Dark Side Flip Side

We all have dark places in us. Each of those has a reflection that’s light. Because it’s part of our nature, it doesn’t take effort to create it, only to direct it.

Arrogance is a distasteful characteristic. Flip it, and you have confidence. When you’re convinced your course is right, you’re not quickly shaken by others’ opinions or their lack of confidence.

The strong-willed can be manipulative. The unselfish flip side is the ability to lead others for their own good. Unselfish leadership matters.

Our first reaction, gut level, instinctive, is to hide or quash our dark sides.

How can that dark place become a strength?


When Are You Like the Fish in the Pot?

And our fish came down, too.
He fell into a pot!
He said, “Do I like this?”
Oh, no! I do not.
This is not a good game,”
Said our fish as he lit.
“No, I do not like it,
Not one little bit!”

It’s often said there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. I know a fourth group: those who try to prevent things from happening.

The fish in the pot sounded like the voice of reason.

“No! Not in the house!”
Said the fish in the pot.
“They should not fly kites
In a house! They should not.
Oh, the things they will bump!
Oh, the things they will hit!
Oh, I do not like it!
Not one little bit!”

But did things turn out badly? No. In the end, all was well.

When you’re unsure of the future, how do you react?

Then our fish said, “Look! Look!”
And our fish shook with fear.

When you’re out of your comfort zone, do you shake with fear, as the fish in the pot did? Do you watch from the sidelines, not knowing what to do? Or when the Cat in the Hat steps in on your mat, do you wholeheartedly embrace the fun and adventure?

Certainly, we don’t want to take unnecessary risks, but that’s not what Dr. Seuss is about. There are no risks in Seussland.

And there are far fewer in real life than you imagine.

Next time circumstances or people surprise you, next time a scary opportunity appears, consider: how will you react when the Cat in the Hat steps in on your mat?


Clarifying Your Perception of Risk: An Exercise

Vague undefined fears negatively affect our decisions and actions. This is a way to make the fear less vague.

  1. On a 3×5 card, write down the worst possible thing that can happen. Possible, not imaginable. You can imagine all kinds of evil and mayhem, but is it really possible?
  2. On another card, write down the best possible thing that could happen. Feel free to stretch possible a bit.
  3. On a third card, write down the most likely outcome.
  4. Lay the worst card on the left corner of the table in front of you and the best card on the right corner. Put the likely card between them, more or less where you think it falls on the continuum.

You will notice three things:

  1. You can live with the worst case scenario
  2. The likely case is pretty close to the best case
  3. You’ve overestimated the worst case and underestimated the best case

Humans are risk averse. When you’re walking down a dark alley at night, that’s helpful. When you’re trying to be generous, it’s not. Trust is complex, but the short path to it is by giving first.