What would commitment mean?

I find myself almost daily asking the same question.  What do I need in my life?

The question comes up not as a list of all the things to be kept, but as a searing, train-of-thought stopping “Do I really need THIS in my life?” whenever I’m doing something particularly heinous.  Like washing dishes or staying up until 3 am to build a model.  There is something about doing difficult things that results in a knee-jerk wishful thought that maybe I don’t have to do this.

Its human nature to think of a simpler, lazier way out.  Laziness is an essential part of our creativity.  Otherwise we would still be walking and carrying everything we owned on our backs rather than inventing the wheel.  Maybe my generation has come to value the lazy part of human nature too much.  This is why a recent Harvard study found that 56% of my peers don’t graduate from a 4 year program in 6 years.  A multitude of reasons could lead to this statistic: difficulty of classes, hatred of teachers, inability to time manage, rising tuition cost, irrelevance to the job market and probably a million more.  These reasons center on how lazy we’ve become at defining the importance of college.  It’s not enough for us to know “college is important.”  If that’s all we know then when the inevitable stress begins and we ask “Do I really need this?” the answer will be no.

My long time mentor, Augie Turak, just wrote a post on Forbes.com calling out people who are crippled by thinking just like that.  He describes the red hot heart of leadership as the willingness to commit to, not just what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it.  For me, that means that you have a reason to say yes.  I’ve been in Architecture school for a year now and inevitably when it’s 3 am and the 3rd night of glueing tiny pieces of bass wood together the question always comes up.  And I answer yes because one of the first things Augie every told me he wrote in this post:

It is not the failure to succeed that produces despair. It is the failure to try.

A person will never be successful at something if he/she doesn’t try.  Trying every difficult thing is important – more important is having a reason to try every difficult thing.  Without a reason, there is no commitment.  With a reason there is an answer to doubt.  Being committed is to be so focused on the reason that every other action is in service to that reason.  In many ways commitment is the opposite of balance, but commitment actually can’t exist without the questioning of it.  The very act of questioning, of doubting strengthens our commitment to important things that are worth difficulty (building a model) and also gives us the power to let go of difficult things that are unnecessary and unhealthy to keep in our lives (building a model at 3 am).  Laziness is part of the equation, it’s what fuels the doubt in difficult times, but we can’t be committed to being lazy.  Commitment to the idea of not having to carry our stuff means we worked hard to invent the wheel.

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A Balanced Diet

As I look towards summer, I always look forward to getting outside and getting in shape.  I just naturally eat less and work out more – summer is my diet.  This alone could make any woman feel great, but this video makes me wonder if there’s something deeper going on.  Maybe the summer helps me lose weight in other ways.

Let me frame this for you:  what do you really consume in a day?

In the beginning…

This post has been several years in the making.  When I first thought of using the internet to help me remember what I am doing, blogs were popular.  Yes, sometimes I’m that far behind the times.  So, why now?

Everyday I find myself dueling balance in a million ways and by the end of most days, I am no closer to finding it.  Some would say that’s because I enjoy the perks that come with being an unbalanced person :-).  Today, the reason I start this blog today, is because I can’t get one question out of my head.  Does balance exist?

Balance, as defined by dictionary.com has 31 definitions ranging from “a stable emotional state” to “to reckon and adjust accounts.”  To me, balance has always been tied to the idea of equilibrium.  Give and take.  My parents taught me this at young age of 5 when I first got my allowance.  If I’d given my time to chores that week I was given some money, some of which I had to save, some of which I could take and spend on whatever I wanted.  I quickly learned that the more cheerful I was about my chores, or to be more honest, the less I complained about them, the more money I was given.  They taught me that being part of the family was rewarding to my desires as long as I also fulfilled their desires.  Looking back, this was a lot to grasp as a whiny 5 year old – but I’m glad my parents thought highly enough of me to teach me.

Balance must exist as the result of understanding the system.  It’s the peace that you get when you know that you have sacrificed something for something else.  However, I’m years removed from my allowance days and able to look back at them now and see them as rewarding.  I am beginning to challenge myself – what sacrifices do I complain about to today that are truly worth it?  where can balance be found and where should it be fought?