Right now I am currently in one of those long periods of stability bordering on normalcy. Probably why I’ve gotten so much work on this blog done over the last couple weeks. I’m currently on a hot streak. To paraphrase Kevin Costner from ‘Bull Durham’, “when you’re on a winning streak, you don’t do anything to mess with it. Respect the win streak. They don’t come along very often.”
This overall ability to get things done and not be really phased by what problems arise is no doubt due to more than one factor. For starters, spring has always been one of my better times. Even before I had mental health problems I did my best school work, read the most, wrote the most, was the most physically active, and the most socially outgoing in the spring to early summer. Too bad I can’t bottle this positive mojo juice to carry me though tough spots and darker days.
I don’t have access to ‘hot streak on demand.’ No one does. Yet with the benefit of several years of accumulated self knowledge and experience, I can have the next best thing. I have learned how to do great deals of work during good times. I have learned how to do damage control during bad times. I have learned how to make winning streaks last longer, feel better, and more productive. I have learned things that lessen the darkness of bad spells.
The first step to sustainable productivity and happiness is knowing yourself. Knowing yourself is not knowing what you think you should be. It is knowing what you do well naturally, accepting it, and acting on it. I’ve held enough jobs to know that a happy worker isn’t always productive or an irritable one isn’t always unproductive. Vice versa is true. Some people are productive because they are Pollyanna types and some are productive because they are hard cases. One is not necessarily better than another.
What is not good is thinking you always have to be one thing at all times, especially when that one thing goes against your core nature. For myself, I know I am not naturally Mr. Social Hour. I do better at a job, or any undertaking, when I’m not chatting with others and making small talk every ten minutes. I can’t stand small talk at all. Yet because I keep silent when I work and get engrossed in problems, I am have been condemned as anti-social and a poor team player since childhood. Should it matter if I don’t comment on the weather or don’t know when my coworker’s wife is giving him a hard time? If I’m doing a good job and providing some value, it really shouldn’t matter. Likewise, I don’t take offence should a coworker or friend be too busy to talk as long as they are professional and courteous. I don’t need my ego stroked at all times. I don’t need to hold hands and play nice at all times to get my work done. I know myself well enough that I know that is not how I become productive. My core nature would rather ‘kick ass and take names’ instead of ‘kiss ass and drop names.’
Unfortunately I haven’t found many environments outside of blogging and working alone that allow me the freedom to play to my strengths. It is far easier for me to research for this blog and my own enlightenment for ten hours straight than do twenty minutes of messaging the egos of others. Most of these egos wouldn’t need messaged if these people felt free to play to their strengths more and discard what doesn’t work for them. Kind of crazy how people are usually more productive and happy when they are free to use their individual strengths. Sure there are social pressures to conform to fit certain types. Yet we aren’t happier with ourselves and others when we do and compromise our strengths and integrity.
For example, I get annoyed every time I go to my bank to buy quarters for laundry or chat with a banker and the poor clerk or personal banker has to feign interest in my day or chat me up because it’s ‘part of the job’ or it’s ‘being part of the community.’ Who cares how good or bad my weekend was? Even I don’t care sometimes. I have a hard time imagining somebody like J.P. Morgan talking about the weather with Thomas Edison or making idle chit chat with an Andrew Carnegie type when he wanted to borrow money to build a new blast furnace.
And it’s not just my bank that does this faking interest because some boss thinks it adds a personal touch. I get this practically every time I go shopping, especially at the large bookstore I shop at. Every time I go through a check out line the poor clerk is forced to take interest and comment on what I’m buying and reading. Just once I should have said, “Thank goodness I’m not buying ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook’ or ‘Best of Letters to Penthouse.’ ” I totally know why online retailers like amazon and eBay are doing so well. Heaven help us when AI is figured out and my computer is forced to fake interest in my activities. Hopefully the computer will be intelligent enough to not fake interest because it is illogical and pointless. Having faux interest and playing nice at all times doesn’t always work and thus should be discarded.