It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time*

In Southeastern Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, two days into our trip into the Grand Gulch Area, we thought we were alone. To our amazement we heard loud laughter followed by screams. A short distance off the trail was a lone man wearing shorts, sandals and waving his T-Shirt. He jumped, tumbled, and then rolled in a large patch of prickly-pear cactus. While we were watching and after a few more tumbles and rolls that man appeared to lose consciousness.

As one member of our group went up the trail to find the back-country ranger we spoke to a few hours earlier. Three others extricated that conscious person from the cactus patch. The Emergency Medical Technician in our group suggest that the victim be treated for shock. There was not much more that anyone could or would do for that man. He was covered with cactus spines, appeared traumatized, and was in obvious pain.

Before life-flight arrived, he regained consciousness. One whose task it was to talk to him, asked, “Why did you roll around in that cactus patch?” The victim’s answer came between labored gasps. “Ya know – it did seem – like it was a good idea – at the time.”

Rarely do we ever enter any activity saying this is the worst of any of my choices. We always act on what we believe is the best idea that we have at any given time. Our problems surface when our motivation to move is not directly aligned what we need to be doing. Too frequently that best idea does not deliver the result we initially anticipated. The problems caused by that momentary lapse of focus can have a derailing effect.

Keep yourself from running after every good idea. Test yourself by answering three questions:

What am I doing?
What results am I getting?
Are these results helping me?

Remember every lousy plan or idea may at one point, “Seemed like a good idea – at the time.” Once you realize your program is not going to help you enough, that is a signal you have aother lousy idea for your collection.

*I have been asked if this event is a true story. Indeed, it is a story. I adapted it from a 1981 Lecture by Gary Applegate, Ph.D, Sherman Oaks CA. © VOLTI.

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