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Everything is Black and White… and Gray

We live in a complicated world. Good versus evil. Rich or poor. Smart or dumb. Most people live in a “black or gray” mindset. How beneficial is that?

In the military, black and white is more applicable in terms of rules and regulations. Is it authorized? {black} Is it unauthorized? {white} Can you operate outside of black and white? Sure. That is the “gray” area. While it is not explicitly authorized, it isn’t explicitly unauthorized either. It might be gray because you think nobody will find out. Maybe it is gray because you are willing to do it that way in order to benefit the greater good. Let that resonate.

Greater. Good.

Yeah, some people think that way. Does it mean “operating in the gray” all the time? God I hope not. That has sh*tshow written all over it. If you can’t wrap your head around the idea of operating in the gray – try imagining a scenario where black is the right way, white is the wrong way, but gray is the more efficient way. Sound possible? In my world, it sounds probable.

Imagine this: you are in a foreign country with all of your closest friends. Standard practice designates “xyz” as being black. Do it by those standards, you are doing it by the books. On the other hand, the “abc” way is white and you cannot or should not do it that way. Did I mention that you and all of your friends are in foreign country where multiple entities would prefer you leave? As in they would rather hurt you than have you help out. Sound like any scenarios on the news? Yeah, nod your head up and down – the answer is yes. If you do it the “xyz” route, you aren’t doing it the most efficient way. You aren’t doing it the way that will best achieve the desired results. Doing it the “abc” way is going to get someone hurt and/or accomplish little-to-nothing. Would you operate in the gray?

I sincerely hope so, if not for your own sake, for the health and welfare of your friends.

This happens all the time. We are placed in impossible positions in which we deviate from the desired course because it is more efficient, more practical, safer, faster, smarter, or insert your common sense here. If you are telling yourself right now that doing so would make you a bad person: you are wrong. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Standing idly by and watching your friends get hurt would make you a bad person. We are not talking about Geneva Convention kind of sh*t here – we are talking about doing what it takes while maintaining a certain level of integrity and discipline. If defending your country and protecting the lives of your friends makes you a bad person, than I am running up the tallies on the “bad person” scale.

Can’t apply the above scenario to your life? Got it. You aren’t built that way. So let me throw it at your from a different direction. The mentality of thinking “black and white” about things in life can be applied to things being either positive or negative. Do you think this polarized method of thinking is healthy? “Today was a great success” versus “I was a total failure today” is positive and negative. Can you find a neutral stance for the aforementioned statements? How about, “today didn’t go as planned, while I didn’t achieve my desired end state, I learned something from it.” Not extremely positive, and not devastatingly negative, so it doesn’t tilt either way in the polarized method of thinking. I would consider that “gray.” Maintaining a black and white stance might present a false sense of pride or a depressing appreciation of self-worth. You can operate between those two. Welcome to the “gray” my friend.

Re-frame your mindset. Don’t write-off the idea of operating in the gray when situations call for it. More than anything, don’t judge someone who does operate in the gray until you can see things from their point of view.


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