Stop asking yourself “Why am I so Stupid?”

Watched a movie called The Fastest Indian on DVD last week. It’s about a guy called Burt Munro from New Zealand who had a dream to set a land speed record on his Indian motorbike across the salt flats in Utah. It’s based on a true story and set in the 1960’s.
In his sixties himself, Burt had perfected his bike to run at speeds above 100 mph, so he worked his passage from New Zealand as cook aboard a ship on route to California. In the end the bike went even faster and the record Burt set is still unbroken over 40 years later.

Anthony Hopkins plays Burt, and really nicely introduces us to a friendly man, with his own ideas and a determination to follow his dream.

He reminds me of my daughter!

I attended a workshop recently where the learning is experiential and particularly about seeing the big picture first. Only then do get to notice the little bits and pieces and to put those bits and pieces into your own jigsaw puzzle. For me this is a very different way to learn and I sometimes struggle and fight with it. But when my picture starts to emerge it is both magnificent and solid.

What’s emerging for me at the moment is the connection between the movies, The Fastest Indian and The Shadow of the Moon and the concept of dealing with problems. In the past when there was something bothering me I thought about it, figured out what I had done wrong, figured out what that meant about me and about others and about life, asked myself over and over “Why did I do …?’, wrote about it, talked to others about it and in general felt terrible about it. I had been doing this for years and had ‘perfected’ my problem-based strategy!

Then I learned a possibility-based strategy. This is where you start at your best and you deal with everything from that place. So, I learned how to use this nearly three years ago, and I am learning to understand it slowly, since then.

Today another piece of my jigsaw fell into place.

When I saw In the Shadow of the Moon (see Recent Post) it had a very strong impact on me. As in life the details of this impact slowly unfold…

When President John F Kennedy predicted that the USA would land a man on the moon and return him safely within the decade he set up a goal for his country and particularly for the men and women who worked in the space program.

The Apollo artifacts in a museum in Cape Canaveral are very flimsy. The pod they parachute down to earth in looks like its made of golden tin foil. The processing ability of the computers they used then is no more powerful than a calculator (just a little heavier!)

Yet… they did it.

Burt Munro had a dream to set a land speed record with his Indian motorbike. When manufactured, this motorbike’s maximum speed was about 50 miles per hour. He worked on it for hours every day, making new parts out of scraps of metal smelted in a pot in the run-down shed where he lived. He used his neighbour’s carving knife to turn his ordinary tyres into high-speed tyres.

Yet…. he did it. Funny enough both stories are set in the 1960’s, but that’s not the link.

When the astronauts and space craft builders were starting to create something that would go to the moon their space ships kept exploding. Lots and lots of problems. I’m not sure but I’m guessing they didn’t spend a lot of time criticising themselves for getting it wrong AGAIN. If they had spent the time going over and over what they did wrong they may never have got to the moon. Their timeframe was set, they had to do the job within 9 years. (Because President Kennedy said they would….)

So they had to look for ways around their problems.

Burt had many, many problems – the biggest – he didn’t have enough money to go to America, was solved by his friends. But when he got to Utah he realised that he could not enter the trials – he hadn’t registered. He didn’t beat himself up and use his energy asking “Why am I so stupid?” His timeframe was set, the event would be over in 3 days.

He looked for ways around his problems.

Both the people in the space program and Burt Munro kept the dream in sight and looked for ways around the problems. All the time assuming they would make it to the moon or to the line drawn across the salt flats in Utah.

Stop wasting your life beating yourself up for doing something wrong. Stop asking yourself Why am I so stupid? Use your problems as feedback to find a way around them, That didn’t work, what else could I try or how could I do this another way? Use the energy saved to keep your moon in view.

By the way, it’s not the dream that’s all that important, they come and go. But the dream is really, really useful because….. in that direction lies your bliss. But that’s another story!