In many ways, I’ve lived my life as the ‘good soldier’ and ‘faithful servant,' doing as I thought was the right thing.
If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you soon will get the feeling that I could get a lot of things to talk about from movies. Again today is one of my favorites, the 1999 movie, The Matrix. After some ten years, it still can jerk my intellectual chain, rattle my spiritual underpinnings, and stir my creative juices.
Take my selection for today. I’ll give the longerish version. Morpheus is instructing Neo on some of the basic characteristics of the Matrix early in the movie during a training simulation on hand-to-hand combat. Check this out:
Morpheus to Neo: "This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken. Understand? Then hit me... if you can."
Well, first of all, Neo was a computer nerd – a part-time hacker as well as a programmer for a company. He was probably versed in manipulating rules to get a certain advantage. But, me, not so much. I know enough programming to screw up my own machine and website. So, would you like me to do yours?
But, the real thought for the day is about rules. Rules. I’ve generally been pretty good at following the rules. Good soldiers do that. I’m organized and prepared. I’m decisive, logical, and disciplined. Rules are my friend. I don’t regularly ‘fly by the seat of my pants’, as some of my acquaintances and friends do. Violates a dearly held rule ‘down deep’ in there somewhere.
Somewhere along the line, I probably should talk about these ‘wing-it’ types, but not today. Today is about how we ALL are formed by the rules we come to accept as true, good, and right, and how easy and convenient they are for shuffling through life.
Our rules call forth auto-responses. There’s no thinking required. They cover the gamut of issues, topics, and themes that typically populate my days and life.
The challenge is that as we get older these rules really keep us stuck in place. In fact, my observation is that we form these early, rehearse them throughout our lives, and cling to those precious buggers until our dying day. Our greatest love affair turns out to be our thoughts. Sometimes that is a good thing. But other times, not so good.
It is not that rigidity of thinking is only limited to people over 40 or some such. Oh no! I’ve seen some amazingly constrained young people and am frankly dismayed at times at what I see. It is a human condition and one that we must remind ourselves about over and over again.
How about some of these short rules we tend to operate by:
Don’t be too vulnerable with people, you will just get hurt again. Yep, we’re pretty good at posturing, keeping our guard up, and deflecting those who would like to get closer to us. Why? When do we get past the point where we conclude the gain is potentially greater than the pain? Seems we spend our whole lives creating responses that give an impression of potency, while all the time we’re bolstering our defenses against our perceived flaws or weaknesses.
Don’t take too many chances, you will embarrass yourself. Embarrassment: overly concerned about what others will think or how they will respond. Powerful. When do we get to the point where we can say, ‘It just doesn’t matter all that much.’ When? Will we be forever controlled by what we THINK others will say or do?
Don’t do that as you failed the last time you attempted something like that. I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried a number of business or investment ideas that were going to ‘lead me to the promise land’ of independence and and, well, something… Well, they didn’t work out. And, yes, I suspect they had something to do with me. However, my failures of yesterday, whether in business, in relationships, in investing, or whatever, does not pre-determine my future outcome. It may speak into it, but it does not determine it – yep, I’m going with that.
There is a quote that goes something like this. “A winning strategy must include losing.” Or, even better, “Losers think losing is bad. Winners know that losing is part of winning.” (I think I got these from one of Kiyosaki’s books.) Very provocative statements and ones I’ve been using to re-train my thinking in recent years about all facets of my life – private and public.
I still sense my own fears, doubts, and concerns for the ‘ego thing’. The ego thing: what people think, my own sense of self, and my over-valuing of my public persona. Less so, but still has power. It’s an internal battle, but it’s fought each day in the ‘streets’ of my life.
Rationally, I don’t understand when or why I came to care so much about this or that person’s thought or reaction, especially since most of those persons don’t even have names or faces – just ‘themsuz’ out there.
I’m definitely workin’ on some different scripts. Bend, break, modify, and even discard some of those old tried-and-trues. Beholden to nameless faces… what is that really about? Good grief! You coming along?
Note: This blog was originally posted on 4060men.com on February 11, 2011.