All or Nothing – the dangers of an extreme mindset

I have had cause to observe this many times, particularly in the last 10 years. It used to be that while we desired great good fortune, we accepted that there is probably somewhere between here & there that we can be considering as a happy outcome. If nothing else, living is in the daily journey. After all, I live with myself every day – not only in moments of extreme winning. It may not be our lot in life to:

Date Kim Kardashian whilst having a string of #1 Hit Songs with 20 Trillion Plays on Spotifry, cocaine & hooker parties that lasted for months, and so many Grammy Awards that we needed to buy 28 mansions to have enough mantel places to put them all on. No one could assail our magnificence for decades to come. At least not until our popularity needed a boost whereupon we die and became greater than ever all over again – fame beyond eternity (because eternity is for losers like Elvis).

The scary thing is that while 99% of people if presented with that would say it was silly, they still act day to day as though that were the way it is, should be.

This leads to a very strange and dangerous place for people. It goes something like:

if I don’t have everything
then I have nothing

This is beyond the glass half full metaphor. This is glass full or nothing. It looks like this:

All or Nothing Thinking

Now while it may seem very driven to say “if I have not achieved everything then I have achieved nothing” it is a really messed up mindset and removes one of the fundamental things that we need to to get from here to there.

Does that row of glasses of varying fullness remind you of anything?

All That Heaven Will Allow

I hope you have thought something like: stairs or a ladder. This is exactly right. Stairs or a ladder need to be climbed one step at a time. Stairs exist because no one can blip from the ground floor to the 8th floor in one casual step. Each step represents what we must do/know before we can achieve the next thing.

Yet so many of us think that we can blip to the top based on our self-evident magnificence. And wonder why it goes horribly wrong when we try it.

Here are a pair of ladders. One is the type where we think we can take one quick step from here to the top floor. How has that turned out for our intrepid (but utterly deluded) seeker of fame & fortune?

Mmmm raspberry jam.

The other ladder doesn’t look like as much fun. All those steps. All that time. Sure. But which ladder has a greater chance of getting our heroic quester for all that is possible to where they wish to go?

Sadly the second ladder is not as clearly defined in time as the first. It is easy to think, oh but if I don’t have a definite time & date on the top of that ladder then I might as well take my chances on the first one. Someone makes it. It might be me. After all it just happened to Billie Eyelash just like this.

Top Cat’s Rabbit Hole Universe

Let’s look at that: Billie Eyelash sells a myth as part of her lure to being her fan. She suggests that she & her brother were sitting in their bedroom making her music then Poof! next day Grammy!!! Plays all over YouTube & Spotifry, squillions of dollars, fans saying how special she is and did I mention Grammy Award.

Total hogwash. It didn’t go like that at all. Not one little bit. It is not my role here to lay out the artist development journey of the Eyelash Family (YouTube it) but I can tell you that it looked an awful lot like the boring ladder. That just doesn’t seem so romantic & attractive a sales spiel when wanting to appeal to Debbie from next door who has fantasies of not being quite as ordinary as she is so the truth got a makeover. The official term is Self- Mythologizing.

If you fall for the bling blip thing then you are going to end up like the person at the bottom of the faux ladder. There is no human way to get from the bottom to the top rung so, gravity being what it is, you must fall and get bruised or cracked open.

If that has happened to you, it is easy to see that as the end. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are reading this (and sadly I know most people who need this advice won’t read it) then you are alive. Twitching at least.

The Long Run

Remember The Hare & The Tortoise: the story where the hare who is clearly the faster runner, keeps rubbishing the stately shellman. Tortie challenges Hare to a race. Is that because he wants to lose and have Hare give up on being a dick seeing his point is proven? Or does the shellster know something about human(!) nature? Methinks the latter. Tortie knows that Hare is inconstant and will sabotage himself before the race is run because he is infernally lazy (a blipper). All Tort has to do is plod away step after step, just like a shell dude does. With his eye on where he is going he will get there. Either way, the toroid tussler triumphs.

What About Bob

Just now I got an email saying I didn’t get shortlisted (let alone win) a competition I entered. Ok, so I’m not ecstatic. Disappointed is the thing. I didn’t expect a win as the hosts clearly have a feel they want and that is not my thing. My getting picked was not at all likely as this was not really a comp so much as a marketing exercise for them. I don’t match their agenda. But at the same time I finished & entered that comp. My work was good, better than I have done before. So I have already climbed another rung just by having shown up. I have had my win already.

Each win can be very small. If you haven’t, go watch the movie “What About Bob”. It is hilarious and once you have seen it, you will never forget the concept of taking things your way, one small step a day = Baby Steps.

Each step up is a step up.

Sadly, a quick responder to the winning entry couldn’t see this and was mouthing off about how the winning entry wasn’t good enough. It was plenty good enough. His not being able to see that means that he(?) is unable to see any win for himself. He is top step or fall and he just fell all the way.

2 thoughts on “All or Nothing – the dangers of an extreme mindset

  1. In the arts field it’s certainly a common mentality. Most of us have hopes and ambitions in the form of dreams, and what are dreams unless we work hard on them?
    Baby stepping is a great way to overcome the mentality you are talking about, instead of dreaming and hoping, the small progressions become motivating themselves and the dream becomes more of a possible reality than a dream, it just needs effort and repetition of effort.
    Whenever I think of ‘baby steps’ I always think about that What about Bob movie, it must have been used well, I might look it up for another watch again soon.
    Great article.

    1. Thanks. Yeah, I’d like to see What about Bob again myself. Should see if it’s on Netflix or Prime or Stan…
      As for dreams, if they have an achievable way of being achieved or they become fantasies.

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