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Day 253 - The Subtle Art of Successful Ditch Digging...

I used to define success in concrete ideas: houses, cars, jobs, vacation, clothes. I no longer do that. It isn’t that I don’t see that those indicia of success have value in their own right but I also now see that they are only the top layer.


Success, for me, has been an elusive thing largely because I used the wrong instruments for measuring. I was always measuring by things outside of myself. Money and things mostly. I have never really wanted fame. I think that fame comes with super hard terms. Which I know begs the question as to why I have a blog. Believe me, it is a spiritual act to put it all out there every day and just let it be. But I recognize that my whole purpose and intent was to share in the hopes that I help one person. Blowing it all up so that I can “help” more would ruin it. I just have to turn it all over and just let it be whatever it is supposed to be.


On the daily, I just have to do these two things:


Do the work I need to do.

Give it everything I have.


I was having dinner last night with someone who told me this story of when he was digging a ditch. That was his job. Digging ditches. He was in this ditch and every fiber of his being didn’t want to dig the ditch. He was frustrated with his lack of success. He wanted something other than to be the hard labor of ditch digging. But while he was in the ditch thinking about quitting, he heard this:


DIG THE DITCH. DO IT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.


For some reason, he listened. So he dug the hell out of that ditch. It was probably the most perfect ditch ever dug. He received instant feedback that the ditch was perfection. And he took that praise and the feeling of accomplishment he felt and he moved forward in his life. Needless to say, he no longer digs ditches. But in some regards he does. He digs them every day in the sense that he learned something important in that ditch that day...he learned that it didn’t matter what he wanted to do. It mattered only that he did what he committed to do and to gave it all he had.


So in that sense he is still digging ditches today.


Success is a mindset. It is an internal compass that tells you what is right and wrong and worthwhile and not. It is doing the task at hand solely for the purpose that it was assigned to you, you can do it and then it is the very hard work of committing yourself to doing the best job you can at a task that might seem beneath you, stupid, hard, boring, unimportant or just simply not at all what you want to be doing with your life.


But if success is a mindset and not a dollar amount in your bank account, you can be successful right now while you are drinking your coffee in your pjs and slippers.


Are you doing the work you need to do?


Yep, you are killing the whole waking up thing!


Are you giving it everything you got?


I hope so and if you aren’t, why?


It is your morning. It is your cup of coffee. Why not enjoy the fuck out of it and give it your full attention?


As I sat and listened to this man’s story, I was struck by how committed he is to doing his best...in everything. All the time. In all that he does. He leads this amazingly principled life. I was impressed by how effortlessly he seems with his way about living. He just does what he is supposed to do, and he gives it all he has got...no exceptions.


It was so refreshing and rare to spend time with a person who has what they want and wants what they have. It was truly miraculous. I sat in awe and inventoried my never ending quest for more. How dissatisfied I am with so many things. How often I cut corners and do not do the work that I am supposed to do and I do not give it all I have. In fact, I think that I have been afraid all of my life to do these two simple things: do the work I am supposed to do and give it my all. Somehow I think I grew up believing that doing either of those things meant that I was giving away something of my essence that I would never get back. Wrong again lady.


The longer I live the more I realize that life is not that complicated. That the best things in life are simple. Not always easy but simple in their essence and core. Sometimes to be successful, you just have to dig the best fucking ditch ever. It really isn’t any more complicated than that...





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