Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Three Deceivers - Glenn Beck Interview - Part 1

As Glenn and I talked yesterday, I thought how interesting it is that we were both really writing about the same things in his Christmas Sweater and my Three Deceivers. We are both saying, essentially, that the only way we fix the world is by fixing ourselves and that the real problem is that we want the wrong things. We want to control everything, we want more and more stuff (ownership), and we want to stubbornly stand on our own, be independent, and not need anyone else. All these “wants” (I call them the three deceivers of Control, Ownership, and Independence or “CO&I”) distance us from other people, destroy our relationships, and undermine our happiness.

Glenn and I agree that all three are great economic concepts. It is a good thing to control our expenses and our appetites, a good thing to be out of debt and own things and take care of them, and a good thing to try to be as financially independent as we can. The problem is that we carry CO&I too far, and make them our personal and spiritual paradigms. We want to control those around us and to control every part of our day and of our lives. We want to check off everything on our lists and let nothing get in the way of our agenda. But things never go exactly as we had planned, and that loss of control frustrates us.

And since we measure ourselves by how much we own and by how independent we can become or how little help we need from others. All three deceivers isolate us from other people and from God and most importantly, in the big picture, they are all lies! We don’t really own anything in this world, and we control so very little, and we need others (and need God) every day and in every way.

Today and over the next two days, we will be talking about alternatives to the three deceivers….about new attitudes and new paradigms that are more true, and that lead us toward humility and appreciation and happiness and better relationships rather than away from them.

The alternative to the deceiver of Control is Serendipity, an attitude that pursues pro-active goals but stays open to surprises and looks for the spontaneous, the unexpected, and the adventure in life and welcomes them all. Let me tell you a story:

While I was a student at the Harvard Business School, I had a favorite professor named Livingstone. He would say “We are training you to be CEOs, therefore you must be in control and in charge, you must be on the offense, you must never be surprised. If you are ever surprised, it is because you have failed to do sufficient contingency planning!” I loved him. I wanted to be just like that.

That summer, I had an internship in Hawaii, with an airline. I would fly to one of the outer islands each week end and hitchhike. One Saturday, on the big island, I got a ride with a bona fide Hawaiian couple who introduced themselves as “Rusty and Honey.” They picked me up in Hilo and off we went for Kona, on the other side of the island. They kept stopping to show me a waterfall, or some big lilies, or an old volcano. All day they delightedly showed me their island, and at sunset, we pulled into Kona. I thanked them and said how lucky I felt that they had been going all the way to Kona. “Oh no,” Rusty said in his pigeon English, “We were not going Kona, we were going grocery store.”

I stared at him in amazement and he explained, “We can go grocery store tomorrow—cannot take you to Kona tomorrow!”

I wondered how that kind of joyful spontaneity would play with Professor Livingstone, and I spent the rest of the summer wondering whether I would rather be Rusty.

Later I found a word that I think is a “bridge” between the pro-active, structured, control-what-you-can world of Livingstone and the flexible, live-in-the-moment and good-relationships world of Rusty and Honey. The word is serendipity which actually means:
“A state of mind wherein a person, through awareness and sensitivity, frequently finds something that is better than the thing he was seeking.”

The Serendipity alternative to the Control deceiver simply means that as we pursue our goals and check off our lists, we take off our blinders and see other people and their needs and the opportunities that come up unexpectedly. We relish rather than resent surprises and we look for chances to meet new people or go in new directions that we couldn’t have predicted or planned. We accept the fact that we don’t (and can’t and wouldn’t want to) control everything, and thus each day becomes an adventure.

To get the full story on all three deceivers and all three of their alternatives, click here. (Right now the book is available exclusively to Glenn Beck listeners.)

See you here in this newsletter tomorrow for a little discussion of Stewardship, which is the alternative to the deceiver of Ownership.

Get the book here.


  1. I heard you on Glenn Beck today and plan on ordering the book.
    I really think you have hit on some key issues that everyone can relate to.
    I look forward to reading your book.

  2. Here's a fun one about Serendipity from a Glenn Beck listener who heard Richard Eyre's interview.

  3. Interesting story on the ownership of time with Rusty, remember that C.S. Lewis's Screwtape wrote to Wormwood, "the sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged." "...nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him." "You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own.' Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of 24 hours." This study of Serendipity seems very interesting, I think I will purchase your book!

  4. I have to snicker a little at the fact that Glenn Beck is supporting this book since at least two of these (independence and ownership) are absolute pillars of conservative thought and Glenn promotes them almost to the point of paranoia. However, I'm glad these concepts are penetrating his audience. Maybe it will help bridge the schism in the political world.