Jay Shirley

Striving to be a man of gallantry and taste

I'm Rubber, Not Glue

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Years ago I was sitting still. Annoyingly still. Deathly still. I wanted to move. I was frustrated. It wouldn’t happen. I was stuck in traffic. Every lane I picked was wrong, and I picked all of them. Sometimes twice.

My friend who was with me casually said, “Commit to your mistake”. This was a great relief for me, because in that moment I realized that any further change would be a bigger mistake. I wasn’t making deliberate choices, just reactive changes.

Even more years ago, in 1839, Charles Goodyear accidentally burned some rubber. Instead of throwing the charred rubber away, he examined it and realized it was a significant breakthrough. He was awarded a patent for vulcanizing rubber in 1844. He made a mistake and kept his eyes open.

Each mistake we make can open profound opportunities if we’re open to them. It’s easy to ignore this, to regret a mistake and not move on. In short, to be stubborn.

Accept the mistake, commit to the mistake, but don’t be trapped by it. Be resilient, be rubbery. When things go bad, there’s a few things to immediately question:

  1. What is my current reality?
  2. How did I get here?
  3. What did I notice before getting here that could have helped?
  4. Is where I’m at really that bad? Is it better than before?

These questions are designed to help move forward and prevent more damaging mistakes in the future. It increases flexibility and increases observation. Without opening your eyes, tunnel vision creeps in and we can’t see down the road. We just keep switching lanes, being the slowest mover in the jam.

This post was inspired by Jerry Colonna. One of my biggest highlights of 2013 was meeting and working with Jerry. There are certain people whom, for mysterious reasons, simply have a special touch. Jerry is one of those and when he speaks, you listen. Not because you feel obligated, but because you don’t have a choice. An ice cube can’t exist in a sauna, ignorance can’t exist around Jerry.