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The Incredible Work Ethic of Albert Einstein: Lessons on Creativity and Contribution

The Incredible Work Ethic of Albert Einstein: Lessons on Creativity and Contribution

As soon as he hung up the phone, Ralph Morse knew that he needed to get moving. He was still 90 miles away and there wouldn’t be much time before people began to hear the news. Albert Einstein had just died.

Morse was a photographer for LIFE Magazine. He drove down to Princeton, New Jersey as fast as possible, but other members of the media were already alerted by the time he arrived. Morse would later recall the situation by saying,

“Einstein died at Princeton Hospital, so I headed there first. But it was chaos — journalists, photographers, onlookers. So I headed over to Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Studies. On the way, I stopped and bought a case of scotch. I knew people might be reluctant to talk, but most people are happy to accept a bottle of booze, instead of money, in exchange for their help. So I get to the building, find the superintendent, give him a fifth of scotch and like that, he opens up the office.” [1]

When Morse walked into Einstein’s office, he snapped a photo of the desk where Einstein had been working just hours before. Nobody knew it yet, but Einstein’s body would be cremated before anyone could capture a final photo of him. As a result, Morse’s photo of Einstein’s desk would soon become the final iconic image of the great scientist’s career. [2]

albert-einstein-office-ralph-morse-life-magazine-700x692
    Albert Einstein’s office just hours after his death on April 18, 1955. (Photographer: Ralph Morse. Image Source: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.)

    The Work Ethic of Einstein

    Einstein died of internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition he had struggled with for years. In 1948, seven years before his death, Einstein had surgery to prevent the “grapefruit-sized” aneurysm from rupturing. [3]

    One physician familiar with Einstein’s case wrote, “For a number of years he had suffered from attacks of upper abdominal pain, which usually lasted for 2-3 days and were often accompanied by vomiting. These attacks usually occurred about every 3 or 4 months.” [4]

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    Einstein continued to work despite the pain. He published papers well into the 1950s. Even on the day of his death in 1955, he was working on a speech he was scheduled to give on Israeli television. He even brought the draft of it with him to the hospital. The speech draft, shown below, was never finished.

    albert-einstein-last-statement-israel-telecast-draft-716x960
      The final document worked on by Albert Einstein, a draft of his speech for Israel’s 7th Anniversary. (Image Source: Einstein Archives Online)

      Contributing vs. Consuming

      “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
      —Albert Einstein

      Einstein’s most famous contribution to science, the general theory of relativity, was published in 1915. He won the Nobel Prize in 1921. Yet, rather than assume he was a finished product, Einstein continued to work and contribute to the field for 40 more years. Up until the moment of his death, Einstein continued to squeeze every ounce of greatness out of himself. He never rested on his laurels. He continued to work even through severe physical pain and in the face of death.

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      Everyone has a gift to share with the world, something that both lights you on fire internally and serves the world externally. Furthermore, this thing–this calling–should be something you pursue until your final breath. It could be your actual job, as it was for Einstein. It could be a creative hobby, as it was for Vivian Maier. It could be the care you provide to those around you.

      Whatever it is for you, our lives were meant to be spent making our contribution to the world, not merely consuming the world that others create.

      “I have done my share.”

      Hours before his death, Einstein’s doctors proposed trying a new and unproven surgery as a final option for extending his life. Einstein simply replied, “I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” [5]

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      We cannot predict the value our work will provide to the world. That’s fine. It is not our job to judge our own work. It is our job to create it, to pour ourselves into it, and to master our craft as best we can.

      We all have the opportunity to squeeze every ounce of greatness out of ourselves that we can. We all have the chance to do our share.

      This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

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      Sources

      1. The Day Albert Einstein Died: A Photographer’s Story by Ben Cosgrove
      2. With regards to his cluttered desk Einstein famously said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
      3. Famous Patients, Famous Operations, 2002 – Part 3: The Case of the Scientist with a Pulsating Mass by Albert B. Lowenfels, MD
      4. Famous Patients, Famous Operations, 2002 – Part 3: The Case of the Scientist with a Pulsating Mass by Albert B. Lowenfels, MD
      5. The ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm of Albert Einstein by Cohen and Graver

      Thanks to my grandma for sending me the picture of Einstein’s desk that prompted this story.

