I’m sure that A Christmas Story has been formative for many just as it was for me. I’m also sure that many have thought about the Triple Dog Dares that they have subsequently faced as a result of that iconic line of dialogue. But, I think most people stop thinking of the things they are doing because of “dares” at some point. There comes a time when they start believing that they do not have to worry about the Schwartz’s of the world.
And yet, I would like to make the case that we are all being Triple Dog Dared on a regular basis. I would like to state for the record that we can never get away from our own personal Schwartz’s. In fact, I believe that we are responsible for more tongues stuck to flagpoles at this moment than at any other in history.
Here are the dares that I believe we are faced with every day.
- I Triple Dog Dare you to comment or respond.
- I Triple Dog Dare you to hire/fire me.
- I Triple Dog Dare you to learn something new.
We are daring one another to participate, to answer our e-mails or respond to our tweets. Our dares arise as we recycle each e-mail through our inboxes, constantly sending out more and more dares for response. We put tiny stresses on one another with these tiny little Triple Dog Dares. The flagpole we get stuck to in this dare is when the e-mails and tweets just sit there, when they fester in our inboxes and Tweetdecks. Our tongues are so attached to them that after months of putting off the most inopportune e-mail responses, we can’t really even communicate about the issues that are important to us.
We dare our superiors to fire us on a daily basis. While we may not actively want to get fired, we work really hard at pushing those around us to find out what we are doing that is not in the best interests of our business, district, or entity. We spend time distracted, dispassionate, or deluded into thinking that our work always reflects upon us well. We also dare our superiors to hire us each day as well. We work hard, apply ourselves and show off our daily accomplishments. We are constantly reapplying for our jobs in this case, even as we are trying to weasel out of them and find something else that is more to our liking. The frozen flagpole in this dare is the actual job we have. We get frozen into this pattern of fired and hired habits, forcing other people to write us off entirely as both incredibly useful and utterly useless for daily work and collaboration.
The last dare I feel on a daily basis is one that involves the persistent need for learning new things. It is an ever-present dare I feel from others, to become more knowledgeable about the things that they themselves need to know. The dare compounds until I have to dedicate time to becoming an expert on an assigned topic or anticipating the next thing that someone will ask of me. The pole I get stuck to is when I get so focused on learning for others and in anticipation of my later needs that I can’t completely focus on what it is that I’m supposed to be doing right now. Because the dare is to learn something new, I get stuck not resolving what I already know and applying it to what can be created with that knowledge.
Christmas Story or not, these Triple Dog Dares are very real for me. I have become my own worst Schwartz, as have the people around me. And I would like that to change.
I would like to not feel the stress of e-mail dares. I would like to let go of the need to be fired or learn new things just for the sake of learning them. I would like to be able to make my own (or at least manage my) stress and dare myself to be better than simply placing my tongue to a flagpole. I think that at some point I may be able to do that, but right now, I will live with my Triple Dog Dares.
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