Speaking of the devil. C.S. Lewis says,
“He always sends errors into the world in pairs — pairs of opposites…He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.”
- Door #1: Permissive hedonism
- Door #2: Self-righteous puritanism
- Door #1: Nihilism (the philosophy that life has no meaning)
- Door #2: Authoritarian, dogmatic religion
- Door #1: Male chauvinism
- Door #2: Radical feminism
- Door #1: Disrespectful “free speech”
- Door #2: Shaming political correctness
- Door #1: Conservative
- Door #2: Liberal
Any time you appear to be faced with only two choices, which are opposite sides of a scale and mutually exclusive, you can know with absolute certainty that you’re not seeing all your choices.
Humanity almost always swings the pendulum between Doors #1 and 2. Doors #1 and 2 are conflict and chaos. Extremism and imbalance. Ignorance and intolerance. Choosing between them keeps us trapped in delusion, and either choice will ultimately result in suffering.
Very rarely do we discover Door #3.
Door #3 is the magic. Door #3 is wisdom. Door #3 is progress, peace, and prosperity. Door #3 is tolerance, understanding, and cooperation. Door #3 is true balance and equilibrium — and therefore freedom.
Door #3 — with any pair of opposites — takes the strengths of each side, discards the weaknesses, and combines the strengths to create a new, more powerful and practical choice.
And make no mistake: There’s a counterfeit to Door #3 which dilutes the strengths of each side, compromises on the weaknesses, and results in a bland and muddled mediocrity.
Door #3 is not an impotent compromise of equally flawed choices, but a powerful synthesis of equally good things.
I’m not here to talk about religion, morals, or politics — though the implications are clear for all.
I’m here to talk about your purpose.
One deceiving pair of opposites that shows up quite frequently in the quest for purpose is this:
- Door #1: Don’t follow your dreams. Be realistic. Go for financial security.
- Door #2: Follow your dreams and wholeheartedly take the leap into the unknown.
Door #1 feels boring and stifling, but its implied safety is attractive. Door #2 feels exciting and liberating, but its unmitigated risk is foolish.
People who take Door #1 never live their purpose by default. People who take Door #2 give it a good shot, but almost always crash and burn, and then retreat back into Door #1 anyway.
In either case, they don’t reach their full potential. What we need to do so is Door #3.
In the case of living your purpose, you combine the passion of your dreams with the practicality of economics. You create a stable base of predictable income, while tirelessly striving on the side to make your dreams come true.
You take care of your immediate needs, without sacrificing your long-term vision. You never lose sight of the top of the mountain, while also watching the trail at your feet.
You have a dream to write and publish a book:
- Door #1: Put the idea on a back shelf and forget about it because it won’t make you money.
- Door #2: Drop everything to write it, then get discouraged and give up when you can’t get it published.
- Door #3: Keep your day job and write 500 words a day in your spare time without fail for as long as it takes. Create a business that the book promotes. Self-publish on a budget and use the book to build your business.
You have a dream to start an online business:
- Door #1: Get so overwhelmed by the cost, risk, and complexity that you do nothing.
- Door #2: Quit your job and max out credit cards to start your business, with no safety net.
- Door #3: Save discretionary cash, invest in your business with your savings as you can, and work on your business for one or two hours a day to build it slowly over time.
Doors #1 and 2 bounce you back and forth between stagnation and crisis.
If you want to experience radical breakthroughs in every area of your life, learn to see through the deception of Doors #1 and 2 and find Door #3.