Burnout

Do We Always Have to be Right?

Do We Always Have to be Right?

We, humans, have this insatiable desire, if not addiction, to be RIGHT.

No matter what.

And because we fear, we hate being wrong.

If you are wrong about the right path as you run away from the tiger chasing you, well…it doesn’t turn out so good.

It gets messy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in the middle of the intersection of my life and was totally paralyzed to make a decision for fear of being wrong.

What the hell!?

I mean seriously, I remained stuck, miserable with certain situations all because I didn’t want to be wrong.

And when you need to be right and believe that the path you walk is what EVERYONE else should walk, then you become another gatekeeper in the system of shoving others into the same corral you’re stuck in.

I’m not sure what’s worse, being the one stuck, or the cattle prod in which I entrench others into a life that does not resonate with them.

Reminds me of a story I heard many moons ago when a speaker made a point about being right.

I did a quick search, using google of course—which is always right, right?—about the veracity of this urban legend of a large naval ship at sea and the infamous lighthouse.

This is one version…

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ACTUAL transcript of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. This radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on 10-10-95.

Americans: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.”

Canadians: “Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.”

Americans: “This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.”

Canadians: “No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.”

Americans: “THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH. THAT’S ONE-FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.”

Canadians: “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

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This story is an old one and the roots traced back to the early 1930’s.

I’ve heard similar stories of this account with different named ships and locales over the years.

Seems as though everyone has the “right” version of this story.

Rumor is that there’s a Spanish version of this tale that the reply of the operator of the Lighthouse states he’s accompanied by his dog, food, beer, and a canary that is asleep.

I think the Spanish version sounds better…um, right version that is…but hey, that’s me.

Am I wrong for thinking that?

Much has been preached about this story in the context of being right to the point of being inflexible, being arrogant, and being demeaning toward others, in the fact that we, of course, are right.

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Yes, there are certain rules and laws to uphold, but even some laws are flat out bad and wrong to which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter to fellow Clergymen eloquently addressed in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Unfortunately, the craving and addiction and habit of thinking and feeling that we ARE right is usually at the expense of putting others down, demeaning co-workers, and condemning family members.

Perfectionism is the curse of progress.

And when you set out to make certain changes in your life, progress is what you should strive for and not perfection.

And! what is right today, may prove wrong tomorrow….

Earth was flat, now it’s round.

The Sun revolved around the earth, now it’s the other way around.

Coconut oil was supposed to be good for you, now it’s not.

Chocolate was bad, now it’s good for the heart—interesting fact, my dentist loves me!

Society, family, co-workers, all scream at us what is right…yet, none dare to walk the path you will walk when you decide that the reinvention you need to accomplish in your life, MUST happen…

Because if it doesn’t, you know that you will be the lion’s next victim as you sit confused in the middle of the intersecting pathways.

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With all this talk of being right and the uneasiness that comes with the fact that I myself might admit that I need to adjust a few things along life’s journey, I have to ask myself a few questions along the way…

  • – What would our relationships look like if we could sprinkle kindness and humility with our answers when delivering what we think is right?
  • – How much stronger would our families ties be if we shouted praise for the one who is attempting to make positive changes instead of scraping at every little negative thing about their life?
  • – Would work be more pleasant of an experience if we stopped putting other co-workers down because of our unconscious competence and we ourselves have forgotten the learning curve we went through to become the experts (being right all the time!) in our field?

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Then…

Sometimes…most times, really…I fear being made fun of, I fear shame, I fear ridicule, I fear what society thinks of me, I fear what you think about this blog, I fear being wrong…

I fear, fear, fear!

Thus, I must be right, at least appear to be right—no matter what—which is dangerous turf.

It takes me to a place of evasion and deflecting that usually means I wind up crossing the lines of my own integrity. I will lie and say, “Yep, I agree” or “I know” when I don’t or didn’t and I violate my own values.

Ugh…

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How many positive changes could we make if we acknowledged that we might not be right all the time and say…

“It’s okay, let’s go this way for a while and see what happens?”


