Part of the reason we LIE to ourselves is it helps justify that nagging dissonance we feel when we’ve “settled” into mediocrity. It’s the narcotic for medicating the pain of “slow death”.
But the fear behind the lie doesn’t die so easily. Dread is the reason most Americans go to sleep with the TV on. As Pascal so aptly noted in his book “Pensees” (dead french guy word for “Thoughts”), time alone being quiet is exactly what most leaders, teams & individuals seek to avoid — ANY diversion is preferable to that — because Dread is what nearly always follows when our minds wander into the future (for me it’s called “Rue-minating). This is why the jester was to always stay close by the king, because when the king’s mind wasn’t occupied, unchecked Dread became Neuroticism and soon, heads would roll.
Diversion, or “busyness”, is a poor antidote to Dread. It’s just Dread in action. There is a healthy way to have time alone being quiet, letting your mind wander into the future — and that is to DREAM.
If you are over 30, research says you’ve probably STOPPED Dreaming. At BUILT TO LEAD practices this week, this is exactly what we’ve been coming clean about, and shining a light on the underlying lies. As this chart shows, there are basically four quadrants or ways to live:
You can Dread & Die. Paralyzed, out of the game, depressed.
You can Dread & Do. Moving in a state of worry from one Diversion to the next, telling yourself lies to resolve the dissonance in your heart as you fall asleep with the TV on.
You can Dream & Die. Daydreaming time away in nostalgia or maybe vicariously through others, dying with the legacy of a life never lived.
Sadly these are the 3 most-travelled paths of existence. As Thoreau so memorably wrote, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation — and die with their song still inside them”.
What fears are holding you back? What LIES have you been believing to resolve the Dissonance? The only true life comes from DREAM & DO. The keyword is “AND.”
Give yourself the gift of time this weekend. Slow down. Get quiet. Let your mind wander into the future. . .and DREAM. Throw up your “pensees” onto paper. Reflect. Rinse + Repeat. And then, write down Productive Actions that will take you toward your Dream. Identify BABY steps. Write them into your calendar. Tell your spouse and/or a fellow Builder to gain courage & put yourself on the hook. Dream AND Do.
Then, feel your heart start to come back to life and the desperation & dread die away.
“L” yeah. Done so.
3 thoughts on “DREAD & Die, or DREAM & Do?”
Good post, Johnny.
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Great post…so true.