Three kinds of ‘forever’

There’s the forever of discomfort. Sasha Dichter taught us about this. The feeling we get during a temporary situation that feels like it’s going to last forever.

It’s one thing to tolerate a bumpy landing on an airplane, because you know it’ll be over in ten seconds.

But, a car-sick toddler doesn’t have that perspective. He’s wailing and sad because he thinks that this is the new normal, a permanent situation.

Too often, we quit in the dip. Not because we can’t tolerate discomfort for an hour, a week or a month, but because we mistakenly believe that it might last forever.

There’s the forever of plenty. This is when we erroneously assume that the stuff that’s good is going to stay good. That this moment, this leverage, these resources–we can squander them because they’ll be here tomorrow.

This sort of forever leads to heartbreak, because, inevitably, it doesn’t last. It can’t.

And there’s the forever of never. The dominant narrative of society is that you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Stuck in your status role, stuck in your skill set, stuck in your situation.

If you believe it, it’s probably true.

If you believe it, you just let yourself off the hook, which is comforting indeed.

And if you believe it, you’ve made life easier for the systems that would like to pigeonhole you.

But, even though it’s certainly harder than it ought to be, it doesn’t have to be forever.


[PS today’s the Early Decision deadline for the altMBA. The word continues to spread, person to person, with more than 3,300 alumni in 74 countries.]