Here’s one that really ticks me off. A conversation I’ve heard countless times. A conversation that grates against every nerve, and every brain cell I have. A conversation that happens at work all the time. Every day.
“Mark, you do this all day, every day. How can you do this at home?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You push yourself to get better at your job all day. And then you take it home with you. You spend all day working on computers, and then you go home, and work on computers.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Because I get tired of computers.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t you ever rest? I get off of work, I walk through the door, and I forget all about this place until I walk through the door the next morning.”
“Ah. Good. Stand still. Makes you easier to run over.”
Let me get this straight. You’re actually telling me you love your job, and won’t give it up, but you hate it so much you pretend it doesn’t exist when you’re not at work. Is that what you’re saying, ‘cause that’s what I’m hearing. And if that’s what you’re saying, don’t you realize how irrational that is. How illogical. Come on. You either love your job, or you hate it.
My doctor tries to explain this conflicting set of ideas to me. “People like their work. They do. But they need rest. Just like you. They need rest, so they limit their work to the work environment, and that leaves them time to rest.”
And inside I’m laughing, thinking about how many of them think I’m a frickin’ genius, or brilliant. They don’t have a clue. It’s a simple math thing.
Have a golf cart that runs endlessly at 5 miles an hour. Have a car that runs wide open at 125 miles an hour. Put a cup of gas in each. Which one wins the endurance race? The golf cart. Obviously.
All I have to do is cruise along, taking it easy, playing around each day, and I end up running over everyone else. I keep chipping away at things. Learning a little here, a little there. And it adds up. And I watch people drown themselves in oceans of stuff to meet a deadline, and then collapse into useless rubble until the next deadline.
“You never stop!”
Hell, I stop all the time! You just never notice it, because I also keep going every day! You run wind sprints until you fall over. I walk. That’s the difference. I didn’t learn all the things I know overnight. I learned them gradually. One day at a time. I learned a bunch some days. Other days I wondered if I’d ever figure anything out. But I didn’t stop. I never said, “My brain hurts, I’m done trying.”
I’ll use exercise as an example again, because people seem to understand that. Even couch potatoes seem to understand that. The “I really should get in shape” crowd knows how to get in shape. They just don’t.
You want your abs to look like the people in the magazines? You know what you have to do to look like that. It takes time. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.
With work, it’s the same damn thing. It takes a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.
OK. I get it. You endured 12 years of school, and 4 years of college. It seems like all you did for 16 years was learn and study. Now, you’re done with that. You’re free! Now, you can spend the next 60 to 80 years watching episodes of NCIS on TV, and mowing the lawn, because that’s what life’s about, and wondering how people survived the round of layoffs at work when you got pink slipped.
Idiots. Stupid people. And you don’t even know you’re stupid. That’s the part that makes me angry. You actually embrace your stupidity as a sign of your success! “I worked flippin’ hard to get here! Now, I’m going to enjoy the rewards of my work!”
You think I don’t enjoy the rewards of my work? Really? Because I keep working? Because I keep learning? Because I keep trying? Fine. You sit at home, watching NCIS episodes. I’ll take a walk at the Botanical Garden, and enjoy the flowers and trees. You have a couple of beers to drink. I’ll stand beside the ocean, and watch the waves, and feel the suns heat untying the knots in my sore muscles. You mow the lawn to keep the neighbors happy. I’ll walk a trail at a National Wildlife Preserve, and marvel at how an egret stalks and catches fish.
You think I don’t relax? You think I don’t play? Just because I keep learning stuff every day? Like I said before. Go ahead and stand still. It makes you easier to run over. And me and my golf cart will putter along, and leave you years behind us.
It’s your choice to make. Make it or don’t.
I made my choice decades ago.