Industry Q4

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 6, Q4

Industry: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cutoff unnecessary actions.

Personal notes:

  • Fully engage with what you’re doing; immerse yourself;
  • Shut off distractions;
  • Find fulfillment.

At my last job, I worked towards deadlines without interruption — “cutoff unnecessary actions” — but the work had no depth: good enough analysis that got the job done. Spare time in the pre-deadline lull was spent cruising the internet rather than learning or improving. I wouldn’t call it laziness, not at all. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fake it; my heart wasn’t there. When I fall in love with something, it consumes. When I don’t, I move on. Work was an Industrious lie: shut out distractions, half-assed product.

When I completely give into something, I become absorbed by and obsess little details. I lose myself completely. Unfortunately, it can’t be manufactured. I’m amazed by folks who pick something up, anything, and find it fascinating. Honestly, I find it boring — call it a hangover from the military. Imagine trying to convince a wild animal the value of an industry report. Not going to happen. I’d sit there restlessly at my desk, like the tiger walking back and forth in its cage. It wasn’t a good feeling, but it was there, and as we eventually learn on Saturday mornings, you need to get past the hangover.

In the beginning, Bens13 left me hungover. I found it difficult to wake early on a Monday and write something of value. Grammar and composition were ok, but the reflections were half-assed. I wasn’t providing depth — not the depth you and I deserved — and I wasn’t in love with Bens. To be honest with you, I’m still not in love with Bens, but somewhere along the way, something changed. Over the past year I learned that I owe it to you and to myself, to do better. I owe readers, family, and friends better. This is not for the “A” chased by a wide-eyed college student, but the tired and haggard better of sincerity and sadness. I had to be better and, most importantly, I had to be honest.

Thanks to Bens, I think I got there, or at least started the journey. I learned that true Industriousness requires Depth. Even if you don’t like something, hate it actually, but have to get it done, you owe it to yourself and others to do it well. But more than that, when you work at something long enough, play with the words and rearrange the sentences, stare at the spaces and fill the crevices, somewhere along that road, something magical happens. Between the lines and the letters you find meaning, and there is no greater work than that which is meaningful.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q4

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Personal notes:

  • Such an important one to practice;
  • Especially with friends & family.

For me, the most important words for this week are: “think innocently.” When I think about those words, I think about my kids and how they make me feel. They make me feel like Christmas. What better time than now to be Sincere?

Industry Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 6, Q3

Industry: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cutoff unnecessary actions.

Personal notes:

  • Fully engage with what you’re doing; immerse yourself;
  • Shut off distractions;
  • Find fulfillment.

We’re all pretty industrious; even on days when it feels nothing was accomplished. But there are definitely those days when I don’t “cutoff unnecessary actions.” Wednesday was one of those days. I spent all morning creating a music playlist for my girls. I got mad at myself for being “unindustrious” but, in truth, I was happy.

I was happy because I thought about how happy my girls would be – they love music. Besides, what did I really have to accomplish that day? Most of my to-do list was crap (put there to feel industrious). The truly important stuff got taken care of without delay.

All my favorite memories in life were born of industry but were not being industrious. Do I remember what I was supposed to be doing Wednesday morning? No. Do I remember my girls dancing to their music this weekend? You bet. If you spend your days “losing no time,” all your time will be lost. If you’re “always employed in something useful,” when will you have time for life, family, and friends? Be industrious when it matters, but don’t lose sight of the big picture.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q3

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Personal notes:

  • Such an important one to practice;
  • Especially with friends & family;
  • Be an open book to the ones you love.

If there’s a thought stirring in your heart, be sure to share it. Sarcasm and jokes are fun, but say what you mean. Don’t hide your intent because you’re afraid to share.

Industry Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 6, Q2

Industry: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cutoff unnecessary actions.

Personal notes:

  • Fully engage with what you’re doing; immerse yourself.
  • There’s not much time left; we’re getting old. Use time wisely.
  • Shut off distractions!

Honestly, things are getting a lot better in life, I mean a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to notice, and often, like in this blog, we only focus on the setbacks and failures. But after trying over the course of several months, I can see a change in my behavior, an improvement in my attitude and, most importantly, an increase in my happiness and the happiness of my family.

Distilled down, there are several root factors, but one of the biggest is also one of the biggest enemies of Industry: technology. Technology plays a dual role: on the one-hand, it amazingly increases productivity; on the other, it increases distraction.

The other day, when I should have been writing this post, I got lost on Facebook. When I should have been paying bills, I was texting. When I should have been playing with my daughter, I was reading headlines on my phone. Worse, when she interrupted my phone reading, I was furious – a recurring result when mixing tech and family.

Don’t take this as a slide to negativity; they were only moments in an otherwise very productive and happy week. But to achieve productivity and happiness, I had to be proactive.

  • On the iPhone, there’s a little moon button for “Do Not Disturb,” take advantage of it.
  • If you have a Mac, it’s a blessing and a curse; seamless integration with your other devices on the one end, constant interruption from those apps on the other. Fortunately, that little moon button is on the Mac as well.
  • Facebook, well, avoiding the site is the hardest part and the easiest way to do that is to turn off your notifications. Sorry if I never respond to your Facebook posts but my notifications are off and/or sent to junk mail. Try giving yourself a break and go off FB for a week; avoid the stress, comparisons and bad news.
  • Want another way to go on FB less? Do what I did and take the app off your phone. In fact, take any distracting app off your phone. The process of logging into a webpage is enough of a hurdle that it will end that distraction.
  • Finally, for the kids, put down the phones and hide them in another room. My wife and I police one another, sometimes we fail, but if our 2 year old catches sight of our phone, her screams and cries when she doesn’t get the phone are a poignant reminder that we need to keep them out of sight.

It does always amaze me when I go through these virtues, how often unhappiness or setbacks are tied to phones specifically, technology generally. I’m a big fan of tech – let me be clear, nothing makes me happier than a 2 minute wait for Uber – but when I look at myself, my family, our happiness and Industry, I know progress demands technology in moderation.

Industry

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Six, Q1

Industry: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cutoff unnecessary actions.”

Personal notes:

  • Fully engage with what you’re doing; immerse yourself;
  • There’s not much time left; we’re getting old. Use time wisely;
  • Shut off distractions!

I’m exhausted. With sleep still in my eyes, I’m looking at a glaring screen this morning. Only one eye open. Hope this counts for Industry.

Industry: hard work; energetic, devoted activity at any work or task.

Simple definition, right? But does industry deal with “work” or the love of being engaged in a task? Regardless, “industry” had its intended effect this week. Whenever I started to drift, and that was often, I would catch myself. An encouraging mantra “Focus. Force the task finished. Start the next one.”

Drift happened most when I was at the computer tackling tasks. There were 2 points this week when I didn’t have to worry about drift: writing a short story and removing a tree stump from the backyard. It’s hard to argue “love of task” for the latter, but the hours melted away. Industry was on auto-pilot. I enjoyed the physical labor. If writing doesn’t work out, it appears I would be happy digging ditches.

Most days in the journal were listed as failures this week. That was unduly harsh. The week was more successful than I gave it credit for. The intended purpose was achieved: being aware of when drift occurred and righting the ship. There were noticeable periods when I didn’t have to “right the ship,” when everything proceeded smoothly. If the task was enjoyable or felt good, Industry took care of itself. I fell into work and gave over to it. I wish I could find that more often.

Anyway, since industry is over, I’m heading back to bed.