I remember Zig Ziglar saying that an airplane breaks down faster when it stays grounded opposed to being in constant service. I was reminded of this fact again, while following recent stories surrounding the problems with the Boeing 737 and how even when the issues are fixed, all the planes will have a whole new set of problems from being on the ground for too long. I mentioned this factoid to my wife and she replied how she feels like that too. If certain parts of us remain unused for too long then atrophy sets in. The default mindset is that if we don’t do something for a while our skill level will just stay unchanged, but the truth is, like the Boeing 737 Max, if we keep anything about ourselves grounded for too long, we actually sustain damage.
We too are like those planes. We were meant to fly, to be in the air and circling the earth, yet we sit idling on the tarmac. Weighted down by the years of life that have not gone our way and now has us frozen in time. Disappointments with our job, disillusionment with our families and disgust with ourselves.
How did we end up here? Grounded on the runway of life. When we were young we held so much promise and potential that it was coming out of our ears. Nothing could bring us down, yet here we are at the crossroads of our lives and no fucking clue which way to go.
My best guess? We started looking for shortcuts
7th grade Toll Jr high, circa 1988, Glendale California. PE class 3rd period. Roll call on the backside of the gym. The rules; walk around the gym, but DO NOT go through the gym. This particular day, maybe I was running late or maybe I was just lazy, but I stopped at the gym door and looked around to see if anyone was looking and I took the shortcut. 3 minutes later one of the PE teachers pulled me out of roll call and confronted me. (Now understand that this was over 30 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday). He squared me up and looked me straight in the eye and said. “I watched you from the office and I saw you look around before you went through the gym and you know what that makes you?
“YOU’RE A SNEAK”
His words cut me to my pre-pubescent bones. – Because I knew he was right.
I never saw that teacher the same after that day. I always felt guilty and ashamed and wanted desperately to prove to him that I was not that same stupid kid. He moved on to coach high school football and baseball (my sports) at the school across town and even as an All American playing against him 6 years later I still felt ashamed.
But why? I wanted to tell him, to plead with him, “That’s not who I am! I am better than that! Please, let me prove it to you!”
Staring down the barrel of my 45th birthday next week and that scared and sneaky 13 year old who looks for short cuts is still alive and well. I thought by this time I would have life figured out. I thought that I would be a man and men do not have these kinds of doubts and problems, right?
As business owners we are always looking for ways to streamline, automate or increase efficiency. A shortcut maybe? An easier path? A way to sleep in and still get the same results or maybe take a trip to the Cayman Islands while the business hums along and doesn’t skip a beat, hell why not grow while we’re gone? Don’t we all seek arbitrage to some degree or another? Have we not all been lured by the sirens call of The 4 Hour Work Week bullshit or “the automate your business” fallacy that pervades the bookshelves and our Instagram feed? I know I have and I have paid a dear price for following that candy trail into the houses made of gingerbread where the witch tries to shove my fat ass into the oven of mediocrity and contentment. I hate it when that happens!
Like the Knights of the Round Table, peace can only be found when we are willing to face our fears and are willing to enter the forest where it seems the darkest to us. That which scares the shit out of us the most, is exactly where we need to go! Basically, the opposite of the shortcut.
Two roads diverged in a wood and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.Robert Frost
Whatever your business may be, identify the one part that scares you the most and dive in head first like a boss and face and fight the demons that have been haunting you and keeping you grounded and stuck. Kinda like that 13 year old punk doing burpees behind the gym.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.