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 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.

Commentator Commentary

A true commentator narrates only what is happening; an objective reporter. If we feel judged by objective commentary, then we are perceiving ourselves as the subject of objective words.  Blaming a reality or allowing ourselves to be hurt by commentary is a problem of the ego. Our pockets are filled with stones and our egos are the glass houses we’re trapped in.

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.

Humans Being

Most of the things we’ll use today are products of human innovation. All of the societal rules and laws we’ll choose to follow (or choose to fail to follow) today are human inventions as well. What then would exist for us, and how would we behave, if not in accordance to and with what was already created for us? How would we choose to live? How would we behave? What laws and rules are innate?

No Uncertain Terms

The first rule in learning something new is that we must allow ourselves to accept our current state of ignorance on the subject. The second rule is convincing our egos that the first rule is true. Trusting the certainty of our ignorance spoils the charade of our arrogance. Wisdom will follow.