Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Value Added Life

We often hear the phrase "Is it worth the effort?" It's one I've asked myself a thousand times during the years I've been writing and attempting to make at least a meager side income from it. In our world, any effort, especially when done alone and having no impact on another human, should provide some material benefit.

But perhaps I've been looking at this the wrong way. I recently volunteered to work in our church's Sunday school class. I don't get paid for it. And I actually sought it out. But I can point to a group of 2nd grade boys and know that I've made a difference in their lives. That I've served some higher purpose. It's not money, but it's something I can call profit. Because value has been added. For those of you not in the manufacturing world, Value Added is a commonly used term. It means that a step in a process adds another component or functionality to a part, value has been added. Other processes, like a quality inspection, are not Value Added, but essential nonetheless. It pays off greatly when customers are not returning their defective product in droves and dragging your company's name through the muck.

Each of us applies that same principle to our lives. The problem is that we're all accountants. Accountants hate non-value added processes. Any step that has cost associated to it but no direct value added to the product ranks right up there a trip to the dentist as far as the accountant is concerned.

The Quality Manager, on the other hand, would have some sort of inspection after every step in the process and his own personal kill switch to the assembly line. Nothing is too expensive to ensure a quality product, he'd say.

We can't be like the QM either. We'd be perfectionists who never completed anything out of fear it wasn't perfect.

The guy we need to be like is the CEO. He's the one that has to take all the information provided by the QM, the accountants, the engineers, etc. and come to some rational decision. One that will be profitable to the company. He usually makes every other department head angry when he makes his decision, because none of them is getting everything they want. There's no guarantee that the CEO is correct. No formula he can use to check his math. Most of his decision is determined by past experience and the good old-fashioned gut feeling.

Which brings me back to my writing. The accountant in my head is screaming that there are more profitable ways to spend my time. The quality guy drives me to keep it all under wraps until every line is perfect. The engineers don't understand why anyone would write fiction to begin with.

But I have to be the CEO of my life. My gut says that the writing will pay off. Maybe not monetarily, but through some unmeasurable benefit to my spirit. Even as I sit here and write this, I feel a peace that cannot be garnered through the television, fishing, reading, or any other "normal" activity. When we release our body and minds to pursue our passion, we are allowing the natural influences of our spirit to take control. Otherwise, we're at odds with our spirit. Disharmony of that sort creates chaos of spirit, mind, and body.

That, my friends, is not an efficiently running machine. Like the Sunday school class, it is benefitting my being, though to the outsider it may not be apparent. This is why I write. Publication will come because I'm confident that hard work and perseverance will always pay off.

But even if I never see a royalty check, my life has been greatly profited by the time I've spent at the keyboard.

Be the CEO, my friends. He's not always right, but the company cannot run without him.

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