Luck vs. Labor

Do you remember the first time you did it? It was exciting, it was new, and so far, you were good at it. Once you knew the concept, getting the hang of it was simple.  So simple in fact, that you could picture the possibilities of a future doing it.

What was it? Does the “it” really matter? It could have been golf, playing cards, the stock market, or something like computer programming. We have all had our moments where we learned something new and then let our imaginations run wild with thoughts of grandeur. We thought we were gifted and that making money at this was a possibility. But then the luck fades and the reality sets in. We realize the talent, the beginner’s luck, only took us a little way and to get farther would take work. It would take skill.

“Luck is ever waiting for something to turn up,” says [Richard] Cobden; “labor with keen eyes and strong will, will turn up something. Luck lies in bed, and wishes the postman would bring him news of a legacy; labor turns out at six o’clock, and with busy pen or ringing hammer lays the foundation of competence. Luck whines; labor whistles. Luck relies on chance; labor, on character.”

Stick to the thing and carry it through. Believe you were made for the place you fill, and that no one else can fill it as well. Put forth your whole energies. Be awake, electrify yourself; go forth to the task. Only once learn to carry a thing through in all its completeness and proportion, and you will become a hero. You will think better of yourself; others will think better of you. The world in its very heart admires the stern, determined doer.

Orison Swett Marden, Pushing to the Front

Imagine Alexander Graham Bell relying on luck instead of labor. What would our phones look like today? Would we even have them? To the outside world, Bell’s talent was extraordinary. But they only saw the end results of the endless experiments, trials, errors, and do-overs. It wasn’t what Bell was born with that made his name stand out in history. It was what he did after he was born.

Our natural gifts will only take us part of the way. The rest we must develop.

Automating Toward Success

Temperance 5/14/2019: Automating Toward Success

The right habits will make the individual incredibly disciplined. It will put you on auto-pilot towards your desired destination. Like a direct deposit into your retirement plan, you won’t have to think about it. You just do it.

What can you do to optimize your routine? Is it moving your alarm clock farther away, so that you are forced to get up and out of bed? Is it prepping your meals the week before? We can start with small habits and then build upon them. We can design who we are going to be. Draw the blueprints now for your life and create the habits that will get you there.

The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably thought and act. -Orison Swett Marden

Feelin’ Slow, Then You Gotta Go!

There are days when you wake up and you are just not feeling it. Everything is slow, including you. Those days suck. You want to go, but seem stuck. Even coffee isn’t doing the trick.

That’s how I felt this morning. I felt lazy and unmotivated. There are so many things I want to get done today, but I just can’t seem to get going.

What do you do?

Well, there is really only thing any of us can do. We gotta move. It doesn’t matter if we are moving in slow motion. Just moving a little will create momentum. It may be hard, but as Mr. Marden says, “Effort is the only means of improvement.”  If you want to improve, put in the effort. Go.

Activity is the law of growth; effort the only means of improvement. Whenever men have obeyed their lower nature and ceased to struggle to better their condition, they have deteriorated physically, mentally, and morally; while, just in proportion as they have striven honestly and insistently to improve their situation, they have developed a larger and nobler human type. –Orison Swett Marden, Ambition and Success.

Spare Time

I have noticed at work that two subjects are dominating the conversations. Sports and video games. Nothing unusual, these are the usual topics discussed at work. Sports and video games. To be knowledgeable in either subject takes time. A lot of time. I asked one co-worker how many hours a week he devotes to gaming. His answer was 10. Another co-worker said 10 was probably a very conservative number and the truth was really higher.

I look back on my 20’s and early 30’s. What were the two areas that dominated my life? Sports and video games. I watched all the sports. I played all the video games. I devoted a good portion of waking hours to both of these endeavors. After years of playing and watching, what did I have to show for it? I could hold my own in these work place conversations. What else did I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing!

I have started reading an old book this week, one that last month I never even knew existed. It is Pushing to the Front by Orison Swett Marden. In Chapter 6: Possibilities in Spare Moments, Marden provides examples of some of history’s most notable figures and what they did outside of their normal occupations. I read it and was immediately put to shame when thinking back on my younger years. The possibilities in my spare moments were squandered compared to the examples in this chapter. The examples Marden provides are summed up in this statement:

Many of the greatest men of history earned their fame outside of their regular occupations in odd bits of time which most people squander.

Yep, that was me. But the good thing is that all is not lost. Later in the chapter, Marden provides a bit of hope with the following:

The present time is the raw material out of which we make whatever we will. Do not brood over the past, or dream of the future, but sieze the instant and get your lesson from the hour.

and

The worst of a lost hour is not so much in the wasted time as in the wasted power. Idleness rusts the nerves and makes the muscles creak. Work has system, laziness has none.

When I hear the conversations in the work place, I hear what is taking place in the spare moments of their lives. It is not for me to judge the doings of others, but I can choose differently. There are so many that complain of their situation. They want more opportunities. They want more money and a better standard of living. They want so much, but what they want for the future takes a backseat to the things they want in the present. The wasting of time to fit in with the popular culture is more important than the action required to change their future. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change, we change.” If we want something different in our lives, we have to change.

As with all my writings, there is not only a lesson for me to learn here, but one for my son. Life is short. It may not seem like it now. It may seem the days and hours drag out and your death will come in the form of boredom. It is in those times, when you seemingly have nothing to do, that you can separate yourself from the herd. It is in those times, that you can develop the physical and mental strength that will power you to a greater life in the future. You are in control. You get to make this choice in life between action and inaction.

The slack hand impoverishes, but the busy hand brings riches. A son who gathers in summer is a credit; a son who slumbers during harvest, a disgrace. –Proverbs 10:4-5