I can’t draw. In fact, I’m so bad at drawing that anytime I played the game Pictionary, none of my teammates could ever guess what I was attempting to represent.
It was a bit embarrassing, but I was fully aware of my artistic limitations. Anything beyond basic stick figures was completely out of my realm.
Yet with zero training and no practice, I just drew a fairly close representation of Pablo Picasso’s sketch of Igor Stravinsky.
When I finished my drawing, I was totally shocked by what I saw – so much so that it gave me goosebumps.
How did I perform such a feat?
By getting into the right hemisphere of my mind and reproducing Picasso’s sketch upside down.
Yes, upside down.
Each of us has a severely debilitating limitation – the desire be right.
My opinion is correct. The candidate I voted for is the better choice. My worldview is accurate. You should heed my advice.
Being right is highly validating. Especially when others acknowledge our acuity.
The challenge with wanting to be right is that we often fall into the trap of self-deception.
How easy is it to deceive ourselves?
Consider this experiment in which participants were measured on the maximum amount of time they could keep their arms in cold water. Once the baseline was established, then each of the participants listened to a short lecture on heart health.
Participants learned that there are two types of hearts, namely Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is associated with poorer health and higher risk of heart disease whereas Type 2 the exact opposite: better health, longer life expectancy, and reduced risk of heart disease.
I let everyone down. My friends were ashamed of me, and even my own family was disappointed.
I had the power to tip the election in a given direction, but I chose not to do it.
My inaction was not due to a noble cause or any other reasonable explanation.
The truth is, I was terrified.
And as a result, the outcome of the election was a certainty.
I live near one of the largest and most beautiful horticultural display gardens in the world. It’s called Longwood Gardens, and in the fall season it showcases the largest exhibition of chrysanthemums in the US. The star of this Chrysanthemum Festival is a single mum that contains more than 1,500 blooms! It is an amazing site to see.
That one flower is perfect.
But is it perfect because of the 1,500 finely spaced, gorgeous bulbs?
Asked another way, was it imperfect until it reached that final phase?
In a stirring metaphor posed in Sterner’s The Practicing Mind, he asks, “When is a flower perfect?”
Is it not perfect when it is still a seed in the hands of the florist? Or how about when that seed is buried a few inches in soil having nothing to show for its efforts? Or when it begins to sprout and slowly poke through the soil? How about when it blooms? Or when that cycle is complete and it disintegrates back into the earth?
When I was eight years old, I played two sports: baseball and football. The first position I was assigned to on the little league team was 3rd base. But after the coach realized I couldn’t throw the ball all the way from 3rd to first base, I was “demoted” to second base. In football, I started out as a wide receiver, but the coaches quickly realized I was too short to be effective in that position, so I got moved to running back.
No matter what team I was on, we lost. Not just one game, but every game.
In those days, only the winning teams got trophies – and the smiles on the rival kids’ faces was something I desperately coveted.
What would winning be like? What would holding a trophy feel like?
I could only dream of such lofty ambitions.
And then an idea so simple, so obvious occurred to me. A way to instantly become a winner.