I came across this interesting video that describes a yogic perspective on work. Any work that we do with full involvement can be used as a process of our growth. However, there is a significant difference between using an external activity and using an internal method for our growth or ‘sadhana.’ Since our external activities are subjected to a certain level of performance, rewards, and results, our internal process becomes even more important on a day-to-day basis. Many people start on to do many things with passion at first but, eventually, this passion has burnt them down. That’s why it is important to do at least one thing every day for ourselves as an end in itself as not as a means to an end. The process is more important than the goal. In other words, it’s always important to do our work right instead of looking for the right job.
Therefore, we need to establish ourselves first and then, act. Otherwise, we will use our external activities to make ourselves who we are. If we are using our external action to make ourselves into something, anything that comes the way that doesn’t allow us to become who we want to grow as it can destroy us.
Don’t try to be a yogi by teaching yoga. You become a yogi first and when people are interested to learn from you, then teach. Otherwise, simply close your eyes and sit and just be a yogi.
I came across an interesting article that talked about a yogi’s perspective on marketing. Our education system and the internet has made today’s world the age of expression and not perception. We are enhancing our activities without is trying to improve our capabilities. As a result, we live in a world where confidence rules over clarity. Our adverts are an example of this.
We have been taught to be too goal-oriented, and consequently, we consider everything as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Goals must be a side effect of the process and not vice-versa. If we become too goal-oriented, our goals are decided by other’s capabilities. Keeping up with the Joneses becomes the norm, hence. We will never think of the other possibilities we could have done. Instead, we merely follow what our neighbors do. Since marketing focuses on people’s wants and not the needs, we had to do ‘marketing.’
More often than not we keep hearing that “trust your instincts.” While that works sometimes, what is important here is to make our instincts or guts smarter. Then, it makes sense to trust our instincts. So, how can we do this?
The more we practice something, the better we become at doing that thing. Similarly, we need to practice listening to our instincts often enough, so it gets smarter over time. Here are some ways to making our guts brighter:
Practicing in private making a judgment call on something. Blogs are a great way to do this. They are also, free.
Volunteering for a non-profit is another excellent way to do practice making judgments. It’s extremely low risk.
Finding out a peer group to sharing and talking through your instincts so that they are no longer your instincts.
In my research methods class, I learned that sometimes even when the model/formula is fit it still may not be good at predicting and making inferences about the larger population. Success is also, like that.
If we had a formula for success, we could predict the outcomes of a person’s actions over time. Unfortunately, here the variables keep changing over time and hence, it’s hard to develop a success formula or model. If we had a universal formula for success assuming the dependent factors are going to be constant over time, all of us could have simply followed the formula and become successful in whatever we aim.
When people talk about their success stories, they are simply stories that can be cooked up in hindsight. Success can be as random as it can get.
More often than not, when things are going good, we tend to ensure we remain in the comfortable zone. We hold on to the goodness. It’s a natural thing to do – why mess things up when they are working. What we often forget is, things are temporary in life – whether good or bad. Everything is a phase.
As philosophical as it sounds, deep down we know this is the truth yet, we hardly do anything about it.
When we are in our 20s, we have our age and health to our advantage yet, how many of us make healthy food choices? We take our health for granted thinking we can afford to eat junk food now. When we have a full-time job that pays well, how many of us choose to be generous by doing pro bono/volunteer work? We take our jobs and salaries for granted thinking we don’t have to develop new skills and relationships outside of what our current job demands.
In reality, it’s the choices we make when things are going well that is going to help us when things get worse. It’s the right food habits and workout regime that we cultivate when we are still healthy, that’s going to be an asset to fall back on when our health fails. It’s the skills, experience, and relationships that we build when there is absolutely no pressing need, that’s going to be an asset to fall back on when we lose our jobs.
It’s this paradox of doing something when we don’t feel like it, that’s going to help us when things go out of our hands.
More often than not, we are obsessed with finding the right line of work and we forget the most important part, which is working right. When we hate our jobs, we try to switch to a different job or even a different career path but, we do not tend to think of the possibility of us working in the right manner irrespective of the job we have.
