‘[W]e may be undone if we don’t foresee that winning is also losing.’*
‘Life was conspicuously good. I had nothing to complain about. And I became completely and utterly depressed.’**
A young woman wins a lottery prize of £1 million and is inundated with requests for help – then insults and hate when she doesn’t say yes.
The young man is both flattered and honoured to be offered an advancement at work and for sixteen years tries to make himself fit the work.
For another person, the promotion means adding another two hours to their daily commute and they hardly see their children.
The Peter Principle states that managers are promoted to their level of incompetence because they are interviewed in the competence context of their present role and not their future one.
I’d want to add, promotion for the wrong reasons will threaten our spark. Beyond the stepping stone to something big, the money, or the prestige of the position, the more telling influencer for our work is the need of others and how we’ll be able to use our “genius” to meet it – the needs we notice most tell us a lot about our spark.
‘Most people are not aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their opinions are the same as those of the majority.’^
Erich Fromm is describing the stodgy life, the alternative many accept when they’ve lost their spark or conform to what the culture eulogises as the successful life.
Geoff Nicholson had won but also found that he’d lost. Moving to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, finding the right place too live, purchasing a couple of cars to get around in, enjoying the sunshine, sights, and sounds of the real LaLa Land, he found that he had also lost. Suspecting he’d moved to a place that had ‘no tradition, no history, no literature of walking,’** he realised he’d lost his walking, the pleasant scenery for his life. He began walking again.
Brené Brown reflects on the powerful emotions we can feel but ignore when it comes to others being promoted around us or having something that we don’t have or we feel stuck and want to jump when any opportunity appears. She’s describing the kind of things behind the bad choices that lead us from the spark to the stodge. However, when we turn our attention to these emotions they tell us about deeper things happening in our lives, the deeper needs for -as some suggest – freedom, mastery, and a purpose greater than ourselves – our pleasant scenery.
‘You were sent to earth to become a receiver of the unknown.’^^
(*From Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life.)
(**From Geoff Nicholson’s The Lost Art of Walking.)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)