It turns out that things like TikTok can actually have some redeeming qualities, and this short video from Neal Foard, Chief Marketing Officer for Within, Inc. is a great example. If you go to TikTok […]
It turns out that things like TikTok can actually have some redeeming qualities, and this short video from Neal Foard, Chief Marketing Officer for Within, Inc. is a great example. If you go to TikTok and search @nealfoard you will be able to find this video and many others he did. He’s an insightful person, and may be worth a look.
In this video he tells a story that I thought was worth sharing, as so many of us, myself included at times, are guilty of. The story in entitled “There is no tiger” and while I do encourage you to listen to it in his words, I will summarize here:
Neal goes to Chicago on a business trip and bombs in a big sales opportunity in front of his bosses. According to him, it was so bad he wasn’t sure if he would have a job the next day. He is at the hotel that night and can’t sleep, so he goes down to the bar to have a drink. When he arrives, the bar is empty except for a woman standing behind the bar. He sits down and she asks him what he wants to drink. He orders a gin and tonic and she pauses for a moment and then in a heavy polish accent says to him: “Yes, you could drink something dull and unremarkable, or you could have the best vodka in the world. Up to you.” Well, of course he says he’ll take the best vodka in the world. She pours him and herself a glass of the best vodka in the world. While doing so, he can see the tattoo on her arm which has a polish phrase that he cannot read.
Neal asks her what the tattoo means, and she proceeds to share with him about how 20,000 years ago people were in danger of getting eaten by a tiger or a bear, or falling through the ice and dying. Back then, we learned to freak out about danger, because everything was trying to kill you. And we are here today because our ancestors learned that behavior. But today, we have a bad meeting and we freak out to the same degree. There is no tiger… Neal stared back at her for a moment, thinking about what she just said, like she was reading his mind. He told her “I think you may be the greatest bartender in Chicago”, to which she says “You may applaud”. He found out later that she didn’t actually work at the bar, she was just another person in need of a drink late at night, and she helped herself behind the bar. I think that makes the story all the better…
But the point of the story which I loved was the fact that we create such unnecessary drama in our heads, all the time, that just is not real. There is no tiger is a great way to frame the reality of something that didn’t go your way, like a bad meeting. Even if he did get fired, is it the same degree of concern as getting eaten by a tiger? Not. Even. Close… If he had a job that required him to travel, do a presentation to a high level client, etc., he can get another similar one before long. It is not the end of the world, literally, if he lost that job. And yet here he was, in Chicago at a hotel bar because he couldn’t sleep, speaking with a stranger that just happened to say exactly what he needed reminded of. We all do it, we know that, but a tattoo or some other reminder that “There is no tiger” is a great way to live. Perspective is such a powerful lens through which to view life, I cannot emphasize enough how you must keep the phrase “There is no tiger” top of mind. Your life will be far less stressful if you do.
Sometimes the smallest insight is exactly what we need. This is what I love about Zen and Asian philosophy in general, the bit-sized nuggets of wisdom that have carried through the ages. As fast paced as our lives are now, we need to occasionally return to the point of slowing down and contemplating things before we rush forward. It is becoming a lost art. We have lost sight of the fact that we need water, food and shelter and that anything above and beyond this is a bonus. More people should read Stoic Philosophy and adopt that kind of mindset to relieve themselves of the unnecessary psychological burdens that are largely self-created. We persevere over things we want because we see someone else has them. The desire for money, fame, status, all of these things add to the underlying stress levels in our lives. Some of us are just trying to get by, others are trying desperately to get to the next level of socio-economic status, thinking that more of everything will fill the gaps that currently exist in their lives. I have lived in several different strata of society and I can tell you that there are happy and sad people equally distributed everywhere. Money only solves money problems, it doesn’t fix anything else. Maybe the sheets are softer or the car is nicer, but the underlying problems within your life do not change unless you fix them. And one thing to start with ASAP is your perspective. If you are reading this blog, there is no tiger.
Whether you are working on making your own life better, or you have people in your charge at work, this is the phrase you should use more often. Try to embody this yourself and then teach others, even if just by example instead of a direct conversation, that this is a better life perspective than what most operate under. Getting a handle on your thoughts and reactions to whatever happens to you, the good and the bad, is critical to a happier existence. Most things in life are temporary, both good and bad, so good perspective is necessary for your own sanity. I have lived on both sides of the line, and the side without the “tiger” is much, much better. Try to surround yourself with people who also view the world in this manner, as this will help reduce the drama that your circle of friends brings into your life. This wears on you as well, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. There is a psychic burden to everything we are exposed to, and it is exponentially worse when we give minor things tiger-like status. I have had a near death experience, and I can tell you nothing compares to it. NOTHING. So stop acting like it does…
After the initial shock of a head-on collision with a wrong way drunk driver wore off to some degree, I was blessed with a perspective on life I had not know before. It may sound a little morbid, but that is my measuring stick for a lot of things. Nothing I have experienced before or since compared to being so fortunate as to walk away from what statistically is a death sentence for someone literally every 50 minutes of every day. Therefore, nothing in my life rattles me to the same degree as this experience did, and I try to use that to temper my emotional involvement with things that simply don’t measure up. That set of headlights coming at me out of the darkness was my “tiger”. Everything else pales in comparison.
While I don’t wish for you to have your own life-threatening experience to obtain a better perspective, I do encourage you to learn from my experience and from others as well. While there is nothing like a true, actual, by definition life-threatening experience to give you a different outlook on life, you can learn from others if you try. Keep this in mind, whether it be yourself or a loved one that is in real jeopardy, only this warrants a reaction equal to a tiger surprising you. Everything else falls short of this, and should be treated accordingly. Remember that, and go write this on your bathroom mirror in dry erase marker: