“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;”
William Shakespeare – Henry V, Act III, 1598
This morning in my Morning Write, I was writing about how I felt resentful about all the things I “have to” do. In looking at my feelings more closely I became aware of my introverted side, the part that wants to sit alone with his Muse and read and write. There is nothing wrong with this; it is simply how I feel many days. I have very few needs. I enjoy time alone, time with my Muse, and time with my kids. I don’t watch television and I rarely have the patience to watch a movie unless it’s something I’m writing about. I like to walk, but I do that only to stay healthy. A lot of my work uses my extroverted side and I enjoy that too, but when I’m not working I’m content to be alone with my Muse. Most of all, I don’t want to do any tasks or errands that keep me from this.
I could choose to not do things that take me from my comfort zone or to not do things that are inconvenient. For example, I could choose to not mail packages or not have my car checked. Then, however, I would have to deal with the consequences of those decisions. If I got them done then I could enjoy the rewards of those decisions. Both the consequences and rewards are in my mind. That’s not to say they aren’t real. For example, if I don’t get my car looked at and it breaks down, that is a real consequence. Worse, is how these things weigh on my mind until I get them done. (Also, if my car did break down, my mind would torture me endlessly with “if-only-you-had-done this” rebukes.) The reward of completing these inconvenient tasks is the feelings of relief and accomplishment.
When I’m avoiding obligations and commitments I have chosen, what I am really doing is giving into fear and/or laziness. I tell myself that these tasks are too difficult or too inconvenient. I tell myself that I don’t know how to do them or that I might do them badly. This is me as a 7th grader again, avoiding his work. That didn’t go too well either. On my second day as a 7th grader Mrs. Harmelink, our Social Studies teacher, had us copy several sentences from an overhead projector. I didn’t get mine done. So after school I went to Kevin Danielson’s house to copy his. But Larry Keelan was there and they were playing and having a great time. In that moment I made a decision that affected me for the rest of the year. I went to play instead of doing my work. When it was time for Kevin to go in, I told him I still needed to copy the work. He got angry and said, “What? I thought you did it. I have to go in! You can’t do it now!”
So I started the year off behind by the second day of school. And I never really recovered. Now it sounds dramatic to say that one moment changed my whole year, but it’s more accurate to say that it was hundreds of moments like this, in which I chose not to do my work. Granted, I was immature, lazy, afraid, and undisciplined. I also felt overwhelmed and I needed help. But at any time during that year, I could have made the more difficult choice to do my work, and life would have been less difficult.
So I think I will take Brian Tracy’s advice and “eat that frog.” I will follow through on my commitments and I will attempt to do so with single-mindedness. I will get things done as quickly and as well as possible so that I can get back to what I really want to do, which is reading, writing and being with my Muse. When I come back, I will also enjoy the rewards of accomplishment. They won’t be weighing on me. I will feel a sense of relief and a sense of peace.
In this way, fulfilling my commitments contributes to my Purpose because I teach myself discipline. I create order and calm by going “once more unto the breach.” I will Get Started and Keep Going and get things done.