everyone, inspiration, lesson, life, universal

The Lesson of Job

I’m not a very religious person. I’m not sure I believe in God or an afterlife. I’ve always been drawn more to Eastern philosophies like Taoism, which stems from my martial arts fanaticism. However, the other day I had an epiphany that could be tied to Job from the Bible. For those who don’t know the story, I’ll tell you how it goes, and keep in mind I might be messing up some details or oversimplifying.

God and Lucifer were talking one time, and the Dark One focused on this fellow named Job. He said that the only reason Job sang praises of God was because the man felt his life was blessed. If he suddenly ran across a string of tragedies, his praise would stop. To prove Satan wrong, the Lord heaped a pile of bad times on Job’s life, and yet Job’s praise of the Lord continued, thus proving Satan wrong. Once that happened, God brought good fortune back to Job.

Now we can talk all day about why God would care what Satan thought, but that could be another blog entirely. No, instead I want to focus on how this related to my day.

I went to work on Tuesday, and at first it felt like any other day. My start time is 8AM. I looked at the clock and saw it was only a little after 9AM, and for some reason my heart just sank. I felt anxious, stifled, bored, worried, depressed, etc. I can’t explain the feeling exactly, but I can sum it up by saying I just didn’t want to be there. Normally I don’t mind going to work, but yesterday I couldn’t STAND it.

I am in training for my current title, although I still have to do some tasks related to my OLD title. The daily procedure for me is: get all the “old title” stuff done first, then go see my supervisor and ask what she wants me to do. When I went down to her yesterday, she handed me a report and said, “Here, go over these transactions and make notes on what you think should be done with them.”

I went back to my desk and got to work, and wouldn’t you know it? I felt like I knew what I was doing. Suddenly, my mood lifted, and the day started flying.

Then, when I got up from my desk for break, the thought hit me: “I can’t rely on feeling like I am good at my job. There will be days where I don’t have a clue, but I can’t let that get me down. I can’t let that make time slow to a crawl. I mean, I’m in training right now. It’s to be expected that I won’t always know what I am doing…for now, but a day will come where I am completing the transactions like a champ.”

And then somehow my brain tied this to the story of Job. He faced dark times, but he was patient, hence why you might hear someone say about one of their acquaintances, “That guy has the patience of Job.” He kept the faith that the dark times would pass, and the good grace of God would shine on him again someday.

That is what I need to do. Hell, that is what we ALL need to do.

(Oh and by the way…God? We have to talk about this whole need to prove Satan wrong thing. Why would you care what he thinks???)

everyone, inspiration, life, procrastination, projects

The Path of Least Resistance

Okay, I woke up later than I meant to, so this is going to be short and sweet.

Sometimes in life you might find yourself in a situation where you have countless projects to complete, and a limited window of time in which to do them. For example, every morning I like to:

  • Write a new blog
  • Submit one of my stories to 10 websites for reviews
  • Format at least 5 pages of a poetry collection for Amazon

However, today I don’t have enough time to do all these, so how do I decide which one to do?

That’s easy: whichever comes naturally.

If a project feels like a grind, then I stop doing it. Why? Because if I don’t, then I know I will keep thinking to myself, “Man, this is a drag. I really don’t want to do this right now. There are so many other things I need to get done.” These thoughts will slow me down, not just because of the time I waste thinking them, but they will actually make me take longer to complete the task that I don’t feel like doing.

This isn’t just a writer’s problem. You might have several DIY projects you want to do around the house: put up new shelves, rearrange the living room, organize a closet better, and so on.

My advice still applies. Pick the the project that feels like fun (or the closest thing to it) and do that first.

everyone, inspiration, life, procrastination, scheduling

How Do I Cram It All In?

A lot of people praise me for how much I get done in a day. To me it’s no big feat because, after all, I just do it. However, I feel like maybe I should describe it to give some insight. Let’s say I want to do the following in a day:

  • Format a 30-page poetry collection so it appears to my liking on Amazon
  • Do 30 minutes of martial arts practice
  • Do a 50-minute cardio workout
  • Submit a novel to some book reviewer bloggers
  • Write a new blog on my author site *wink*

Let’s take this one item at a time.

FORMATTING POETRY: 30 pages. The work week is five days. (I base my approach on the work week because my kids come over on weekends, so I don’t even TOUCH this stuff.) Therefore, if I format 6 pages per day, I’d complete that collection by Friday.

MARTIAL ART PRACTICE: Nothing says I HAVE to do it all at once. I fit it into my day whenever I can, making sure to keep track of it in a log so I know I get 30 minutes.

