What’s Your “Threshold” for Doing What’s Right?

Posted on July 23, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

All of us have a tipping point at which we will defy social pressure and just do what makes sense.

Some of us hold back a long time, and some cross the threshold into the jaws of possibilities quite quickly, if it means doing things “right”.

Image: Success: Is our "threshold" the barrier

Today on Ever Widening Circles, we take you on an unusual journey through a world you might not think you know or care about. But hang in there. THIS tale has several jolts of insight for each of us, and for most, it will lead us on journeys we may never have taken without it!

First, a quick thought experiment: have you ever considered how the stories you tell yourself ahead of time may be keeping you from doing what makes total sense, and what might bring you successes you never imagined?

Image: Threshold for something new. Girl sand-boarding.
Source: Wikipedia.org and Steven J. Weber

Actually, I never gave it much thought until I heard the podcast we are referring you to today.

Now, when I realize I’m holding back, avoiding something I know is the right thing to do,  I regularly question my motivations.

I ask myself, “Am I holding back because of my threshold?”

Let’s get started on finding out what that means…

As you start listening to today’s extraordinary web-find, you’re going to think today’s article is about basketball, but wait! The sport is only a vehicle to an insight we would all thrive from understanding.

In the first 5 minutes, you might think you don’t give two hoots about the topic, but then you’ll discover an amazing twist on a story from sports history that applies to us all. This, and many more empowering takes on history, are brought to light thanks to a brilliant new podcast from the amazing Malcolm Gladwell called Revisionist History.

Gladwell has written 5 books and all have been on the New York Times Best Seller List. Everyone in our family has read all five and puts them atop their “must read” lists; even our 17-year-old son is a fan of Malcolm Gladwell. (I’d recommend starting with one called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.)

Here’s a quote that sums up Gladwell’s remarkable work:

“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”

– Malcolm Gladwell

Who better to point us to the hidden gems of insight in history? Who better to revise our way of thinking about the things we assume we know all about?

And again, don’t pass on this podcast when you think it’s about basketball, or you will miss some empowering “ah-ha” moments! Get your favorite beverage and let this one soak in, swirl around your experiences…

So the issue is not about compromising what we know is right. What we believe is not the issue. Those are positions we hold in our head and heart.

The key here is realizing there are times when we need to try difficult or unusual things and it’s our threshold for caring about what others think (not our beliefs) that often keep us from doing what we know is absolutely right.

How much joy and success are we missing because of our threshold for external approval?

Here’s a better question:

How many people have to be doing something before you join in?

Here’s a fun thought experiment:

Think of a problem you are struggling with lately.

Maybe it’s talking to a co-worker who is doing shoddy work, or maybe a loved one has got some self-destructive habit that no one in the family will confront? Is there a skill, small business or topic you would love to explore but worry about what others might think? How about a move, or a career change?

And to make things more complex, what if you (and maybe you do) know this hard decision is absolutely necessary and has unquestionably good long-term impact?

Are you going to run the idea by numerous people, and only act if you get a good deal of support? Or will you do what you know is right?

Image: Young people in dark glasses questioning thingsWhat if we all took a page from the story of the underhanded free-throw, ignored convention, and we followed our instinct for what is rational?

Give this one some thought. I had to listen to that podcast a few more times to get all the pearls because some insights set my mind thinking and I missed a lot.

One last question: what would the world look like if more of us did the right thing a little sooner? Are there things we are doing as a society with the same lack long-term thinking as the over-handed free throw?

Something to ponder and perhaps go our own way more often.

Want a bit more Malcolm Gladwell?

We’ve featured his work before here on Ever Widening Circles (EWC) in an article about his extraordinary insights about the David and Goliath myths. Check it out!

And if you’d like to see some short videos of those famous underhanded free-throws from Wilt Chamberlain, here’s a link to The Big Man Can Shoot article on Gladwell’s website.

Stay open, curious and optimistic.

~ Dr. Lynda

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