Friday, February 13, 2009

Here's a little secret...

Quite some time ago I wrote a post entitled “Magic Words.” It was about the power of language, specifically, the written word. In it, I attempted to portray both the power and the beauty, the mystery and the logic… indeed, the profound as well as the mundane nature of the art. It is the art of the wordsmith. It was one of my deeper pieces and one that I still like – unusual for me, my worse critic.

The point of all this is another interpretation of the phrase. Magic words… I alluded to the supernatural parallels between words and hocus pocus, insinuating that the power might be alternate manifestations of the same perception. But I didn’t go that way, really. More accurately, it didn’t go that way – my influence on these things – in this type of writing is more that of the caretaker. But I digress…

I have always looked for the secret formula, the one special phrase, those magic words that would snap my life to attention. It didn’t have to be in the form of the ever-popular “self-help” book, but that was, for a long time, where I sought them. It didn’t even have to be in the form of motivational or inspirational prose. If a special arch support or some B vitamin complex that had somehow eluded me was the answer, then I was all in. Oh yes, believe it, my head went there.

Although a dietary supplement or some organic soap was within the realm of possible hiding places, I suspected the answer to my motivational deficiency was in the written word. I searched and I read. “Life 101” and “Do It” by Peter McWilliams were among the first I stumbled across in the early 90s. I read Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Phil. Even the classic self-help book by Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” followed by “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” had some powerful advice for those in search of “it,” whatever it is.

My quest took me though a variety of manuals and rendered unto me some of the wisest advice of our time - all valid, all reasonable and all completely useless. Well, not quite useless, but nothing made any difference, save increasing my vocabulary, until I realized there is no magic. However, sinking those words into my brain – adding more tools to an unused toolbox was not helping. In fact, it made my dilemma, my dearth of motivational energy, seem all the more hopeless.

But it all made so much sense. Action/reaction. Effort/reward. Foul/consequence. What else could I possibly need to get that fire lit? I couldn’t follow through on anything. I knew I was smart enough. I had the capability. The knowledge that I could “do anything if I just set my mind to it” was real. I just could never set my mind to it for any significant length of time – I just didn’t get it.

I have turned that tide today. I’ll reveal how I did it in just three little words. But not just yet... Oh, and guess what? There's nothing magic about them.

It seems to me that there are an awful lot of different kinds of people in the world. I want to focus for a moment on a particular segment. It is a much smaller slice than I imagined, but for me it was a visible one. They are the achievers. Those that are at the top of their fields – the ones who always are working on something and are always busy. They are the ones who get things done and it has become my opinion that there are only a few who fit that mold.

I don’t know if the characteristic is taught, passed down genetically or is an environmental phenomenon. I guess it doesn’t much matter. It’s easy to identify them, however. They work until the job is done. They only know one speed – all out. They get to work early and never pad their time. They don’t complain, don’t pass the buck and will always volunteer for the tough job. And they succeed not because of some monetary reward, but one that pays in much more valuable currency.

Those three words? Do the work. There is nothing magic about the words themselves. The magic comes from the work. Do the work. That’s how I did it. I did the work. I’m doing the work. I continue to do the work. If I don’t want to, I do the work anyway. That is how it works. That is where the magic is. That is why successful people are. Those that are like I used to be and aren’t anymore did what I did – the work.

Simple, no?

6 comments:

David said...

i applaud your discovery and your ability to boil it down. Many books have helped me, including the bible, but the most recent non- religious title is " Too Nice for your Own Good" by Duke Robinson

a real eye opener!

here from Tanya

David said...

hey its not a magic word, nor a mantra, nor a self help book, but have you heard of tapping? see tapping dot com for info

Vancouver Voyeur said...

That's such a simple, yet impossible concept to get across to people. How did you get so many degrees? I went to every class and did every assignment. How do you have such a nice house with kids and animals running around. I clean it daily and make repairs daily. How did you keep your children from running off with friends and getting into trouble. I went after them _every_ time. You do the work. It's not rocket science. Someone with a number of advanced degrees once told me, it's not a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of stamina and consistency. Show up everyday and do what's expected everyday. That the smoothest and surest way to graduation.

mw said...

Like so much of what you write, I completely agree, though I don't think I could have expressed things as clearly as you did here, and have often done in other posts.

I don't know if it was your intent, but at the very end, after you have denied the magic, you bring it back with the phrase 'the magic comes from the work'. This resonates strongly with me - my feeling is that by doing the work - by going all out and investing everything, you get more out of it than you expect, more than you actually put in, and I feel that *that* is a real magic.

This is very powerful Mike - thank you...

Raul (hummingbird604) said...

Agreed, very powerful post, Mike...

Tanya sent.

paulwchambers said...

as always - eloquently written - you observe what passes most of us by...