Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maybe I've lost it

I dunno, maybe it's good. I just haven't had the inspiration lately to write. I don't know if it is because I'm caught up with dating the most wonderful woman in the world, or if it because I am tied up planning a banquet for 600 people this week in the Wilk.

I think I have something to say though. I guess this is kind of a life tip.

When I was on the mission it was easy to allow your emotions to get tossed to and fro. It was easy to get down when 5 of your 6 appointments flaked on you that day. This is what I learned though: Life is always changing. And I don't just mean a slow steady change from A to B. I mean rapid, violent, every day changes from A to Z to T to R. And there is usually no indications of what is ahead. So I learned that while life can very easily change from being on the top to being on the bottom, it can just as easily change from the bottom to the top. It wasn't until the end of my mission that I realized that there wasn't much point in getting down, because the next day everything could change. So, you wait. You wait for the next boat to come in.

On a related note, and this is the heart of the matter, time is almost always our friend. I've found myself in some difficult situations lately. Situations where you have no clue what to do. There you are, life seems to be crashing down and seems to require you to act. Don't.

I have a climbing book and it includes a section on what to do when you hear someone above you yell "Rock!" Well, what you don't do is look up to try to see where it is coming and avoid it. you cover your head and hope it doesn't hit you.

So when you are there and life seems to be falling to your feet, sometimes the best thing to do is to wait. It's often our instinct to make a decision on the fly. This is hard for me because I "pride" myself in my ability to make quick decisions in the heat of the moment. I actually think I suck at it. Often times we are there with limited information. It is naive to think that by making responding and making a decision, that we will be any better than where we currently are. Sometimes we just want to get out of the current situation, but often times those decisions are made in a severe dearth of information. Often when we act, we commit ourselves to a decision and close of options that if we had only waited a moment or two more, we would have seen were the wisest decisions.

They say silence can never be misquoted. Similarly, I think that in a majority of tense situations there is wisdom in sitting back, taking your time, assessing the situation, gathering more information, reassessing, and then acting when you are more sure that your decision is the correct one. Sometimes, you have to go the extreme of just doing nothing, playing chicken with life, sitting down and saying "Yeah, I don't like this hand, and I'm not gonna play until I get a better one."

In conclusion, while it is true that each situation is largely unique and may require specialized consideration, there is something to be said for considering the possibility of inaction. Next time you are stressed and you don't know what to do, there are pretty good odds that perhaps the best thing you can do is wait. Do nothing while you wait for more information, inspiration, or indication that leads you to believe the considered plan of action will put you in a more beneficial spot that you currently are. I can't count how many times I have made a quick decision under the pressure of a tense moment, only to later regret that decision and spend a considerable amount of time seeking to undo it.

Sit back, remove yourself from the situation, and gather more information.

Though I alluded to the game of chicken, please don't take this advise if you actually are playing a traditional game of situation. I can guarantee you that anything you consider doing would put you in a more favorable position than in front of a speeding train. Trust me.


Keith said...

Love it. Thanks, Gabe.

Barney Lund said...

I'm going to give a gentle push back here, Gabe. You said in the 'majority' of situations, this is the case. I'll have to think about it some more before I can agree or disagree with you on that. Remember that gem that President Kearl gave us: "Not making a decision to act now is, in essence, making a decision of inaction." Okay, so that was a liberal usage of quotation marks. I don't think it was anything like that wordage. Nonetheless, the point remains. You alluded to this point, perhaps, and you even used the word 'inaction', but there may be more to be said about the choice of not choosing.

I mean, had I not made the rash decision to ask out that stranger that day, you would've gone on a few dates with her and that would've been it maybe...with me never having met her.

I'm being a teeny bit facetious, but still, there's a point out there somewhere to be made.

Good post.

Gabe said...

I almost addressed that point in my article, but couldn't find the best place to put it in. I very much recognize that prolonged inaction becomes a decision in and of itself. What I am advocating here, however, is not prolonged inaction, but a delay in action as you gather more information.

I have met people that could not decide, and in turn that was their decision. This is particularly applicable when referring to dating.

To clarify, I would say that in a very small minority of the case would prolonged inaction be beneficial. However, I think that in a majority (defined as more than half) of cases temporary inaction while you gather more information puts you in a better place to act. The goal is indeed action. The question is, when? I say majority because I think that it is very rare that you come to a decision where waiting a little longer to act will be detrimental. I think most situations will give you at least a few more minutes to act.

Point well made, though. I very much agree that permanent inaction, or even prolonged inaction comes with very serious, often negative consequences.

Cindy said...

dang the note. I was ready to head on out to the train tracks in South Provo...

J. L. A. said...


2 things:

1. A friend of mine whom I don't think you've met really liked your post. She said so in a thing she put on facebook (she quoted you at length, but didn't give an exact citation (though she didn't take credit for your words), I provided the link).

2. I think I'm terrible about applying this principle and its complimentary principles (like the quick action to which Barney alluded). When I see food in the fridge and I'm not sure if it's rotten, I usually put it back in hopes that I'll eat it later. When I meet someone I'd like to date who gives me positive signals, I usually don't call. . .ever.

Blast! so much spoiled food!