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Professional Optimism

“I get it, it’s nice up here. You could just shut down all the systems, turn down all the lights, just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There’s nobody up here that can hurt you. It’s safe. What’s the point of going on? What’s the point of living? Your kid died, it doesn’t get any rougher than that. It’s still a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go then you just gotta get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride, you gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start living life. Hey, Ryan, it’s time to go home.” -Matt Kowalski, Gravity

Some days seem to be better than others.

The recognition that those days count as much as any other is the essence of professionalism.

A professional is someone who knows that he doesn’t have to feel good in order to do good.

In this interview with Behind the Brand, Mike Rowe advises, “don’t follow your passion, but always bring it along.”

A professional knows that inspiration won’t always take the lead. No success story ever begins or ends with “I never felt uninspired.” Turning pro is about recognizing that moods, like seasons, move in cycles, and that the temporary absence of enthusiasm doesn’t have to mean the absence of effort.

In The Hunger Angel, Herta Müller wrote: “To combat death you don’t need much of a life, just one that isn’t yet finished.”

Meaningful work, including the inner work of personal development, can always be done. The decision to plant one’s feet on the ground and put one foot in front of the other is neither cheapened nor trivialized by a lack of emotional fanfare.

Freedom is not something we can fully experience merely by passively inhaling the universe’s air. Freedom must be chosen.  It must be embodied and expressed as the “the will to live.”

For the professional optimist, “I will” precedes “I feel.”

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Excellent post.

    “A professional is someone who knows that he
    doesn’t have to feel good in order to do good.”

    The Mike Rowe interview is very significant.
    Lots of good points. I think he’s throwing a
    lifeline to people. It’s about the work.

    I watch people work and you can spot those
    who have figured out that if you can’t do the
    work you love, you can learn to love the work
    you’re doing. It seems that they’ve fathomed
    out the secret to life. That work is ennobling.
    They aren’t sacrificing the present for some
    future “dream” that may not ever come true.
    And that their lives are fulfilled. That the work
    they’ve learned to love may actually be the
    work they were meant to do. That they build
    a life with this.

    I’ve watched people clean their washrooms
    with the same enthusiasm and vigor they bring
    to their work. Like the old samurai warriors who
    performed their day to day simple tasks with the
    same grace as their major battles. In fact this
    is what would prepare them for major battles.
    Do the little things well and the big things will
    take care of themselves.

    Agree also with the “moods, like seasons,
    move in cycles.” As human beings we can’t
    always be positive, but we can be optimistic.
    Interesting I would find your blog through your
    thoughtful Laissez Faire interview and that it
    was titled Tough Minded Optimism then.

    That whatever the down cycle is—this too
    shall pass. After awhile you can spot the
    cycles and learn how to navigate them to
    you best advantage. It’s all about what can
    sustain us through a lifetime.

    Even the contemplation of suicide as noted
    by Nietzsche “Is a powerful solace: By means
    of its contemplation one can get through many
    a terrible night.” And this too shall pass.

    Ultimately it comes down to what you keep
    emphasizing in your posts: Thinking. When
    we do that in a profound personalized way,
    we figure out what works for us, individually,
    Uniquely. To help us carry the day. That we
    can only live our lives day to day. But that
    can add up to something truly glorious.

    Perhaps this is what gives us the “will to live.”

    “Freedom must be chosen.” Ah yes. And what
    a choice to make.

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