Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 01/08/2024
(Expanded from one of my recent, brief, blog posts….)
When my son was young he refused to go into a fun house because it was dark inside (for all I know, he still might feel that way). When I admonished him not to be afraid of the dark, he told me he wasn’t afraid of the dark, he was afraid of what might be in the dark.
Not a bad point, then or now. However, what might be in the dark (or our “blind spots,” remember the Johari Window?) can be quite positive. No one predicted the internet. Of course, no one predicted the pandemic, either.
We need to create light that allows us to avoid the obstacles in the dark and take advantage of the opportunities in the dark. That light comes from intelligent questions, prudent risk, and resilience. In other words, “rational fearlessness.”
What is “rational fearlessness”? It’s the willingness to set aside the need for perfection, affection, and connection, and venture into the uncertain and, perhaps, unknown. Back in the time of Columbus (if you don’t see references to him anywhere, write to me and I’ll send you photos of statues honoring him) or even the 1800s and the British Navy, a wooden sailing ship sinking at sea killed the entire crew. There were no radios, no choppers, no powered lifeboats. These people depended on navigational skills, well-built ships, and close cooperation to stay afloat. If societies were too frightened to do that, to practice rational fearlessness, the world would be a very different place today.
We’re not in danger of sinking, and our “bravery” and “fearlessness” can be far less daunting than that of those sailors. We simply have to find out what’s “in the dark”—beyond our ken—and understand that it may just be unimaginably positive and rewarding. It isn’t always deadly and disturbing.
One of my college professors, when asked about the absence of faith in society, replied: “Absence of faith? Look at the interstate. Millions of people a day driving in excess of 60 miles per hour within distances of the car in front that absolutely prohibit safe stopping and may result in loss of life. That’s the greatest proof of widespread faith that I can cite.”
Long ago when I was beginning to use computers, I noticed that, if there were 20 people in my workshop, they cumulatively had 30 Apple devices with them. (Today it’s more like 50 or 60). I thought that in the “darkness” of that time there was this growing, unstoppable marketing force. So I purchased a pile of Apple stock.
At $17 per share. I still have a hell of a lot of it.
Shine a light, friends, shine a light.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. —T. S. Eliot
The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. —Maimonides
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. —e.e. cummings
No cross, no crown. —William Penn