Sunday, January 9, 2011

What the social does for you

But those with whom I was intimate did not act towards me the part of Christians, or even of honest men. Their object seemed to be to make and keep me idle. If ever I appeared studious, they would say to me, "Why in the world should a man of your future trouble himself with fagging?"

Those were the words of William Wilberforce, the great reformer in England best known for his industrious opposition of the slave trade. While he recorded those notes in his diary, they may have as well been said by myself, or anyone else who lives in this world. The social ambiance is now, as it was then, such that most people are OUT TO DESTROY your work ethic by inflicting their habits of sloth, via direct conversation or example. Acquaintances of all kinds will drag you into unproductive behaviors unless you have an internal motivation to say no. Humans, being social creatures, are not wont to say no and resist the temptations.

Wilberforce was an exceptionally gregarious and charming man, which was why he was particularly prone in spending his time around the club and the card table. Only after a religious conversion was he able focus and eventually perturb the orbit that society lied out for him and surmount his lazy habits.

While introverts have a significantly easier time resisting the social pull, they are neither immune to it nor are they necessarily inclined to spend the time on their own productively, as the huge video game market testifies so convincingly. Only if you understand that the world isn't your friend, and adjust your mindset accordingly by no longer seeking approval from others, will you be able to able apply yourself to your full potential.

I got a brief glimpse of that pull at work while I was over at Oak Ridge High School watching a basketball game. Great game, loved watching them play. But one thought that was persistently imposing itself into my mind was that the surrounding kids were remarkably frivolous, creating an environment that reeked of unmerited self-satisfied superiority.

I am not urging you to closet yourself in your work. Nor am I insisting that society has nothing to offer, it does; there really are individuals on your side who will motivate you, in fact much of what jump-started me was knowing someone who was evidently self-driven in all his actions, but they are not the norm so cherish everyone like acquaintance you get.

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