Cheep Advice #1

I need to get some writing in tonight. I’m not going to do much, because there is a lot that needs to be taken care of around the house, but I’ve been slacking off a little.

I don’t feel that I’ve been wasting my writing time (with the possible exception of this morning), but I don’t feel that I’ve been getting any quality writing done.

I have, as you may have noticed, felt slightly uninspired; but that shouldn’t stop me. This morning I just plain slept through my writing time (I honestly felt that the sleep was a better use of my time since the baby had kept us up late and all night). That’s the first time since I started getting up early that I slept though my morning writing time though, so I don’t feel all that bad.

Today on the way home from work my wife and I were discussing something that brought a saying back to mind that I learned in Mexico. It’s one of those ideas that you are aware of, but might never hear it put into words. The wording in Spanish is elegant, but it still works in English.

In English it goes something like this: “If your problem has a solution, why are you worrying about it? If your problem doesn’t have a solution, what are you worrying for?”

Simply put, every problem either has a solution or it doesn’t, but worrying about it never does any good. I think the saying came to mind because of some issues at work where everyone is nitpicking about the details of how something is going to be scored. In the end, if you do your best why would it matter how they score you? I’ve always seen inquiries like this as “how bad can I be” questions. Like when you want to know how far over the speed limit you can drive before the cops will take notice, or how many times you can call in to work with a family emergency before your boss will fire you. It’s important to have and be familiar with limits, but not with the aim of knowing how bad you can be.

I remember the story of a trucking business that needed a new truck driver (I think it’s made up, but it teaches a good lesson). The owner of the company put out a wanted ad, and eventually narrowed the applicants down to three drivers. The route the new driver would be negotiating had a very dangerous mountainous stretch with steep cliffs right at the edge of the road. So, the owner took the three of them out to this part of the route and had each of them demonstrate how they would negotiate one particularly treacherous turn.

The first was a middle-aged driver with several years of experience. He assumed that the manager wanted to see how skillfully he could make the turn, so he took it at a moderate speed but got as close to the edge as possible. When he was done the manager acknowledged his skill stating that he had taken the truck closer to the edge than anyone else before him.

The second applicant saw this and thought, “I can do better than that.” He was, of course, the youngest of the bunch, but he was very skilled, and indeed he pushed the truck past the edge. Some of the tires were hanging off the cliff as he tore around the curve well past the recommended reduced speed limit. He returned safely, smugly tossing the keys into the hands of the astonished business owner and shooting a smirk at the first driver. With a proud, crooked smile he thought to himself, “Let’s see what this next guy can do. I doubt he can do better than that!”

The owner handed the keys over to the final applicant, an older driver who had been in the business for longer than the second driver had been alive. The man climbed slowly but swiftly into the cab and started the engine. First gear, second gear, on up he accelerated carefully to the recommended speed and went around the curve, almost hugging the mountain on the inside, as far away from the edge as he could get. Thinking themselves to have clearly demonstrated greater skill, the first two drivers laughed at the last driver.

When he returned, he climbed down from the truck and walked over to the owner. The owner took the keys from him and thanked him, asking him when he would like to start his new job. The other two drivers protested, saying that they had far more driving skill and one of the should get the job, to which the owner responded, “I don’t know if the man I’ve hired can do what you can or not, but I do know that he will always transport my goods safely and they will always arrive at their destination.”

That last driver did not ask “how bad can I be?” He just did his best with integrity. Living in this manner we never have to worry about the details of how we’re “scored” or how we’ll be judged (of man or God). Whatever your problem may be, a test, a judgment, or a relationship; if your problem has a solution, why worry? If not, what are you worrying for? Just do your best.

OK, that’s your cheep advice for the day. Take it or leave it!

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