How the Book “Divergent” Taught Me Success Skills

I recently took my periodic “fiction” break.  I usually pick up a book to completely escape the crowded thoughts in my head and simply relax. As a fan of The Hunger Games, I was excited, albeit late to the game, to read Divergent.  I also was unable to shut down the create engine that can sometimes be exhausting.  Without giving away too much of the book for the 3 people left who haven’t read the book, the main character, Beatrice, has a special gift that classifies her has divergent.  The teens, who make up the characters, are put through a series of fear simulations to test how they react in a stressful environment.  In order to truly measure someones reaction to their greatest fears, they need to actually feel fear.  Written into the story, the majority of the characters are unaware that the simulations are actually “simulations”, thus feeling the full force of their fears.

Stray dog - asleep

Stray dog – asleep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For some, however, they are aware of the “simulation” and are able to manipulate the outcomes based on this “awareness”.  These characters, Beatrice included, are “divergent”.

How does this relate to the us on our journey toward success or “awesomeness”? Most people are simply going through life one day at a time.  The days “happen” to them.  Unfortunately, they are unaware of the clock and the calendar speeding up.  They are unaware that they have the control to change their destination, to “manipulate” the outcome through intentional living. Fortunately, you are here, and you realize this.  Intentional living is the awareness that we control what we do.

There are no guarantees that we do the right things and get the perfect outcome, but without awareness, you have no chance.

You will be a puppet being manipulated by time.  We read stories of older people gaining this awareness and sharing regrets of things left undone.  Get intentional, stay intentional, and live with an awareness of your purpose.

Rocco
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Dancing with Fear

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph...

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph is a publicity photograph illustrating Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in a vaudeville act entitled “A Rainy Saturday”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hills above my town are filled with trails for running and hiking. Rolling green hills, creeks, and beautiful canyons invite the adventure seeker. By day, its beauty pops and inspires, by night, it is hidden in the mysterious shadows, barely visible in the moonlight. What made me decide to shake things up and run into the dark? Forty dollar headlamps and a desire to conquer my fear. Running this the first time, two years ago was scary. Today, it’s a walk in the park.

 

Fear comes in many shapes and forms. Physical fear of the dark, inner city gas stations, or rattle snakes is your body’s way of protecting itself from dangers. Seth Godin refers to the Lizard Brain, the amygdala. This is the survival portion of your brain that only cares about the NOW and protecting you from immediate dangers. In our civilized society, we don’t face the same dangers humans did a million years ago. Our brains, however, don’t know the difference. Stephen Pressfield wrote about the Lizard Brain in a his brilliant work “The War of Art”. He calls it the resistance. I have written extensively about this subject throughout this blog. The resistance lurks in the comfort zone of your psyche, trying to pull you away from greatness and into the safety of mediocrity. Your brain works much like a parent who in an effort to protect his child from embarrassment or disappointment tells him not to try out for the school play. Like a child, we tend to listen to our Lizard Brain/resistance. Sometimes, like a rebellious teenager, we push away the resistance and end up with something amazing. Pressfield has articulated one of the most fulfillment zapping phenomenon in modern history; writers’ block, procrastination, distraction, self-doubt etc. Whatever shape or form you may experience, you WILL see the resistance. Pressfield suggests a WAR; a fight. Perhaps he’s missing an opportunity to dance.
In his recent work, Seth Godin challenges the notion of a “war”, in which we challenge the resistance. He instead, suggests that we must dance with it. I nearly drove the car off the side of the road (listened on Audio) when I heard this. The WAR concept is etched in stone in the creative world. Godin, however, is becoming the William Wallace of creative battles. Perhaps, instead, he would rather be the Fred Astaire. A day of writing without distraction is typically considered a good day. Not anymore:
The resistance (in its many forms) doesn’t show up when we are busy average.
I have never procrastinated sleeping in. Never has my Facebook exploration been interrupted by the desire to pray, or write, or do something meaningful. The opposite, of course, is a daily occurrence. The resistance, like the oppressive government in The Hunger Games, only comes after threats to the status quo. All the other “things” are safely locked behind a fence, unable to affect change. If working toward your fulfillment does not yield any resistance, no “Peacekeepers” coming in the night to take you away, there is no threat to the status quo.

Unless your status quo is complete fulfillment and you’ve achieved everything you were designed for, “status quo” is “status NO”.

You must pose a threat to invite the resistance. Start making progress and you’ll see resistance in its many forms lurking. Mother Theresa faced almost an entire lifetime of spiritual dryness known as the Dark Night of the Soul. The warm and fuzzy we get when we go to church was replaced with numbness. Mother Teresa was a real threat to the status quo of the poor being poor, body and soul in Calcutta. She did not fight the resistance, she danced with it, and many souls are dancing toward heaven for it. Replace the warm and fuzzy, the desire to do something else, the urge to question your ability, with the new dance of fulfillment. It’s coming whether you like it or not. Give up now and be average or put on your dancing shoes! Embrace the desire to procrastinate. If you feel it, you’re on to something. Welcome the inner voice that says you’re not good enough. Laugh a giddy laugh at the desire to check Facebook while your halfway through marathon training. You are a threat to the status quo. That, my friends, is moving the needle toward awesomeness.
I overslept and almost didn’t write this article today thinking inspiration will be here tomorrow. I chose to dance instead of procrastinate. How will you dance today?
Rocco De Leo