“I’d rather be moving in the wrong direction than in no direction at all. It is easier to correct course than start.”
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
If there’s a pet peeve that singularly annoys me more than assholes who don’t pick up after their dog…
When people don’t give props (or “attribution” if you’re feeling academic) to the right source.
So with that in mind…
I have just spent the last half-hour trying to verify if General Schwarzkopf actually said those above stated words.
But alas, either my Google-fu is off today, the Internet is broken… or he never said it.
The only thing I found was this LinkedIn post by some get-rich-quick guru. Not authoritative. Not authoritative at all.
So it’s most likely he never said it.
This bugs me to no end. I actually feel antsy and uncomfortable using this quote without proper attribution.
I originally got this quote from Mentor X.
“Mentor X” is a mysterious figure I worked closely with for four years between 2010 and 2013 when I was building my freelance business from scratch.
A lot of what The Cave is about comes from our interactions. You’ll hear more about him over time.
Anyway, Mentor X would send me insightful quotes at random times during the week.
This was one of them.
Between us, Mentor X couldn’t care less if a quote was attributed correctly or not… it was more important I got actual value out of the quote.
And I did.
But here’s the irony of it all…
You may have noticed it’s Wednesday when this Quote of the Week got posted.
Joshua and I made an agreement to get these things published on Mondays.
Mondays make sense because our readers, that is, you, can get your week started right by meditating on one of these quotes.
And yet, here we are, on Wednesday. Valentine’s no less. Furthermore, six hours before I have to jump on a plane for a business trip as I draft this.
(A trip I haven’t packed for yet…)
I Am the King of Procrastination This Week
Fact is, I’m behind. Two clients paid me in full for projects back in December.
One I’ve just started drafting. Another I haven’t touched since our initial brainstorming sessions.
I have two monthly retainers and another client project I’m juggling as well.
And on top of all this, I’ve been riddled with requests, opportunities, and obligations… one after another in the past two weeks.
A colleague shared an investment opportunity with me. A film producer wanted my advice on a separate investment idea. My photographer friend wanted me to review this prospectus. A friend inviting me to play more board games. My accountant and lawyer both need 2017 year-end stuff. My son’s friend kept asking me when the next D&D session will be.1. Old friends I still keep in touch with from my corporate days asked me out to see a movie.
And here’s the thing…
These aren’t people I hate or can’t deal with. I like these people in my life. I’m grateful for them.
Which is why it’s extra hard for me to say “no” or put off their requests, or just plain ignore their emails until they come up to me and say the inevitable, “Hey, did you get my email?
So in short – I’ve been overwhelmed and stressed out.
And you know, calmer, rational minds would probably say something like…
“No problem. I can handle this.
Let’s break down all these responsibilities and requests into small chunks.
Prioritize it all, put it in an Eisenhower Matrix and create daily checklists.
I’m gonna get productive. Like Tony f’ing Robbins massive action the shit out of this.
I’m pumped. I’m ready. Let’s do thiiiiisssss.”
And any other self-help blog would probably tell you this.
Give you these neat little action steps, sensible strategies and a few inspirational quotes to boot.
And then, inexplicably in a British accent…
”Off you go now. Go conquer the world. Chop chop.”
You’re in The Cave. That’s not what we do here.
The Weirdest, Strangest Thing About Human Behavior
Truth is, when we’re pushed to our limits… it’s fucking hard to be calm and rationalize and project manage stuff.
We’re deep in the forest and every tree looks the same.
So while it’s nice to read this week’s quote (supposedly said by Schwarzkopf)…
Moving in the wrong direction, getting lost and being stuck for a long time sucks.
And it burns us out.
We run out of willpower.
And that’s when you start involuntarily distracting yourself.
Like playing Sudoku obsessively on your phone, starting Outlander on Netflix and looking up Star Wars lore on the Internet.
(Not that I did any of that this past week. Nope. Not me. Not me at all.)
So, the real question is…
How do you break out of this?
How do you get started when you’re burnt out?
How do you slow down and stop yourself before you watch another episode of Outlander instead of going to bed at 11PM on Sunday night?
(Again, I promise you. I didn’t do this.)
The answer is simple.
As we repeatedly chant ad nauseum here in The Cave…
You Start at Zen Zero
You can meditate.
You can copy out a quote
You can read a book. Something that’s spiritual, preferably.
You can journal and write out what’s going on like I did here.
You can talk to a friend and verbalize what’s going on.
The point is –
Throwing strategy, steps and telling yourself to “suck it up” ain’t gonna work until you get back to Zen Zero first.
You’ve got to pause long enough to get out of the fog… to get a fresh perspective on what’s happening.
You gotta reset.
(By the way, sometimes you’ll have to do this over and over and over again. That’s fine.)
So in keeping with the theme of questionable quote sources this week, I’ll end with a supposedly “old Zen adage”:
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.
Some Zen Dude
Look at that. You got a two-fer this week because I was late.
I DM a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for my son and three of his friends. ↩︎