linearity is a lie

Us humans so want certainty and security in an uncertain and insecure world that we’ve created this myth – a lie – of the importance of living a linear life. Life in a straight line, always stepping forward, never getting sidetracked, each movement building on the past – it sounds so great.

We created the lie and we’re suckers for believing it. Buy into the lie and we’ve undermined our own success and fulfillment. Believing in the Myth of Straight Lines leaves us asking why our life isn’t that way; it leaves us unhappy and wondering what we’re doing wrong. The reality is simply LIFE IS NOT LINEAR. It rarely moves in straight lines. It leaps forward, sideways, backwards. It zigs, it zags. Sometimes it does nothing at all. Dumb luck, random events, accidents, disease, decisions that made sense at the time, poor choices, and timing conspire to ensure life is not straightedge precise.

Life is sloppymessy. Zig Ziglar once advised us to: Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and capitalize on what comes. It appears that those who play big and make a difference understand this and can work with it. They have the end destination in mind but are flexible about how to get there and even willing to accept a different destination if a better one reveals itself along the way.

Consider the possibility that when we buy into the lie of linearity and are unwilling to deviate from the straight line, we are generally unable to accept setbacks and failure as a part of the process. Unable to risk creativity or innovation or simply trying something different. Perhaps even unable to recognize how strong, how unique, and resourceful we actually are. We might miss how much we’ve actually done, the difference we’ve made, and the success we’ve had.

What thinks you?



  1. Love the word sloppymessy. I may have to borrow that one. Tracking mud means an adventure has been experienced. There may also be scrapes and bruises but the stories are so much more exciting than the ones that involve refusals to venture off the straight and narrow path.


    1. Yeah, sloppymessy is a great word. Please do use it. The most interesting people have been enthusiastically non-linear; the dullest people seem to be rigidly linear. I meet a lot of interesting people, but very few of them are doing what they set out to do when they were 18.


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