is a good time to go back and look at your first vision board. You put those pictures there for a reason. They must have created a feeling. Now’s the time to explore that feeling. Find the picture that reminds you of something you would enjoy doing for someone or with someone.Now look at your skills board. Match the skill with the activity that you could do for someone else. Where does the joyful activity and the talent intersect? Where they align is a great activity to share with others and make their life better.
There’s another way to look at purpose. The journey is the purpose. Let’s talk about that trip to find our purpose.It starts with a jouney. The road will be bumpy and sometimes narrow. Sometimes it will be exhilarating, but often exasperating. Howver, with open minds, we will see, hear and feel life at every turn.
This journey is not made to be taken alone. You will assemble a team of friends, acquaintances, family. Your allies.Each will teach you something, for each has their own passions, joys and talents. You may be surprised that the one you least expect ends up supplying the knowledge you most require just to survive the trip.You will grow with each step and often grow the most from the challenges you face and the adversity you overcome. Along the way you will chisel the stone to form what the journey has shown you as your purpose.
You will return from your journey with some scars and bruises but with the wisdom to truly make a difference. A chance to give back. A chance to make a positive impact.
Your purpose will absorb you. It will free you. It will challenge you.
Now it’s up to you. GO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN.