Can You Build Fires?

Making FireI was a horrible Boy Scout. My troop was the Keystone Cops of the scouting world, the ones who came in last in our survival and wilderness skills competitions, the ones who didn’t capture the flag, build a fire, or navigate with a compass. In the navigation competition you had to follow a course using only a compass and to make things more difficult, you wore a paper bag over your head so you couldn’t see where you were going. Using only a map and a compass most teams made their way to the finish line, our team walked in circles.

But this post is not about navigation, it’s about fire. Another competition had us build a fire using only a few select items (none were matches unfortunately). The first item was flint to make a spark and that reminds me of this quote from What Next: “Inspiration on its own is like a flint without fuel, the spark is there but nothing catches fire.”

Of course we were given fuel in the form of tinder but it was a very limited supply. Now there was something to catch the spark but it wasn’t that easy. If the spark wasn’t strong enough or had to travel too far to reach the tinder, it wouldn’t catch. It’s the same with inspiration. If there is no one around to share your inspiration it might just remain an idea, a thought rather than action. If you can’t motivate yourself then the spark of inspiration will be exstinguished. Again from What Next this is summed up with this quote: “Motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.”

If the tinder did indeed catch the spark it would die without coaxing and that came in the form of oxygen. You would stoke the flame by gently blowing on the tinder; blow too hard and you put out the fire, too softly and it won’t spread. As we build the fire of our lives this last ingredient is drive. “Drive is the wind that spreads the fire of motivation sparked by inspiration,” I write at the end of What Next. Drive is the oxygen that sustains us as time, money, nay-sayers, or any other obstacle tries to exstinguish our fires.

As a Boy Scout I was horrible at building my fire but with practice and the right combination of inspiration, motivation, and drive, I’ve built plenty of fires that sustain me both mentally and financially. A leader will help others build their fires or give them one of the necessary ingredients. I hope I’ve given fuel to others so that they can build a fire of their own. What are you doing to build, sustain, or spread your fire, your passion?

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Your House is on Fire

I mentioned this tragic event in a previous post and this story is an excellent illustration of the What Next attitude toward life. Julie and I were dating for six months when she got the following text on her pager “Your House is on Fire.” She wasn’t home because I had to go to work that day, Sunday, and we decided to stay at my house so Julie could drop me at the train station on her way home. What would you think if you got that message? Maybe you feel like something in your life is burning out of control?

House FireThinking it was a sick joke or a minor incident she went to check and nothing was ever the same again. The house was completely destroyed and everything in it was gone including the parrot and the dog.

How do you answer the question What Next when something so devastating occurs? The outcome of this tragedy depends on whether you ask what’s next (with the apostrophe) or what next (without the apostrophe).  Why does it matter? I’ll let a twitter friend explain it:

Mark's TweetI was excited to see that Mark understood that asking “what’s next” is passive, it’s wondering what will happen, it’s based in fear, dread, and confusion, it’s sitting back and waiting. Asking what next is active and exciting, it’s taking action to manage the situation, it’s based in confidence and power. What next has the ability to turn a bad situation into a good one. Julie asked what next and prevented one tragedy, the fire, from becoming another tragedy, being taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Rising from the ashes the new house.

If we could be proactive after such a devastating loss, in an emotionally fragile state, then it should be easy to be proactive when things are going well. Most people, however, take that opportunity to coast, waiting for a reason to react, putting themselves at a disadvantage when trouble arrives.

Have you, or someone you know, overcome a difficult situation and not only survived but thrived? Share you story with me in the form of a profile I would write or a guest post you would write. Contact me through the Contact Page on this blog.

To learn how to be more proactive and live with confidence in the future sign up for The What Next Trail-Map to Success.

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