Mettle 1. n. courage, fortitude, pluck, ardor, verve. 2. on one’s mettle, in the position of being ready to do one’s best.
Metal and mettle both rust if neglected. They lose their shine. They become tarnished and weakened. People who have lost their mettle no longer have sufficient courage or enthusiasm to take on the world and rise above the challenges it brings them. They become dull, apathetic, ready to accept second or even third best.
How can you see whether this is starting to happen to you? Here’s how to make a brief audit of the state of your mettle: a way to inquire into the health of your inner spark, the part of you that can transform your life and outlook—if only it still has enough strength to do so.Advertising
1) Do your actions match your values? A sure sign of inner corrosion is when you are ready to betray your personal convictions in the name of expediency.
Everyone has to make compromises from time to time, but some values are too important to sidestep for the sake of fitting in, making money, or having a quiet life. No one was ever moved to do their best, or overcome a challenge, by compromise or taking the easy way out. Only ideals inspire. Lose those ideals and you lose most of what makes you who you are. You become an obedient robot.
If you realize that you’ve given up on things that really matter to you—that compromise and accommodation have become habitual—ask yourself this the next time you look in the mirror: Can you still respect the person you’ve become? If not, it’s time to change. Those values and ideals are still within you, waiting to inspire you again.
2) Are you wasting time on goals and activities you really care little about? You have this one life, this one chance to live in a way that will make you feel proud, win or lose. Every moment spent on some activity that means next to nothing to you is a moment you could have allocated to living your dreams.Advertising
Take a good look at your life. Is it what you want? Is it going in a direction that you believe is important? When you are old, will you recall this time with pleasure—or with sadness and amazement that you could have wasted so much time for so little that truly mattered?
While you still have the time, stop and review what you are doing. If necessary, reverse course. Do it now. Your hopes and dreams are too important to throw away through neglect or fearfulness. Time spent on activities that you don’t value is time stolen from your life.
3) Does your life add energy to this world or suck it away? Are the people you interact with enlivened by having you around? Or are you an energy sink: a presence that draws energy and liveliness out of everything, leaving it grayer and duller as you pass along?Advertising
People who are truly on their mettle—people who spread enthusiasm, fun, excitement, and ardor for life—pass through this world leaving everyone that they meet feeling just a little better, brighter, more energized as a result.
Any internal tarnish doesn’t affect just you. It lowers the spirit of everyone who must deal with you. Have you ever been served a meal by a waiter who was miserable, glum, surly, or apathetic? The kind of person whose mere presence robbed the food of some of its taste? And have you even encountered the opposite: a waitress clearly enjoying her job, lively, enthusiastic, ready with a big smile and an infectious cheerfulness?
Which one are you? Which do you want to be? What will it take to bring back the smile to your face and the spring to your step?Advertising
You can let life’s problems and cruelties rob you of your mettle, your shine; or you can devote time regularly to polishing away the smears and stains, so that your courage and enthusiasm to live life as you believe it should be lived can shine through again.
You can only find happiness and satisfaction by starting with the life you have today. No one can do this for you; each person must find his or her own way. If what you have is dirtied and dulled, that’s still where you must start from—right here, right now. Until you clean yourself and restore your mettle, your spirit and ardor, you’ll either stay in your present position or decline still further.
Life is good only when you make it so. That’s a task for which all of us truly need to be on our mettle.
Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life. Recent articles there on similar topics include How to save yourself from being hooked again and Binocular vision. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization
Last Updated on March 31, 2020
Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed
Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.
Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.
There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.
Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.
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Why We Procrastinate After All?
We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.
Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.
Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.
To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.
If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.
Is Procrastination Bad?
Yes it is.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.
Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.
Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.
It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.
The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).
Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.
For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.
A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.
Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.
Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.
How Bad Procrastination Can Be
Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.
After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?
One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!
That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.
Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.
In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.
You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.
More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life
Procrastination, a Technical Failure
Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.
It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.
It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.
Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)
Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com
|||^||Ray Del Savio: IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN A PAIR OF CREATIVES TO GET INTO THIS ANNUAL.|