If you’ve never read Ender’s Game, a sci-fi novel by Orson Scott Card, then the phrase, “The enemy’s gate is down” will make little sense to you.
It’s spoken by a supporting character, Bean, in the book, to the protagonist, Ender. At their military academy, teams are battling one another in an enclosed space without gravity.
The result of this environment is that when the teams enter the space, the orientation of the hallway outside of the zero-g environment is different than the one inside. This leaves people disoriented when they come in, trying to bring the old paradigm of up and down into a new space.
So Bean helps Ender lead the team in thinking about things differently. Instead of bringing the old paradigm into the new space, they’re told to think about it differently. In the new space, down is wherever their enemy is. Hence, “The enemy’s gate is down.”
If you and I were talking about it, I’d likely say it differently, but mean the same thing. I might say, “Your destination and goals dictate how you should think about things.”
New Directions, New Destinations
Yesterday, my online friend Brian Gardner wrote a post on his recently relaunched blog. In it he described the feelings related to watching people unsubscribe from his site. It’s likely they’ve left because his posts have changed – becoming more personal and less about Genesis code snippets.
He has a new destination and that means how he thinks about these people leaving is different.
A week ago my friend Joshua Strebel tried to change how Pagely was hosting its sites. Over the past week they’ve had troubles, even though they’d done tons of testing and today I received an email apologizing and explaining what they’re going to do now. He’s experiencing the frustrations of trying something new and not having it succeed like he’d hoped. But he’s still moving. Still trying.
He has a new destination and that means how he thinks about this failure is different.
Today I saw a post from the great folks at 8Bit that they’re closing the company down – even though they have a great product, a lot of customers, and are all smart folks. But they’ve realized they may each have different destinations.
So they’re thinking about different destinations and that changes how they’re thinking about their old business.
The Enemy’s Gate is Down
Brian, Josh and John (and team) all realized they had different goals that what other people may have assumed for them. They each realized that the old orientation wouldn’t work. They realized that if they kept the framework of the old paradigm, they’d lose. So they changed the paradigm. They changed the orientation.
In their cases there were no enemies (at least that I know), but there were targets. Goals. Destinations. And each of them were willing to make a change – even if it meant:
- That some subscribers would quit
- That some customers would get frustrated
- That their community might be shocked
There is an Enemy – it’s called Status Quo
If there’s another thread to these three stories, it’s that nothing stays the same. And making no decision is actually making a decision. In some cases that’s the worst decision you can make.
Decision Science 101
When life brings you a decision, you do what I do, I bet. You look at it as an either/or decision. You set up the scenario to process the best of two options.
You know why you do it? Because it’s easier than anything else. But it’s not always the best way to think about things.
In fact, by the time life brings you the decision, things may already be too late. By that time, other options may actually be gone – no longer available.
You want to know how to make really great decisions? Be the creator of decision problems.
Yes, create your own decision moment. That’s what these guys did. No one forced them. No impending doom challenged them. Instead, they each decided to create their own decision moment and evaluate their own options and pick what made the most sense.
My own decision moment
Four and a half years ago life was just fine. Nothing was wrong. There was no A/B decision. But I wanted something different. I wanted different educational options for my children. I wanted different options for consulting. I wanted different options for our church. I wanted different options for my professional network.
So I spent two years creating my own decision moment. Two years of talking with my wife and evaluating cities across the US. No rush. No stress. No impending doom.
And after two years we sold our home and moved to San Diego (north county) and started renting a house. That was two and a half years ago. Our newly constructed home will be ours in a week and a half and I’m so thankful we made the decisions we did!
It looked strange to the people around us. How do you explain doing something when everything else looks like it’s going right? How do you explain making a change with nothing looks wrong?
I don’t know if this will work for you, but you can always try to answer by saying,
“The Enemy’s Gate is Down”