What You Can Learn From a Confused Lion

In a recent Clint Hurdle blog James Clear told the story about Clyde Beatty, famous lion tamer. He was the first to use a chair and whip to go into a cage with a lion. I had assumed all my life the chair was for protection. It wasn’t. Beaty knew the Lion, seeing the chair with 4 legs in his face, would be confused as he could not decide which leg to attack, so the lion was essentially paralyzed by indecision.

I think we all are faced with so many choices at times that we can’t figure out how to proceed.

In 1999 I bought my first computer. I knew nothing about them, but I wanted one. So I decided to buy one and figure out through trial and error how to use it. The computer was a Gateway, a popular company at the time. I followed the instructions and assembled it which was a miracle in itself as I have trouble understanding instructions. Fortunately the instructions had pretty pictures that showed what to do.

It came time to push start, so I pushed it. I was unaware that their computer, when it came on, would have a series of loud musical notes. It caught me by surprise and I nearly fell backwards off my chair. But I was online and part of the new world.

The point is to make a decision, then figure things out.

Take writing for example. Nobody really knows how to begin because too many people say do this, not that. Too many conflicting opinions. I recall reading books and articles when I first said ‘I want to write’. In the end I decided to trust my instincts. Just start a story. I can change things later, I can edit, I can add scenes, I can take out passages. I just had to ignore the legs of the chair with so many opinions on how to write and just attack on my own.

Trying to learn is good, nothing wrong about that, but in the end, at some point, you take the plunge and go for it. Whatever you decide you will learn more by trial and error because you must get into whatever you choose and learn for yourself.

dugout (1)

JK Rowling attributes her success to failure

I get daily emails of encouragement from major league baseball manager Clint Hurdle, many of the posts coming from other writers and motivators. The post the other day was written by Steve Gilbert.

He tells of a period in Rowling’s life when she hit rock bottom; her mother died, she was getting divorced, didn’t like her job, and thought about suicide. She had an idea for a series of books while sitting on a train, but did not act on it.

Rowling then changed her life. She writes,  “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1977 with a run of 500 copies, 300 of which went to libraries. Sales now are over 12 million.

I am not recommending would-be-writers blow up their life and do a reboot. Reboots may carry a virus or two, but her opening line is what grabbed me. Strip away what is not essential in your life. It is another way of saying get your life in order, pursue what you need to do, stripping away what is preventing you from your goal.

We all waste time (from time to time) and that is okay for it can be relaxing, freeing anxiety and stress. But it can also become a habit that, like any addiction, can be consuming.

Consume yourself with your passion, not your distractions.