Act in Accordance with Thinking

Consider these words from Alan Watts: A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

I’m a thinker. Not one of those ground-breaking scientists or a philosophical savant, but I do like to think. Maybe, a little too much. Maybe, even so much that I often have little to show for it.

I believed this was a good thing. Aren’t we supposed to use our heads, to be more thoughtful? The thinking part is easy. It requires little effort. Unfortunately, that’s where it goes wrong. If you want more than thoughts and live in the world of reality, then you must do something with all that thinking.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground…”

Genesis 3:19

The hard part is work. that requires effort. It requires movement and action. Often, manual labor is looked upon as base and work fit for only the unintelligent unable to use their heads. If asked, many would rather work in an office than on a factory floor. They would rather use a keyboard than a wrench.

Working in a factory, I have done jobs that have required minimal brain power. If you repeat a process enough times, it will soon become second nature. I loved this type of work because it was a form of escapism. My brain could wander free without having to concentrate on the task at hand. Maybe, it was because the thinking was the easy part. I could disconnect from the hard labor. But even so, there was still a disconnect. Something was still missing.

To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To act in accordance with your thinking is something only a few can do. Imagine the possibilities if we could all do this.

Feature photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Do What You Enjoy

I was in the audience years ago when one of the vice presidents of our company asked the question, “Who loves their job?”

I was at this job less than two years. Before that, I was in a dark place. Without employment for over eight months and with a marriage on the rocks, hope was slowly dwindling away. All the money was gone, all the savings dried up, and in debt up to my ears. I was out of shape, overweight, in my mid-thirties, and thinking the end was near.

The job wasn’t a dream job, but it came when I was at my lowest. It was a glow-in-the-dark ladder offering me a slow climb out of the deepest hole I have ever been in. It was an opportunity to start over, a way to get my life back and even salvage my marriage. It was a glimmer of hope when I thought there was none left.

“Who loves their job?”

When the question was asked, only a few hands went up, mine included.

That question was asked over ten years ago. Since then, I haven’t always loved my job. Sometimes, I have viewed it only as a job and a means to an end. But I have also been very fortunate to have been in several different positions that I have loved. I have met people that will be long-time friends, and I have a quality of life that isn’t too shabby.

People only do their best at things they truly enjoy.

Jack Nicklaus

It hasn’t always been truly enjoyable, but I have learned to enjoy the things I truly did not like. I do my best because even the undesirable tasks are still better than doing nothing at all. I don’t think I will be here forever, but I do think I am better prepared for the next stage in my life. That stage in my life when I am really enjoying the things I do.

Your best will come when you do the things you enjoy. Sometimes, it means you must find a way to enjoy it. Even the worst tasks have a silver lining if you are willing to look for it.


Feature photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

One Take from the Week #1

Monday morning. I sat down at my desk. The night before was miserable after a lot of tossing and turning and much broken sleep. Opening my email, I saw a group of messages about equipment failures. Monday. Tired. Problems with the equipment. What a way to start the day!

One of the emails came from someone who seems to be always reporting on the issues. Why are the tools always breaking on his shift? This time, he took the time to create a PowerPoint presentation on one possible way we can prevent future issues. It seemed a little irrelevant, also a little over-the-top. I wondered about his motivation. And then I thought…

Why care about his motives? For all I knew, he was doing what he believed was right. His approach was different than mine. Was that really an issue? Was my aggravation with him or was it something else? The more I thought about it, the more I realized the problems are not from him but from me.

  • A poor night of sleep
  • A disrupted morning routine
  • Not setting my intention at the beginning of the day (one super important component to my morning routine)

The equipment malfunction and the email did not come at a good time. And of course, there never is a good time for them, but I was not prepared to deal with it when it did come. And unfortunately, that is on me.

How can I prevent another morning like this? I need to take a moment and think about the root cause for the bad sleep. What did I do the day before? In this case, I stayed up a little later than usual. This was a conscious decision that resulted in negative consequences. Add one more drink to that evening, and I had a recipe for a sub-optimal next day.

Man is not affected by events, but the view he takes on them.

Epictetus

The easy course of action was to blame the messenger. But the messenger was only doing his job in the best way he saw fit. I allowed it to affect me in a negative way, because I was not in the right place to view it objectively. Reflecting on this one moment made me wonder how much weight I give to events based on a misplaced perception. I need to get better at controlling the things in my control and not give too much of my energy on the things outside of it.


Feature photo by CDC on Unsplash

Gotta Do the Work

From a young age, Thomas Edison was willing to do the work. He grew up poor and got his first job at the age of twelve. He never had the chance to get a formal education.

Through books, experiments, and practical experience at various jobs, Edison gave himself a rigorous education that lasted about ten years, up until the time he became an inventor. What made this successful was his relentless desire to learn through whatever crossed his path, as well as his self-discipline. Mastery by Robert Greene

As he did the work, the opportunities came. And in time, he became one of the most prolific inventors of all time with over a thousand patents credited to his name.

When recently asked the secret of his success, he said he had always been a total abstainer and singularly moderate in everything but work. Pushing to the Front by Orison Swett Marden

When I think about all the things I really want in this world, I must remember that they are not so lofty as to be unattainable. Most of it requires only one thing to make it possible. I must do the work. It is not by luck that those hard-earned victories will fall into your lap. You gotta do the work!

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -Thomas Edison

In the Pleasure Zone

Justice 11/6/2019

Okay, so the title may have you thinking of something else. And though the epicureans had some really great insights, I tend to lean toward more of a stoic mindset.

A goal I have in mind for my son is to help him pursue the things he loves. Whether it is in sports, art, or intellectual pursuits, I want him to go after the things he enjoys. My hope is that he finds joy in pursuing healthy endeavors that will benefit his life down the road.

When he is told to do something he doesn’t want to do, he will get mopey and resist doing it at all costs. But if he chooses of his own freewill to do the exact same thing, he will have no problem with it and complete it quickly and to the best of his abilities. This probably rings true for most children. Just maybe, it even rings true for most adults.

Did you ever notice that the projects you want to work on get done at a higher level than the ones you don’t want to do? You can get into the zone doing the projects you love. The time spent on them doesn’t matter. You can work harder and longer and not even a grudge while doing it. You take pleasure in the work and the results show.

The opposite is true as well. The projects you don’t want to do tend to get pushed back. The level of motivation to complete them is lacking and the quality of the work isn’t quite up to the best of standards.

It would be nice if we only did the jobs we loved. Unfortunately there are times we have no choice but to do them. The only thing we can do is control our attitudes. We can find a way to take pleasure in the work we are doing, knowing that it is a reflection of our character. We can motivate ourselves to get into the zone and complete the work at a quality we know we are capable of producing.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. -Aristotle