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      Last Updated on October 23, 2019

      How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success

      How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success

      Successful people “think” success all the time. That is why their goals are firmly lodged in their subconscious.

      While most believe that having a long-term goal is crucial to success, successful people understand that without small, daily goals, you will get demotivated easily; success will in turn become hard.

      In this article, we will look into the importance of setting daily goals and how to have daily goals that help you achieve success.

      Benefits of Setting Daily Goals

      The subconscious is brilliant at prioritizing. It listens to you and gauges from your thoughts what you think is the most important task. This means that what you think about most of the time is what the subconscious will think is the most important thing for you, and will try to find creative solutions.

      If you think about problems, the subconscious will try to find you more problems. If you think about solutions, goals and dreams, it will try to make them come true.

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      But the subconscious goes even further when trying to understand what you think is important; it “listens” to your feelings.

      Luckily, it has been proven that a positive thought is over 100 times as positive as a negative thought. This makes it a lot easier to drive positive emotions into your subconscious.

      It is enough to be positive and keep your thoughts on what you want — and you don’t have to go monitoring your thoughts all the time.

      It is enough to imbue your thoughts a few times a day with a powerful positive emotion when thinking about your goals. The more you can do it, the more powerful this exercise will be.

      For many, reading their goals or making plans become a chore, something that fills them with negative emotions. This ruins the full potential of these activities; filling yourself with positive emotions while thinking about your goals will make them a lot more powerful.

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      How to Set Daily Goals for Yourself

      Over the last several years, I have been taught several exercises that can help you focus more on your goals and spend more time thinking about and feeling about them. What I want you to remember when doing these exercises is to have fun. Never see them as a chore, you are living your goals, it is something to enjoy.

      If you don’t feel uplifted at the thought of focusing on your goals, you might as well not do the exercise today. Do it tomorrow instead because it will do more harm than good if you are in the wrong mood when thinking about your goals.

      In my business, I constantly need to come up with new ways to improve efficiency, new ideas to test and new subjects to teach. It takes a lot of creative work — and creative work has always been one of my weaker areas.

      Thanks to all my work with goal setting (and because of my focus on my goals), my subconscious knows these are the things I need the most help with and that they are very important to me.

      Every day, I get new ideas of things I can try out, products I can create, seminar subjects I can offer, and so on.  All of them aren’t good but, when you throw enough “mud against the wall”, something will stick. And that is what my subconscious does — it feeds me idea after idea.

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      The method I use is also used by countless thousands around the world and for everyone who has tried it, the effects have been incredible:

      1. Each morning, take a pen and a piece of paper and write down your 10 top goals. Don’t look at the day before, just think about what you want to most and write them down.
      2. Remember to write them in the positive present tense and remember to set a deadline for each goal. Just like we did when setting your long term and short term goals. (For example you could set the goal “I make 10,000 dollars per month by the December 31 next year.”)
      3. Do this for all 10 goals.

      In the beginning, writing down 10 goals might be difficult. Each day, they might look a bit different and some of the goals you write never come back again.

      If you forget a goal, it is because it wasn’t all that important and something more important has taken its place.

      What Difference Does It Make?

      By starting your day setting your 10 top goals, you jump-start your creativity — which will motivate you for the rest of the day. You will have programmed yourself to focus on your goals and to move towards them and their completion.

      What Will Happen to You?

      If you do this, you will start to realize what is important to you. You’ll see what goals keep surfacing and what goals vanish.

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      You will know what you want and you will find yourself presented with opportunities that you haven’t noticed before.

      You will be more creative in finding ideas and chances to make your dreams reality.

      The Bottom Line

      Having goals on a daily basis can change your life for the better. It will help you keep moving faster and faster towards your goals and dreams.

      So now set your goals and make having daily goals your good habit:

      1. Buy a notebook and a pen at your local bookstore.
      2. Start writing down 10 goals every morning, without looking at the day before.
      3. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and capitalize on them.

      What’s next after setting your goals? While your routine is the key to achieving your goals, you can take these 6 simple steps to make progress towards achieving goals.

      More About Setting and Achieving Goals

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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