The Screwtape Letters: Noise

In C.S. Lewis's classic The Screwtape Letters, Lewis discusses some of the various "techniques" that Satan and his demons use against us.  One of those techniques is what Lewis calls "Noise" Here is my friend Les's struggle with Noise.  Les originally wrote this story talking about getting started in real estate investing, I changed a few sentences to emphasize biblical principles.

Noise: The Well Story by Les Gee

Here's a personal story.

After 16 yrs of education now with a BA in Statistics from UC Berkeley coming out feeling like a total idiot even though I did well there...I decide to go to a farm in Oregon. A three-month experience design to learn about oneself through doing. Milk Cows, Feed Chicken, build barbecues etc. It was during those countless times of doing that I became acutely aware of the "noise" in my head that says I can't do that because I didn't go to school for it. Oh, how easy we are programmed.

If you hadn’t taken a class in it, how do you expect to know the subject? What are you doing Les? You don't have a degree in electricity. How can you possibly wire a light bulb? You never even picked up a hammer before. This ranch was design to give you enough information and then let you at it.

Remember, seeing the foreman lay carpet by himself. Mine if I help. ...Only 15 minutes gone by before… “Go ahead and finish It.” said the foreman. "Huh?", was in my head, but of course my voice, said, "ok". Didn’t want to seem unsure of myself. You know that manly macho thing.

Why is it that I had so much doubt and fear? I come to a startling realization after years of tackling this noise problem. We all have it. Must be born with it. Maybe or parents constantly saying “NO” to us.

To live for greatness in life, we must learn to overcome this for any chance of success.

A life changing moment

When I was working on a well, another supervisor of the ranch said all I want you to do is change this fitting with a cap. By the way when you take out the pipe fitting, water will be gushing out pretty fast. Off he went. Wow, my first plumbing job. (By the way, I screwed up the carpet job, but no job is perfect!) Take off one fitting and put on a cap. No problem, how hard can this be? Sure enough off came the pipe...water spilling out in this hot day. Panic set in as I attempted to put on the cap. In one second, "It doesn't fit! It doesn't fit! Yelled the noise in my head. "Go for help!" After 5 seconds of more noise screaming.... Enough! Shut up you stupid voice, how hard is this! (This is the moment I look at when I want to shut the noise and to believe that we all have within us the common sense and divine guidance to do whatever we want in life.)

Well, after calming down and letting the water gush at my stomach...aha...I'm turning the fitting counterclockwise, not clockwise in my panic. Wha-La it worked. Wow, what a powerful voice that was. Where did that come from? Do we all have it? Only one second and instant noise saying call for help? BA degree Les, you can’t put on a stupid fitting?

The noise is powerful. Don't underestimate the voice that says you can't do something. Trust in yourself. Trust in what you believe to be true. The more you don’t give in to the noise, the less power it has over your life.

3 years later I could be found working as a electronics technician fixing the machines that made the computer chips at Intel. It is truly amazing to me that the “noise” would pop up daily.

Les what in the world are you doing here? You can’t fix this? You haven’t been trained. Those other techs have more experience than you. You are a bookworm not a mechanic.  If you flip that switch the whole line of machines will shut off.

You better stop. Do no harm. Better quit. Why don’t you find another line of work. They are going to find out you know squat.

Yadda yadda yadda. Constant noise in the head. Every day striving to bring me down. Man do others have this noise?

The job description basically was to fix machines you were barely trained to fix. By the seat of your pants you had to fix it. Was the most stressful job I ever had, more so than air traffic controlling

Here I was working on the state of the art machinery. Trying to fix these machines, with little to no schooling on the machines. I vividly remember my first day. Went on call on a clean station. The supervisor was looking at the thing and said to me, I’ve never work on this before. Within 15 minutes he had it up an running.

Maybe 1 month later I could be found underneath a machine looking at all these values. Les you can’t shut that off, you can causes thousands of dollars of damage. “SHUT UP NOISE, it just a simple value. Let’s see it only goes to my machine. Yes, I’m flipping the switch. No explosion….sigh. No one yelling production is down…sign. Another noise successfully shut up.

3 years later, my last year remember working on a wet station.I was the expert on this machinery. Could remember my bosses boss and his boss looking over my shoulder as thousand and thousand of dollars were riding on when I can get this equipment up. The whole line of production was down. “I don’t know, I just got here, could you give me a minute?”

It's a fun game, "Life"...if you learn to follow your dreams and don't let the noise get in your way.

Maybe most of us do need a mentor just to remove all the noise one gets bombarded with?

Yes, life is fun. Realize we all have noise and it can be managed with constant supervision. The key to true greatness in life is overcoming the noise.

Oh, and it never stops. Just this week 5/18/04 was in dialogue with Out of state acquisitions…. Noise, laws, property management, etc. Out of country business proposition… Noise, laws, customs? Buying an existing medical practice… Noise, don’t have a clue about the profession or businesses $200,000 in 3.5 hours from request to cashiers check….Noise, never did it that fast…Completed  Disbursing another $500,000 in 48 hrs…Completed. (no noise…hey getting better, this was actually simple…hmm)

If you hadn’t figured it out by now, I will tackle almost anything. Won’t let noise stop me, however will pass if it does not make sense.

Let me ask you are you letting NOISE in YOUR head stop YOU from being what God truly designed you for in life?

Or you letting NOISE in YOUR head stop you from being a Mother Teresa?

Find you passion, and don’t let it go.

Follow your passion and don’t let your limiting beliefs stop you. Be rigorous in your self-talk. Watch your language that you say to others and yourself. Be around doers in life, not couch potatoes.

Life is too short to be playing small. Shoot for the stars and you will reach the moon.

Les