Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spirited  Survivors are BOTH....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 7-23-2013

Saw a quote the past Sunday.

It said that some people get to be a certain kind of person, maybe a very nice one, but they never change at all after that.

But some people are always changing in some way.  They keep moving forward and trying new things.  So they tend to surprise you from time to time.

The author who wrote that said that the people who keep changing are more alive and vital than the ones who are always the same.

I think BOTH things are critical to do.

The evidence supports that which is why I’m writing this post.

One set of things is the things you have tested to work well, being well organized and finding and using effective systems.  It includes ways to be prudent and not take risks you do not have to take and ways to test safely on a small scale first.  It includes finding and being true to your highest and best values.  These should mostly stay the same.

The other is to be fluid, spirited, dynamic, flexible, and creative and willing to try new things and be playful and to have a strong appetite for life.

The common view is that of this author.  People are either one or the other.

The fact is that the people who do best in life do both!

The evidence for this is abundant.

1.  I found that one area where this is true for sure under challenging circumstances is in the military.

a) Years ago a social psychologist who went on the write on creativity, E Paul Torrance, was asked by the US Air Force to see if he could find out how they could predict which pilots would be aces in combat.  That way they could be more effective in their selection and training.

The Korean War had just ended and they had F86 Sabre jet pilots who had flown in combat for him to study.  Some were jet aces and had been very effective in combat.  And some of the pilots had also flown in combat and had seemingly the same level of training but were less effective.

Simply put, the aces did both of these basic skills at the same time while the non-aces did not.

One Rorschach test result scores for how organized the perception of the person taking the test is while another tests for how flexible the perception is of the person taking the tests and whether or not they see things in motion at times.

The aces were high in both measures!  The non-aces were not.

Some pilots were risk averse and were extremely careful to check their plane and be sure it was in flying shape on every key measure.  Some were less determined and thorough in doing this.

Some pilots would try things to see if they worked and how the plane did when they tried them.

By doing both, Torrance found that the aces then could say, “Some people can’t take some kinds of risks in flying this plane, but for ME, it’s quite safe.”

They had parents who taught them both skills too Torrance found out. 

In important areas their parents were very strict and interventionist initially.  They were very thorough in being sure their son was completely trained to handle that area and knew how to avoid the dangers in it.  If their son did something before that, they could and did come down on him like a ton of bricks and be sure they controlled the situation.

But the key then was surprising.  Once they knew their son knew what he was doing well enough they weren’t just somewhat open, they left everything up to their son and were NOT interventionist or directive at all.  Their attitude seemed to have been, “It’s your life and you know how to handle that, so it’s your choice to make, not mine!”

b) A recent book by Rorke Denver about his life as a Navy Seal and as a trainer of Navy Seals shows exactly the same thing.  To succeed on real life missions, he and his buddies would often have to deal with unexpected challenges and fast changing and chaotic realities. 

Yes, they planned to be up to the flexibility needed to do that and worked on how to do it. 

But, they also were fanatically thorough in being totally sure to study in detail in advance what the most likely things were going to be AND to be totally sure that they had ALL the tools with them they needed and that each of those was in operating order.

2.  The very long term Terman study of the lives of intellectually gifted people starting with when they were children in California found this same thing too!

They looked at the people in this group eventually who had been most successful and healthiest and lived the longest.  They found that these people were very high in the first skill.  They were well organized and developed successful systems to manage their lives.  They were very prudent and skilled in avoiding avoidable risks.

But who among that group had the most interesting and enjoyable lives? Those were the ones who also were high in the second skill.  They traveled.  They learned new skills.  They did adventurous things occasionally.  They became dynamic, interesting people.

You can be well organized, careful, safe and effective and stable AND you can be dynamic and playful and make needed changes easily and keep trying new things and learning.

Your life will be better if you do BOTH and do them each well!  

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