Do Your Homework

It’s a good thing that life changes, never staying the same. My wife recently went back to school and has been working hard on the necessary homework for each week’s assignments. I’ve enjoyed watching her struggle and learn new things, challenge assumptions, and unearth thoughts and ideas that were buried within her intellect. I see her growing and becoming more confident. She is engaged and excited, apprehensive and anxious, wrestling with emotions that are great to have because they represent a living pursuit of a specific goal, giving meaning and purpose to her life.

But in my observation of her work habits, I see a tremendous lesson for my life:  do your homework, it’s the only way to grow and move towards the pursuit of your goals.

As a small-business owner that is daily in pursuit of the completion of current projects and the acquisition of new projects, it’s easy to get into a routine, allowing habit to form ruts. In many ways, I have forgotten foundational and fundamental reasons why I am in business for myself. I take experience for granted. I look less at the expansion of my knowledge base and more at the extension of my spheres of influence. But the reminder of doing my homework shakes me from this daily daze of survival, and pushes me into a realm of wanting to thrive: professionally, personally and relationally.

In many ways, I have forgotten how much research and organization goes into life. I feel like I hit the auto-pilot button and let the computer fly me to my location, but then when I arrived, I realized that I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

It’s hard work to be intentional with your life. It requires asking questions of yourself and seeking answers not only from deep within, but from other people within your local community as well. Looking at the bigger picture of your life and what it means for you, your family and your friends changes the questions that you ask, and ultimately changes the answers that you end up receiving and owning.

There are moments where I am floored by the amount of time and energy that it takes to do quality work. In the introduction to Bill Moyers’ interview with Wendell Potter, Moyers describes the amount of research that went into preparation for the interview:

“Are you sure he’s for real?” I asked. “Grill him yourself,” Stauber answered. So I did, with my editorial team:  five uninterrupted hours in private, followed by a week of forensic research into his answers and background. We were convinced.

Talk about doing your homework. But, the interview that followed was insightful, meaningful and full of purposed intent. If Moyers went off half-cocked, would he have been as effective in the interview process? I don’t think so.

So, what homework do you need to do that you are avoiding? Therein lies the key to not only survival, but eventually thriving.

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