A Stupid Way to Die (and Live)

by Andy Wood on June 6, 2008

in Gamblers, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Waiting

Ice Jump“Bruce likes to terrify himself.”  So began a story years ago in Success magazine.

One day Bruce led some friends 9,000 feet up Mount Hood, and decided to show them how much fun it would be to slide down part of the way.  While zipping down an ice field at 30 miles an hour, Bruce suddenly realized he had forgotten to remove his crampons – the spikes that attach to hiking boots.  His feet were useless as brakes.

Uh oh.

Bruce had the presence of mind to realize that jabbing the spikes at the ice whizzing past him wouldn’t work either – that would risk breaking his ankles and hurtling off the side of the mountain.  So as the edge of the cliff came rapidly into view, Bruce flopped over on his stomach and jabbed repeatedly, frantically, with his ice axe.  He finally came to a halt about 50 feet from the edge of the cliff. He later said that the thing that kept running through his mind as he got closer and closer to the edge was, “Boy, this is a stupid way to die.”

Uh huh.

Oh, and just a thought – if it’s a stupid way to die, then maybe it’s a stupid way to live.  But hey, that’s just me.

I don’t know if Bruce ever went ice surfing again.  And for all I know, he may be the ultimate LifeVestor.  But on this day, he was a gambler. 

I mentioned in a previous post that there are four alter-egos to LifeVesting:  consumers, hoarders, gamblers, and codependents.  Gamblers are the adrenaline junkies.

Also called speculators, gamblers want a quick fix.  They’re the ones who, if Satan took them to the pinnacle and said, “Jump,” may well have taken him up on it.

Gamblers shoot from the hip, and are as addicted to the chase for the reward as they are to the actual prize itself.  That’s why, when they win, they often gamble it all away again.  Like their hoarding counterparts, gamblers present a counterfeit form of investing.  They are willing to take action despite the risks involved.  But there is a difference.  Investors take action based on a reasonable expectation of results.  And they’re willing to stick with a good decision until they reap the benefits.  Are there risks?  Sure.  Sometimes unforeseen circumstances occur.  Sometimes the environment, or the weather, or people change.  Sometimes even the Lord withholds results as a form of testing.

Speculators are different.  They take action with no predictable idea whatsoever what the results will be.  They define the future in terms of hours, not months or years.  Their expectations of gain are not based on wisdom or sound experience, but on feelings or whims.  They’re often restless and rootless in their relationships. 

Their biggest enemy – boredom. 

Their biggest fear – the lack of change. 

Are you a life gambler or a LifeVestor?  Here’s a quick way to tell:  Are you willing to wait for the results you desire when you are confident you have made the right decisions?  That’s too dull for most speculators.  They need action – even if means leaving a lot of hurting people in their wake.

So how do you go from gambler to LifeVestor?

1.  Slow down.  Sorry, I know that’s an insult to your sensibilities.  Do it anyway.  Write with a pen and paper, pick the last parking place, turn off a bunch of your noisemaking stuff, listen for the sound of birds singing, breathe deeply, watch the sun rise or set.

2.  Listen up.  Take the time to engage in a conversation in which you aren’t moving, and you aren’t doing most of the talking.  That starts with listening to God.

3.  Get wise counsel.  There is safety in the multitude of counselors.  You may go against their counsel, but even the discipline of asking can add value to your decision-making.

4.  Learn from past mistakes.  If you keep repeating the same mistakes, based on the same false beliefs, maybe it’s time to change those beliefs.

5.  Learn from the successes and failures of others.  If you see somebody else burn their hand on a stove, that’s a lesson you don’t have to learn by experience, no matter how exciting it may be for the moment.

6.  Develop your planning skills.  Learn words like “contingency,” “deliverables,” “results,” “tactics,” and “benchmarking.”  As wise business planners will tell you, if your idea is going to crash and burn, make it do so on paper rather than in real life.

7.  Learn to wait.  Waiting doesn’t mean idleness.  It means giving your attention to different things than what you watch when you are at full speed.  There are some things you can only learn while you’re still.

Let me be clear:  life is risky, and LifeVestors learn to embrace risk.  But in LifeVesting, there is always a meaningful end in mind, and a plan for contingencies.

You can bet on that.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivy June 7, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Great post Andy. I look more at the larger picture and Ray is good on the details, so together, by God’s grace it all works out and we are LifeVestors. Peace.

Ivys last blog post..RevGals Fri. 5

Andy Wood June 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Good point, Ivy. A great reminder that at best, life is a team sport.

LifeVesting doesn’t mean we have to have it all figured out ourselves – only that we use our God-given strengths and gifts to create a compelling future and eternal rewards. Then, in those areas where we are weak, or tend to consume, hoard, gamble, or please others, we have partners who can balance us out.

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