Jump Ahead With This One Powerful Tool Society Doesn't Use Anymore

There is a parable from the East that can help us drive home today's consideration:

There was an old man with a small farm in China many years ago. He had one son, who did most of the work on the farm and a neighbor, himself old with a son.

One day the old man’s horse ran off, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your horse has run off, now work on your farm will be so difficult.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s horse returned leading a group of wild horses, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how wonderful! You have many horses, now you have great wealth and may live easily.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your son has broken his leg, now your work will be doubled as nurse and farmer.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the king’s men came to the farms seeking all able men to fight a distant battle, and the neighbor, sobbing as his son marched off, said “how fortunate you are for having an injured son, mine will surely perish.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”


The old man in the story embraced the pursuit of context.

His simple phrase, "maybe good, maybe bad, we'll see," allowed him to pause.

This intentional pause allowed him to seek deeper understanding of all the details of the isolated incident, and its overarching value in the grand scheme of things.

Things are moving faster and faster everyday. The internet has changed things. Maybe good, maybe bad, we shall see.

Breadth of information is abundant while depth of information, outside of certain small circles, lacks sexiness or glamour.

In today's landscape, and at today's pace, pausing has become more difficult and FOMO is a real psychological hurdle we humans must learn to handle.

We seem, as a society, to embrace breaking news, sound bytes, tweets, gossip, viral videos, rants, likes, the subjective opinions of "talking heads", and hacks before we look for the whole truth, the deeper meaning, objectivity, compassion, empathy, grace, self-reliance, and the full story, don't we?

Should some of us be judged on a single incident (maybe good, maybe bad) of our own doing? Yes.

And, in your judgments, are people innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent? Do you have all the facts before you judge or do you have clips and spin and commentary and gossip?

Saints and sinners, incidents and story arcs, the day's events and the year's events, no matter the deal: context adds value.

Context may or may not aid in decision-making, but it will add value to your considerations.

You are responsible for the quality of your life.

Ask questions. Operate from patience, empathy, gratitude and the mind of a free person.

Do not behave as sheep or cattle might, operating solely on where you are led and what you are fed with complete abdication of responsibility for one's self.

When others are emotional, a person of context (you) will be calm. When others are hysterical, you will be considerate. When others are discussing problems, you will have moved to solutions. When others are close-minded, you will be open and aware.

Context gives you a tactical and spiritual advantage. Take a breath. Pause. Seek context before deciding.

It may be good, it may be bad, we shall see.

Keep leading!

Further recommended reading:

Are You Watching The Ticker Or The Trajectory To Measure Your Happiness?

Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World by Cal Newport

The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brain by Nicholas Carr

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