There is room to be true to yourself within the framework of a career. Today we have so many options that when we are not being true to ourselves we cannot really blame the system. We make our own choices and create our own lives.
It’s very hard to know what we want, though. So often our priorities get sucked up into a blender and spit out as a smoothie. I am having this problem right now with going to the gym. I was already just barely holding things together having added the blog on top of what I normally do for work. And now I’m adding promoting a book.
So it seemed really smart, one night, to skip going to the gym. I got so much done. Then it was four nights. And now I’m at that stage where I am so used to not going to the gym that the smell in the locker room is going to bug me. But going to the gym doesn’t just change my abs, it changes my mind and my heart, and it really disappoints me that I’ve let things get to this point.
So it makes sense that I was really touched by an article in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten, Pearls Before Breakfast. With a genius combination of multimedia and journalism, The Post did an experiment with the world-famous violinist Josh Bell. He went to the subway in morning rush hour, unannounced, and he played classical music on his million-dollar Stradivarius violin, and left the case open for people to drop dollars. The Post documented the event on video.
When Bell plays in a concert hall he makes $1,000 a minute. Here’s how much money he made in the subway: $32.
Clearly, not everyone knew they were hearing something special. And it’s interesting to read Bell’s candid discussion of what it feels like to be ignored when he has been the focus of adoring fans since he was a young boy.
But the part of this piece that really gets me is the video of a commuter who clearly knows this music is special, but he looks at his watch, and he has to decide to stay or leave. It captures every issue on the earth for me right now: How to measure what is important minute by minute.
I am certain about what really matters: Love, kindness, relationships, respect. But let me tell you something, those issues are not on the table 90% of the time. It’s usually a way more complicated decision about how to spend my time, which is really adding up to how to spend my life. I have thought a lot about if I would have stopped to hear the music in the subway. The answer is that it depends on a lot of outside, mundane time factors. Like, did I need to run an errand before work.
This week’s Coachology is about getting help figuring out how much time you should pay attention to the music. We all have music playing inside of us, and we all make decisions about how much to listen. Some of us have actually made it so we don’t hear the music at all: There is no passion.
Peter Vajda is a career coach with decades of experience who is great when it comes to helping people match their work life with their values and their passions. Peter would be a good match for someone who feels like their work needs more meaning but they don’t know what to do about it. If this is you, send me three sentences about what you’d like to get from 90 free minutes with Peter. The deadline is midnight on April 15.
Hat tip: Ben from Amver.