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport writes a story about a Rabbi who wakes up early every single day to master Judaism. With rigorous self-discipline over the years, the Rabbi managed to gain a lot of knowledge on Judaism. A layman would ask what is the use of this knowledge. However, it’s not the knowledge per se that’s important it’s the effort that went in order to acquire that much knowledge that matters and the years of persisting a process. Why? Because, how we do anything is how we do everything.
What we do doesn’t matter but, why we do matters. What we do is simply a reflection of the times we live in (for example, if Vincent Van Gogh was born today, he wouldn’t have become an impressionist painter) but, why we do something goes deeper into our own values and belief systems. It’s a direct reflection of who we are. We just happen to do the ‘whats’ because our ‘whys’ need an expression.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck emphasizes the very same idea by bringing in the theory of growth mindset where effort is given more importance than talent and ability. Practice and hard work are the key components of a growth mindset.
The magic happens when we obsess about the process and not the outcome (a trait of the craftsman mindset). That’s when the transferable skills are formed. Once we form the transferable skills we can apply them in any domain we want to excel. Success would then be a byproduct. We keep track of all the wrong, superficial things. We mistake the byproduct for the actual effect and that’s why there are only a few successful people in this world.
Similarly, Tim Ferris in one of his keynote talks about the DSS strategy for learning anything. This strategy is universal and it validates the point of how we do anything is how we do everything.
Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble. (Quid’s recte factum quamvis humile praeclarum.) —Sir Henry Royce
Sometimes, on the road to where we are going or where we want to be, we have to do things that we’d rather not do. Often when we are just starting out, our first jobs “introduce us to the broom,” as Andrew Carnegie famously put it. There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel—and to learn.
But we are always so busy thinking about the future, we don’t take enough pride in the tasks we are given right now. Too often we phone it in, cash our check, and dream of some higher station in life. Or we think, This is just a job, it isn’t who I am, it doesn’t matter.
This is foolishness.
Everything we do matters—whether it’s making smoothies to save up money or studying for the bar—even after we’ve already achieved the success we sought. Everything is a chance to do and be our best. Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.
Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world to do it well. That’s our primary duty. And our obligation. When action is our priority, vanity falls away.
An artist is given many different canvases and commissions in their lifetime, and what matters is that they treat each one as a priority. Whether it’s the most glamorous or highest paying is irrelevant. Each project matters, and the only degrading part is giving less than one is capable of giving.
We will be and do many things in our lives. Some are prestigious, some are onerous, none are beneath us. To whatever we face, our job is to respond with:
helping others as best we can
We should never have to ask ourselves, But what am I supposed to do now? Because we know the answer: our job.
Duty is beautiful, and inspiring and empowering. Because all we need to do is those three little duties—to try hard, to be honest, and to help others and ourselves. That’s all that’s been asked of us. No more and no less. Sure, the goal is important. But never forget that each individual instance matters, too—each is a snapshot of the whole. The whole isn’t certain, only the instances.
How you do anything is how you can do everything. We can always act right.
P.S: I did a syntopical reading/listening of the following people’s body of work (books, interviews, talks). The idea of why working right always triumphs finding the right work is a common theme.
Anything that’s worth doing takes a long time. The outcomes that we are proud of are results of processes we followed over time. They are not events.
Therefore, success is a process and not an event. The process over the years gives birth to an outcome, which we mistakenly see it as an event. The truth is the efforts or the process we have been following over the years eventually catches up.
This theory applies to everything in life. The relationships we bothered to care about when things were rough pays off over time in the form of real friendships. The music lessons and practice sessions we attended when we didn’t feel like going and wanted to play video games instead, pays off over time making us good musicians. All the early morning runs we went for when the whole world was sleeping and when we didn’t feel like going, pays off in the long-term in the form of an athletic body. All the healthy food habits we cultivated by saying ’no’ to processed food and beverages over time pays off in the shape of a great body, great skin, and excellent health.
Processes eventually catch up. If we are unhappy with the outcome, chances are it’s a result of bad habits and behaviors over a long time.
What this means is that, if we want to become the kind of person we could be proud of five years from now, we need to start today and persist until we see the intended results. We often overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in five.