Monday, March 22, 2010

Neither Hot, Nor Cold

So, when it comes to new relationships, new opportunities, new ideas and new adventures, are you the kind of person who jumps first? Or, are you the one who waits to see what others (or the other) will do?

Maybe you're someone who proposes to jump 'together'? Together may be a way to encourage someone to go with you. Together may be a way to manipulate someone into going before you. Together may indicate a willingness to wait or a lack of willingness to go it alone. Some people can appear to go together when in fact they're so good at watching others that their delay is imperceptible.

Of course, you can never really go together unless each is willing to go alone.

Let's Be Friends, You Go First
Over the past few days, Iris and I have had amazing opportunities to experience all sorts of relationships, potential relationships and former relationships. Last night, as we talked over dinner, Iris commented on what she was seeing as a common theme: who goes first?

Who goes first
has lot's of variants. For example, some people play who goes first kind of like you would that Olympic 'sport' curling; they don't really push and they don't really pull, they just keep the other person in play with promises and innuendo like brooms brushing ice around a rock. They're not ready to commit, but they're also not ready to let go.

Others play who goes first by running rapidly towards the edge of the cliff where it's either fly or plummet. They run fast enough to inspire confidence, but not so fast as to lose the person trailing them. They race ahead and then pull up at just the last second, allowing the other to pass them. If the other stops, so do they; if not, they follow on.

Others jump, but they have a hidden parachute strapped to their backs.

Some people adopt the business mantra, 'he who goes first loses'. For example, if you're negotiating a salary or a deal or the purchase of a car, whoever clearly articulates what they're willing to pay or what they're willing to take, loses. For many, this is part of the art of negotiation. They hold their cards close to their chests, revealing no more than what is absolutely required to stay in the game.

Some are more manic, pushing hard sometimes and then suddenly withdrawing.

And then there are other people who don't hesitate whatsoever; they seem not to know that there's a game is being played. Cards face up on the table, they say what they want, they tell you what they'll do, and then they go for it.

How do you approach new relationships and opportunities?

Holding Out for More
I think one of the motivators that drives the who goes first game is a form of playing not to lose that is more like afraid that I could have done better. I can't tell you how many people I know who've held off on committing to a relationship because they felt like, perhaps, just maybe, they could 'do better'. It's amazing how the idea of 'doing better' can get in the way of doing great.

We do this in situations from evaluating our significant relationships to purchasing a house to looking for a new job. I've often called it the fruitless pursuit of perfection; the perfect becomes the enemy of the awesome. In in the end, I imagine it's no different than cocaine addiction or golf, always looking for that high or that round that will surpass (or even be as good as) a previous one.

Delaying Execution
Of course, some people are simply full of crap. They're so concerned about what others are thinking about them that they'll say pretty much anything to keep others in the game. They'll promise, they'll cajole, they'll manipulate, they'll distract and they'll misdirect. They'll say whatever it takes to get another chance. "Just one more day... Just one more time... It will be better, you'll see!"

The toughest part of this is that the best players tend to be the most sincere (in the moment). Although many of us believe you can't lie to yourself (it's kind of definitionaly impossible), there are still cases where people have such strong powers of denial so as to be delusional. They could see through their own lies, but, well, they don't.

Then there are the people who actually have no intention of ever fully pursuing their stated desires. They speak of them and flirt with them. They race toward the edge as though to jump only to be yanked back at the last moment by whatever it is that ties them down. It could be a previous commitment, a lifestyle, money, comfort or simply what others would think of them.

I know people who for years have talked on and off about starting their own companies. Yet I'm confident that they'll simply never abandon the comfort of a regular paycheck.

I know others who say they want to do more for the people in the world around them, but their stuff (their possessions, their status, their lifestyles, their relationships) always gets in the way.

I have friends who out of concern about what others might think, stay in relationships with their partners even though both of them want out. They don't have the will to make it work, nor do they have the will to leave it behind.

As I read my post to Iris, her comment was, "Wow, this post is really kind of... depressing!"

I hadn't thought of it that way, but I think I can see her point. If in fact, most people don't simply jump in, but instead, feign jumping while waiting for others to go first... well, you could view it as depressing or as an opportunity to grow and change.

So, are you someone who decides to go for something and then goes for it with complete abandon, or do you hesitate waiting for someone else to lead the way? As you take off on a new adventure, do you strap a parachute to your back or ensure that there's a safety net waiting below? Maybe you talk the talk, but your walk is hampered by the tethers that snap you back to your status quo?

In the movie Gattaca, Vincent explains to his brother Anton how he was able to swim a large expanse of water despite his physical limitations and apparent lack of capacity to do so.
You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.
I believe that we often deny ourselves the best we could experience, simply because we hold back, we watch, we wait, we ration, we save our strength for the swim back.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. Depressing? now I know why I got so high scores on the optimism test: I found this blog very uplifting! I used to think that letting go of people was some kind of a loss. But it isn't. It might have been a gain when they first entered my life. All the experiences we had together are still in my memory, so I can recall them whenever I will. - but letting go of them is what enables me to create space for new people - that is SO AWE some.

    I had a friend who used to say after each break up of romantic relationships:"Great - now I'm one step closer to the perfect relations".

    Yesterday I spend time with one of these people who say they have a dream but doesn't seem to move on it - and once again I reminded him that I would offer him a free dialogue: IF he asked me for it and that we scheduled it together. - and I felt so good being willing to help but SO not attached with wheter he'll ever move on it.

    One of my favorite quotes:
    "In order to live your free and happily you might have to sacrifice boredom - it's not always an easy sacrifice!" - Richard Bach

    Love you for this post


  2. Loved your reference Joy about people who 'say' they have a dream, but just don't seem to choose to move on it, and make it "alive" for themselves...

    If only to fascilitate realization in another, such as in your sharing as in after break up of romantic relationships: "Great - now I'm one step closer to the perfect relationship" wow

    that one can choose this attitude with all attempts, seemingly faulters, in all reflections on ones life....such as in behaviors/experiences as a result of ocd/addictiveness, past-mongerings) (towards realizing the miracle of this given creative ability we've been gifted with) bw


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