Life is a Toll Road

Life is taxing. If we need more proof, here’s a list of synonyms: demanding, exacting, challenging, burdensome, arduous, onerous, difficult, hard, tough, heavy, laborious, back-breaking, strenuous, rigorous, uphill, stringent, tiring, exhausting, enervating, draining, sapping, stressful, wearing, trying, punishing and crushing.

Life is all of this, AND it’s also fleeting. This is important to remember: Life is fleeting, thus so beautiful. As Amie Kaufman said, “Live a life worth dying for.” There is a cost to life, and it’s a beautiful gift to be able to exist in the dichotomy of knowing that for all that taxes us, we are free to choose our perception of what can actually be taken from us.

Allodoxaphobia

Allodoxaphobia is the fear of opinions. In the workplace – we know this – it occurs up and down the chain of command. It’s not a problem of title – it’s the result of incompetent listening. We are all able to rise above our incompetence. The first step is to stop listening to the one voice that betrays us most; the voice of our egos. The voice that will always be loyal to rationalizing our weaknesses as the fault of external forces. When we silence our egos, we open ourselves up listening with intention. Listening for the purpose of actually hearing what others have to say, and thus allowing us the opportunity to respond with clarity to what was actually said – not what we took offense to or what made us defensive.

If we ever find ourselves in a position of leadership, the following quote from Andy Stanley is powerful: “Leaders who refuse to listen, will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say.” No matter how long we’ve held a title or how long our tenure, listening respectfully and equally to everyone’s ideas is how we get better at what we do. The better we get at what we do, the better we serve those we lead.

Common Sense > Senses

When it comes making decisions based on instinct, it’s important to consider our physiology. Two people are sat next to each other on a roller coaster. Both have sweaty palms, their hearts are racing and they have butterflies in their stomachs. The only difference is that one of them loves roller coasters and the other is terrified of them. It’s the same physiological result for two completely different anticipations – fear and excitement. Our experiences help us train our physiology. We can’t ignore the data.

Similarly, when it comes to making decisions based on instinct, we have to think beyond our immediate emotional response, because that emotional response will soon pass and we’ll be left beholden to any consequences of our decisions made on instinct alone. Sometimes we fear the idea of something more than we’ll actually fear the reality of it. When we choose not to ignore the data of our experiences, and allow our common sense to usurp our surface senses, sound decisions are made. Our fear response is an indicator that we’ll need to demonstrate vulnerability to push through some discomfort, but that’s how we grow.

Surfacing

When we are down in the depths, we have to realize that getting back to the surface – back to being ourselves – requires patience and time. The awareness of how deep we are is simply the understanding of how deep a breath we need to take in order to start the upward journey. We’ve been down here before, so we already know we have the lung capacity to make it back to the surface. Inhale and move.

Permittere

Permission comes from the Latin root¬†permittere, which means to “let pass, let go or let loose.”

Ironically, we tend to give more permission to the things we hold onto rather than the things we’d be better off letting go.

The Larceny Rescue

If we are not first responders or persons paid to save lives because we are trained to save lives, what then is our intention when we aim to save others from difficult situations that are by no means life threatening? The rescue is about what makes us feel good, which robs the other person/persons from the opportunity to learn from a mistake or difficult situation to navigate. “What are we rescuing?” becomes the question more than, “Who are we rescuing?” In these instances, we are giving first aid to our insecurities, giving them CPR and resuscitating them so they may live to see another day.¬† Nobody mourns the death of an insecurity. Fear mourns the death of insecurity.