Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Dangers of Optimism Desire and Excitement

So last night I was sitting here brain fried from a good day of school and too much studying and decided to do some random web surfing. With a bit of synchronicity reality decided to validate my point from yesterday by showing me this video and instantly providing inspiration from it. For those of you who can't get to the video it is just a silly little shot of a cat getting its head stuck in an ice cream container and in some ways aren't we all like that cat. We see things we like and we dive in trying to get everything we can out of an idea or opportunity without really looking at the dangers it may poss.

We tend to be blinded by three things when we start on a new project: optimism, desire, and excitement. These three are all good to have to a degree but when they overrule our rational thought and damage our decision making process then we find ourselves in trouble, in over our head and just plain stuck. Let's take a look at each of these ideas and see how to harness them while avoiding the blinding glare of their bright light.

Optimism: When we start a new project all we can see is the way it will succeed, this is so true that American culture has proverb after proverb that deal with this. We are told "do not count your chickens before they hatch" or maybe "Look before you leap". The one that holds the key to not letting over optimism ruin the goal is "Hope for the best plan for the worst." If we do not look at the things that could go wrong at the outset of a new venture we will never see the rewards that can be gained. A strong conviction that successes is inevitable is a powerful tool and can definitely see us through the dark times when a project bogs down but it must be tempered by a complete understanding of the perils and pitfalls that face the project.

Desire: Even more then optimism folk wisdom warns us against unchecked desire. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." "All that glitters is not gold." When we see what we want and rush headlong in to its arms we may find that it is not an old lover returned from afar but a stranger that may react cruelly to our sudden exuberance. We see what we want and we go for it but we must be honest with our self is what we are feeling truly love or lust. Lust burns hot and quick with a desire more potent then love as the first sparks take hold. However those fears passionate flames die out quickly leaving nothing more than ashes behind. Love on the other hand stays the fire burns on and on keeping us warm through long winter nights and cooking our food in the summer. When we dive headfirst in to something new we find ourselves stuck with the trappings or consequences of our actions much like a young woman who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand. In deed we must take the time to date the idea, the item, the plan in order to get to know if it is love or lust before we commit or hart to an idea.

Excitement: When we discover something that makes our hart sing we want to build it it up, increases scope, make it something even more wonderful then it already is. This is true whether it is an idea or a project or something we have created. We work on the project then put it down then think wait what if I do this it will be even better. This excitement can distract us from the other necessary tasks in our life and make a simple thing become an incompressible mess. We must be willing to set aside our excitement, our reckless energy and step away from what we are working on, both to look at it from the outside and so as not to overwork it. This is one of the cycle of failure I have in my life: have an idea, work on it polish it get it ready for production, add another layer to it, add yet another layer, tinker with it and when I am done I have something to unwieldy to even work with.

There is one other key bit of inspiration that I took from the video and it comes near the end. The gray cat has been struggling with the ice cream carton on its head and has all but given up. It sits down and raises one half hearted paw to try and swipe at the problem one last time and then something happens. A second cat shows up and taps the first on the shoulder and just like that the container falls from its face. Some times when we let our ideas grow too big or we rush in without thinking all we need is a friend to tap us on the shoulder and say is that really such a good idea. It is important to seek the council of those we trust before we start a new endeavor or give our hart away to a new idea.


Eric | Eden Journal said...

I loved the way you ended this post. Sometimes we just need a friend. Whether we are embarking on something new or not, it's good to have a council of friends.

Quinn said...

I think the council of wise friends is one of the most valuable things we can ever hope to posses

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