Prompt #22:

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” is a great line from Emerson. If there’s no enthusiasm in what you do, it won’t be remarkable and certainly won’t connect with people on an emotional basis. But, if you put that magic energy into all of your work, you can create something that touches people on a deeper level. How can you bring MORE enthusiasm into your work? What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it? Answer it now.

(Prompt Author: Mars Dorian)

Response:

What do I have to think or believe about my work to be totally excited about it?

I must believe/think that my work…

….contributes to the greater purpose of helping humanity/the universe…

…is powered by a truth and sincerity…

…does not willfully bring harm to others…

…puts something positive out into the world…

…requires me to be my best self…

…must have an element of challenge to me to produce it…

…has the potential to affect people at their inner core…

 

Yup, that’s about it. I have taken in recent years a meandering path away from some of Ayn Rand’s strictest vision of work and of our life’s purpose, at which money is the root of all that is worthwhile. I used to heavily favor Objectivist philosophy, but as I have grown older I see that it has its limitations as well as its value. One part of her work that still resonates with me is her emphasis on creative integrity and working on tasks about which we are passionate. Yet the work I love to do is work I would love whether or not I was paid for it. I also do believe in the importance of work that helps not just myself, but other people too. We are required, I think, to try our best to leave the world a better place than it was before we were born into it—yes, this may help our progeny, and therefore it is self-interested and not wholly altruistic. Yet, in some respects, all of mankind is partly our progeny, in that our DNA and humanity are both so closely entwined with one another.

John Donne once wrote that,

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.

Sometimes I may think I am an island, sometimes I may even wish I were… Yet we are more One than we realize, I think. I am not ready to deny that connection as easily as when I was in my twenties. We also have to appreciate how much a “luck of the draw” (as put forth in recent nonfiction by Nassim Taleb) often influences not just our failures, but also our successes in life. It’s true that we can power up, put on our best cowgirl suit, and hitch up our bootstraps, but I do think more and more that some of the circumstances of our lives are beyond our own doing—even if how we respond to those circumstances is more within our control. Rand misses this point, I believe (after having read all of her work).

So, to be passionate about my work, I do not believe it has to be a big money maker, but I do believe it has to be a good force in the world. I believe that my work cannot just be in my best interest, but that it has to make a contribution that is positive and has the potential to touch others for the better. (Although, one could argue that by doing work that meets these requirements, I am fulfilling my ideals, which is in my best interest—see how it goes?) I also don’t believe in willfully bringing harm to others (so, yes, I would officially stink at negotiating big business mergers that put many people out of jobs or being a defense attorney trying to gain acquittal for a guilty client who might then go out and repeat offend). Finally, my work has to be sincere…has to be done not just to get ahead or beat someone else. I am not a game player, and the “it’s just business” phrase has always made my stomach turn. Work is more than just business: it is personal.

It has to be authentic.

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