The Downward Spiral

LadyLibertyWhen I was young, my Boy Scout troop took a trip to the Statue of Liberty.  I’m not sure who talked me into it but a group of us decided to go up to the crown.  If you’ve never been there, in order to get up to the crown, you need to take a long spiral staircase.  I’ve looked at pictures of the present day stairs and they seem to have improved them.  However when I visited, the stairs looked very old and you could see through the steps into “guts” of Lady Liberty.  About every fifty feet or so there was a little platform, which I guess was intended for tired people to rest on.  For someone who is afraid of heights like me, the climb was bad enough but stopping on that platform was out of the question.

As I was climbing those steps on that day, a thought occurred to me about the worst-case scenario.  What if someone fell backwards as you were climbing?  We were packed like sardines in this stairwell, if one went we all would go.  I felt myself getting slightly dizzy and nauseated.  The only thing that made the upward spiral bearable was the fact that I was facing and leaning forward.  If I did fall, I would end up face down on the steps but I’d be ok.  By the time I finally reached the crown, I only took a cursory glance at the view.  As I turned the corner, the realization of my prior fear was fully in front of me.  The downward spiral had all of the possibility of falling but now I was facing and leaning in that direction.  For my younger self, it was nerve-wracking and scary.  I hated every moment of that descent.  So much so that I’m surprised that I don’t remember who talked me into going because it was exactly “THAT BAD”.

Downward spirals are scary and nerve-wracking in life as well.  Everything seems normal at first but then something puts you just a little off from your climb upward.  Then another thing hits you and another, until you are turned around and no longer looking forward toward your goal but backward toward the fall.  The staircase is not wavering; it is you.  You have taken these little setbacks to mean that you are going to fall.  This is not the time to start flailing or grabbing onto people to bring down with you.  It is time to take a moment and get some perspective.  Breathe!!!

You are not helpless.

  • Decide if the crown is worth it. I would have gladly gotten off of that staircase had that been an option.
  • If the crown is worth it, then refocus on the crown and take the next forward step.
  • Your fear of the fall can be your enemy or your ally. If it causes you to focus on the process and take steps carefully, it is your ally. If it causes you to be nervous and freeze up, then it’s your enemy. Make fear your ally.
  • Fall forward! If you’re going to fall (fail), make sure that you gain some ground with that fall. You learn something; pick up new information or even just figure out what doesn’t work.

I wish you all the best on your upward spirals!




Mediocrity Man

Hollywood is regularly churning out super hero movies and their sequels. At the moment they seem to be almost a sure thing at the box office. Iron Man, Spider Man, Batman and Captain America all seem to capture the imagination of the people as they pay big movie theater prices to see these super humans. It is obvious that “super” is what the people want to see.

What if there was a hero named Mediocrity Man? He had super powers that were inside of him but he was afraid of them. Any time that he saw himself do something out of the ordinary, he would instantly recoil and deny his abilities. Rather than keeping his secret identity from everyone else, he would hide or deny his powers to himself. What if Clark Kent never changed into Superman? Would you watch that movie? Of course not.

If this hero existed, why would he hide his powers? The reasons would be the same that you or I don’t do the things that would produce greatness.

  • It’s too hard.
  • It will take too long.
  • I might not succeed.
  • Or worse, I might succeed and the people would expect more out of me.
  • I don’t want people to make fun of me.
  • No one in my family, town, state or country has ever done it before, who am I to be first?

Imagine the Earth being filled with superheroes. What if people were getting most out of themselves every single day? What would that look like? I’ve been Mediocrity Man. I’ve traded in my cape for a t-shirt on a regular basis. Feeling comfortable in the cape is difficult because I know all of my faults, all of my weaknesses and every way that I have ever screwed up. The hero in the movie never falls for long. He gets his super powers and continues on until the world is safe again. For us regular heroes, it’s not a magic movie moment involving a radioactive spider or the destruction of Krypton that begins our ascent. It’s a consistent decision to be the best form of ourselves.


Development and Maintenance are SEXY

Sexy is a favorite word for a friend and colleague of mine. At times I feel like his use of the word is misplaced, like when Paris Hilton used to describe everything as “HOT”. In the end I know why words like HOT, COOL and SEXY become the go to words for some people. Even if they are slightly misused, they get the reaction of attention. So I am going for the attention grab but I’m going to take it a step further and argue that Development and Maintenance are SEXY!

First the attention grab, what are the things out there that warrant the word SEXY? Maybe your favorite model in a swimsuit is SEXY. Your favorite sports car could be SEXY. A move or a wonder striker by your favorite player could warrant the word SEXY. All of these and other things could be considered SEXY. And in our Instagram and Youtube World it is easy to pull up SEXY and admire it almost anywhere you want. You can share SEXY in an instant. Friends and possibly family will get a chance to see that SEXY thing on your computer, phone or tablet. We know SEXY when we see it. Or do we?

Sexy isn’t an accident. It doesn’t happen all on its own. It takes time. That photo or video clip doesn’t show where sexy comes from. It only shows the end product. That model went through years of development where she didn’t look like she does now. Then the maintenance involved in keeping a body firm, hair flowing, and other hair tweased or waxed away. The sports car took several engineers countless hours to develop that particular model, not to mention its predecessors. Then the factory workers had to sweat and toil to put the plans into physical form, pouring hot metal into pieces to be assembled with plastic and fabric. The player spent days or months by himself with the ball. The end of practice for most was the beginning of practice for him. The idea, that someone else might be doing more than he was, kept him on the field, always sharpening the saw.

Development and maintenance are sexy because they are the start. They are the streams that eventually flow into Niagara Falls. No one wants to see the streams but you would notice if the streams weren’t there because the falls would dry up. The root may be under ground and dirty but the fruit is nothing without the root. So I implore you to be sexy, so that you can eventually be SEXY.