Mar 2, 2011

Take it easy....

A recent article in the New York Times about the benefits of "giving yourself a break" reminded me all too vividly of many friends and colleagues who don't and how they suffer for it as well as make those near them suffer. This is all part of that "balance" thing, of course, but it seems not to be obviously so in certain cases. One friend, a brilliant and creative hobby chef, pathologically apologizes when trying a new recipe if he has deviated in the spicing by substituting something for a spice not in his cabinet. You would think the recipe was a papal bull and he risked excommunication or worse for heresy. And mea culpa is a lousy spice for a good meal.

When I read some of the agonized, portrait-of-the-suffering-artist bilge on some public translation portals about how, despite an infinitely recursive review process, a translation can never approach the desired (?) state of Platonic perfection, I think these colleagues might find participation in the Easter celebrations in the Philippines better for their mental health.

Dwelling on one's "guilt list" - all the things not accomplished in a day is a fairly reliable method of ensuring ever-diminishing productivity. Someone who is constantly under the gun at work, constantly criticized and undermined by colleagues and bosses (which the Germans refer to with the lovely pseudo-English word Mobbing), tends to suffer from poor health and inefficiency. Well, guess what? That applies to a mob of one: you against yourself.

I suspect that few, if any, of us are immune from the tendency to wage self-warfare. But I think the victors manage more often to accept the current state without recriminations as existing and recognize that it need not persist. Little time is wasted in self-flagellation for past failures; eyes are on the prize - higher rates, better qualification, a reorganized office, whatever.

I liked the unapologetic, self-accepting tone of a 95-year old man in a NYT report, who explained why he had indulged in calf's liver with mashed potatoes against doctor's orders: “You ever walked down the street and seen a pretty girl and thought, ‘Mm! That’s for me!’? Well, I looked at the menu and thought, ‘Mm! That’s for me!’ ” Had he thought about it as much as some of us do about our professional status, he probably would have suffered a stroke.

So while working to improve your quality, qualifications, rates, economic situation, debt-to-earnings ratio, title, influence, sex appeal &cetera, try to hit the drum with the beat and not yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Great point -- couldn't have said it better ourselves. With that, we are off to a well-deserved vacation to South America, where we will take an entire week off before working remotely. :)


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