We are enabled to have work that makes a difference.
I have heard a lot about success lately. It’s a concept that’s really been bothering me. What really defines if somebody crosses from being a kid to being an adult? What defines chasing a dream versus paying the bills? At what point in chasing a dream have we “made it?” I have had many conversations the past few days about this. This isn’t a topic limited to creatives. It’s about my generation. It’s about taking advantage of opportunities presented to us as Americans. I’m most interested in why hard work alone doesn’t directly correlate to success and growth in opportunities. I’m interested in why some people are stuck in dead-end paths, unable to find a way to change the world.
I had my first conversation about success with my good friend and roommate as we walked into the foggy woods on Friday night. He started by talking about how 2014 isn’t about working harder, but working smarter. Working smarter isn’t about working less, it’s about working towards a goal that means more certain opportunities or landmarks will be achieved instead of toiling at something where growth will be more difficult if you have the ability to. It’s about taking advantage of the resources of our generation (the internet, of course) to teach ourselves the talents generations before us had to learn other ways. I don’t know if it’s my own experience or one of all of us, but my parents didn’t teach my nearly anything practical for life. How to change a tire, how to write a check, how to deal with life’s incidents when they happen. Nor did university. I just had to do that all on my own when I was 20. No complaints here, I’ve learned to just go with the flow.
In the United States, I’ve heard countless stories of people rising up from their parents and communities expectations of them and doing incredible things despite all odds. There’s this scene in the movie Captain Phillips, where the captain who has been in captivity for some time says this to his captors: “Surely there’s something else other than piracy.” The response of the man in charge of capturing him was only “Maybe in America.” Wow, even for a scene in a movie, that’s convicting. I have felt a burden recently that we have the financial and logistical resources in America alone to solve some of Humanities most basic issues, like access to clean water. I’m not saying we should chase a global socialism and even out lifestyles, but here we are, holding other peoples hands in our futures - literally.
In this sermon I heard at a friends church, the topic was self motivation. we talked about Proverbs 6:6-121, which talks about the motivation of ants. The little bugs we step on. They work so hard with not even a sense of leadership. I’d love to know what drives their selfless motivation to care for those around them. Humans need community even more than the poor little ants do, why can’t we toil a little more for a global benefit?
How to be motivated.
I want to say it’s a people-problem. There are two things that are going to make a huge difference in your trajectory that we can control. The media we consume and the people we spend time with. I just happened to end up in a crowd of driven individuals and I’m thankful every day for that, because they’ve thought me to pursue an idea, rather than just talk about one. I also have never been huge into television and use adblock on my browser. I don’t feel bombarded with ads and a constant sense of want/need. I’m not saying these things make me more motivated but they make me feel less unmotivated.
Try to find some friends that pursue ideas for fun. Creatives are naturally like that, they’ve learned to fall in love with finished products, as hard as they are, and they love to encourage their friends as they chase their pursuits too. Don’t leave your old friends, because you could easily be the catalyst for change in their lives.
Thanks to Pastor Cornett at Bethany Place Baptist Church for the subject inspiration and encouragement for Illuminate Nations, Alex for helping me continually grow in these thoughts, and Austin for new perspectives every day