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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


November 26th, 2019


As we stumble forward into new and unknown ventures, we walk a fine line between two problems.


We either second guess ourselves too much and get stuck – paralyzed without any whiff of confidence or courage to move further.


Or it’s the opposite.


We barrel on forward with potentially suicidal bravado.  In this case, the world of psychology refers to that bravado as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  It’s applied when people think they are way better at something than they actually are in reality.


The duality of this problem is remarkable.  It’s as though most of us go from paralysis to a full sprint with no gears in between.  There’s an analogy here to be drawn to inertia and physics.  Have you ever tried to move something like a couch or a dresser and it just won’t move at all.  You put your shoulder into it and put you feet against the wall and push and push and then all of sudden it shoots away from you and you crash to the floor.


In physics this phenomenon is described as the difference between static friction and kinetic friction.  Simply put, when two things are touching and not moving, the friction between them is usually much higher than if they are touching, but moving against one another.


As for our fear of taking a chance, it’s as though that fear functions like a pressure cooker, and once we finally decide to take that chance, make that move and do something, the pressure cooker blows and we shoot off in a not-so-effective direction and eventually crash.


We’re all guilty of this, even if time needs to be traced back to our literal first steps, when we barreled forward on a couple of pudgy pins and fell flat on our own face.


But here’s the catch.


One side of this issue is far better to be guilty of than the other.


It’s much better to think you’re great and barrel forward than it is to remain paralyzed with fear and inaction.  The person guilty of bravado that actually results in doing something will learn something when reality rushes up and whacks them in the head. 


Whereas, the paralyzed person allows no opportunity for reality to give them a quick sharp lesson.  And for people who remain paralyzed for years, they risk getting to the end of their life and only having reality teach them the mistake of inaction then, when it’s too late.


Considering everything, it is good to second guess yourself.  It can create humility, and that perspective can help you see details that might go missed if you’re too confident to notice.  But too much second-guessing and you’re a goner.


The subtle art of this is simply trying to stay in the middle. 


Just keep moving.  That’s most important.


But don’t go too fast.


and remember to keep your eyes open.


but most importantly:


Don’t stop. 


Because life won’t wait for you.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 590: The Subtle Art of Second Guessing Yourself

Tinkered Thinking

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