|The notice on my library book, photo by J. Berta|
I recently partially read What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan. This is a book I learned about via the Tim Ferriss show (episode 29) and it was great, of what I read of it.
See, it was due back earlier this week at the library and (as the photo above indicates) there were no renewals on it. Due to some other obligations (like work) I ran out of time on Monday to finish it.
Now I suppose had I kept it out an extra day or so, I highly doubt the Bettendorf Public Library would have dispatched Vince and Rocco to "collect" my fine. If anything, because this was a "special request" book, I could have kept it for a few days, returned it and likely there would have been no fines. To quote Jesus, "Go forth and sin no more."
One of the reasons I made it a point to return this book on time is that I love the Bettendorf Public Library. They are able to find me books from far and near and I value being a patron of this fine institution. I like to think that if Ben Franklin (founder of the Philadelphia library) were to walk into this library, my library, he would be more than impressed. I've not always been the best (ahem) "rule-follower." However, when an institution like this library has treated me so well, I want to reciprocate by respecting their rules.
So the book was returned, un-read, yet on-time.
Here is the other reason I returned it is it gave me the chance to do that ever important, yet challenging concept of, "practicing what you preach." I have read a bunch of stuff in the area of what I'll informally call, "peak performance." One of the things they discuss is developing the ability to say no.
Saying "no," is one of those skillsets that many successful people credit with their, well, success. James Altucher, along with his wife, Claudia Azula Altucher, wrote a book entitled, The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness. I have not read this book. However, I am working through another of his books, Choose Yourself. Altucher is also someone who Tim Ferriss has interviewed and I listened to that podcast. His message is something like this: "Saying no allows you to say yes to the stuff that really matters to you. It is a skill that has to be learned, but it can be learned." I've got the Amazon link to his book below if you'd like to check it out for yourself. Here is a blurb from the promo page:
"...that you have the right to say no: To anything that is hurting you. To standards that no longer serve you. To people who drain you of your creativity and expression. To beliefs that are not true to the real you. When you do, you’ll be freed to say a truly powerful “Yes” in your life—one that opens the door to opportunities, abundance, and love."
Sounds good to me.
A few months back I was turned onto a book, Virtuous Leadership by Alexandre Havard. I have read this one. His book states that leadership is a choice and that anyone can develop the skills of being a "virtuous" leader. His third chapter is entitled, "Just Say No." He comments: "Get used to saying no."
Full disclosure about Professor Havard's work- it is quite conservative. (Some of you will like it just fine, others, not so much.) The reason I point this quote out is Havard's underlying message is one of being able to decide for yourself what is important and what is not. You may reject some of Havard's priorities, yet there is value in his (and the Altuchers') message of deciding what is important and jettisoning the other stuff.
So back to my library book. I said "no" to keeping the book. I said "no" to reading it beyond the time allowed. I did this not because I couldn't handle the fine but because it was a way to practice the discipline of deadlines. I knew how long I had to read the book and if I had really wanted to read it, I would have gotten it done in time.
Life is about making choices with what to do with our time. Although I reject the concept that time is so damn valuable that you have to have some monk-like concentration on your activities. If you happen to be channel surfing on a Saturday and Road House comes on Spike TV, then by all means, watch it. Just do the math ahead of time and understand that you're done with the next 90 minutes.
If you've got something you feel is a priority, then perhaps the best course of action is to say "no" to channel surfing in the first place. After all, you can't be sucked into watching Road House, (a movie that I consider the best/worst movie ever and Mr. Robert Brumm happens to agree with me, please see the link below) if you're not in front of the TV in the first place.
|Road House promo poster, United Artists, from Wikipedia's page, fair use, full cite listed below.|
Sometimes, popular music offers a great way to sum up long-winded thoughts (like, ahem, this blog post). I think about the Bob Seger's song, Against the Wind, and a couple lines of lyrics:
"Well those drifter days are past me now.
I've got so much more to think about.
Deadlines and commitments,
What to leave in, what to leave out."
I remember when I first starting paying attention to this song. I was somewhere in high school and thought that these lines must have been written about someone so old and ancient to be, well, middle-aged. I remember laughing to myself thinking, "Thank God that's not me."
Fast-forward a few years/decades and that might just be me. Hold on for a second, let me get my mirror app on my iPhone. I'll be right back...
Yup (after the checking the mirror) that's now me.
So if you're in my age group, you might be able to relate to the phrase, "deadlines and commitments." I wonder if the trick is to limit the number of commitments you make and in turn, that will reduce decisions about, "...what to leave in, what to leave out."
And who knows, that might also just free up time to do a bit of channel surfing...or finish a book that is due back at the best library around.
Be well my friends,