CARDIO WORKOUT: Again, you don’t have to have a solid 50-minute block. I do it on my breaks and lunch at work. Fortunately, I have the kind of job where I can get away with that. I know not everyone has that luxury, but I can’t speak for what kind of job others have; I’m just trying to show how I personally get things done.

SUBMIT A NOVEL FOR REVIEW: I have a list of 630 websites that accept book review submissions. 630 is just too much to think about at once, so you know what I do? I submit to just 10 per day! MUCH easier to handle.

NEW BLOG ON AUTHOR SITE: Okay, I have to be honest that I screwed up on this item today. My usual approach is to write the blog BEFORE engaging in anything else. Today, I did the formatting and submitting first. Oops! Well, no one is perfect.

Now I have exposed my secret: breaking tasks down into manageable chunks.

I hope this serves as inspiration to anyone who struggles with procrastination.

 

~~~Steve

everyone, inspiration, intelligence, life, universal

No Patience for Dumbidity

What’s that, you say? “Dumbidity” isn’t a word. Well, I know this, but I had to give that title to this blog because that is the way I feel about the levels of intelligence I encounter sometimes: it’s so low that you have to make up a new word to describe it. Seriously. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to Archie Bunker all day, and I expect to hear them end the conversation by saying, “Well, I gotta go. My wife is late for an appointment with the groinocologist.”

At my day job, one of my duties is to answer questions people have about civil service tests and jobs. Believe me: I understand that these exams and jobs and civil service rules can be confusing. I’m not saying these people are idiots for not understanding all of that, because NO ONE would grasp it all unless they worked behind the scenes like I do. However, there are certain aspects that you should grasp even if you are just a “layperson,” and yet I am still astounded by the things I hear.

Here is one example.

CALLER #1: I’m calling because I took the test.

ME: Which test?

CALLER #1: The civil service test.

ME: (taking a deep breath to calm down) Well, ALL state tests are civil service tests. I need to know the title of the exam.

CALLER #1: Oh…I don’t know that.

This blows my mind because in order to take a state exam, you have to:

  • Go to the website.
  • Find the exam.
  • Go through a lengthy application process.
  • PAY for the exam, and then…
  • Go sit in a high school classroom for several hours on a Saturday to take it.

And yet despite all that, they can’t remember what test they took?

Another example.

CALLER #2: I interviewed for a job two weeks ago, and I was just wondering if they made any decisions yet.

ME: Unless you interviewed for a job with our agency, we wouldn’t have records of that, but I can still help you out because I can get you the phone number for the appropriate human resources office. Where did you interview?

CALLER #2: Oh, uh…I don’t remember.

ME: (rubs eyes in disbelief) You don’t remember where you interviewed for a job?

At this point, I’m thinking, “My God, I HOPE this person showed the same amount of intelligence at the interview that they are showing on this phone call, because that would tip off the agency to rule him out.” I mean, can you imagine someone like that in a position of any major responsibility, like a Correction Officer or something? That’s the kind of person who would neglect to lock some gate, and the next thing you know, all the prisoners would be out running rampant in the street!

Let me restate what I said earlier: I don’t expect everyone to know the rules like I do, but I think these two examples illustrate what I mean. The average IQ of the world is either (1) dropping sharply, or (2) lower than I ever thought it was.

Now it might seem like I am an intellectual snob, and I’ll be honest: for a long time, I was. However, lately I’ve been rethinking this. I don’t know what it was, but something just clicked in my mind recently, and I realized that my snobbery makes me no better than skinny people who mock fat people, or pretty people who mock ugly people, or tall people who mock short people.

What I’m saying here is: no one asks to be fat, ugly, short…or less intelligent. Therefore, I have no damn right to look down my nose at them for it. I mean, it’s the equivalent of all those bastards that I hear mocking people for being “retards.” It sickens me, and I’m sad that a part of me was like that.

But now, that part is gone. I used to get very irritated when faced with these things, but I’m learning to be patient. If people can’t understand something, and someone else does, then I think it is a moral obligation to HELP them understand instead of mock. Like the guy who played Dr. Octopus in SPIDER-MAN 2 said, “Intelligence isn’t a privilege, it’s a gift, and you use it for the betterment of mankind.”

Well, going forward, that is what I’m going to do. If you don’t understand something that I do, I’m not going to be looking down my nose at you. I’m going to be looking right at you, eye to eye, and I’m going to say, “Well, this is how that works…”

Intelligence can be used not just for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of yourself as well.