The Truth Behind Cruel Intentions


Francis "Two Gun" Crowley had killed before and there was no doubt he would again. (Hell, look at that nickname.) He was known as a career criminal and a cop killer. And when he found himself surrounded by a hundred and fifty policemen firing machine-guns into his sweetheart's West End apartment, he managed to scribble this down:

to whom it may concern,
under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one - one that would do nobody any harm.

Dale Carnegie tells this amazing story at the beginning of his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Although to err is to be human, we're really good at justifying our actions, good or evil. When Crowley was captured and sentenced to the electric chair, he lamented, "This is what I get for defending myself." There is a phrase for thoughts like this and it's only made better by Aldous Huxley when he said, "Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.

Our brains are fantastic computers. Punch in a question and your grey matter will give you an answer. It doesn't have to make sense to everyone. Of course, there are over six billion people on this planet and we're bound to step on each other's toes quite a bit. (Understatement much?) But social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk brought up an interesting point on Chase Jarvis LIVE when he said, "The reason I'm not fearful about anything is that I know that intent matters.

Vaynerchuk was speaking to business matters. When it comes to business, the intention is clear - the bottom line. Most companies scramble to make us happy only to have us purchase more. But if a company does good for its customers for the sake of providing value before asking for a dime, the intention is clear too. Puff Daddy was wrong, it's not all about the Benjamins.

Forget business. Intent matters everywhere and it requires the brutal honesty of awareness. You have to sit down with yourself and ask the right questions to really break through what's going on. If Crowley would have stepped back early enough to ask the right questions, he would have possibly noticed that a life of crime was not the only way he could enjoy his time here.

It'll always be more complex, all you can do is continue to ask yourself what's up. What is it that you really want to do? Is it all about you? What's important in your life? Why is that?

Lately, questioning myself brought up some weird intentions. I was hoping for a free ride. The fantasy was to find instant fame and fortune writing at my own comfortable pace. And it was a selfish mirage. I wasn't giving my audience enough - credit or otherwise. Anyone can write a blog post. Literally, anyone. What's makes me different if that's my fantasy?

We know that if we put in value, you get value right back. And I think sometimes life beats that lesson out of us. We feel neglected or unappreciated, and we start to think it's not worth it. And when we start to think that, it's true.

It's always possible to fall back. We can be selfish or greedy or mean. But we can also take a breath. Recognize our intentions. Plan out the course. Because under each of our coats is a weary heart,  but a kind one.

Be Aware of the Fear

My name is Daniel Scharch and I'm afraid. Like everyone else, I'm afraid on a regular basis, whether I recognize it or not. It's an epidemic of our imaginations. We can and will make it worse than it really is.

To battle this idea we summon the sentiments of greater minds before us.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Gandhi said, "The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear." Yoda, of course, said, "Fear is the path to the Dark Side." And one of my favorites is from Dale Carnegie: "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

OK, so we don't want our lives to be limited by fear, according to a President, an Indian icon of peace, a small, green hippie, and one bad-ass American author. Fair enough. But what can they say about the concept of fight or flight? Fear is hard-wired into our system, like other creatures, to determine danger and protect ourselves and others. We decide and react in an instant. You can see it in the home videos where people pop out, wearing masks and either get clocked by their victims or send them running, screaming, and jumping. 

What we fear, in any circumstance, is the unknown. We choose fight or flight in an instant because we've evolved to prepare for danger. Just because we're at the top of the food chain doesn't mean our senses don't have to be piqued for predators. Today we have cancer and high-fructose corn syrup and Trojan viruses. Yesterday we had to fight off wild beasts. The unknown was when we would get jacked by a monster and die. 

Today, the unknown seems to be still very rooted in death. We ask ourselves why we're here and where do we go when our time is up. We fear we'll regret our life decisions. We fear the kind of person we'd become if we stepped outside of the comfortable box. The unknown becomes a question of right and wrong. We wonder if we should take the risk to fight the beast or flee to safety. The problem remains that all progress relies on the people who dare to stare fear down and change the world. The rest of us remain afraid. 

We can stop this. Hijack the fight or flight response with some better initial reactions. We can't necessarily turn off our impulses but we can be more conscious of them. Let's morph fear of the unknown into embracing the known. Study it. Play with it. Maybe Google it first if it's a snake. Think Jim Carrey in The Yes Man, or the What Would Lance Armstrong Do bracelets. Ask yourself honestly how you'd handle this fear with a snap judgment. What is the worst that can happen? Usually it's not so bad. What's the best that can happen? We forget but the benefits are usually amazingly progressive and memorable. 

Why not ask out that hottie at the bakery? Because you might be rejected and embarrassed? And then what?
Why not try eating sushi you've never had before? Because you may not like it? And then what?
Why not invest in a small business? Because you might lose money? And then what?

Keep in mind that attacking most fears doesn't mean the end of the world, whatever the outcome. We get back on the horse and ride. Don't fear being wrong. Fear being frozen. 

Build a better reaction. Find your North Star. Prepare yourself for meeting fear with more than just fight or flight. Question it. In the end, the way you answer to fear is going to determine how you design your life.  You make the choices.

I'll end this newsletter with the sentiments of a journalist like no other. "I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed." - Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear