A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Quick Hits of the Week

  • If you’re employed, what is it exactly that you do? Do you build widgets? Do you sell stuff? How would you describe your everyday work? Now, here’s the important question: How is your everyday work serving people? Dan Rockwell wants us to remember that the only reason we’re in business is to serve. If you can’t immediately see how the work you do serves others, then you need to take some time and figure it out. More importantly, if you can’t figure out how your work serves others, then you need to find work that does.
  • In the last couple of months, we’ve lost Sheriff Taylor,  Lt. Commander McHale, and Corporal Newkirk. That also means that we’ve lost Ben Matlock (Atlanta’s greatest criminal defense attorney), Dominic Santini (co-pilot of human civilization’s crowning achievement), and the most kissy-faced game-show host ever. I don’t like focusing on death, but it’s hard not to take note of the passing of television legends like these.
  • I’m a big fan of individuals creating and innovating. Looking at old materials in new ways, or putting a fresh spin on an old concept. So, it makes sense that the work being done by UpCycle Living would get my attention. Taking shipping-crates and turning them into affordable homes. Providing relief for Haiti. Not to mention, making a splash right in my own city. The engineer in me is busy assembling shipping-crates into different configurations in my head to see what kind of weird but interesting home designs could be created. The burgeoning financial coach in me wants to warn you not to buy one unless you are dead set on making a statement instead of an investment. These are a niche market with the potential resale value of a mobile home. I still liked them on Facebook, though.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

July 12, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Never Retire

(This covers the tenth chapter from Rabbi Daniel Lapin‘s book Thou Shall Prosper. Each chapter is one part of a set of core principles that approach business and money as spiritual practices, referred to as the ‘Ten Commandments for Making Money.’ I’m reviewing the final ‘Commandment’ here, which completes my commitment to go over all ten. You can find out more in this post discussing my overall thoughts on the book. All quotes, unless otherwise attributed, come from the book.)

If  retirement is your goal, your entire drive will be deeply flawed. You will never create all you could have. However, if you view your creative, professional life as an exciting, ongoing process with no defined expiration date, you avoid limiting your potential.

This discussion can cause a substantial amount of trouble if not handled with care. The concept of retirement has become ingrained into our culture. Thanks to the Social Security system, a firm age has been set for what many consider the end of productive work and the start of the “good life.” Individual plans may vary slightly, but if you’re not ready, willing, and able to quit your job by the time Uncle Sam starts sending you regular checks, then our society generally thinks that you’re doing it wrong.

So, apart from the everyday joy from embracing weirdness, what do we gain by rejecting the idea of retiring? Even if you plan to work until you die, you should still be investing and growing your wealth. You should still be making plans for the next 5, or 10, or even 25 years of your life.  You don’t get to slack off just because you’ll be working as long as you’re able. Why not go ahead and just enjoy those last years? I’ll give you two reasons.

1. Work has to be more than just a means to an end. I’ve written about this a couple of times before. Suffice to say, the career we choose shouldn’t just be about the profits we’ll earn. It should provide us with a chance to live out a purpose, and it should fill us with joy. Every step we take along our career path should be one step closer to each one of us doing the work that is uniquely ours to be doing. If we succeed at that, having to stop should be a nightmare, not a dream.

2. Age alone doesn’t determine productivity.  It would be a mistake to overemphasize the importance of our physical ability to our talent to create. Expertise, experience and wisdom have disappeared from our workplaces too quickly, and have not been easily replaced. In an information based economy, we need people who can provide  knowledge to remain in the workforce longer. We also need people who are well connected to the people that they serve and care for, and that level of connection takes time. Don’t plan to deny others the benefit of your presence simply because you’ve achieved some magic number.

For the last time, here are some quotes from the book that stood out to me:

The reason that the belief in retirement as a life goal is so destructive is that it seems to form a kind of spiritual virus that infects all your thinking. […] If you visualize some day in your future when you will no longer “have to work,” you are subconsciously slowing down already.

Short-timer’s disease is a real thing, and I’ve seen (and been guilty of) it’s results far too often. It’s frightening to think that, by even considering an eventual date of departure, you infect yourself with an attitude that will negatively affect the quality of your work for years to come.

