So what is the Problem? We call the Problem “SadClown Syndrome.” We were SadClowns. We know what it feels like. We have met a lot of SadClowns. We know what it looks like. When we set out to define F3’s Purpose, WHY F3 did WHAT it did, we discovered that F3 was solving SadClown Syndrome.
For starters, it’s a man thing. We are not saying women don’t have problems, or even that they don’t have this particular problem. We just don’t know much about women’s problems. Despite having many years of marriage and several daughters between us, we are happy to admit that we have only a mere inkling as to what makes women tick. We have found that we serve the women in our lives best by being good husbands and fathers. That is (in part) what F3 is about. So, we are sticking to what we know here, and that is men. Men, we believe there to be many, are suffering from SadClown Syndrome. We’re pretty sure we are right about that.
How many exactly? We don’t know, and, frankly, that’s irrelevant to us at this point.
What convinces us (without backup data) that the Problem is widespread enough to justify a book about it? Just what we see right in front of us. We planted the Mothership on 1/1/11. It was cold. It was 0650 in the morning. Everybody was a little hungover. All we did to advertise the Mothership launch was to send out a few emails to guys we thought might Post, and thirty-four men climbed out of the Fart Sack to do it. They must have been looking for something.
One guy (that we saw) Splashed Merlot, and a lot of the others complained the entire time. Yet, the following week, most of those guys Posted again. In fact, most of those guys are still with us today, three years later. So are thousands of other guys who joined after that first day. We think we are onto something. We believe SadClown Syndrome is real, widespread, and that F3 has caught on because it offers a solution to it.
We didn’t make up the “SadClown” idea. It comes from an episode of The Sopranos, the HBO series that depicted a suburban New Jersey Mafia family stripped of the gothic grandeur of The Godfather. The primary character of the show was the leader of the family, Tony Soprano. Although his livelihood was criminal, Tony had leadership dilemmas and work-family stress problems just like the average man. Just like us. He even had a psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, whom Tony began seeing when the fainting spells that had plagued him since his childhood became too dangerous for him to ignore.
Tony’s sessions with Dr. Melfi were the vehicle to reveal his underlying character and motivation. Initially, with his limited therapeutic goal of curing his fainting, Tony was guarded with Dr. Melfi. But as the series progressed, Tony began confiding in her more deeply than anyone else in his life. She became the only person in his life with whom he could be safely and completely truthful.
Like a lot of guys we know, Tony lived a compartmentalized life. He kept his work life, his family life, his love life, and his creative life in separate vaults. The Sopranos did a great job of illustrating this in ways with which we only could partly identify. For example, one episode has Tony visiting a prospective college with his high school daughter when he is forced to take a quick break to kill a man with a garrote. Five minutes later, he is eating finger sandwiches with his daughter. That is serious compartmentalization.
Most men are forced to balance their work and their family lives, but not to Tony’s extremes. For him, there was a massive tension in the fundamental contradictions of his life which, as he began to trust her, Dr. Melfi tried to help Tony reconcile.
During the episode that gave us the “SadClown,” she asked Tony if he had “any qualms about how you actually make a living?”
“Yeah,” Tony responded. “I find I have to be the sad clown: laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.”
Tony missed the doctor’s point. He did not understand that she was asking him to reflect on a possible connection between his fainting and his gangster livelihood. He understood her to be asking him if he liked his compartmentalized life, and he answered like any discontented banker or lawyer would. No, he told her. No, I don’t like it all. I only pretend to like it because I feel like I have to.
Despite his family and the career success (such as it was) that he had clawed out, Tony was not happy. He only pretended to be happy for self-preservation and for the benefit of the people who depended upon him. Internally, he was joyless. But that, his true condition, he kept from everyone except Dr. Melfi, a woman he paid by the hour to listen to him. Only to her would he admit that he was a SadClown.
Because he was smart and devious, Tony managed to stay out of prison, but to what end? His life was a prison. He was a fat, friendless middle-aged man who self-medicated with booze and womanizing. He was plagued by fainting spells that threatened a life and livelihood that he had to fight (literally) to preserve, even though he could see no purpose in it other than its very preservation. What kept us watching such a depressing show was our hope that Tony would find a way out of his SadClown prison. But he never did. He remained a SadClown until the end.
(Freed To Lead) Read More
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
“Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.”
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.”
Shannon L. Alder
“When introverts are in conflict with each other…it may require a map in order to follow all the silences, nonverbal cues and passive-aggressive behaviors!”
Adam S. McHugh
Leaders Leading Leaders
“Never give up” is what we’re told throughout our lives, by our parents and by storybooks, by our teachers and coaches, and by our mentors and colleagues. The philosophy, which is idealistic, is that as long as you keep working hard, eventually you’ll get the result you want. You may have to find a new way around or improve yourself to meet the challenge, but as long as you don’t give up, you’ll find success.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how the real world works. In the vast majority of cases, as long as you keep working hard, you’ll eventually find success–but it may not be the type of hard work you think it is, and the success you find may not be what you originally set out for. The truth of the matter is, sometimes you have to give up one goal in order to pursue another, and sometimes you have to give up on a weak idea in order to pursue a stronger one. Then again, giving up on an idea too soon could ruin a potentially valuable opportunity.
So at what point do you cut your losses and move on?
There’s no one right answer, but as you’ll see from these, great people of all walks of life have been forced to face the notion of giving up, and it’s never easy:
1. “I have met many entrepreneurs who have the passion and even the work ethic to succeed – but who are so obsessed with an idea that they don’t see its obvious flaws. Think about that. If you can’t even acknowledge your failures, how can you cut the rope and move on?” -Kevin O’Leary.
This quote illustrates the importance of realizing that ideas are rarely perfect. Hard though it may be, it’s vital that you recognize the imperfections in your own work, and if they outweigh its strengths, it may be time to move on.
2. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill.
Giving up is a conscious way of recognizing some level of failure, which makes it hard to do. But as Churchill explains, failure shouldn’t stop you–it’s just one step of the journey. In some cases, the sooner you give up, the sooner you can move on to something better.
3. “All of us make mistakes. The key is to acknowledge them, learn, and move on. The real sin is ignoring mistakes, or worse, seeking to hide them.” -Robert Zoellick.
Even when you do feel forced to give up, that doesn’t mean you’ll be walking away with nothing. You’ll have learned greatly from the experience, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever comes next.
4. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” -Steve Case.
Before giving up, try to look at your situation objectively. Don’t be drawn into overly positive or overly negative thinking–look at it from both sides and make a logical determination of whether it’s worth pursuing further.
5. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because all that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.” -Mark Cuban.
Giving up in one instance doesn’t mean you’re a permanent failure. You’ll probably give up many times on weak ideas or poor executions–eventually, you’ll get it right, and once is all it takes.