Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans


25 September 2015


One of the most annoying replies you can get in your life is: “I will try”. You just spent considerable time helping someone and then you get this disappointing remark. Based upon this reply, you already know that this person will most likely not bother to try – let alone do it. It’s probably the same reason why the Nike slogan “JUST DO IT” has survived time. You just can’t misunderstand its message.

Yesterday the reply “I will try” came up in a chat with someone new. That person was complaining to me about the unfairness of life. The rearview mirror was the focus, not the future. Probably that person was counting on my sympathy. Yet, expressing sympathy usually worsens the complaining. The last thing such a person really needs, is soothing words. I know. I’ve been there myself.

The phrase “I will try” implies that the person expects to fail while doing it. That expectation is based on insecurity – on negativity. Failing is more important to negative people than positive people. Failing reaffirms a negative self image, or self esteem. Avoiding to fail – and thus to try – makes sense to them. A positive person would think: “What’s the worst that could happen? Yes I could fail but I will never know if I don’t try”. Negative people see the downside, positive people the upside.

People who are caught in the trap of negativity, amplify their own problems. All problems become interconnected and the start of the solution seems to drift further and further away. Yet, they are well aware how to solve their own problems but lack motivation to start as their problems appear too big. Part of the solution lies in slicing the elephant: the smaller the steps, the easier to make them.

The real solution lies in re-igniting the person’s motivation. That is the reason why I do not believe in expressing too much sympathy. As we say in Dutch: “Zachte heelmeesters maken stinkende wonden”, which would translate like “Soft doctors create stinking wounds”. The official English translation however is: “Mild physician, putrid wound”. (Dutch proverbs).

Appealing to the inner pride of a person may re-ignite the inner strength – or motivation. It may take a while finding it though. Yesterday I was lucky as it took me one to two hours to see – and more important, to feel – the sparks coming back to life. Feeling the Light replacing the Dark side, brings hope and joy – and satisfaction to me. It was a day well spent.

Afterwards I realised that there had been another memorable event in this conversation as this person has a “competing” religion. In principle, that should not pose a problem. In practice however, it usually does. Nevertheless, the conversation was remarkably sanguine. With hindsight, it felt to me as if we both have one religion – although some names are spelled quite differently.

One love. One blood. One life. You got to do what you should. One life. With each other. Sisters. Brothers. One life. But we’re not the same. We get to Carry each other, Carry each other. (Lyrics from the song One by U2)

U2, featuring Mary J. Blige – One (1992, 2005) – (artists, lyrics, Wiki)


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