My mom thought it would be good for me to learn a little self-discipline, so when I was 5 years old, she put me into martial arts. Being a small kid in the class I typically got beat up on a bit, so I didn't always like going. I would whine, "Mom, I don't like this, it isn't fun for me, I don't enjoy this!"
Whether it was karate class, completing my homework or cleaning my room she would always say the same thing back to me...
"That's okay, Rory -- enjoying it isn't a requirement of doing it."
Enjoying it isn't a requirement of doing it -- what a great lesson that we learn as kids and yet when we become sophisticated adults we so quickly lose sight of that all-important truth!
Instead, we live in a world today where people complain about having to do things they don't want to do. We have experts utilizing sham statistics about how we need to have more "breaks" in the day in order to be productive. And instead of going to work at any job they can find, young people live at home with their parents until they're 30 because they "are holding out until they can find something they are passionate about."
We've become a culture consumed with magic pills, secret formulas and hidden potions. The "Take the Stairs" truths of old have been traded for a more pervasive and convenient "escalator mentality." And while we are critical about young people not having appropriate work ethic, at the same time we put the guy with the book about being lazy on CNN.
I'm calling shenanigans.
I didn't like it at the time -- and I don't necessarily like it right now -- but my mom was right, "enjoying it isn't a requirement of doing it." Convincing ourselves of anything else is just an enabling facade.
When was the last time you heard someone after a Super Bowl, during a Grammy acceptance, or at a hall of fame induction cite taking breaks, sleeping in, or working less as the key to their success?
Do we really think Walter Payton enjoyed running up bleachers with a wood beam strapped to his back, that The Beatles got excited about playing in front of three people at open mic night or that Mother Theresa loved working in slums?
No. Excellence is less about waiting to find something that you love doing, and more about finding love in being successful at whatever it is you are doing. It's great if you can enjoy it. It's great if you can be passionate about it. But don't fool yourself into thinking it has to be that way at the start.
There is no perfect job, there is no perfect marriage, there is no perfect life that you find; there are only perfect ones that you create by working your butt off to make them that way.
But instead of challenging people's winey assertions and throwing out ridiculous claims from the alleged "experts," we cater to people's cries for an easier life and ignore the truth:
Enjoying it isn't a requirement of doing it. Rest isn't a prerequisite for meeting deadlines. And passion for your work is a luxury, not a necessity.
The truth may not be as exciting, it may not be as sensational, and it certainly isn't as easy to hear. But then again, those aren't prerequisites of the truth still being the truth.
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