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We Can Do More

The human capacity to do work is astounding.

The human capacity to do work is astounding.  I don’t mean work as in our ability to do physical labor like move dirt or to lift weights (although that’s pretty incredible as well), but rather our ability to add to our day. I believe, however, that this capacity to do more is directly related to our level of enthusiasm and passion.  It’s mostly anecdotal evidence from my own life, but like anything else human-related, our own experiences have a more significant impact on learning than any other means of transferring knowledge.

Let’s travel back in time, to the early noughties. A fresh-faced me, newly graduated and working my first job, beginning my career as a public accountant. During those days I would find myself always telling others that I never had any time.  I was exhausted.  Mentally and physically.  A decent amount of the year it was filled with long days stretching into late nights, juggling the demands of multiple partners, managers, supervisors, and always the looking around desperately trying to stay ahead of my peers.

I felt I was at full capacity.  There was no way I could work harder or do more. I always felt like I was missing out something. But in reflection, I did manage to maintain a social life, and considering I lived at home, carried (in relative numbers with many others) little college debt, and only had to be responsible for a cell phone, car, and an occasional cable bill. Life was pretty simple. If you sat that version of me down today, he’d say, “You just don’t understand what it’s like to be a grunt in a public accounting firm. I can never go skiing! I’m always too tired to go to the gym.  I eat like crap because it’s basically drive-thru food or quick-chek subs at 11 at night!”  It could have been chalked up to youthful ignorance, and even a little arrogance.  Compared to many of my friends that were not in public accounting, I was clocking in some serious hours.  But I wasn’t doing much of anything else!

Move forward a few more years.  And life became more. Moving out, getting married, buying a home, having children, switching career paths, getting healthier, making a ton of mistakes, moving again, buying a business. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here.  Nearly none of those were designed in some grand scheme. However, they were all purposeful, following my heart, my head, and my gut.

Many of those decisions were driven by positive ambitions: growing a family and finding work that was fulfilling. It helped me unlock another level of capacity. At each step of the way, I took on more.  I did more.  I worked harder than I ever did as a public accountant.  I started to learn what it takes to be a good leader and business person. I learned how to be a father (still learning!). I sought out a more active and healthier lifestyle. I read more books! I’m managing to squeeze more out of each day.  Don’t even get me started on how much my wife can get out of a day.  I probably should have asked her to write this blog, she’s a black belt ninja on a daily basis.

This isn’t about self-congratulatory reflection, I just happen to hear and see folks complaining about being too busy to seek out ways to improve their lives, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. I was that person, for a good amount of years.  I understand being scared to go and do.  There was a hell of a lot of fear for me.  I had doubts every step of the way.  I was scared to be a father, I was scared to buy a home, I was scared to become a business owner, and I was certainly afraid to be a leader. I wasn’t even sure I was capable of doing any of those things at the time. But I figured out a way.

I believe we all can do more if we want. Maybe my problem is that some people don’t really want to do more.  And that is okay too. But if we do want to do more, it really starts with a reason why a reason that drives us.  I loved (and still do love!) my wife and wanted to have a family with her. And when things sucked at work, and I wasn’t happy, I made a conscious effort to change that, to help benefit my own wellbeing and that of my family. And when I took the helm of my business, I wanted to run it the way I always wished my bosses ran a company, I wanted to create a workplace that allowed its employees to achieve more, giving them a platform to contribute and be part of a true team.

I guess a little bit of this falls back on my previous blog post about consistency and discipline.  After writing that last post, I started to look into my life trying to find areas where I have been consistent.  The intent was to reverse engineer the criteria that existed for me to be consistent and disciplined. That led me down memory lane.  And eventually, I said to myself, “You know the 22-year-old version of me thought he was so busy and the 36-year-old version of me thinks the 22-year-old version of me was a punk they could’ve done a lot more.”

Maybe that is a thing that happens when you get older and “wiser.” Perhaps we come up with more effective ways to cut out the BS.  Becoming a more efficient and effective human, doing more with the same amount of time.

I don’t have any real advice about how to take on more.  Perhaps others that I see doing more with less are living lives of quiet desperation, longing for days of Netflix, and nights of Fortnite. Or maybe they are enjoying the ride like I am.

Reading this back it sounds presumptuous and privileged; it’s certainly not my intent. Bottom line, my belief holds, we are capable of doing more, just keep piling on the passion.  I’m also not sure that you need to give up all the fun things. Our capacity to do more grows with our desire to do more.

But who knows! I’m figuring this thing out as I go just like everyone else.

Thanks for reading.

-Dan