Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My boss is Hindu, and to be honest, I truly enjoy their philosophy. When we talk, I enjoy it when he shares the philosophy of his faith. Recently, the advice he shared was to just let it go.
He was talking about our efforts, the work we do and what we try to accomplish. It’s all too common that when we want to accomplish something and put our best effort forward it does not get the reaction we had hoped for.
Let it go.
He explained that we have no control over how it is received. All we can control is our own effort, that we put into it. And that should be our focus.
See, when we want to create something new, a new piece of art, a new policy document, a new approach to organizing something…whatever it is, we have control the effort we can put towards accomplishing this goal. And we know. We know if we worked our best on it, or if we “phoned it in”, halfheartedly working on it and not really putting our best effort into it. We know if we are proud of our effort or not. And this, honestly, should be our source of pride in the work. We should be happy if we are proud of our efforts.
It’s akin to a golfing buddy of mine who used to say that he only competes against himself from his last play. Whether or not he was on par, under or over isn’t really the point. Was he happy with his effort is the only question that matters to him, not whether or not his play impressed somebody else.
When you put effort into creating something, at some point you put it out into the world. You have no control over how they will receive this work. They might be impressed, or they might dismiss it completely. You have no control over how it will be received, so why is it important to us? To base our pride on the response to our work is to put that power into the hands of others.
I’ve tried, every day, to write a blog. For the past 475 days, I’ve done just that. Yes, this is my 475th post. Some have been better than others, but I’ve put forth my heart and my effort into each one of them. Some were received very well, some were barely read by anybody. In about a year and a half of blogs, I have just a smidge over a hundred followers (many thanks to my readers, by the way). In this much time, and this much effort, I’ve never made so much as a dollar. Some might be disappointed by this result, but I don’t focus on accolades or fame. My goal was to get my mind active, to exorcise a demon or two, and to just be open and honest, and I am proud of my efforts. I’ve been very successful because I’m not focusing on the results, I’m focusing on my efforts.
Let’s be honest; recognition is great. And sometimes it is, indeed, disappointing when the recognition we had hoped for is not there. We have brilliant ideas that we share with others, and for some reason, they just don’t see it.
How dare they.
But it’s okay. Lack of recognition doesn’t make the idea any less brilliant, and if it’s never enacted, well, it’s their loss.
This gives rise to the concept of some form of karma. If we focus on our efforts, if we do our best, then eventually the rewards will come. Not because of some universal balancing act, but because we tried our best. Eventually, efforts will pay off. It might be a form of being happier because we accept our own efforts, or maybe somebody will finally start to notice. Mother Theresa never sought fame or fortune. She never really wanted to be noticed; she just wanted to help the people of Calcutta. Day in, and day out, she ran her school, helped the missions in India and did her very best. But, somehow, her great and, frankly, humble works were recognized. She became a model of charitable efforts, highly beloved by people of all faiths around the world.
Ironically, this recognition and this outpouring of love is not the reason she did what she did. I never met her (of course), but I’m guessing she would have been just as happy, and perhaps more so, if she lived in anonymity. When she died, it was so close to the time that we lost Princess Diana that both deaths were reported in the same issue of the newspapers. While Princess Diana, a beautiful woman with a beautiful heart of her own, died, the stories were splashed across the front pages, with analyses, investigations, opinions, and appreciation pieces that spanned many pages of news for days and days. Mother Theresa’s story was buried, on the third page of the newspaper that I read, and barely was noticed at all. But I know Mother Theresa died happy, satisfied with the life she had lead, not because of her fame but because of her efforts. She didn’t want the fame, I’m sure she just wanted to do her best.