Saturday, September 22, 2007

Familiarity is Fatal

At various times in my life I have participated in and tried all sorts of exercises to formulate and follow a plan for my life. From creating vision statements, to setting goals, to crafting written plans and laying out graphic plans, I've tried a host. For one reason or another they all seem to fall short.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction. Hell is life drying up. The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed. If we are hanging onto the form now, we're not going to have the form next. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
-- Joseph Campbell

To be sure, individually they each have their merits and advantages. Some have worked better than others, or at least I have put some to more effective use than others. And while in general they are helpful for setting a direction or kick-starting performance, they seem to fall apart in the long-term. The control each tries to establish simply cannot be maintained in the face of the chaotic pressure exerted by the comedic farce that is my life.
Familiarity is the most powerful force exerted by humans.
-- Virginia Satir
As humans we long for, we crave the familiar. Conversely we are most afraid of that which we do not know. Why are we so able to conquer the fear of the unknown in some ways and not in others? Perhaps because of the familiarity?

When I was first learning to drive, like most people I suppose, I was nervous. I made mistakes, I had issues, but I corrected them and kept going. I was able to face each new unknown thing because I saw people around me every day successfully accomplishing this feat. My familiarity with their success gave me hope and a belief that at some point I could succeed with this too. If you can skydive, so can I. At least in theory. . .
Failure is only possible if you give yourself a time limit.
-- Richard Bandler
Considering the fantastical pull of familiarity, how can we harness that to help drive us forward? Start by asking yourself how you would behave differently if you knew it was alright to fail. If you were allowed to be wrong, to make mistakes. If trying again was normal, how would it change the way you see your progress? How would it change how you plan?

Would you, like many people I know, stay in a situation that isn't meeting your goals and objectives? If you weren't so afraid of the unknown of moving on, would you move on quicker?

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