Plan Z

January 5th, 2019 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Several books have had a major impact on me: books such as “The Naked Ape” by Desmond Morris, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibrand, “I’m Okay. You’re Okay” by Thomas Harris and Gail Sheehy’s “Passages.” Her book explored the natural personality changes common to each stage of life, and she takes the reader through the passages of each decade of life, what to anticipate, and how to use each of these passages as an opportunity for growth.    Much of “Passages” content has remained embedded in my mind because of the way she described our twenties and all the things we tend to do wrong during that important beginning adult decade of our lives. I was in my early thirties when it came out, and, to my delight, she explained that those second decade mistakes we made can be cleared up and corrected during the next ten years of life. It worked.
By embracing that life lesson as we move through our personal passages, there are things that we can undo, things we might not repeat, and things we can fix to help us grow toward a higher consciousness and level of achievement, however we define that for ourselves. And it sometimes takes mistakes to get there, but that’s okay.
Not unlike that hackneyed Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” We can try, fail, try, fail, try, fail and finally get it right if we just stick to it.  Persistence is frequently the only commitment that’s needed to move things forward in positive ways. The other thing, though, is knowing when to quit and move on when a lesson is learned and not to be repeated.
Personally, as a musician or artist, it was never good enough for me to have a Plan B. In fact, when teaching leadership classes, my recommendation to the participants is to have as many plans as it takes to get it done, even if it means having a Plan Z.
Much of life requires risk-taking, and if you’re completely risk-adverse, you will be stuck in place because of your own fears and insecurities. You don’t have to fight the ocean to ride the waves.  Even in the most horrendous situations, there are amazing life lessons that allow us to grow and make unbelievable progress during that next opportunity or challenge.
If at first you don’t succeed . . .  Remember, it’s how we learned to walk, and it applies to most other challenges that we face. I remember asking a genomics scientist what happens if we block the communication pathway between genes and proteins, which are the workers and foot soldiers of the human body, and he responded casually yet assertively, “They do the same thing we do as people. They find a different way and get it done.”
Watching very young children who are presented with a problem creatively work their way through obstacles is always fun because they aren’t encumbered with our give it up attitude. They just keep trying until they figure it out. That spirit of creativity, stick-to-it-iveness, and optimism is the child portion of our brain described in the book “I’m Okay. You’re Okay” that we need to continue to embrace throughout life.
We can’t let our amygdala talk us down or convince us to quit, or that we’re not good enough, not bright enough, not creative enough.  We just need to make the mistake, fix it, learn from it and move on.  Growth comes from challenge.
Winners never quit, and quitters never . . . you get the idea. You can make life work for you by being persistent, determined and tenacious.  Wait. Those are all synonyms.

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