Photo by Micaela Parente on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement
Nature’s Lesson on What Flows Under the Surface

Nature’s Lesson on What Flows Under the Surface

There are places here on the Western Slope of Colorado that are absolutely barren.

The only thing one sees in these areas are the grayish-brown clay hills called Adobes. The Adobes are made up of Mancos Shale, which are packed full of saline, nitrites, selenium, and a few other oddities to include uranium.

Low laying pasture lands that overlap the Adobes have a hard white crust from the saline that wicks up out of the ground—nothing grows on it.

Yet, there are other places where the shale does not reach and are absolutely gorgeous; lush and green and everything seems to flourish and thrive without effort.

Funny, one moment you’re driving through some of the most beautiful areas on earth and the next moment you’d swear you’re tumbling across the surface of the moon.

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Farmers here have their own lingo and you’ll pause while your circuits work out the meaning.

“Yeah, it don’t matter none that the water ain’t flowin thro’ all y’ar marks, it all subs out from thar.”

Huh?

Well, marks are those little channels in a field that are evenly spaced and allow water to flow, gravity fed, to the end of the field.

The word sub means that the water soaks into the ground and subterraneously waters your crops where you can’t see the water flowing.

Even nature teaches us that what flows under the surface in dark and unseen regions will affect what grows or doesn’t grow on the surface.

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To thrive and flourish we’ll need to be in a better place than an Adobe field and we’ll need to have some fresh wholesome water flowing through us.

Here are some thoughts to ponder…

  • Change the surroundings, get out of barren land. This might mean a geographical move, but most time this just means changing who it is we spend our time and energy with. Drama, negativity, gossip, are all bitter waters which will wither any green living thing.
  • Changing what comes up out of our wells. A mentor once told me, “What’s in the well, will always come out in the bucket.” True. Listen to someone long enough and they will tell you everything you need to know about them. Yet, we sabotage our lives all the time with, “I’m stupid” “I’m not that smart”, “I can’t…”, “This always happens”, “Why me?” Stop reaffirming negative, self-defeating statements about yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who are positive, believe in you, and will hold you accountable for your self-talk. This is a combination of the two above items. It’s almost impossible to change if you are around negative people who expect you to remain negative about yourself and life. Because it’s a habit we developed early on, we need help from those who aren’t afraid to gently remind us that we are better than what we believe of ourselves.
  • Write down, every day, how you feel and what makes you feel that way. Don’t spend a lot of time on this, but just a few moments at some point during the day. I do it in the morning when I’m fresh. This simple act will help you identify patterns and from there you can begin to develop a plan on how to change how you react to certain things that suck the life out of you.
  • Reflect and forgive. This is so tough. We have high expectations starting out in life as young adults that when reality hits, it sends us reeling in bad decisions, mistakes, and dark detours. At some point, we awake and shake our heads like a boxer who just got knocked out and say, “What the hell just happened?” Regret sets in, and those hellbent on drama stand on the sidelines to mock, condemn, and ‘tell us so’. We feel ashamed and just don’t like ourselves. It’s as though our water supply got poisoned and killed anything fresh inside.

This is where we need to take an honest look at our mistakes and supposed failures and realize that reality never matches up to expectations and ultimately we are human. Learn what we can from them so hopefully we don’t repeat them. Then forgive ourselves. This did not happen overnight for me. Nor will it for you. But, couple this with cutting out negativity, allowing ourselves more positive self-talk, and giving ourselves a little more wiggle room in the area of decision making will certainly help.

  • This brings us to…Learning to Love yourself. This and forgiving myself was by far the hardest thing to learn and to apply. Loving yourself means a lot of things. The best way I can explain it is how it was explained to me…you see a little child on the side of the road crying, alone, confused, and lost. You don’t yell and scream at the kid for making a bad decision to wander and get lost…you compassionately try to calm the child down. Holding the child till the sobs subside and the breathing returns to normal with your soft voice and strong arms wrapped around while getting the child back home to safety. How does that look like for you? Being compassionate with yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself, and the water that flows from that one thing will cause new things to sprout.

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Life is so different now that the waters that flow under the surface of my life are filled with hope, peace, love, and…life.

I hope some of this helps.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement