Beyond prepared

Two pigeons, a whiter one laying on stone at rest, a black one standing at alert stare in the viewer's direction at the New York City Public Library in September 2015. Photographed by the author.

“BE PREPARED.” – Scout motto

This will sound ridiculously simple and common sense (as it should be), but when it happens as an artifact of abuse, it leads to unexpected conundrums that go against what a lot of people do:

We’re often instructed to “get it together” before we embark on something. But when it’s consistently used as a barrier to meeting basic needs or as a personal attack on an individual’s character, know that it’s abusive.

In the interest of making forward progress, it’s better to do lead with your best and figure out the rest so you can move along and get what you really need.

In the Boy Scouts, I often looked to the Scout slogan, oath and law as guidelines for navigating life.
With the benefit of experience to an extreme degree, I now realize a few points are poised for conflict.

The motto, “Be Prepared” will carry you through when you are–but the 15% of the time when you’re not on your game makes it tough. Maybe that’s when it’s time to refer to “Do your best.” if you were lucky to be a cub scout and internalize that motto.

Meanwhile, when exercising the Scout law, the first point holds trustworthiness above all.

Considered together, this “Be prepared” aspect can be debilitating when it bars you from getting what you actually need (a job, quality relationships, etc.).

Every time someone asks how things are going, it means the most honest response is to also disclose what isn’t working in the hopes of finding insight and support from others. The problem is most, if not all people, I’ve come across will rarely feel compelled to really dig in and find a way to help. Even if they want to, more often than not you need to know how to articulate what you need help with into something actionable. By the time I figure out how to frame the problem, it makes more sense for me to do it myself 97% of the time.

Plus, it makes it look like the injured or set-back individual really doesn’t have their life together. This isn’t always true–the parts of your life you choose to focus on, and take action with matters most.

2 years ago, I came across Brian Cheskey’s very simple, at risk of being laughable depending on whom you share it with out of context, strategy for business: “start with love.” [really–see his PandoDaily fireside chat for this–if I recall, @ the 1 hr 21min mark]

A complex systems scientist might refer to the idea of sharing what you care most about with people who care most about you as a “virtuous feedback loop”–the phenomenal cycle of success that fosters further successes.

e.g. you’re excited and share it with your supporters, who then champion you/your initiative to others who are receptive to excitement, who then share it with others who are eager and open to getting excited about it, etc.

Fixing what isn’t working still sits among the priorities along with doing what you really want to do. You simply shouldn’t let it bar you from moving forward when you’re doing the best you can. It’s unfortunate that a rare few are willing to champion who you are even when you’re slogging through the worst.

Those who do stand out as friends. If you’ve yet to find them, my advice remains the same: push forward with your best, figure out the rest as you go along.

Two pigeons, a whiter one laying on stone at rest, a black one standing at alert stare in the viewer's direction at the New York City Public Library in September 2015. Photographed by the author.
A pair of pigeons at the New York City Public Library in early September 2015.
Photographed by the author.

Looking back, I had a dream in 2013 which I call the “Devil’s Advocacy” which illustrates the same conundrum. What’s new since then is that I’m now able to sum up an attitude or mantra that’s framed by an aspirational outcome rather than a negative one to avoid.

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