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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Boldness and Serendipity

Like the Seven Deadly Sins, I think there are Seven Deadly Root Causes of ineffectiveness; seven factors which, if not understood and managed, lead to an inability to achieve goals and make an impact. One of these is not being able to start (and its corollary, not being able to finish). If we really want to achieve something, to change, to make an impact, then we must start towards our goal. However, although this seems evident,  taking first steps requires passing through the pain barrier of action--actually doing something--and many of us struggle to break through this barrier. Moreover, it means opening ourselves up to failure, and the endemic fear of failure in our society can make starting a scary proposition. A bold first step is essential, we must accept the possibility of failure and press on regardless. Oftentimes, such first steps can be simple, for example contacting a potential client, emailing an idea or abstract, writing a summary, booking a performance or enrolling in an event. Apart from the negative effects of never taking such steps, there is an interesting positive phenomenon of "enhanced serendipity" which occurs. Making a bold initial move leads to the effect that W.H. Murray (of The Scottish Himalayan Expedition) describes eloquently in his quote below:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreams would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and magic in it.”

We should all have the opportunity to experience this genius and magic, to go with the flow but influence its direction. As Bon Scott put it: take a chance, while you’ve still got the choice!

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