You’ve Been Lied To…Staying Awake Won’t Award You A Badge Of Honor
A badge of honor is a funny thing, isn’t it?
When the pressure is on and I can’t perform (not in that way) I find myself becoming frustrated with whatever situation I’m in. It isn’t as though it happens often but I’ll tell you when it does, it feels like the world is crashing and life as I know it ceases to exist.
Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but nothing is worse than not being able to perform at the standard that you’ve set for yourself when it matters most.
Am I right?
Yes, the expectations that I set for myself are often higher than those others set for me. And yes, sometimes they can be downright unrealistic. But, this doesn’t detract from my obsession to constantly put out the best work that I can.
As if looking for my own badge of honor, I constantly find myself in an area of intense scrutiny.
Take writing for example. Some writers say that the key is to write 1000 words and some will say less before turning the computer off for the night. Not me though. Each day I don’t set a value as to how much I would like to write before going to bed.
What I do instead is tell myself that one of two things must happen.
- I get tired of looking at the computer screen
- I just get tired.
Ironically enough, it is often a combination of both that does me in. At some point (usually at frustration), I realize that the writing won’t get any better no matter how much longer I stay up, so I go to bed.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told sleep equals productivity.
And that’s what I do. Sleep comes before everything in my life with the exception of family.
To me, this makes sense.
That’s why when I read Facebook and Twitter posts about other “entrepreneurs” bragging about how long they’re staying awake or how little sleep they can function on, I simply shake my head, sigh, and continue to scroll.
I’ve personally watched people become hospitalized, bed-ridden, and fall from whatever grace they had achieved because they ignored what their body was telling them. How much further could they have gone if they only listened…?
The body is an amazing “machine” and it knows more than you or I will ever know. Yet, for whatever reason, society has made it that the new “sexy” is becoming completely oblivious to what it is that it is trying to say.
I mean, how crazy has our world become that success, whatever your definition of it is, comes before health? If you ask me, that’s fucked up. It’s as if ignoring your body has become a highly sought after badge of honor. Just for a second think about how difficult it would be to enjoy whatever definition of success you have if you’re attempting to enjoy it from a hospital bed or worse, your grave?
I don’t aim to put the words in your mouth, but I think it would be pretty hard.
This is why I can proudly say that on most nights I am in bed by 10 and asleep by 10:30.
Truthfully, my life is pretty much like clockwork.
Although it wasn’t always this way, I’m asleep by 10:30 and up at 5:30. For a time…well, actually for a long time I was in bed by 12:00 and up by 10:00.
- True peace
- No distractions
- You and you alone
- Be with your thoughts
- Eat your frog before breakfast (a Mark Twain coined term about getting the hardest thing done first)
- Get a jumpstart on the day
- Watch the sunrise
- Smell the fresh coffee beans
And me? I do it because I like to. Which, if you think about it, kind of makes sense.
As I’ve cited before, two very different things are responsible for everything that we do. Pain and pleasure.
Waking up early brings me pleasure, so I do it.
Sleeping in brings me pain, so I avoid it like I avoid bananas (yes, I avoid bananas).
Waking up after a good night’s sleep doesn’t result in an unexpected trip to a restaurant that only serves bad hospital food. Nor does it involve me bragging about how cool I am because I woke up early. Each day I wake up early there isn’t someone there waiting for me to pin a badge of honor on me.
No, waking up early involves just one thing…me.
Look, I want to be here in 10 years from now.
Actually, if I may say…I want to be here to enjoy what I am doing right now, in this very instance, 10 years from now. Call me crazy but I don’t want to look back (if I’m alive) and think to myself “Man, did I look and feel like shit. I wish I had taken better care of myself”.
That’s not whom I am, what I’m about or what I want to be known for.
I want to be known as the guy who gave it his all because he had the energy to do it. I want to be known as the guy who worked every day with passion and focus because that’s who he was. And I want to be the guy who my son can look at and say, my Dad was there for me because he chose family over work.
Perhaps, you should too?
I know this. I’ve seen it.
After traveling, I can tell you without thinking twice that some of the happiest people on the planet are happy because they play and spend time with their families more than they work. If it sounds foreign, it’s because it is…at least to us.
In some instances, I actually think Westerners have it completely wrong.
The best hours in some of the most important days of our lives are spent doing the things that just won’t matter when it’s all over.
There is something to be said about a society that prides work over all else. And once again, if I may say, that something isn’t something worth bragging about.
I sit here and I wonder why we do this to ourselves.
From what I can tell, this is probably a combination of all of the above. Each of them has a strange affect on those that pursue them. The world values fancy cars, big houses, expensive clothes, and every other form of bullshit that society tells us should be valued.
Strangely, over the last few weeks, I have had a few separate conversations about work, wealth, fame, and prestige. I’ve talked with people who have given everything to get what they have and people who have given very little for what they have.
Shockingly, the end findings between the two aren’t that different. It’s just not worth it. At the end of the day, your day, it won’t matter how much of anything you have. All that matters is that you make it to the end of your day happy, healthy and with no regrets. If you ask me, that deserves a true badge of honor.
While none of the people in my conversations were particularly old (including me), we all have, in our own ways realized what life’s true value is…and it doesn’t include staying up late and practically killing yourself so that you can achieve some semblance of success that you may or may not ever be happy with.
Life’s true value…the real badge of honor comes from experiencing life. This, of course, means spending less time fretting over work and more time enjoying the things you enjoy.
I’ll leave you with a story that was told to me in one of my conversations.
The story was originally created by Heinrich Boll and has been translated in a few different ways. As far as I know, it has most recently become the focal point of a Garth Brooks song entitled “Fish”. The version below is from another blog I like to visit every now and then. You can find it over here.
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senōr.”
The American scoffed.
“I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senōr, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senōr?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
So I ask you, is sacrificing health, happiness, and experience worth the pain society tells us we should go through? Is it worthy of a badge of honor or a badge of stupidity?
Cheers to your success,
And if you’re wondering, I avoid bananas because they smell bad and are too mushy for me…