My dad used to tell me, “If you do something, do it right.” If we spend our time and energy on something, we might as well get the most return out of it as possible. To get the greatest return requires directing our attention on the task at hand and making doing as well as possible. Another phrase is “under promise and over deliver.” Coupling these ideas with continually seeking improvement allows us to extract as much enjoyment out of our actions as possible.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with life. There’s so much to do and so little time. We work and then come home to our primary jobs of family and all the responsibilities of our particular situation. We are continually confronted with responsibilities born from decisions made years ago. For those of us with kids, our decision to have a little pleasure turned into years of servitude. Some may have entered into this business contract with eyes wide open but more often than not we are all clueless about the consequences of our actions. Well, so what. Life is all about letting our happiness emerge out of whatever situation we may find ourselves in. There’s always a light we can turn on even in the darkest times. Sometimes it’s the little things that can transform our lives from slavery to our responsibilities and desires into the sacred act of living.
Each of us can find the fun in our current situation. If fun is not a concept you can relate to then perhaps finding a connection with whatever you’re doing may resonate. Both my wife and I work full time and have kids going through the schooling system. Prior to starting what we call our kid project, we had an active life donating our time and energy to a non-profit martial arts organizations. We were teaching tai chi workshops all over North America. I was an active pilot and we had burgeoning engineering careers. We travelled and enjoyed life together for almost a decade. Although we worked on letting go in the Taoist Arts, the true letting go was discovered as our kids began absorbing our time, energy and life outside work. Work became a place we could relax from the real work of living and helping kids learn the ways of the world.
My wife and I divvied up the work at home and shared responsibilities as there’s really no other choice other than divorcing and taking on all of the responsibilities. I chose to be the cook. I used what I learned from my mom as a foundation but my curious mind began to explore a new hobby. I experimented. I read about the science of cooking so I could learn the principles. I found resources I could trust or at least aligned with the family taste buds. Before long I began to get the hang of it and started the endless quest of refining what I made for the family. Not only did I hone in on the recipes and techniques, but taking the time to turn my practice into art. Working in quality, I’ve learned the importance of saying what you do and doing what you say as that is the fundamental principle behind all business standards like ISO9001, AS9100 and ISO13485. Within these business standards is another key principle. Continuous improvement is the basis of maintain a business edge and thus keeping a positive profit margin. It’s no different in our daily lives. By seeking improvement in all that we do and having the integrity to act in a way consistent with what we tell others is the basis of a fulfilling life. To put it in simpler terms, no matter what you do, do it well. Or, as my dad still says, “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”
Know the needs, not just your own, but those of others and the environment. Distinguish between needs and want-to-have’s. Know the process and have an idea of the product you want out of your efforts. And, most importantly, find some fun in your current situation. Connect with what needs to be done and do it to the best of your abilities. If you can’t do that, then perhaps it’s time to find a new situation if at all possible.
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