Prompt #19:

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

(Prompt Author: Dan Andrews)

Response:

Today is going to be “answer this with the theme of superheroism” day.

Our date night movie last night (The Green Lantern) dealt with the topic of fear and how best to fight it. Now, there have been many poor reviews of The Green Lantern, but I think it was a perfect genre piece: the superhero origin story. I don’t walk into those expecting the focus to be on character development, and we must remember, too, that until Stan Lee and Marvel comics arrived on the scene, most superhero characters in DC comics were more flat (Superman, vintage Batman (not the Dark Knight modern version). I thought the portrayal of the alien Guardians was beautifully done, and I thought most of the acting performances were fine.

In fact, the only “flaw” I found—and I did laugh out loud in the theater, as did Bill—was early on in the film. Parallax (the main villain) had been freed from his prison, and the film wanted to show that time had passed. So out in the middle of the universe, in who knows what sector and governed by what sun and with what reference point, the subtitle flashes on the screen “6 months later.” LOL. Six months, according to what time system? Both Bill and I burst out laughing at the same time, a great date moment. No one else in the theater was laughing…but we knew Einstein would be rolling in his grave! I guess we’ll assume Earth months.

The point of the film is that we have to fight fear not with more fear, as this prompt writer suggests, but with WILL and COURAGE. I tend to agree. It often takes sheer will to do the things that frighten us or to power through moments of fatigue or self-doubt. Fear is a burden on the soul. I can’t really see it any other way.

What kind of person would I like to be? Well, my favorite superhero is actually Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men comics. He has great powers, yet he uses them for good and refuses to develop a cynical nature like his friend Magneto. He holds onto his ideals no matter the cost.

In the event of failure, could I generate a positive outcome? I usually do. I tend to look for the good in everything. I personally feel there is a moral imperative to do that…

 

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