Saturday, December 18, 2004

Curious about Total Committment to Your Task

As busy as I can be - and it has been close to overwhelm lately - when my new issue of Fast Company arrives, I can’t keep my hands, eyes or mind off it. Even if I read a few pages at a time, in between other tasks.

And speaking of tasks - John A. Byrne, Editor, set the tone of the new January issue in his Letter from the Editor, “Celebrating the Extraordinary.”

When Henry Moore, the famous English sculptor, was asked in his 80th year by literary critic Donald Hall, “Now that you are 80, you must know the secret of life. What is it?”

“The secret of life is to have a task, something you do your entire life, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.”

Byrne responds, “The sculptor’s remarks represent a nicely packaged theory of a productive life: Throw yourself into something big that you believe in. Dedicate your life’s work to it. And make damn sure it’s ambitious enough to stretch you to the limits.”

If you have experienced Henry Moore’s sculptures, then you know that he did have a task that he “brought everything to.” How many people do you know - including ourselves - who throw themselves into something big and dedicate their life’s work to it?

This can pose some thorny questions. Should we only have one task? Or do we attack each new task with dedication? Or should all tasks be in some way related and be comprised by the main task? I have been grappling with these thoughts ever since I read Byrne’s letter. And, then it hit me!

From kindergarten on, I planned to be an artist, writer and storyteller. Yes, if you have read any of my bio materials, I was steered by my parents into mathematics and then the early computers and finally to art school. I realize now that I needed all of these tasks to come together and create the skills needed to work on the big task.

So what is my big task that I believe in and am totally committed and dedicated to? That will be the material for several upcoming blogs. As a matter of fact, it is stretching me enough that it will take all of the year 2005 just to get close.

For now, I urge you to consider your life and direction.
What is your big task? What are you totally committed to?