Productive Paranoia (Part 1)

Bob Roane Counseling, Loving and Trusting God, Wise living

Excerpts from Leadership class at Belhaven University, also used in counseling and prison ministry.

Some Scriptures on Preparation and Discipline

In Genesis 41:41-56, the Lord directed Joseph to store up part of the food produced in seven years of abundance to prepare for the upcoming seven years of famine….Hebrews 11:7  By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. (Noah may have taken 50 plus years to build the ark!)….Luke 14:28-30 Suppose you want to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you only lay the foundation everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish….Luke 21:36  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man….Luke 12:47  The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.

Collins Story about Amundsen

James C. “Jim” Collins (born 1958) is an American author, consultant, and lecturer on business sustainability and growth. Many of his writings are consistent with Jesus’ Scripture wisdom. Collins writes about “Productive Paranoia” and asserts: “The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive.” (p. 91, Great By Choice) Productive Paranoia doesn’t mean walking around scared, afraid to take action, or suspicious. It means constantly asking “What If” and getting ready to respond to danger, threats, and obstacles. Anticipating and planning for potential challenges and disasters is critical to success and is frequently taught in the Bible.

Collins tells the true story of the great dogsled race to the South Pole in 1912 between Roald Amundsen (Norway) and Robert Scott (England). Both explorers and their teams set out from Antarctica toward the South Pole. They raced the same distance, in same weather, but only one team survived and won. Scott and his team all died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation, and extreme cold. They were 11 miles shy of the final supply depot. In this race, falling short meant death. Historians describe Scott’s planning as haphazard and flawed, lacking foresight, preparedness, prudence, caution, and carefulness.

Amundsen survived and won because he was methodical and meticulously prepared. He was fanatical about training and meeting his daily goals despite bad weather. He focused on an intermediate 20 mile goal every day, no more, no less. He was consistent and disciplined in sticking with his wise plan.

Amundsen was also obsessive in other helpful, productive, and constructive ways. He went to live with Eskimos to learn how to prepare for severe weather conditions. He marked supply depots in advance, more carefully than Scott did. He tripled his estimate of supply needs. No detail was overlooked; he was painstakingly prepared. He believed “good luck” was the result of good planning.

Collins comments that Amundsen’s faithful commitment to a “20 miles a day march,” like the tortoise in Aesop’s Fable, led him to success. Scott’s tendency to rush ahead with 30-40 mile days and then take breaks, was like the reckless rabbit and led to failure. By God’s help, Christians need to exercise self-control in an out-of-control world. We need to stick consistently and persistently to daily following Christ. Regular Christian disciplines of grace are more important than occasional spiritual highs which last a short time until the glow wears off.

Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) emphasized foreseeing difficulties and taking precautions to avoid or survive them. He said that victory awaits him/her who has everything in order. People call it good luck. Defeat is certain for him/her who neglects to take the necessary precautions. People call it bad luck, but it’s really bad preparation. Amundsen would agree with American author Jim Rohn (1930-2009) who stated: We must all suffer from one of two pains, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is that discipline’s pain weighs ounces while regret’s pain weighs tons.

To be continued…