Maybe I Should Just Go with My Gut?

by Dennis Blank

Ruminations on the relevance of Blink!, Chile, and Moby Dick to midlife transition

Dear Coach Lou:  How are you my friend? It has been a while. When last we spoke I vowed to cut back on my activities for the summer, with the exception of daydreaming, to which I promised to devote extra time. You ratified these as pretty good ideas, and I have followed through. I haven't done much the past few weeks; aside from a lot of swimming and reading, my major achievement was getting my son to Logan Airport in time for his flight to Chile last week where he will be a student at the University of Santiago for the next twelve months. Sometimes I wish I was him.

Not that my life is dull, but I long ago mastered the basic challenge of reading books, and it wasn't quite the same challenge as traveling 5000 miles to a country you've never seen before, moving into the home of a family you've never met before, and taking university level courses in a second language. I admire his brio.

I've read two books recently that are relevant to my Life 3.0 pursuit. The first might appear a little tangential to the topic: Moby Dick. But it's hard to contemplate the character of Captain Ahab without wondering how any person could allow a goal to so completely overwhelm himself that it (spoiler alert!) leads to his own death and those of nearly his entire crew.

Not that I'm likely to become Ahab-like, but you don't really have to go that far to make your vision counter-productive; you only have to obsess on it enough to allow the demons room to play with your head. It's worth watching out for.

A more obvious related book is Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, which promotes the theory that we all possess the skills to make very fast, and very accurate, judgments about a variety of things affecting our lives, but the common wisdom that "more study and more thought always leads to better decision-making" keeps us from acting on our best instincts much of the time. A lot of business-types read this book a couple years ago but it has applications for everyone. I'm sticking to my decision to take a full year to decide on my own Life 3.0 plan, but I can't help but wonder if didn't actually know the right thing to do from Day One. Maybe I should just jump into the fire?

Your pal,


Dear d'

Welcome back. I had to smile reading your post. It took my back to childhood summers where the days were long and filled with the option of doing nothing and the possibility of filling them with delights. I think this is a good interlude for you, so keep up the daydreaming. You sound tanned, rested and ready.
Congratulations on getting your son off to Chile. I can tell you are a proud papa. Tell him to settle in soon so when you visit he can show you all the good spots. Also have him locate good wi-fi places for writing :)

The good news about Moby Dick is that while you are a goal setter you aren't stupidly driven, especially if it means you could stress yourself out or worse, lose your life . Take Burning Man for example.
As far as Life 3.0 goes we are still on your year long timeframe and I believe your instincts about what you wanted to do from day one are right on. We shall see. Sometimes really wanting to do something that you haven't done before is daunting (the audacity, time commitment, fear of failure, yadda, yadda, yadda) and you have to give yourself the time and space to Blink.

Take a dip and have a cool one for me.

Coach Lou

Coach Lou is a co-founder of Chain Reaction Partners, an executive and leadership training consultancy in Boulder, Colorado.  d'blank is the author of The Daily Blank blog.

by Dennis Blank | Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Career Change, Dream Careers, Hiring a Life Coach

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