Recently, on a visit with my professional mentor, he introduced me to what he calls, The 4th Way and I was compelled to share his thinking for those in search of inspiration, as well as their own personal or professional mentor. As they say, the teacher will arrive when the student is ready. His analogy went something like this:
An enemy army is stationed across a river at the top of an embankment and their army is more than twice the size of your own. However, if you turn back, your king will execute you for surrendering.
You have three choices:
1. Do you cross the river and risk your fate?
Their army is at the top of the embankment and you'll surely fail.
2. Do you turn back and head home?
If so, you risk a most certain death.
3. Do you abandon your army to save your own life?
"Wait. There must be another option," I said. "Can I light a fire, make them think I've retreated, and then look for higher ground where we might have a competitive advantage/vantage point from which to overtake them?"
"Very good," he responded. "This is The 4th Way; looking for the option that may not be immediately visible or offered up to you."
With this, he told me the story of Dick Fosbury. Dick Fosbury won the 1968 high-jump gold medal at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. In the aftermath of that win, several things happened that changed the course of the sport today.
As Gandhi once said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
First, they ignored Fosbury. In his sophomore year of high school, he failed to complete jumps of five feet, the qualifying height for many high school track meets. He found the standard face forward "straddle method" a real challenge.
Then, they laughed and criticized Fosbury for what they called the "Fosbury Flop." You see, before anyone jumped backwards over the high jump bar, they jumped and straddled the bar face forward. Seems silly to imagine that they ever jumped face forward now, doesn't it?
Four years after he won the Olympic Games, 28 of the 40 competitors used Fosbury's technique and, of the 36 Olympic high jump medalists from 1972 through 2000, 34 used "The Flop." Today, it is the most popular technique in modern high jumping.
So listen, if people call you 'nuts' or ridicule you because you believe in acting, thinking, or doing something differently, just remember... you may, in fact, be a revolutionary navigating a path along The 4th Way.
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