How do you find the time to do all this? Be a mom, a wife, a career woman, a pastor, a writer and so on?! I have often found this question to be a compliment when ladies are asked how they are able to combine all these roles and still hold it together.
I notice that no one asks men the same question. At least I have never seen it being asked. However people ask me that question a lot. How? Where do you get the time? Play sports, be a husband and father, have so many friends, write, etc. And then *gasp* this is also where you work?! How?!
At the end of last year I wrote my performance summary at the office and was slightly surprised at all the things I found to throw in there. In some teams I am the spider at the centre of the web, in others I am the shadow hand of the King, in yet other teams I am the guest in transit, checking in and leaving cleaning for others to do. You can’t be Jack of all trade and master of all. Everybody knows this, right? RIGHT?!
Which is more noble? Mastering a few activities or doing them all? I think to most people, the answer would be simple. Do all but master a few. Yet some people would be even more extreme. Do only a few but master one. And yet others (like the monks and maybe Christ) would say do only one thing and do it well.
Last year I decided to do everything. I am well aware that one really good way to bring a man down is to make him overestimate his capacity by inflating his ego with praise, offering him many roles and making his saying no feel awkward, and then making sure he is distracted from the main goals he should never lose focus of. But last year I went in with my eyes open. Sports, writing, family (fatherhood), travelling, office work (this was a many branched tree by the way), etc. How did it go? Was it worth it? Did I feel fulfilled? I am still answering these personal questions. If at all I gained anything it was the understanding of what my priorities should be. I was able to try everything and see what gave me the most fulfilment for the least effort, what gave me the most reward regardless of how much work I put into it, and also what would maximize the happiness of the world and the people around me.
I listened to a lot of people last year. I am going to be listening to people for a long time (this is how I know this blog Stories will continue for a long time to come). People have so many things to say. Some you have to coax out of them, some they do not even know what they want to say until they hear their trigger words. For me, I am like a black box. You have to ask me questions for me to know what I know. I am not aware of what I know until you ask me a certain question and the answer pops out and I am listening to myself describe the life principles my life has been patterned after without my conscious effort. My mind is like the inside of the fridge door, with the bulb off until the door is opened. And so many people are like that. So many things are left unsaid because we do not ask. So I will ask, I will seek and I will knock. This way I know I will receive, I will find and more doors will be open to me.
Even this blog Stories has to have a focus. I got the chance to see the backend of this great site in its first year last year and I can tell the things that get people going. Last year the blog hosted a most controversial post and some people were envious of me for the marketing capital such a post must have brought to my doorstep. I was nonplussed about the entire thing, not intending to commercialize the blog in any way. But still, quality and money have this amazing relationship. The less quality content you have, the more readers you have and the more ads you get. The more money you have, the more you are able to dictate your product quality to the point where regular people find it so good it’s boring and then they leave. No jokes, people are looking for stress relief, they do not want to come to a place where their brains are tasked even further with processing complex intelligent plots and information.
So what then? Simplify and dumbify and commercialize? No please. There are already too many people doing that. How then do you have an identity of your own? Perhaps, make the blog a bit more lighthearted, more like a community where you can come and identify with 3 or 4 things in the stories you read when you click through 2 or 3 posts. That is the new aim of Stories: to make sure everyone who comes here finds a safe place where they can identify and add their never before heard/liberated voices to the chorus already going on. Welcome to Stories!
I will end this ramble by saying that it is not enough to do everything, it is important to do everything you get to do well. Your personal brand is at stake. If you are busy half-doing things that are not inter-visible (they are not aware that they are not the only things in your life) then the general feedback will be that you are incompetent, not a finisher, a dreamer, a surface person, etc. Very rarely I am able to achieve mastery in different subjects concurrently and even that only after mastering and deepening each one in a logical sequence. I no longer overestimate myself. Experiments are good but you cannot experiment with the time and feelings of your loved ones. Call them, spend time with them, travel with them, kiss hug and cuddle them, tell them you love them and listen to them, especially to the things they do not say.
At the end of the day people will remember you not for the exact things you did, but for the way you made them feel. Here’s to happiness in 2016. And yes, you just read my long overdue review of 2015 masked as a Stories Editorial.