Tag Archives: values

What work is worth doing?

This question, and several variations on the theme, has been obsessing me for months.

I’ve been carrying around just about everywhere with me a book I bought last September: Maxwell Maltz’ Psychocybernetics. I can open that book to where I left off, and very quickly find food for thought, comfort, and challenge.

One question it asks (or more accurately, quotes Dorothea Brande asking) is, What would I do if it were impossible to fail?

And then just recently, I have heard that same question improved on by Megan Macedo:

What is worth doing even if it fails?

Those two questions are really one and the same.

If something is so worth doing, so valuable, that its failure in everyone else’s eyes would not daunt me in the least, would not sway my view that it was always the right thing to have done . . . . then in reality, failure was never (for me) a possibility.

What work is that failure-agnostic for me?

What work is that failure-agnostic for you?

Do that.

Do that first. Before anything else. That’s your mission in life. That’s your top priority. Nay, that’s your only priority.

Everything else, you leave for later. Or drop it entirely.

The doing of it is actually the easy part. The hard part is answering the question in the first place. Like I said, for me it’s been an obsession for months. I’ve concluded that the answer is recursive: The answer is answering the question.

A bried perusal of my favourite author’s writing in Ecclesiastes reveals that it was an obsession for him too.

Meaningless, says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

He gets to the end of the book (and, I suspect, his life) and he’s still asking the same question.

Fortunately for us, he doesn’t leave us with a cliffhanger. He actually stops asking the question, and says (in effect):

Look, peeps, give it up. You ain’t going to get to the bottom of this one. I’ve tried, I’ve accomplished more than the lot of you, I’ve experiemented with everything. Nothing gets there. This rabbit hole is a black hole.

So take my advice: Fear God, and obey his commandments. That’s it. That’s the sum total. That’s the solution to the equation. I can’t show you the proof, cuz I don’t know what it is. I do know that the proofs to the other answers, are proofs to the wrong answers. So get going.

(This article is in a partial fulfilment of a promise to old friend and colleague Matt Williams, who asked me to get back to writing stuff on my blog. Here you go, mate. More coming.)

Alarms bells

A senior individual, heard recently on BBC Radio 4 (discussing government help for young people in finding employment and affordable housing):

“Look, just forget the young people, will you? It’s the older folk who are really struggling. They need the help!”

And a more junior individual, on their Facebook acount just after the Brexit vote:

“What an embarrassing day to be British. No surprise, it’s the 65+ vote that screwed us over.”

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“What the hell is going on?”

Ah. Remember that line? The Donald?

I have this desperate, innate desire to feel that everything is under control.

My control.

I desperately want to feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the world. Nobody’s going to come along and upset my apple cart. God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world, yadda, yadda. (My world, at least.)

I desperately want to feel like I know what’s going on.

Desire is the wrong word. More like, a guttural, animalistic urge.

And when this urge is unsatisfied for long enough, when there’s too much change that I hadn’t foreseen, my instinctive reaction is, What the hell is going on?

You have this same urge.

The Idiot in you says, Somebody DO something. Continue reading

How much is your time worth?

There’s more than one answer to this question, of course.

$50 per hour? £600 per day? 5000 rupees per day?

It’s worth specifying a rate, because then you’ll have something to shoot for, and a ready means of deciding if that latest job posting is really going to help you achieve your financial goals.

On another level, however, specifying a rate is a foolish move.

Because the flip side of the question is, How much is my life worth? (Answer: My life is priceless.) Continue reading

To change or not to change

A couple of days ago, a freelance colleague asked me if I know any freelance engineers who are currently out of work.

I don’t. (A year ago, I knew a few that were out of work. None today, in the UK at any rate.)

He replied to the same effect, then added that a recruiter friend of his had over a thousand openings for permanent-staff engineers that he simply couldn’t fill.

From a purely selfish standpoint, this is good news. I’m on the winning side of that equation. I’m as busy as a freelancer could wish to be, and I regularly have to disappoint recruiters calling in search of a solution to their particular problem.

It isn’t good news, of course. This is a big problem. The economies of the western world are struggling to grow, governments are (seemingly futilely) trying to balance their budgets, skilled and unskilled people are out of work.

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Here’s an interesting quote. In the July 2011 issue of Freelancing Matters, Julia Meyer (CEO, Ariadne Capital) says, “I don’t know a single person under 30 who wants to work for someone else.”

This does not bode well for traditional mindset companies that need to backfill their retiring baby-boomers.

I’m finding the same thing. Most of the teenagers I know are aiming for careers as freelance something-or-other. The last thing on their minds is a traditional career in accounting, law, medicine, science, engineering, etc.

Old-school HR managers have still not clued in.

To ensure the future, old traditional-culture corporations will have to take one of two options:

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Free the chief artist!

I was raised hearing stories of the Avro Arrow.

Although my father was a chemist and civil servant by profession, he always had a keen interest in things aeronautical. The Arrow was a source of pride for him. And shame. A brilliant and bold design. Object of beauty. Built by Canadian talent (many of them Brits who just wanted to work on an exciting project). On the verge of breaking just about every flight record then in existence. And then voluntarily scrapped by our own PM, the strong-willed Dief the Chief, who distrusted big-time industrialists. The world needed strong leaders then, as it does now, but that was one king-size stupid move.

In 1996, a film on the Arrow was produced. I remember being inspired not only by the aircraft itself, but by Crawford Gordon (looking suspiciously like Dan Ackroyd). A man equally comfortable in the boardroom, office or shop floor. Choleric, determined, creative, knowing a little bit about every aspect of the design . . . . . Such men were part of my inspiration to return to university in my mid-30’s and re-jig my career towards the world of aerospace.

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Wouldn’t it be cool if shelter was a free gift?

Just imagine: You’ve just finished university, and are about to start your first job. Or you’re recently married, and a baby is on the way. Househunting mode.

You’re googling like mad for all suitable and available houses.

One comes up: Just completed. Google maps. Five blocks from work. Not bad. You run over to check it out.

As you pull up in your car, there’s a guy who looks like a builder coming out the front door. He’s dangling keys from well-calloused fingers. There’s a couple of other guys around the side who are finishing off some of the brickwork.

“You need a house?”

“Um, yep.”

“Here you go.” Grin. He drops the keys in your hand. “Enjoy!”

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Deathbed wisdom

And that wisdom would be, Do your homework!

I came across some lesson for life this week, that I thought were pretty cool. (Still do.)

And, thinking them to be original to my source, I asked his permission to reprint them here. He agreed. They were purportedly given by a dying man to my source in person. He posted them on a limited access LinkedIn discussion group. I copied them to this post, really pleased with myself.

It hadn’t crossed my mind to check for duplicate content elsewhere on the net. So much for my journalistic skills.

Turns out the words of wisdom didn’t belong to my source at all. As point out by an old friend of mine, the words were originally posted by Regina Brett in 2001 when she turned 45, and expanded in 2006 when she turned 50. No deathbed, no dying man, in fact no man at all, but a woman, and a live one at that.

I’d failed to do my homework, albeit negligently. A check for duplicate content on the web reveals no less than 21 links containing the same content. Snopes has the real source and story documented.

So Yours Truly has had his ego chastened (quite rightly) and his confidence in the human race slightly shaken. My apologies to Regina Brett for inadvertently using her material. That’s the last time I use anyone else’s material, even with the best of intentions and all permissions given.

Hopefully the individual who passed the material on to me as his own feels similarly.

Regina’s words of wisdom are still really cool, and worth a read and a reflection. Do it. Tops marks to you, Regina.