Get Out Of The Boat
Even if you are not religious just stick with me; this will not be a blog on what you believe.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in the Book of Matthew in chapter 14. The story is commonly referred to as “Jesus walks on water.” The story has the disciples out in a boat and Jesus, who was not with them in the boat originally, walks out across a stormy sea towards them. They all freak out and Jesus starts talking to them to calm them down. Peter, the more rash of Jesus followers says “IF (emphasis is mine) it is you let me walk out on the water to you.” Jesus says ok and Peter steps out of the boat. You can read the rest of the story in the Bible.
Focus on the word “if” for a moment. We use the little 2 letter word a lot in our vocabularies. It’s common use is as a qualifier much like its use in programming languages; which is called an “If statement.” The if statement allows you to control if a program enters a section of code or not based on whether a given condition is true or false. One of the important functions of the if statement is that it allows the program to select an action based upon the user's input.
Realistically that is almost precisely how we use it in daily life. In fact when we are not using it that way we are considering using it in that way. Try this: complete the sentence,
“What If ….”
The problem is we frequently stop after we ask the question.
We love to wonder “what if” over and over again and just change the variable of the thought, however in most cases that is where we get stuck. That is fine if the thought is “what if unicorns were beautiful purple horses with a spiral horn and rainbow manes that we rode to work instead of cars?” If you listened to my podcast you would know that men like to wonder about odd things like this and floating raccoons, but that is not what we are here to discuss.
The problem comes when the stop occurs on things like:
“What if I asked for that raise?”
“What if I tried to clean up my diet?”
“What if I applied for that job?”
“What if I tried harder in my relationship?”
We start wondering about things that matter, but stop at wondering about them. How many “what if” statements run through your head every day? How many times have you thought “what if…” but never followed on the idea?
Let me be clear, I am not talking about rainbow unicorns or unsafe intrusive thoughts like “what if I did something bad to blank.” The first is just a creative and possibly bored mind and the second is either a passing temper or impulse control issue; unless it lingers, then you very well might consider seeking a mental health professional. (No joke, mental health is a very serious issue that men are often discouraged by society to take seriously or mocked over. Get help if you need help, there is no shame or loss of masculinity in seeking help for real mental health issues.)
We are talking about the fact that we are frequently scared to follow up on ideas and get out of our comfort zone. Afraid to speak up in the meeting with the boss because he might not like our idea. Afraid to talk to the girl because she might reject us. Afraid to ask for help when we need it because someone might think less of us. Afraid to step into the gym because we don’t look like a model, even an Instagram model. “What if” has imprisoned more people with fear than every horror movie ever made.
Comedian Whitney Cummings does a bit about what if they made a “Hooters” for women, the uniforms would not be scantily clothed men as servers; they would be men with suits, pay stubs and tax returns. Because responsible men who can provide are more attractive. According to her that is what stimulates women. Jason, Freddy, IT and Chucky are not scary; change is terrifying for most people.
We like our safe little boat, the storm is raging and the waves are high, but our boat is safe. Peter may have been a little rash at times, even brazen compared to his compatriots. Peter was also a man of action, so staying in the boat was not an option. You should certainly think before you act, but men need to act and not be fearful.
Healthy fear keeps you alive, fear of getting out of our comfort zone keeps you imprisoned and impotent.