So says my co-favorite fictional character Orphan X, AKA “The Nowhere Man”, his personal chosen name of Evan Smoak (Jack Reacher is my other). This commandment was taught to him by his mentor, Jack Johns. Why does he fascinate me? I don’t think there is any fictional character more unique, nor a fictional program more likely to be real—think Jason Bourne crossed with The Equalizer……on steroids, but more than that. The next two paragraphs, from the most recent Nowhere Man novel, Into The Fire, by Greg Hurwitz, open a small window into that world.
“Within the top echelon of intel circles in nations of influence and instability, Evan Smoak was known as Orphan X. At the age of twelve, he’d been pulled out of a foster home in East Baltimore and raised in a full black covert operation buried so deep inside the U.S. government that virtually no one knew it existed. His upbringing consisted of relentless physical, emotional, cultural, and psychological training, a grinding wheel that honed him into a razor-sharp implement. His handler, Jack Johns, raised him not merely to be a top-tier assassin but also a human being—two reactive elements that, if put under enough pressure, might combust. And then Jack had taught him to integrate those pieces. To balance on the tightrope dividing yin from yang. To not combust. It was a lifelong challenge.
“When Evan had gone rogue from the Orphan Program, he’d kept his other alias—the Nowhere Man—and devoted himself to helping people in dire circumstances who had no one to turn to. His clients reached him by calling a little-known number that had become the stuff of urban legend: 1-855-2- NOWHERE. Each digitized call traveled over the Internet through a maze of encrypted virtual-private-network tunnels, circling the planet before reach-ing Evan’s RoamZone phone. He answered the same way every time: Do you need my help? And then he stepped in to protect the innocent because no one else would, to shield them from those who would do them harm. To hunt a monster, the shopworn proverb went, you must become one. But to Evan’s ear the saying had always rung hollow. He had been monstrous once, a weapon sharpened to a singular point. His role as the Nowhere Man was an undoing of that. Every time he helped someone, he regained some tiny part of his soul. And when he was done, he asked his clients to pass the favor along. To empower themselves by finding someone else in untenable circumstances.”
But my post is really about the title. That commandment resonates with me, yet I believe most people would argue with it. I am meticulous, consistent, reliable in the small things and the big things. This philosophy isn’t unique to me or Orphan X. “And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ “ Matthew 25:20-23. There are no big or small promises, only promises to be kept. There are no big or small problems, only problems to be solved. There are no big or small habits, only habits to be refined….or eliminated.
Do you believe that? Are you as meticulous and honest in the things you consider small as those you consider big and important? Or are you slack in certain things? A prosaic example is recycling. I recycle all my paper, plastic, glass, tin and aluminum. I have for more years than I can remember. I read the local guidelines of recycling. Many people recycle plastic shopping bags with all the other stuff, but I stopped doing that when I read a flyer from the City of Spokane that said they don’t want the bags because they get wound around the equipment and can shut the operation down. Sometimes my apartment recycling basket is full and I don’t feel like walking to the trash/recycling room, when I could just throw the items into the trash can. But I don’t. I can’t bring myself to do it. Why not? How you do anything is how you do everything.
I find that to be true in my life. Whenever I am tempted to shortcut a process, I remember that commandment–so much of behavior is derived from habits and our long track record of having done it over and over again. The idea of coming through in big moments by suddenly rising to the occasion really doesn’t happen…..unless you have practiced in your mind. That old cliche “practice makes perfect”, is false. Perfect practice makes perfection almost attainable, and perfect practice can only be done in the mind. Ask Russell Wilson (and his mental coach, Trevor Moawad), the closest to a perfect QB in the NFL. Ask LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Rising to the occasion is ONLY possible because of the consistent work put into the mundane things day in and day out, including mental practice. Otherwise, “rising to the occasion is wishful thinking!
There are 7 (of 10) Orphan X/Nowhere Man Commandments that we should apply to our everyday lifestyle: Assume Nothing; How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything; Master Your Surroundings; If You Don’t Know What To Do, Do Nothing; Question Orders; One Mission at a Time; Always Play Offense. There are others, but they pertain to the life of an operative. Think about these 7. What would your life be like if you really applied them, starting with my title?