Monday, April 4, 2011

Doing What We Do, II

 Why do we do the things we do? A youtube video I saw today has made me, once again, ask this question.

The first time I asked was in a blog I wrote not too long ago. I talked about my neighbour, Tom Butscher, who had just become the oldest person to row across the Atlantic Ocean after rowing 12 hours a day for 52 days. He completed the more than 5,000 kilometre journey from Morocco to Barbados aboard Big Blue, an ocean rowing catamaran.

Butscher, a former Canadian long-track speed skating champion and father of two who has already rowed solo across Lake Ontario, set out Jan. 11 with 15 other crew members. They rowed for two hours and rested for two hours, 24 hours a day.

Needless to say, it was an extraordinary accomplishment for Tom. I cheered him on every inch of the way. What he did was akin to climbing Everest, inventing Facebook or raising polite teenagers. Each takes Herculean focus, dedication, perseverance, commitment and remarkable drive. You have to really want to make these things happen.

My question in my previous blog was this: how do we choose what it is we do? Never in a lifetime would I want to do what Tom did. I can’t stress this enough.

In the case of Facebook, I might have liked to conceive and develop it, but clearly, don’t have one iota of whatever it takes to do so. I don’t even know what the words would be to describe ‘what it takes,’ other than a one-in-a-million weirdly-wired brain do what Mark Zuckerberg did. Nor would I imagine twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who sued Zuckerberg for 'stealing' their idea, would know what it takes, either.

Regarding the polite teenagers, I did actually take this on. The jury’s still out on how well I did, however. Not a lot of feedback. But the will, drive, and commitment were definitely there.

For the record, I do have additional lifelong goals and commitments.
But they’re not necessarily the same as other people’s. In fact, they’re definitely not the same. 

Case in point. Looking at the youtube video today, I saw a group of people construct something absolutely extraordinary. OMG, what clever, creative, committed people they are to have done so. I don’t want to say any more about what they’ve done until you look at their creation. (I'm giving a second chance here to all of you who haven't looked at the video yet).

By the end of the video, I had two burning questions. How did they do what they did, was one of them. The second was, why did they do what they did? As you’ll see, it would take the exact same drive, commitment, perseverance and focus that it did to get Tom across the Atlantic Ocean. No, there was no danger in their pursuit, as there was in Tom’s, but as you’ll see, in addition to remarkable creativity, it took focus, focus, focus. And more focus.

I sometimes find myself so very lacking in this particular quality, I believe it’s related to how extraordinarily impressed I am with people who apply it in such constructive, one-of-a-kind ways (the pun on ‘constructive’ is intended, as I hope you’ll see from the video).

So, ladies and gentlemen, please keep on doing the things you do (as long as you’re not in the Tea Party). The world is a richer place because of it (as long as you’re not in the Tea Party). And to the clever people in the video, I can’t wait to see what it is you do next. I’m glad you do what you do.

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