I’ve been reminded lately that in order to be successful you have to be a little obsessive. There are examples like Thomas Edison’s 10,000 failed prototypes for the light bulb (according to the legend) or this story of a family raking in $1,000 in change since 2005 (they blog their daily take) or this story of a guy making a living as a dumpster-diver. OK, so maybe you have to be a lot obsessive.
The point is that success is never easy. You don’t make $1,000 by picking up a few pennies. You have to be obsessed with picking up change. You don’t bankroll your own business ideas by trash picking on the weekend. You have to know what’s worth something and what isn’t, be relentless and methodical, and stick to it even in a Canadian blizzard. In short, you have to be obsessed.
That’s how novels are written, amazing albums created, great works of art brought to life. That’s how professional bloggers make money, how techies build incredible applications, how an evangelist can speak to more people in live audiences than anyone in history. Persistence trumps talent.
My question then becomes am I obsessive enough?
Sometimes I think I’m obsessed with too many different things, I dabble too broadly to truly be obsessively successful. And I guess that’s the hard part. You can’t hedge your bets by dabbling, you have to dive in. It’s kind of scary. And that’s what makes it worthwhile.
Earlier this week I had a CFCC meeting in Chicago, so I left the wife and child carless and drove 400 miles to Chicago (gas may be expensive, but it was still cheaper than planes or trains). I used to drive that stretch of Interstate between St. Paul and Detroit all the time in college (at least six times per year?), so it was just like old times. I also realized that I haven’t taken a long road trip by myself in a long time. I think 2005 was the most recent, and before that it was probably 2001. I guess marriage does that to you.
I also realized the last time I spent any considerable amount of time in Chicago was 1999 when I lived there for a summer. Welcome to nostalgia land.
Continue reading My Pilgrimage to Chicago
Over New Year’s I went to Anaheim, Calif., for the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, an event that challenged students to imagine how they could change their world, specifically by embracing orphans, stopping human trafficking and fighting poverty. At the same time I was reading the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Both of these were work projects, but they fit together nicely.
Both had a powerful theme of doing practical things to make the world a better place. Both were about putting Christianity in action (is there any other way? Sadly, yes, the church seems to have found an inactive path).
And now I’m wrestling with what these things practically mean for my life. (And I’m really just rambling here, so don’t expect much to be coherent.)
Continue reading Make Your Life Matter
I was importing some old blog entries this evening (something I do from time to time when I get bored–even though I jumped over to Moveable Type years ago, I still haven’t converted all my old entries. I still have about 9 months worth to import) and I came across a few interesting entries:
- Prayer as an Act of Spiritual Defiance – The entry isn’t that brilliant, but I love that thought.
- Hard Work Comes Crashing Down – The subtext of this post (I did this a lot back then, talking about something but not really talking about it) was that the company I spent a summer working for was going under and none of my work would see the light of day. But I speculated it wouldn’t be for nothing–that God might have an ace up his sleeve. It turns out the relationships I made that summer are still helping me today. Thanks Brad.
- The Six Billionth Person – We passed that milestone back in 1999, and I think we’re pushing 6.5 billion now.
- Sedgewick: Three mini stories featuring one of my favorite characters who went on to star in his own novel.
I complain a lot. I know. I’m sorry.
But every now and then I realize how lucky I am to live in such a world that I have all these things to complain about. I’m just thankful I live in a world where I can type my thoughts in perfectly legible text–as opposed to the inky smears of my poor handwriting.
Imagine if I lived several hundred years ago. I’d be sitting around complaining to my friends about how I wish there were some mechanical device that would keep my papers for me. Or how cool it would be if we could hear the band that played the party on Saturday night–without having the entire band set up again in our living room. Or how I wish I could capture an image in perfect detail but I’m just not that good of an artist–there has to be a better way. Everyone would probably think I’m crazy. And I’d be so frustrated.
Opportunity abounds today. As much as I complain about things not being exactly to my liking, I’ve got nothing to complain about.
When my wife goes out of town I get kind of weird. I work too hard. I watch too much TV. I eat too much junk. I stay up too late.
It’s a window into an alternate universe where I never got married and I never became a father and I just became more and more introverted, typing these incoherent ramblings into a machine so late at night.
Let me tell you. That’s one path I’m glad I didn’t take.
Continue reading I Get Kind of Weird
Lately I’ve been loving my Sundays. My work schedule is pretty random right now. I basically work whenever I can to get the project done or get in the hours I’m supposed to get in. It means day time, evening and Saturdays. I’m not working all day Saturday, but it’s the rare Satuday that I don’t get up and put in at least an hour or two.
When Sunday comes along I’m done. I don’t think about work. I ignore the work e-mails. It’s a day of rest, and I love that. For me rest doesn’t always mean sit around and take a nap (that can be fun, too), but it can mean sitting on the couch and watching NASCAR all day or reading a book or editing some video for fun. It basically means doing something I enjoy and not doing work.
We used to do that in college. A few of us would try to finish up our homework before Sunday so we could kick back and take the day off. Rarely were we successful at that, but we’d at least take Sunday afternoon off and make the homework wait until the evening. Sometimes I think we all need a little rest.
Life is so busy. Man. My daughter is five months old (have you seen adorable pictures of her yet? Well what are you waiting for? An invitation? You just got one–go, go, for the good of this dad). My wife quit her job. I almost had an L.A. vacation (then it turned into just another L.A. business trip). I realized the other day that I’ve been freelancing it for longer than the time I had a “real” job.
For two months I was daddy daycare, watching Lexi during the day and trying to work during naps and in the evening. Since Abby quit and will have a month and a half off this summer we’re doing more of a back and forth thing so Abby can get her thesis written and I can still get work done. It’s been good, though I miss reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Lexi every day. But I get it in when I can.
I met up with a blogger for lunch today, someone I met through CMS. Turns out we were at Bethel at roughly the same time, though definitely not in the same circles (him actually playing hockey, me sitting back and watching hockey). We had a good talk, though it reminded me how little this blog gets updated. I was telling him about my blog network and how much it’s fallen by the wayside lately. But I guess that’s OK. Changing diapers and reading Chronicles seems infinitely more important. I suppose because it is.
Anyway, the time just goes by.
I always thought learning how to say “no” would be one of those difficult life lessons that takes a lot of time and effort and failure before you finally master it. It turns out when you get busy enough, it’s really easy.
I’ve been saying no a lot lately. I’ve said no to about six or seven different jobs in the past couple weeks. I said no to being on vestry at my church (fancy Episcopal word for deacon or elder board). I said no to helping our youth group clean the new addition to our church. This morning I said no to going to the men’s breakfast group (OK, so I forgot, but I think that’s my body’s way of saying no). I’ve said no to friends lately. And I’ve said a big, huge no to the pile of dishes in the kitchen and the pile of laundry in the bedroom.
I’m not sure how that last one helps, but it seems to fit.
October is more than halfway over. Bah. Where does the time go?
The last few months have been a blur, a very busy blur. I haven’t blogged as much as I like to, I’m drowning in e-mail, and I’m drowning in projects. I feel like there’s a bit of a light coming, but it’s a long ways off. On the e-mail front, I did manage to clean one box out last week, but another is still out of control. On the blog front I’ve got so many entries stacking up it would take days to finish them all. On the project front I finished a big one last week, which is a relief, though a much bigger one kicked into high gear today. As stressful as that should be, it feels like more of a relief. At least that’s how I feel now. I think it feels like a relief because kicking into high gear means it will eventually have an ending, and that means I can say this too shall pass.
Continue reading Where Does the Time Go?