Tough messy oak trees

Oak trees in the wild are messy things. Before I knew this I thought that oaks were these lone wolf sculpted trees with long clean trunks and a large canopy of round green foliage…kind of like the ones you see on a fancy wine bottle label. In reality a wild oak tree’s branches hang low and rest on the ground, sprawled out like a giant octopus. From a distance it looks like a big untidy bush and bramble. It’s all over the place. What I’ve since learned is that those tentacle like branches act as anchors for the tree and stabilize it in storms and heavy winds. That messy support structure is the reason it’s still standing and means it’s healthy. The human pruned, lone oak trees in the middle of a green field may look beautiful and statuesque, but they have a much high failure rate because they lack the stabilizing octopus support network.

It’s the same for humans. We are more resilient and stronger with a messy support network. Together we are stronger. Put down roots, build a community, lean on people, be vulnerable even if it’s messy. It’ll sustain you in the long run and it’s healthy.

Risk is a muscle 

The more you exercise the risk muscle, the more comfortable you get with the feeling of risk. It’s about being okay with the unknown and still operating day to day. Every day you operate with risk is one more day you become accustomed to the new normal.

Risk is the feeling in the pit of your stomach when there’s uncertainty and a future unknown. Mastering risk is the ability to keep moving forward even though you have a knot in your stomach. Some people get that feeling and freeze. They slowly back away the tip of the diving board and climb down the ladder. Others feel their gut twist, swallow, inhale and take the plunge anyway.  Every time the jump gets easier, and the gut twist gets less paralyzing.

The most successful people I know have a high level of output AND are comfortable living with risk everyday.