“Darth Vader’s little Lego head”


So, this happened …

     “Everything I’ve ever lost is somewhere.”    (Anonymous)

I don’t know where it is, that’s why I call it lost. But it does exist, and it is somewhere.

Darth Vader’s little Lego head did not disappear in a puff of smoke. It was probably lodged under the sofa for years until it got sucked into a vacuum cleaner and is now sitting in a massive municipal garbage dump, buried under meters of other garbage. But it is somewhere.

The screw that fell to the floor while I was trying to replace a cracked phone screen myself (and still ended up having to go to a professional to finish the job) may be stuck deep between the floorboards in my old apartment. Or it might also be in that municipal garbage dump, just a few feet away from Darth Vader’s little Lego head, coincidentally.

That leather U2 wrist band that I bought my brother, and then hid in the cupboard so he wouldn’t find it before his birthday, is somewhere. Not with him, because I was never able to find it when his birthday came around, but it is somewhere.

I don’t know why we don’t find these things, knowing that they actually do exist. OK, so finding a tiny screw jammed deep between the floor boards may be a lost cause. But Darth Vader’s little Lego head, or that U2 wrist band, why did I stop looking for them?

Laziness? Effort vs reward?

Or was there some unconscious (and unchallenged) thought that it must somehow have magically disappeared, so there would be no point looking any further?

It’s worth knowing what’s really going through our mind when we stop searching.

Simple Definition

Darth Vader’s little Lego head: This #hashtag-story is a reminder that sometimes we simply stop looking for things, even though they are still findable. There are many reasons why we bail out early, and it’s valuable to know why we’re inclined to stop, to allow us to challenge ourselves.

Discussing what it means

At a very basic level, this #hashtag-story is about missing items. And yes, I mean ‘missing’ not ‘lost’.  (That’s the point of the story, right?)

Like when I send my daughter to go fetch her maths book so we can do some revision together, and she comes back after three minutes, saying she can’t find it. Why does she stop looking? That book is somewhere. Maybe it wasn’t on the usual shelf for the maths books, but there aren’t that many places to look. Why does she stop looking?

Kids, eh? Thank goodness adults are different.

Unfortunately – although I don’t know about you – I know that I’m no different to a child in this regard.

  • I sometimes stop looking because I’m lazy. I’m holding a nice bottle of red wine and can’t find the damn corkscrew. Of course it’s somewhere, but after a couple of minutes of searching I decide I couldn’t be bothered to look anymore, so I put down the wine, pull a beer out of the fridge, and screw the top off. Life goes on.
  • Sometimes I stop because I find an acceptable alternative. I was looking for a specific shirt to wear out, I’ve spent a minute (yup, one whole minute) looking, but I can’t find it. But my mind knows that it’s more important to find a shirt rather than that shirt, so I stop looking for the one and simply wear another.
  • I might decide it’s too hard or time-consuming to find what I’m looking for. Perhaps there is a specific article that I’m looking for on Google, and after reading through 12 pages of search results with different search terms, I realize it’s going to take too long to find. Or searching for a copy of a specific book that I read 20 years ago that I’m keen to read again – but it’s not on Amazon, so it’s clear that finding it would probably just be a massive effort. So I stop.
  • It’s possible that even if (when?) I find it, I can never possess it. Like that screw falling between the floor-boards – I might see it glinting, but not be able to get it out. Or many years ago I wanted to get a copy of the Richard Bandler (the co-founder of NLP)  book “Frogs into Princes” – but it was out of print, and I stopped looking because whenever I found a copy online, the price was like $150+ … and at that time I simply wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
  • Or maybe …

Maybe, subconsciously, I start to believe that it doesn’t exist. So what’s the point in looking?

If we stop to challenge our subconscious thoughts, we might objectively decide that it is possible to find, it can be ours, and it’s worth doing. But so often we stop looking before we challenge our thinking, which is a pity.

There’s a great Dilbert cartoon which points in exactly this direction.

People stop looking for the ideal job, and settle for something that pays OK and is only slightly soul-destroying. Or they stop looking for a good partner, choosing instead the least bad partner they can find right now. Maybe they decide to launch a business which isn’t quite the right idea, but they stop looking for a better idea because of … because of any of the above reasons.

We probably all know the following two contradictory sayings:

  • Never give up the climb, you may be one step from the summit
  • Stop flogging a dead horse

And that is true here too. Sometimes we give up too easily, but sometimes we persistent pointlessly. It’s like getting stuck for too long deciding between #[Chicken or Fish]. It’s important to find the balance.

The important thing with this #hashtag-story is that, when we are considering giving up the search, when we decide to let go of Darth Vader’s Little Lego Head, we need to know why. As long as we’re clear on why we’ve called off the search, and can take a moment to challenge our real reason, then we can be sure we’re making the right decision.

No one wants to be the victim of some subconscious programming, when actually it would be easy to challenge, as long as we have a way of ‘flagging’ that thinking when it happens. And now, you’ve got that flag: “Darth Vader’s little Lego head”.

PS. I typed the second half of this chapter on my phone. It would have been much easier to do it on my laptop, but I couldn’t find it in the lounge. Maybe I should have looked a little longer?

Making it personal

This #hashtag-story isn’t simply about giving up, but about giving up looking for things. At a superficial level it’s about finding objects, like “Darth Vader’s little Lego head” which wouldn’t be that hard to find if we just looked a little harder. At a deeper level, it’s about something conceptual we’re searching for, like a partner, a business idea, our next client, or a book that will change our thinking.

To get real benefit for yourself, take some time to think about (and scribble some notes while you build up a deeper knowledge of yourself through the #HashtagYourLife system) on the various ‘depths’ implied by this chapter.

  • Are you someone who, when you’re looking for an object at home, will continue until you find that damn thing? Or do you get bored too easily and convince yourself it’s not that important?
  • Now think about when you’re looking for something a little deeper, in line with the examples I gave above. Can you see some consistency in how you treat that missing spoon, compared with how you look for the perfect partner? (Don’t rush this one – it would be really interesting if you find a similarity between how you stop looking for bottle-openers, and how you stop looking for boyfriends.)
  • Also think about some examples where you probably did give up too soon, for something you probably could have found if you’d looked a little longer. Is there a general excuse you use for justifying to yourself why it’s OK to stop looking? What is the most common theme? (Laziness, apathy towards the end goal, lack of confidence in yourself to ‘find’ things, 80/20, other?)

The most important thing about “Darth Vader’s little Lego head” is that this ‘flag’ needs to pop up when you find yourself calling off the search. Because unless you know what you’re thinking when you stop looking, you have no opportunity to challenge yourself.

So get into the habit of letting Darth Vader’s little Lego head pop into your mind at such times, acknowledge that you’re giving up, and think about why. And if you find your excuse a little lazy or instinctive, then you can over-ride and start looking again.

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