What Albert Einstein can Teach us About The Power of Imperfect Moments

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” ~Proverb

Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means wonderful, miraculous or amazing year. Scientists refer to 1905 as Albert Einstein’s annus mirabilis. This was the year that Einstein published four scientific papers that would go on to set the stage for modern physics by documenting findings that would greatly influence the understanding of time, space, mass and energy. It also the year that Einstein obtained his doctorate after submitting his thesis.

The default thinking when one hears of such an accomplishment is that the individual found their perfect window of time and opportunity within which to work. In addition, they must have been working in collaboration with like-minded peers. For some, this might be true. For many, it is never the case. For Einstein, it certainly was not.

Einstein always wanted to be a teacher of the sciences. However, as a result of not fitting into the mold of a preferred student, he found himself struggling to find the type of work he wanted after he graduated.

Jeff Bezos said that “Complaining isn’t a strategy. You have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be.” That is exactly what Einstein did. When landing his dream job proved unsuccessful, he worked with what the world was offering.

He allowed for what outwardly appeared to be an imperfect moment. He took a job as a patent examiner. His days were spent reviewing patent applications, executing art searches and advising applicants on whether their inventions would receive a patent. The job called for an eight-hour day and a six-day work week.

His job was unquestionably imperfect when you line it up against a job he would rather be doing – teaching science. However, he did not let that fact deter him. He had identified his purpose and he was determined to stay true to it all while honoring the demands of his current job.

Einstein found his way to academia eventually. When the accolades for his work started pouring in and he was awarded the Nobel prize, it was not for the work he was currently involved in, but for the work he produced in his annus mirabilis.

2 Great Lessons from Einstein’s time as a Patent Examiner

1. If it is important to you, you must find the time to make sure it gets done.

“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” ~ Unknown

In a biography written by his son-in-law, Rudolf Kayser, it is said, with regards to Einstein finding the time to work on his thesis and the four papers that,“ he soon discovered that he could find time to devote to his own scientific studies if he did his work in less time.” 

What is your purpose? What do you want to achieve in and with your life? Once you figure what it is, you must go in search of the time to make your purpose come to life. You should never allow waiting to become a habit.

2. Great people always do good work regardless of what the work is.

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Even though he aimed to do his work in less time, Einstein did not half-ass it. He applied the same level of commitment and excellence to it as he would have to his scientific pursuits.

As a result, he excelled as a patent officer and not only got promoted but when he submitted his resignation, his boss indicated that his departure was a great loss to the patent office.

The job you hate. The imperfect moment that you find yourself in is teaching you something. The lesson could be as simple as patience or a work ethic or as challenging as time management, resilience or persistence.

Doing poor work is a waste of your time. Not only does poor work consume time in the execution of the tasks that it requires but it also steals creative energies. All work is worth doing well if only to allow for time to do even better work.

That ‘imperfect’ job you currently have is allowing you to take care of what would undoubtedly cause you stress. Things like paying your electricity and water bills. Feeding you and your family if you have one. Paying for lessons to gain skills that would make you better at what you ultimately want to do.

You may argue that Einstein was lucky but what is luck? Is it not simply an engineered construct of preparation meeting opportunity?

Are you waiting for the perfect moment? The perfect job to produce your best work? You have only one life. Life doesn’t wait and perfection always comes at a cost. Are you sure you can afford it?

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6 Ways Not To Wreck The Holidays

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You are not Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Ironman, Martha Stewart, Mother Theresa or the Pope (Francis, Olivia, or Eli).  You possess no magic powers (hidden or otherwise), you wield no magic wand, and you most certainly do not carry any fairy dust. You are not anyone’s Fairy God Mother or Knight in Shinning Armor and no one should expect you to be. You my dear are human and as Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. So this holiday embrace the errors and forgive yourself and others around you.

Treat yourself to a fabulous holiday season by taking heed of the following.

  1. On having a plan – to some of us, Christmas is the best time of the year and there are certain things we like to do. If this is you then take the time to plan it. If it involves your family or friends, let them know early enough so they can plan accordingly. Don’t spring your plans on them at the last minute and then get upset when things don’t go to plan.  Once the planning is done and the day or event approaches, let go and just be in the moment. Note of caution; don’t try to plan everything. Give spontaneity a chance. After all, the best stories never begin with… Once upon a time we had a plan ….
  2. On doing too much – I beseech thee not to do too much, it just breeds resentment. If you find yourself at the bottom of a long to do list, ask yourself if everything on the list is truly important. Like seriously will someone die??  Once you have scaled down your to do list but still find it a bit daunting, GET SOME HELP. For example, if you plan on hosting a get together, have everybody bring something. There are no Martha Stewart or Cake Boss esque awards going to be handed out. Choose another moment to shine (if you must). This moment requires us to see more of you than your kitchen will so sound the alarm and engage the troops. The goal is not to do more this time of year, but to do less and do it all well.
  3. On expectations – Get rid of those pesky expectations about what the holidays should look, smell and feel like. Seeking the perfect holiday only creates a high level of stress for you and everyone involved. Let things happen naturally. Perfect holidays only exist in movies so if you really need one, tune in to the Hallmark channel and get lost for an hour or two but do promise to step back into reality when the time calls for it.
  4. On Family – The may not be perfect, but they are yours … all yours. Love them for who they are not for who you want them to be. Don’t lose site of the big picture.  So many people are completely alone in this world. Keep in mind what’s important this season and focus on that.
  5. On having a routine – Between decking the halls, visiting family and friends, and holiday parties, finding time to take care of yourself might not seem to be a priority. Keeping a routine especially when it comes to sleep and exercise go a long way in reducing holiday stress. Your family and friends will thank you, your body will thank you and come the new year, your personal trainer will thank you.
  6. On being grateful – If you can find a pool full of gratitude, dive in head first. We are getting to the end of the year and no matter what highs or lows you experienced throughout the year, YOU ARE HERE. Give thanks for that. In a world full of turmoil, an attitude of gratitude keeps us hopeful and focused on what truly matters.

What else can you do not to wreck the holidays?

 

 

 

5 Lessons In The Pursuit Of Excellence

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Perfection and I had a long relationship before I came to the realization that perfection only exists in a laboratory.  We had a delightful break-up and I embarked on a successful and inspiring journey with a more worthwhile partner; Excellence.

Excellence is an attempt to perform a task in the best way possible, whereas perfection is the definitive one hundred percent right way of doing anything.

Perfectionists, typically, fixate on unattainable, unrealistic goals. They  forget to embrace all their successes (both big and small), and rarely focus on the positive. Perfection because of the impossibility attached to it, leads to frustration.

People pursuing excellence seek to be better than they were before. Excellence because of its beneficial outcome leads to power. It is a journey filled with actions that we repeatedly do.

So in pursuit of excellence:

  1. Seek rational optimism with is a belief that YOU CAN and WILL make progress by pursuing a sensible approach.
  2. Seek and pursue your passions as you will never have the power to perform in what you lack passion to pursue.
  3. Set appropriate priorities to take control of your life and steer way clear of the expectations of others.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and
  5. Practice, practice, practice every day until whatever you are pursuing becomes an effortless habit.

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