Terry’s Rules: Part III (The Last) – Rory Miller

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Three more: #9 Think. #10 Do. #11 Don’t Overcommit.

Think.
Rule#2 was “It’s okay to stop and think.” This might feel like a repeat. I don’t think so. The fact that it’s “okay” doesn’t mean you will actually do it… but there’s more than that. Fighting, counter-assault, hand-to-hand– whatever you want to call it– is very much a thing of guts and nerve, visceral, not intellectual. And yet, you have a brain. Use it.

When you have time to think, you think. Absolutely. And the quality of your thinking process allows for an amazing level of possibility. One tiny, basic, obvious thing is “reframing”– instead of coming up with an answer, can I change the question? Powerful. But even when you don’t have time to cognitively weigh all options, that doesn’t mean “Be stupid.” Your hindbrain is actually a very smart survival mechanism that deals with far more nuance than we give it credit for.

Fight smart. Efficiently. Stay alert to options, escape possibilities, unexpected threats… that’s incredibly effective, but realistically, the ability to do that– to deal with a potentially deadly threat and partition part of your brain to do something else– requires immense experience. I couldn’t do it for maybe the first hundred force incidents. I doubt I even considered the possibility before it happened. The people I know that can do it can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Terry is absolutely one of them.

But the possibility is there. Your brain is capable of this. The human animal is kind of awesome.

Do.
This one is huge. Here’s the deal: If you never act you are worthless. You affect the world in no way. You are a waste of time, space and oxygen. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how cool you are or how noble your intentions. If those qualities are never expressed in action, you are nothing. You are worse than nothing. You are a barnacle that increases drag for everyone else.

No one is inherently special. No one deserves to be appreciated just because they happen to be born or they happen to be human. Your value as an entity is based entirely on your actual value to actual other entities. If you want to write fiction that you never share because it makes you happy, that’s entirely cool. For you. But if that is ALL you do, you could be shot in the head today and it would not matter one iota to the world.

Right now, check yourself. Over 90% of the people reading this will be nodding in agreement because what I just wrote is simply freakin’ obvious. If you are glitching, you need to take a good hard look at your life.

Terry’s rules are for high-risk situations, but this one is about life. For the world, the inactive are worthless. But you know what? If you don’t “do” if you aren’t acting, you aren’t really living anyway. This thing you are calling your life is just a pale imitation of the real thing.

Get off the damn couch. Turn off the laptop or the smart phone. Do. Live.

Don’t Overcommit.
This is the one I want to argue with. But it’s right except for where it’s wrong. DON’T overcommit. But don’t undercommit either.

There are two classic pieces of advice. Winston Churchill’s: “I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

And a very wise man I knew called Jake Rens: “When a smart man realizes he’s in a hole, he quits digging.”

Churchill saves it in the last four words, especially the last two. But it takes immense judgment, sometimes, to distinguish between good sense and fear.

Commitment is important. I think, in a dangerous situations one of the most common and almost universally doomed action is to do anything half-assed. Running is fine, but run with your whole heart. Half running or running and hesitating makes you an easy target. Fighting is dangerous, but fight with your whole heart. Half-fighting is not fighting at all, just struggling. And it doesn’t save you, it just excites the bad guy.

Overcommitment. If you overcommit your balance, you are vulnerable. If you overcommit your emotions you are vulnerable… And this is the grr for me, because you can’t drop step without vulnerability and overcommitment, and you can’t truly love halfway.

The one universal with overcommitment appears to be this, in my opinion: Never double down on stupid. Don’t reinforce failure. When you catch yourself doing the wrong thing, don’t let your monkey brain con you into doing the wrong thing harder. Always be humble enough to admit when you’ve screwed it up and change. And adapt. And win.

 

Terry’s Rules: Part I

Terry’s Rules: Part II

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