“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Do you know who wrote that line? How about this one?
“Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.”
The same guy wrote both, and not just any guy, but the one who was deemed the wealthiest man who had ever lived. Not only that he was also said to have been gifted as being the wisest man ever. He had the rare combination of having a ton of cash and a lion’s share of smarts. The author of these quotes was experiencing a financial life, an intellectual life, an emotional life, and a spiritual life that may be higher than any of us will ever experience. I imagine that it would have been difficult to see lack in his life. He must have been attractive as a leader, and easy to trust with decision-making. But even THAT guy knew a secret.
Left to our own thinking and our own emotions, we have the propensity to be futile and destructive creatures. We are conditioned with biases that obscure our view of reality and, worse yet, distort our emotions. That combinations yields us capable of making a royal mess of things. I like how Laura Haliday put it in THIS piece on cognitive biases in the Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life blog.
“The human mind is wonderful, but it is not perfect. Cognitive biases, for instance, are genuine limitations in our thinking of which we are not consciously aware. Influencing the decisions we make, the views we uphold, or the conclusions we reach, often in a detrimental way, cognitive biases cannot be altogether eliminated, but they can be kept in check through the power of mindfulness.”
I am writing to you as a man who battles with his biases. BIG TIME! Here are three things I am learning.
One is too small a number for greatness. We either believe we can do it all on our own or we tend to seek out those who we perceive to be like-minded, and like-valued. That’s not all bad but, we were not created for a vacuum or an echo chamber. We need the influence of others, especially people who do not think like we do or react emotionally to situations that same as us if we desire to make a lasting impact.
You need renewal. When your own tank is empty it is very difficult to fuel others. The clue to look for is the Cycle of Futility. If your thoughts and feelings keep leading you back to the same un-resourceful and unsuccessful state, it is time to get out of your “stinking thinking” and automatic negative thoughts. I am telling you, friend, I am no stranger to this, trust me. “Heroing” yourself with mindless activity is not the way out of the cycle and neither is pity. (Read THIS article). You don’t go uphill physically, financially, emotionally, etc. on an empty tank. You need people who care enough and ideas that are high enough to challenge your thinking and feelings and point you uphill.
Measure success appropriately. If success ends with you, it will never be enough. There won’t be enough money or enough accolades to satisfy. Even if, like me, you are in short supply of both, remember that there is a bigger game to be played.
You are unique and in all of time there will never be another person exactly like you. There is a hunger in the world (beyond your own) that you were born to feed. It is worth finding.