Cause and Effect


In sorting out the various successes and difficulties in our lives or businesses we often think about correlations. Whenever something happens, what else is going on that may have triggered it? These relationships are often more complicated than they appear and we are sometimes too eager to take the obvious answer, especially if it seems reasonably logical. Or, if it’s an answer we don’t want, we may choose to put more attention on some other logical or comfortable sounding alternative. Either way, by chasing the wrong thing we invariably end up befuddled that we aren’t able to control it like we feel we should, and all the while we’re going down with the ship we’ve placed ourselves in.

It’s important to remember that correlation isn’t the same as causation. And we must grow up and accept that WE control ourselves. We do not have to remain victim to the circumstances that happen to us.

Let’s say there is a difficult situation you are trying to manage. You’ve added up the components of it, but which if any of those components is really the root cause? If it’s a personal dilemma you didn’t solve quickly then you can almost bet that at least part of the root cause lies within. Until and unless you address yourself you will continue to find yourself in thought processes that exacerbate the problem. That’s not to say others aren’t doing things to you, or aren’t neglecting your needs in some way. The question is…what do you DO about it? You may have to address those issues by making a change. But change what?

My point is that you got yourself into it in the first place through some internal process or need that was not being addressed. You were open and vulnerable. Maybe even needy. So here you are. What do you do? ARE you willing to make a change? And do you impose external or internal limits on what those changes can be? If you do then your thought process is inherently biased, which is not going to help lead to the best answer (more on this another time).

Find a way to fill that need, and the process will change. Soon your whole thinking will open up. If something is lacking, consider whether that feeling of lacking is just the symptom. This looks like…”when this (something) happens it triggers my feelings, which then triggers my behavior.” That’s a good thing to look at. It puts you on track to figuring it out, but it’s not enough. The question really is, WHY ARE YOU OPEN to have these things trigger your feelings in a way that triggers the behavior?

This is not to say it is your fault. This is to say that something (probably from your past living on) within you has led you to a place, to circumstances where you remain vulnerable rather than fortified. The vulnerability itself isn’t the problem and you need not cure it. Dare I say you can’t cure it, as it is just a symptom itself. The thing(s) that led you to the vulnerability and (worse) hold you there are what you’re looking for. You can’t blame the triggers either. They have merely exposed the vulnerability. You can try to remove them, but you haven’t cured anything. New triggers can come along to take their place because what’s going on is deeper. In fact, the triggers may actually be leading you to the solution — to what will fill the void and provide the needed fortifications (also maybe not, it depends). You have to really dig, and that may mean a certain amount of flailing around in the process. It’s good to experiment. Take a journey. The more you flail without results the more you can bet that the problem is deep within. The more you know it will take some pretty big steps to move beyond it. Shake things up. Think BIG.

On to the business side. Again, the first step to sorting out the issues is to look within. And guess what? Businesses and partnerships are run by people. The same flawed people who have their own issues and demons they are sorting out. Look within the individuals making the decisions and implementing them. There’s a very good chance that’s where the trouble lies. Given that you can’t always dig into the people enough to help, you may just have to discard them and move on. Tough decision, but if not addressed at the source you will always be vulnerable.

Make sure you get the real point here. With the biases and limits in place that got you where you are you probably won’t be able to manufacture a set of conditions that will ultimately protect you from yourself (or your business from itself). The more you try the more frustrated you will get. You have to go to the source. That may mean making some difficult changes. Be careful about attacking only the symptoms.

Sometimes the forrest has to burn to be able to grow.







14 Responses to “Cause and Effect”

  1. 1 babicka April 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    However, you must be aware there is a risk of being caught in the fire when you burn the forest down. Radical change can also be destructive burning structures, expending money controlling and directing how the fire burns. What do you owe to the essence that is you? What do you owe to people around you? People that you presumably care about/cared about/have some obligation to/relationship with. Is there a better way to manage this? What if your analysis of the problem/issue is wrong? Rarely is there an opportunity to “undo” a decision.

    • 2 David Stewart April 7, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Of course I am not suggesting that one walk through life with a flame thrower. Acting recklessly isn’t the answer any more than doing nothing is. Don’t jump to the most extreme actions, but don’t rule them out. Most of us rule them out, and despite what we tell ourselves it’s mostly because we’re afraid. You do need to take care of you, because you’re really not that much good for yourself or anyone else in the long run unless you take care of yourself first. It starts with loving yourself and blooms to recognizing the potential within and leads to ACTING on that potential. That’s what you really owe the people around you — to be the best you that you can be. Some people in your life may not like it, but if they really love and care about you, and believe it’s about more than just what you are to them, they will give you room. And if not, you have to take it anyway…because you are no good to them (beyond the surface) if you are not good and true to yourself.

      What if you are wrong? Then you make a mistake. Then you know. Then you do your best to correct it. To right the wrong. And learn. In actual practice it’s rarely black and white. It’s a journey where you zero in on what is most right. The problem is we fear mistakes too much. We are taught all through life to be so careful that we end up being immobilized. Afraid to do much because of the fear of being wrong or making mistakes that take us out of the “safety” zones our parents so carefully curated for us. So we don’t do enough. We’re not bold enough. And we know it. And the dull nauseating angst quietly eats away why we robotically go about our safe routines. Is that really the best way to live?

      If people who have lived their lives have any wisdom for us, will we take it? Few say they should have taken fewer risks or done less. The vast majority have much more regret about what they didn’t do or didn’t try than what they did do.

      Of course this is all much more difficult to live by in practice than it is to write or think about, which is actually part of my point. Great questions. More to come on this.

  1. 1 Forsaken (Breaking Point Continued) | Just a job to do Trackback on August 26, 2014 at 2:50 am
  2. 2 Armor becomes Sword | Just a job to do Trackback on August 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm
  3. 3 Move Past Go | Just a job to do Trackback on September 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm
  4. 4 The Right Answer… | Just a job to do Trackback on December 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm
  5. 5 The Value of Failing | Just a job to do Trackback on January 20, 2015 at 12:36 pm
  6. 6 Hope is Not a Strategy | Just a job to do Trackback on February 10, 2015 at 4:46 pm
  7. 7 Cycles | Just a job to do Trackback on February 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm
  8. 8 No Sense | Just a job to do Trackback on March 26, 2015 at 12:12 pm
  9. 9 Free Will is Fake | Just a job to do Trackback on April 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm
  10. 10 Envy & Jealousy | Just a job to do Trackback on March 2, 2016 at 6:37 pm
  11. 11 Reasons or Excuses | Just a job to do Trackback on November 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm
  12. 12 Love and Respect | Just a job to do Trackback on December 3, 2016 at 2:15 am

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