Thursday, August 2, 2007


Make the most of your life

Evens like to “Get ready…get set…” endlessly. It is the ODDS who “go.” Evens busy themselves with the means while ODDS focus on attaining the ends.Evens love to wallow in busy work because it gives them the delusion they are getting things done. They are plodders, often losing sight altogether of their goals. Evens “put in” their time.ODDS are achievers. They get things done.Committees, at least the bad ones, can be great for focusing on what doesn’t matter. They spend a ton of time on the means while forgetting about the end.I sat on a non-profit committee for three months, which met once a week. Their stated purpose was to raise money for youth programs. Compared to them molasses moves at the speed of lightning. They loved asking each other, “Define your terms.” If a fire had broken out in a corner of that room, by the time we defined “smoke,” we would have all been ashes.The problem with that committee was that merely “being” at the meeting became more important than the problem solving that was supposed to be occurring at the meeting. No one got any credit and no one got any blame so no one got anything done.When it comes to minor matters, plodders often seek perfection. That way, you can put in more time. When I was a college student, I worked a summer at a freight car company. Like most lousy employees, I was a plodder. I was an Even.What the company did was rebuild freight cars that came in off the road.One morning, my job was to paint over the rust spots on a series of freight cars. I was standing there carefully dabbing out the various spots of rust. The foreman came by and observed me for a moment. Then he walked up, grabbed my paint bucket, shoved me out of the way, took a few steps back and splashed the entire gallon of paint onto the side of the freight car. Handing me the empty bucket, he said, “Spread it around and get your ass moving to another job. This ain’t the Mona Lisa, kid.”Now, when I’m doing something and I realize that it doesn’t deserve the time I’m giving it, I remind myself, “It ain’t the Mona Lisa. Just get it done.”Mark was a salesman whose job required a certain amount of schmoozing with his clients; taking them to dinner, golf outings, that sort of thing. He became a great schmoozer. But in the process, he forgot that the purpose of schmoozing was to sell more product. He almost lost his job before he realized that he had to focus on the passion that had brought him to the job to begin with – selling. He was getting ready, getting set, but not going. He wasn’t selling. Every college has a number of “Get ready, get set but never go” students. They often change majors, schools and manage to accumulate hundreds of college credits without ever earning a degree. These students hang around a college for the same reason some people hang around bars. It is a comfortable environment. Such students have focused completely on the process and have forgotten their goal of getting a degree.Why have so many of us allowed ourselves to “Get ready, get set…” but not “go?” Fear.When you decide to live a life that relishes your ODD, change is going to occur. You’re gambling that the change is going to make your life better, not worse, and that’s scary. The unknown always is. If you are thinking Even, maybe you’re scared because you perceive that the stakes are so high. At such times, it’s good to remember that although many things in life are important, none of them is serious. No matter what you do, no matter how great, silly or stupid, it is virtually certain that, in a very short amount of time, no one is going to know, care or remember.That would be just as true if you were the ruler of the world. In just a hundred years, in terms of the universe hardly the blink of an eye, you and I and everyone else alive today, at least physically, will be the dust on someone’s furniture.BECOMING YOUR WIZARD OF ODD: Be the dust that had fun. Focus on the goal, not the process.BECOMING A WIZARD TO OTHERS: Remind those around you about the old saying in basketball: “You miss all the shots you never take.”

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