I know a lawyer who really wishes that he was a rabbi. I also know a rabbi who really wishes he was a doctor. Have you met the plumber who really wishes he was a poet or the bookkeeper who really wishes she was a ballerina? The lawyer is doing nothing to change his profession and neither is the rabbi. The plumber only dreams of writing and the bookkeeper only dreams of dancing.
Do I hear you say, “No harm in fantasy”? Wrong! Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that fantasizing makes us less happy with our reality. Remember that lawyer harboring secret rabbinic dreams? Well, he’s less effective at his work. That rabbi daydreaming of replacing his dark suit with green scrubs has no passion for his profession. Deep down that plumber is dissatisfied with fixing faucets and as for that want-to-be ballerina, her clients get less of her enthusiasm than that faded old tutu in her closet.
Lingering thoughts of roads not traveled infiltrate all our minds, so how do we generate focused passion for what we actually are doing?
Let’s become flies on the wall for what must have been one of history’s most extraordinary meetings. But first, a little Genesis arithmetic. Let’s say Adam was created at the beginning of year 1 and died in the year 930. (Genesis 5:5)
It is easy to calculate that ten generations later, Noah was born in the year 1056 and died in the year 2006 at the age of 950 years-old. (Genesis 9:29) Meanwhile, in the year 1948, Abraham was born, which means that at the time of Noah’s death, Abraham was 58 years old.
Do you think it feasible that Abraham, a spiritual seeker, would not have sought out the elderly Noah? It is impossible to fathom Abraham not seeking a meeting with the man whom God had directly instructed to build the ark and who was the living ancestor of everyone on earth.
What did they discuss? They might have discussed their families. Or perhaps they discussed the pain and peril of adult genitourinary operations.
That is merely conjecture but what they certainly did discuss was the value of trying to save others by bringing them God’s word by outreach and evangelism. Noah would have argued against it because we know he never engaged in evangelism. When God warned of the impending destruction of humanity, Noah neglected the opportunity of trying to persuade the population away from their wicked ways. He merely built an ark and saved himself and his family.
Abraham, by contrast, never missed an opportunity to talk to people about God. He regularly invited strangers into his tent to share a meal during which he shared his faith. Noah silently accepted God’s decree on humanity whereas Abraham argued with God in a vain attempt to save the inhabitants of the doomed city of Sodom. Noah kept his relationship with God to himself. Abraham couldn’t stop talking about it.
Which man was more successful? To be sure, Noah did save his family but Abraham launched a movement of God-fearing and Bible-believing people numbering in the millions and which endures to this day even after the passage of thousands of years.
Talking enthusiastically about your work not only signals your passion but it also serves to augment that passion. Another way to increase the passion you have for the things you must do is to increase your professionalism. The pride felt by a professional is almost palpable and nurtures itself.
Increasing one’s professionalism is the surest way to increase how enthusiastically one tackles one’s work. These are ten actions that build one’s professionalism:
- seize responsibility and accept accountability for your work
- be punctual in all your work commitments
- be consistently pleasant and polite in all work encounters regardless of your mood
- speak and write like an educated adult
- be sufficiently serious as frivolity is not professional unless you’re a paid comedian
- dress with dignity
- expand your skills and improve them constantly
- never yield to your anger
- be reliable
- deliver more than expected
So banish those daydreams and enjoy whatever it is you do by becoming ever more professional about it. Of course, if you really mean to make a major life change, then don’t just dream of doing it; do it. But if you are retaining your current occupation, you’ll discover unsuspected delights by embracing professionalism. These delights will far exceed anything available through fantasies and daydreams.
Fascinated by the wisdom flowing from the Hebrew language?
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