Dr. Donald Hensrud is the director of the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program. He says, “Life revolves around relationships, and it shows in aging. People who maintain close relationships live longer and healthily. It may sound corny, but caring for others helps us care for ourselves.” […] Working productively means that you are caring for others.

[W]ork is chiefly about how other people will benefit from your efforts. It may be today or it maybe in the future, but engaging in work is a moral, benevolent, and caring thing to do.

We’ve come full circle back to the premises of the first two Commandments. Work is moral. It connects us to others. We should never stop.

A person’s real economic value is spiritual, not physical. You may have a certain economic value, which is to say a value to your fellow humans, as a ditch digger, but it is only a fraction of your real value.

What are you truly worth? How do you determine an accurate measurement of your contributions to the world around you?

Sustaining the retirement myth contributes to people mistakenly subscribing to the notion that humans are chiefly consumers rather than creators and that as such, the best way to run business affairs is to minimize the number of these consumers.

Never forget that we are all more than just mouths that need to be fed, and bodies that need to be sheltered. Each of us creates and builds more value into this world simply by existing.

And that’s my take on Rabbi Lapin’s Tenth Commandment for Making Money. Finally. This has been an interesting exercise, but I think I’ll keep my book reviews more restrained in the future.

If you’re new to this, take the time to the start from the beginning with my thoughts on Chapter One, Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions about this chapter, whether you’ve read the book or not. Thanks.

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Read and Reviewed, Work and Money | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Never Retire

Glad to be working or working to be glad?

Do me a favor and read the following quote from Frederick Buechner‘s The Hungering Dark. It’s a bit wordy, but I think it’s worth it. I’ll share my thoughts with you in a moment.

[image removed]

To Isaiah, the voice said, “Go,” and for each of us there are many voices that say it, but the question is which one will we obey with our lives, which of the voices that call is to be the one that we answer. No one can say, of course, except each for himself, but I believe that it is possible to say at least this in general to all of us: we should go with our lives where we most need to go and where we are most needed.

Where we most need to go. Maybe that means that the voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace, which is much of what gladness is? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint on canvas? Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirits? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.

And also, where we are most needed. In a world where there is so much drudgery, so much grief, so much emptiness and fear and pain, our gladness in our work is as much needed as we ourselves need to be glad. If we keep our eyes and ears open, our hearts open, we will find the place surely. The phone will ring and we will jump not so much out of our skin as into our skin. If we keep our lives open, the right place will find us.

[emphasis added]

For many of us the words work and ministry don’t occupy the same space. They are fundamentally different.

We go to work because we need to provide for a living. Pay is a critical factor. It allows us to have a place to live, put food on our tables, save and grow wealthy. Work is for profit.

We do ministry because we want to grow spiritually. Fulfillment is a critical factor. It allows us to help those in need, give of ourselves, serve and show mercy. Ministry gives us purpose.

Unless you’re a pastor or missionary, those two don’t usually overlap. If we claim to find purpose in our work, then our culture calls us a ‘workaholic’ and counsels us on having balance. And if we’re involved in a ministry, mentioning the word profit is almost dirty.

But Buechner doesn’t say that at all. In fact, he says just the opposite, doesn’t he? He says, “What can we do that makes us gladdest?” In other words, what career will bring us the most joy?

Joy is the dividing hedge, isn’t it? Because making money is work, having money is fun, and giving money is joy, right? So, the thought of making money and experiencing joy seems wrong to us. It’s on the wrong side of the wall. Even for those of us who are doing it, they say things like, “I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this.”

If you’re one of those people, revel in it. Our joy in our work is needed. You are serving and helping those around you while you get to put food on your table. That is a huge blessing. Don’t miss it.

If you’re not one of those people, it’s time to figure out why. And, I’ll confess something here, I’m one of you. Over a decade ago I wandered into my career. I thought it made me successful, but now I know my measure of success was wrong. I was listening to the wrong voice. Today, that’s changed.

What voice are you listening to? Are you working to be glad, or just glad to be working?

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments