"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - From Shakespere's Hamlet
That quote has been a fantastic driver of good feelings for me.
There's a pretty large category of things that are aggravating if you let them aggravate you, but not bothersome if not.
I've left Mongolia now, but my last week in town, there was some pretty serious construction going on right next to my building.
I'd be trying to grab a nap or concentrate and the BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG would continue from next door.
One of the coolest stories I got from "Call Me Ted," Ted Turner's autobiography, was about his "Beg-a-thon."
He had launched some local television channels in the South with different kinds of programming than were common for the day. He focused primarily on classic movies when most channels were going for more prime time programming. Thus, his channels got quite popular with demographics of people who didn't want the perceived sex and sleaze in normal TV (tame by today's standards, but that's the way it goes...)
What he did was have a "Beg-A-Thon" on TV, where they live requests between shows to fund the studio and keep it going. They got on local figures - the mayor, policemen, civil servants, various workers, moms, and kids - to talk about how they liked the channel to make a pledge.
Since TV was new at the time and this channel was one of people's favorites, they actually raised the $25,000 he needed to survive!
Ted kept detailed records of everyone who donated, and once the channel was profitable three years later, he paid everyone back $4 for every $3 they donated.
Important question from a reader -
I have come to believe that motivation is a limited and renewable resource. My day job as a trader is intense and stressful and I am left with little motivation by the end of the day. I have realized that I need to shift from working hard to working smart. In my case, this means giving away maintenance tasks to others while I work on new creative projects. Unfortunately, this is a challenge because I take on too much responsibility over my creations. I am hesitant to hand things off to others because I tend to micromanage. I need to learn how to let go of old responsibilities so I can take on new, and more profitable ones.
I suffered through the same thing.
You're probably a maximizer.
Great email from a reader here, republished with permission -
This is just a quick "off the head" reply.
I haven't spoken, emailed to you in awhile, but I had to tell you that this is the most important thing:
In my most humble opinion, the SINGLE most important difference between those who are SUCCESSFUL and those who are not (and you can define success in ANY way you want, doesn't matter) is this:
I've been theorizing on this.
For most people, their emotions move in cycles. It's not always so predictable as the image, but there's going up and going down.
During normal life, you do normal life stuff.
But I think the lows and highs call for different approaches.
"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
That quote captures an essence of writing. In a shorter piece, every word does more work. There's nowhere for junk to hide. You can't cover up or caveat-away bad points.
Rambling is easier than succinctness. If you ramble on for long enough, eventually people get your drift.
But you waste people's time.
Wait. Maybe not. Let's think this through.
I just got an email from a reader. It's a variety I get a lot. It goes like this:
"I'm doing X-practical-thing, but I'm passionate about Y. I don't like that X takes up so much of my time. But... it's practical. WTF?"
It could be "college," but it could also be a stable salaried job or whatever. Actually, this particular email wasn't about college, it was about a really well compensated salaried job that wasn't the person's passion.
Mike Radivis just asked asked some good questions on "Chase Meaning, Not Happiness" -
How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness? Aren't things that create more happiness for a longer time for a larger number of individuals better than those things who lack those qualities but are proclaimed to be personal achievements anyway? Does the scope of happiness make happiness meaningful to you or not? What are achievements good for if they aren't good at facilitating happiness? Imagine you wouldn't experience any pleasant or unpleasant emotions and would have to decide rationally what to pursue (assuming that is possible at all). Then what you want to do with your life? (Another way to formulate this question maybe would be to ask what's your grand strategy in that situation.)
I'm quite interested in your answers. I like that your blog posts are so outspoken. It's just that the message of this post is hard for me to grasp, as I'm pretty much utilitarian in my thinking.
Good questions. I'll go through it line by line.
How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness?
I've set "clear email out" as a daily to-do objective every day for the last week, but haven't been able to do it. I'll spend a few hours answering and cutting down, and get even more while I'm doing it. The last few days, I've spent a lot of time with it and still wound up with more at the end of the day than when I started.
Some points to note:
1. I apologize if I miss something time sensitive. If it's short term important, please mark "URGENT" in the subject line. Normally you don't need to do that with me and I answer most of my email quickly, but I'm swamped. Mark urgent and don't feel bad about doing so if it's short term expiring.
2. If I haven't replied, it's not because I hate you.
3. If I'm terse, it also doesn't mean I hate you.
Question from a reader -
I'm reading The Book of Five Rings, and I have a question.
There's a lot of good stuff about acting decisively and immediately so that you can win while your opponent is hesitating, but I don't get why he emphasizes swords so much in particular.
Masters of the long sword are traditionally known as heihosha [strategists]. As for the other military arts, those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, and those who master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the long sword "long swordsmen", nor do we speak of "short swordsmen". Bows, guns, spears and halberds are all tools of the warriors and each should be a way to master strategy.