The Desire To Work
The beginning of a new year is a recognized as a time to make changes and recommit to goals. One area I reevaluate is my productivity – my work, time management, and return on investment – to see where I can improve. Work is a major part (probably the biggest) of our lives. Going back in time more than 200 years ago to the 1700s, Charles Wesley, a Methodist hymnal machine of a man, wrote of work that we are ordained to do, in his song “Come, Let Us Anew“:
“… each in the day of His coming may say, ‘I have fought my way through; I have finished the work Thou didst give me to do.'”
That’s kind of recent, though – about 2000 years ago, the Apostle James relayed the message to us that:
“… faith, if it hath not works, is dead … Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18).
Societies built on a foundation of work and service are always more prosperous, healthy, safer, and enduring than those lacking work and service. Proof of that is found in the amazing charts in the “Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes” video.
Whether it’s the endless work of a mother caring for a child, the humongous hours of intense study by a doctor to correctly perform a surgery, or even a football player’s hours of film study and physical workout to maximize his preparation for the next game, I’ve always been impressed by the massive amount of work people do to excel. I touched on this in my Nov. 24 post, “Hard Work.” Wherever you find success and uncommon accomplishment, you almost always find someone doing a tremendous amount of hard work, probably with a smile on the face and passion in the mind for a job well done.
Over the New Year’s weekend, I had several examples of work right in front of my face that made me ponder my own productivity and work ethic. I regularly question if I do enough to excel, but over the last couple of days I saw so many examples of extra work others do, that I was moved to write about it. I saw people who obviously spent hours:
- Designing and then creating a beautiful meeting room (lots of hours spent just in setting it up);
- Learning to dance gracefully and effortlessly (studying dance for years in college, then hours spent practicing);
- Mastering the violin to play 30 minutes straight without one mistake;
- Reciting scriptures from memory.
My first (default) reaction was to envy those who make things “look easy,” but as I thought about the mammoth amount of time invested, I reconsidered: “Would I have invested the necessary time to become as good as they are at their craft?” Then I answered myself, “No, probably not.” (It’s OK to talk to yourself; it’s even OK to answer yourself; but it’s not OK to say, “Huh?” to yourself.)
So it’s not luck, it’s not being born with the gene; instead, those who accomplish a tuff task have earned, via hard work, a special feeling of satisfaction that cannot be replaced by anything else. To get to the reward though, at some point they have to generate the desire and then enthusiasm to not only do the job, but do it well, to make the necessary investment of effort that others may not be willing to do. That attitude usually requires leaving your “comfort zone”:
“If you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, you will not only be amazed by the marvel and sights of the world, but also with the wonders that lay deep within yourself.” (Rosanna Ienco)
(That quote comes via my good friend Victoria Campbell, who is an incredible example of hard work and a great attitude for others.)
I don’t think anyone will dispute my assertions above, but one aspect of work that is probably news to a large number of people is that we can desire to do work and choose to be happy while doing it.
Bruce Carlson, a retired Air Force Four-Star General, current Director of the Nat’l Recon. Office, and a General Authority in my church, spoke at a New Year’s Day Conference about not wanting to do things, and how our lives change when we decide to want to do things. He told a story from his childhood of a request his father made for him to do a household chore. When the future-Gen. Carlson responded with a typical youthful protest, his father responded that his life would change when he wanted to do the work.
These days, Gen. Carlson stated without hesitation, he is very eager to do work and service for his father. What changed? Did the work get easier? (Definitely not.) Did his ability to do the work improve? Possibly. But what really changed was his mindset.
One of the most important lessons we’ve received from the Master Key Mastermind Alliance is the knowledge that we can choose to desire to do work. Not only did we learn that, but also learned how to choose to alter our desires.
Having said all that, work doesn’t have to be awful or even distasteful. You can work smarter instead of harder. Price Pritchett’s classic book, “You Squared,” describes the process of transforming work into intense desire, then into a “Quantum Leap,” success beyond anything you expected:
“Quantum leaps cannot be achieved through incremental steps or through ‘more of the same.’ You’ve got to shift gears. You have to follow new patterns of thought and action. Sooner or later, you’re going to reach the point where you can’t try any harder. If you want to make a quantum leap, quit thinking about trying harder. More effort isn’t the answer. Get ruthless about trying something different. Quantum leaps come when you seek the elegant solution. So look for an approach characterized by simplicity, precision, efficiency, neatness.”
“Most of us can be found flying too close to the ground. Too often we don’t give ourselves permission to soar. It’s time to start focusing on possibilities, rather than on limits or obstacles. Making a quantum leap means moving outside your mental boundaries. Seeking the quantum leap means violating the boundary of the probable. It means achieving well beyond the obvious. So don’t limit your desires to what you think you ‘can have.’ Start going after what you ‘want.’ This means you give yourself permission to dream, to risk. You must set yourself free. Act as if your success is for certain. Just act like you have complete faith. Merely do what you would do if you knew you were going to succeed. Doubt is what does the most damage. So don’t give it any mental space. If you must doubt something, doubt your limits.”
The book is one of the most powerful ideas conveyed that I’ve ever seen in 20 short pages of reading. Mr. Pritchett elaborates on the importance of faith and confidence in the process:
“Forget the idea that you should be able to see, tangibly and in full view, all the resources necessary to leverage your performance so dramatically. There are resources you can access that can’t be seen, and they are far greater and more powerful than the resources you might readily observe. Absence of evidence is not evidence of their absence. Think of an iceberg, where you see only the tip of what’s really there.”
“Quantum leaps are merely the process of using yourself and your world differently, thus allowing other possibilities that exist to actually materialize. Your willingness to make a quantum leap is the enabler. Quantum leaps jerk you out of your comfort zone. Prepare yourself for a wild ride. At times you may wonder if the situation is about to spin out of control. But you are going to have to learn to let go.”
Get excited about your work and watch what happens. I hope you experience an incredible transformation in your life in 2011 …
As Anthony Robbins always says, “Live with passion!”