Saturday, December 31, 2011

We think therefore we are

'I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else.I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.' -Ken Venturi.

Isn’t that a good manifesto ? The whole idea is we must push our abilities beyond our own imagination possible.  Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field carried a positive  resonance to it when his engineering team had performed beyond their abilities. On the other hand, self deception or delusion carries a negative connotation. So when is a reality distortion not a denial and  how does  one put things in the right perspective?  How do we keep our reality in check? How do we know we are not deceiving ourselves into believing that we are doing fine ?  For those of us who strive to better ourselves, how do we keep a score card of our virtues and wrongs?  If we think we want to do something with our lives, how do we know if we are progressing on the right track?

We tend to agonize and brood about what has gone wrong. We must know that it is a waste of our energy by beating ourselves up for things we cannot change. “Should have” is such a meaningless phrase but how often we say that? When we are caught in a traffic jam, we kick ourselves for taking the wrong route, when we make a bad purchase, we invariably feel that we have made the wrong choice and when we sign up for a deal and a better one comes along, we wish we could have deliberated more and widen our search and consider more offers or promotions, the list goes on. We want to get ahead and maybe in the name of beating the system, we want to come out the winner. We get frustrated and become upset when our plans go astray or that things do not get done the way we want them to be done. If only we could just tell ourselves not to be too wound up and look at the bright side.  How about all the other times when things go splendidly, must we congratulate ourselves for making the right choices? I think not. There is no reason to gloat if we succeed and likewise wallow about all the “should haves or should have not” if we do not succeed. Ideally that is the case, I think.

Maybe we tend to place too much significance on the importance of being smart and being in control and ahead of others are part of the scheme of being smart thus we are only intent on making smart moves. I get my adrenalin all pumped up when I focus on a project as I find that it is only fun if  I immerse myself fully in a task. Striving on the right amount of stress can be fun but sometimes the challenge can get too oppressive that it is no longer enjoyable. Such occasions usually arise when I pay too much attention to the end result and not the process of executing the task. Whenever I play a game of tennis, I find myself hitting better if I only look at the ball and concentrate on hitting and not care too much about the score. A friend recently shared with me something she has learnt in her tennis game. Since tennis is a mind game, it is a tactical move to step up from the baseline when your opponent fails to execute his or her first serve. The reason is that the opponent may feel affected by your response and can become offended that you anticipate a weak serve. In his or her zealous attempt to prove you wrong , he or she may end up with a double fault.

Our minds can play tricks on us so how do we know if we are not deceiving ourselves or that we are in denial? It is a matter of  finding a balance  between humility and self-possession that gives us just the right amount of confidence to carry on doing what we have been doing and whatever we plan to do. We must believe what our minds are telling us otherwise we can become uncertain. Ultimately we should stick to whatever works. Each and everyone of us will have to find out what works   and  what  not for each one of us.

On Friday before we headed home, my office partner and I had a drink at the Pacific Coffee Company outlet located at a new shopping mall. The  thought for the day that was on display at  the Pacific Coffee Company store was a quote by Louis L’Amour: A wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat.

Bingo! Now I have another quote which seems to fit in nicely with what I have started writing this week. For every venture, we must know that we may have to be prepared for defeat. When one has dreams and high expectations, one can  be motivated to persevere with a view to succeed. However it is wise to anticipate disappointments. In exercising my professional duty, I often advise clients the possibility of a defeat as clients must know that in litigation, there will be a winner and a loser. Of course, clients should have realistic expectations of the outcome of a legal battle that they have chosen to be engaged in and must be prepared to face the consequences should they fail. That is often a difficult concept to drive home to a particularly hard core litigant or an obstinate client. 

My family decided to watch The Nutcracker the movie after an early dinner on New Year's Eve. Apparently the movie did not gain popularity as it did not appeal to the children nor the adults. I thought the cinematography and graphic were delightful even though it was not spectacular. Perhaps the Nutcracker story was not intended for children and the adults are too cynical to enjoy the story. Maybe life could be magical like the Nutcracker Story and that dreams could become reality. Does that sound like a good wish? I think it does. Meilleurs vœux!

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