“We often throw rocks not realizing that they’re going to land somewhere.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
I’ve thrown rocks as a kid.
Some rocks I threw skipped across the lake, causing seemingly endless ripples on the water’s surface.
A rock thrown one lazy summer day knocked a kite down from the branch of an oak tree where it had become entangled.
In 1966, one regrettable missile from my prepubescent hands hit Mr. Perez’ living room window, causing me to be grounded for several days while my friends noisily played outside.
Every single rock I threw had an outcome. Some good, some not so good.
Everything I’ve ever said or done has had an impact. Outcome. Consequence.
That’s life in a nutshell. You throw a rock. It lands somewhere. Hits something. Intended or unintended. There is an impact. Good outcome. Not so good consequence.
“Every action you take, leads to a consequence you face. Choose wisely!”
― Kemi Sogunle
Then the biggest rock I ever threw had an unexpected impact.
In the year 2000, through hard work and some good fortune, I became the CEO of a Technology company. Rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange when I took it public. Became a Stock Option Millionaire overnight.
I had it all. Then lost it all.
That rock I threw had an impact and consequences. A rather negative outcome I would say. You would say so too. Of this I am sure…
“We got where we are because our choices mapped the route and paved the road.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
I got caught up in the magic and glamour of a startup. We had a “thing”. It consumed me. My passion reached untold heights. I was blinded by the light.
I thought I could do no wrong. I was invincible. I knew more than the doubters. Looked down my nose at the analysts and smart ass financial community. What did they know?
I was the one forming a real company. Taking it public. Running it. Real world experiencing. Conquering. Climbing great heights. Slaying dragons.
Those knuckleheads wouldn’t know strategy or operations or marketing if they were dumped in a vat and were drowning in it. I had attitude. DISDAIN!
Eventually I began to believe my own press. Nothing mattered but driving the stock price up. Making deals. Growing the top line. Getting innovative products out the door. Running and gunning. Wheeling and dealing.
The end justified the means. Any means.
But the problem was, I didn’t realize what THE END really meant. I had no clue as to the Outcome, the Consequences of those means.
“An ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have the last word.”
― Sarah Dessen
The END was supposed to be Rock Stardom. The Pinnacle of Power and Influence. Immense wealth. That’s what it was. That’s what I thought.
Instead, “The End” turned out to be the FBI knocking on my door. A Wells Letter from the SEC. The Department of Justice and threat of indictment. Standing before a United States Circuit Court Judge. Crash. Burn. Wreckage.
And eventually a guilty plea and 4 year sentence in a Federal Penitentiary.
“There are no free passes in life, outcomes will always mirror the input.”
― Steven Redhead
Consequences and Outcomes. Unexpected and Unwanted.
How does one avoid these outcomes? These dire consequences? Well, that’s easy. Right?
Just don’t throw the rock! Yes and no.
You see, in life, you find a need to throw a rock or two. Not throwing rocks, it turns out, is not an option.
However, I submit to you that there IS another way to avoid these dire consequences.
I had a 4 year prison term in a Federal Correctional Institute to think about this. I think I have a little experience and credibility in this matter. And not just my own either. Met a LOT of people during that time away.
So I offer these 3 simple prevention strategies.
Figuring Out Where Rocks Will Land
1. Learn and Apply this Sequence Leading to Consequences
Thoughts →Decisions →ACTIONS →Outcomes →Consequences
Actions lead to outcomes, and by their nature, result in consequences. But before taking ACTION, most people THINK, and then DECIDE. This implies there may be alternative decisions and actions.
Lay out the alternatives and decide upon which alternative to take the action. Don’t just settle for any decision without some deep thought.
And as far as using GUT FEEL? Well, I can tell you that it’s fraught with peril. Especially in the absence of experience.
2. Think All The Way Through To Consequences
Take your thinking on the alternatives, all the way through to possible outcomes, and their resulting potential consequences. All alternatives. Each outcome. All of the potential consequences.
If I had gone through this analysis, chances are I would have seen that several of the real outcomes was illegal. And the consequences? Well, break the law, and potentially, do the time.
“Maybe we ought to consider that sometimes the most destructive outcomes in our lives are the ones that we’ve created.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
How probable would that consequence have been? It doesn’t much matter.
I submit that ANY outcome with that consequence is too much risk to take. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect the dots.
3. Seek Out Trusted Advisers
This is a sticky tricky one. The question is, have you already identified people you can count on and trust to give you good counsel?
Given that you followed my advice, seek out, ask, consult with others who you trust, on major decisions. DO NOT let your pride lead you into thinking that you can fly solo on a major decision, especially in an area unfamiliar to you.
That’s it. 3 simple prevention strategies. Simple to describe. Not necessarily simple to put into practice. Mostly due to ego, pride, and neglect.
But we must. We should. Because…
Newton’s law of gravity dictates that thrown rocks will land. That’s plain old physics. At least here on earth.
Life is like that too.
It is imperative that we figure out, as best we can, where our rocks are going to land before we throw them.
I am sure my neighbor Mr. Perez would have appreciated it if I had done some thinking back in 1966, before I threw that rock…
“Life is a choice. Your choices each day determine what outcomes happen in your life. It is by choice, not by chance, that will determine your life. An Unstoppable Life begins by taking responsibility for your choices.”
― Thomas Narofsky