Three Seconds Away

by Jul 9, 2021Leadership, Narrative, Story

I am sitting at one of my usual writing spots near the wide windows overlooking my front yard.

My writing process is simple. Sit in front of the computer. Put my hands on the keyboard. Start moving my fingers to help my mind pick up an idea worth sharing with you. Then, keep going until I hit the publish button in WordPress.

Just like a pump needs to be primed, I need time to focus and get in the flow. Sometimes it’s pretty quick. But sometimes, the inspiration engine catches a bug.

A couple of feet away, a fly is buzzing furiously against one of the windows in a desperate attempt to get out of the room. Unfortunately, the scene is so annoying that I am completely distracted, and my writing is going nowhere.

The fly and I are both stuck here.

I hate killing bugs. So, murder is not an option. I am a terrible flycatcher, and I can’t let the fly out because these are fixed windows. Not to mention, the comfort of my leather chair is making me feel too lazy to go anywhere else.

Somehow, my compassion for the fly’s condition makes me realize that the insect and I are in the same boat. “Trying harder” is not going to get us out of the rut. If we keep going like this, the fly will die, and my day will end without a word on my computer screen.

Why don’t we try something completely different?

At the other end of the living room, the French doors overlooking the deck are wide open. I could escape there to find inspiration. So could the fly, to reclaim its freedom. This genius solution is only three seconds away.

But in this situation, banging our heads against our problem is the only approach that makes sense to both of us. That’s because early on in our life, we acquired the belief that working harder, not smarter, leads to success. This idea might even be innate. It’s part of our way of thinking fast. It’s the narrative we go by when we are confronted with the need to survive. So, we keep cranking.

Sadly, this solution will destroy our plans and our lives. “Trying harder” by doing more of the same doesn’t always lead to success.

Likewise, when you run a business, “Trying harder” to lead with a self-centered view of your company is a dead-end. Promoting your product first, your awards, or things like your “innovative and strategic approach to modern technologies” is a broken approach because it doesn’t engage people in a common cause. There is no narrative. But to most of us, this approach makes the most sense.

You are not the cause. The cause that gets us all feeling inspired and free is bigger than you.

The cause hides in the tiny moments that sometimes seem insignificant.

The good news is that it’s almost always three seconds away.

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