June 21, 2010

The Problem With Logic

“Like a thief, reason sneaked in and sat amongst the lovers eager to give them advice. They were unwilling to listen, so reason kissed their feet and went on its way.” – Rumi, Persian Poet (1207-1273)


Have you ever wondered how extraordinary moments occur in your life? Perhaps you had an amazing day, or incredible performance, and wish you could repeat it. Or maybe you watched an extreme underdog like David beat a heavy favorite like Goliath. How does that happen?


Rumi’s words remind me of the on-going battle we all face, the one between logic and love, our mind on one side and heart on the other. Perhaps the two lovers were laying in a meadow caught up in their dreams, and nothing seemed impossible. What was going on with the two lovers? They were feeling, not thinking.


The poise needed for peak performance must surmount logic. We all have a mind that has been taught all our lives how to think rationally; how to add and subtract and make complete sentences. For example, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” is very logical. We use logic to make sense of things. It’s vitally important of course. But it’s also very limiting, and often very wrong.


Fire is not always found when you follow the trail of smoke. Sometimes there’s smoke and no fire (a hot pan of oil, for example). Science, the epitome of logic, is continuously wrong. (In fact we know that some things we know now, scientifically, will be proven wrong in the future).


Logic says that if you’ve failed in the past, you’ll fail again in the future. Logic says:

  • If you have advanced brain cancer, you cannot recover and win the Tour de France (Lance Armstrong – 7 times).
  • If you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates and you’re playing the powerhouse NY Yankees in a best of seven World Series, and it’s tied up 3 games apiece, and your wins were all very close (average of 2 run differential), and their wins were by scores of 12-0, 16-3, and 10-0, the Yankees would win Game 7. (They did not, 1960 World Series).
  • David cannot beat Goliath.
  • If you’ve failed over and over, you are not headed toward a major success (Abe Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and many others).

Part of the problem with logic is that we trust what we see even though we’ve distorted the picture. We must remember, the map is not the territory. Each of us creates a representation of “reality” to guide us in the world. This model is based on our conditioning and the meaning we give our personal experience. We’ve all built our own map of the world, our personal reality.


I asked pro baseball coach (and former Major League Manager) Tom Trebelhorn about the characteristics of successful Major League players, and he said it goes beyond talent. “Players with lesser talent often beat out those with greater talent because they don’t think rationally about how things should work out,” he said.


Logic and rational thinking get in the way. Our conscious mind analyzes, distorts, and generalizes what we experience, and “learns” what we can or cannot do. Extraordinary performers, and lovers :), however, get beyond the limits of logic. They learn to connect with how the want to feel, and trust it.