Blogpost, self-reliance

Trauma or Possibility?

Marathon

I had blood all over me.  I didn’t know where I was.  It was the coldest that I’d ever been in my life.  I couldn’t see a thing.  All that I could do was scream.  Luckily help was nearby and I was able to calm down.  It had been a difficult trial but I was alive and in the hospital.  Just when things seemed as if they would be OK, a complete stranger came along and chopped off a quarter of my penis.  All of that trauma happened in the first twenty four hours of my life.  Despite that very rough beginning, I’ve done quite well for myself.

This story is at least partially true for almost all of us.  We were all thrust into this world naked, afraid and unable to speak, read or write.  It is not something that we give much thought to because it happens to everyone.  However birth (or creation) is a messy and traumatic business by all accounts.  Not just the human producing ones but also the birth of companies, relationships, art or anything else.   There is always that starting point of conception that is magical and exhilarating.  Eventually that moment is replaced by some form of hard labor in order to get the creation out into the world.  Just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.  The narrative of the present day is about safety and comfort.  Our world has had most of its sharp edges taken off.  While I’m all for vaccinating against the next Bubonic Plague, there are some struggles that are important for people to go through.  Not all pain is trauma.

As you conceive the next dream of where you’re going or what you’re doing, do a little pre-trauma planning.  Like a person that is preparing for a marathon, it is important to understand your “quit points”.  Quitting is not shameful if it is done for the right reasons.  A broken leg is a justifiable quit inducing occurrence.  Cramps are a nuisance to be fought through.  The difference between trauma and possibility is perspective and the next few steps that are taken.  Expectation that everything will be easy is a sure fire way to turn every problem into trauma.  Traumatizing yourself with things that should be expected is recipe for disaster.  Imagine freaking out because your newborn child couldn’t walk.  It’s a process not a fully completed miracle.  Take the possibility and run with it.

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Trauma or Possibility

MarathonI had blood all over me.  I didn’t know where I was.  It was the coldest that I’d ever been in my life.  I couldn’t see a thing.  All that I could do was scream.  Luckily help was nearby and I was able to calm down.  It had been a difficult trial but I was alive and in the hospital.  Just when things seemed as if they would be OK, a complete stranger came along and chopped off a quarter of my penis.  All of that trauma happened in the first twenty four hours of my life.  Despite that very rough beginning, I’ve done quite well for myself.

This story is at least partially true for almost all of us.  We were all thrust into this world naked, afraid and unable to speak, read or write.  It is not something that we give much thought to because it happens to everyone.  However birth (or creation) is a messy and traumatic business by all accounts.  Not just the human producing ones but also the birth of companies, relationships, art or anything else.   There is always that starting point of conception that is magical and exhilarating.  Eventually that moment is replaced by some form of hard labor in order to get the creation out into the world.  Just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.  The narrative of the present day is about safety and comfort.  Our world has had most of its sharp edges taken off.  While I’m all for vaccinating against the next Bubonic Plague, there are some struggles that are important for people to go through.  Not all pain is trauma.

As you conceive the next dream of where you’re going or what you’re doing, do a little pre-trauma planning.  Like a person that is preparing for a marathon, it is important to understand your “quit points”.  Quitting is not shameful if it is done for the right reasons.  A broken leg is a justifiable quit inducing occurrence.  Cramps are a nuisance to be fought through.  The difference between trauma and possibility is perspective and the next few steps that are taken.  Expectation that everything will be easy is a sure fire way to turn every problem into trauma.  Traumatizing yourself with things that should be expected is recipe for disaster.  Imagine freaking out because your newborn child couldn’t walk.  It’s a process not a fully completed miracle.  Take the possibility and run with it.

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The Bannister Effect

BannisterOn May 6th in 1954, Roger Bannister broke the World Record for running the mile. He was the first man to run one mile in under four minutes. Many runners had attempted the run but all had failed until Bannister. Although he is remembered for “breaking” something, I contend that what he created was much more important: possibility.

The key to Bannister’s run is that he opened the door of possibility for other people to do the same*. He pushed the edge of what humans were capable of doing. All it takes is one person to show us that our limits are not what we thought they were. Lindberg, Edison, Robinson and countless others swept aside the past to show a brighter future with fewer limits. It seems to be the natural order of things that when the bar is raised, we rise to the occasion to meet it. From my own life, I know that my father was the first in his family to go to college. It is no longer a novelty. All of my brothers and I attended college. The Bannister Effect could be found in many people’s lives.

Is the difference between impossible and possible only a matter of time? How many people told Bannister he couldn’t before he did? How many people scoffed at Lindberg before he was cheered in Paris? How many people turned a blind eye to Edison before they saw the light?

The critics will always be there and their ridicule of your dream will be true, until it’s not. In the end if you give up, they’ll have their “I told you so” moment and everyone will move on. If you persevere and triumph, they’ll stand silent and everyone will move up. I would love to see you rise up rather than give up.

*Additional information: World Records for the mile date back to the 1850s.  The time slowly and incrementally decreased over the next ninety years when Gunder Hägg of Sweden ran a 4:01.4.  Then it took ten years before Bannister broke through the four-minute barrier.  Six weeks later, Bannister’s record was broken.  Today his time from 1954 is six seconds slower than the high school record for the mile.