Thursday, November 03, 2005

Outcomes and lifelines

We all risk getting caught up in a negative spin when we realize we have made a decision we now doubt. We all have walked through this particular storm: each of us has made some decision that had different consequences than we intended. We all face tests for which we are inadequately prepared. Sometimes, we simply make a mistake. Sometimes we do and believe what we think is right and get a much different result than we anticipated. Suddenly, there are wrong turns everywhere we look.

If we are to keep our heads instead of losing them, we simply make a choice to choose a still point on the horizon: one thing, however small, that we can still want. We choose an outcome, not because we are confident we can achieve it but because we hope that it will anchor a lifeline to lead us out of the storm. Like the rope that guides the farmer from the barn door to the house during a blizzard, an outcome gives us something to hold when even familiar territory becomes dangerous.

Each moment we have a choice: we can think about what we fear or we can think about what we want. Outcomes are not as mesmerizing as fears, and they do not grow as quickly. They are also a little standoff-ish, willing to wait for us at a distance instead of drawing us in. That's why they are reliable: the steady spot on the horizon that lets us set a path.

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