Nose To The Grindstone vs. Leaving It The F@#$ Alone

By tangentpath in business live photography quit spend time vision wisdom work

Hey Peeps,

I have a feeling that this may be a little controversial to discuss, but I have experienced it firsthand and find it incredibly fascinating, and first needs to be illustrated by a story from my past.

Years ago, in my misspent early 20's, I actually tried to grow a houseplant.  Buy a pot, soil, some Miracle-Gro, simple right?


I planted six different seeds, kept it watered and by the window, but the soil stayed as barren as a models bikini line.

So being a guy, I instantly forgot about the pot and soil - therefore, I left it sitting by the windowsill to collect dust.

Sometime, in the next few weeks, a few friends and I decided that it was the perfect night for tequila shots with salt/lemon slices(when isn't it?).  The rest of the evening resides in obscured memory and blackmailing photos that will be automatically released to the media at the time of my death.

That's a joke.

Or is it?  You'll see when I croak.

Anywho, a few days later, something the color of vibrant green caught my eye from the windowsill.  

It was a plant sprouting from my pot!!  Finally!  I was growing a houseplant!

But wait, what's that at the base of the sapling? 

Two halves of a lemon seed shell.


Do you get it?

One of our tequila lemon seeds was spit serendipitously(did I just create this word?) into the potted soil.  Left alone, it sprouted by itself.

NO tending.  NO watering.  NO ME.

:(  I am Michael's popped bubble of self-gratification.

That's where the lesson began - but let me be clear:

I truly believe that effort is needed to get things done. 

At least a little.

But there comes a time to back the "f" up and let the situation work itself out - there is only so much you can do before you start to bring harm to your project.

So with the plant growing, I suck.

I know the logistics:  soil, water, sun - but that's where I should stop.  

Me personally.  

Other people can go further than I.  I think they're called farmers, gardeners, botanists, etc.

I am not one of them.

The same works in everything you do.  

Work yourself to death at your passions, but in the end you will find yourself spinning your wheels and then - the horror of it! - starting to wonder why you loved your passion in the first place!  OR - the humanity!! - start to hate your passion!!


Step back.  Know when to stop, for you, personally.

I've had those moments myself.

Late nights, editing image after image until they all start to blend together in my coffee-fueled, sleep-deprived stupor.

I don't want to die that way.

I don't want to hate my passion, my work, my life.

I step back.

I still have to remind myself of this.  The traditional order of things is that the effort put in equals the effort coming out, but that is irrelevant now in our world - actually I believe it was never relevant in the first place.  

It's not the amount of effort - but the quality of effort.

Work smarter - not harder.

I sometimes sit day after day in front of my laptop, corresponding to clients, writing blog posts, brainstorming projects, talking to affiliates, cataloging data from my mileage to my HST.  

I FEEL like I'm wasting time, and in a way I am(plans are in work to change this).

I WORRY that I won't get work, clients don't just drop out of the sky right?

But if I leave my laptop for an afternoon, for some reason when I return to it I have at least one message from a lead, past client or product order.  

Maybe it's the perspective, maybe being plugged in skews the incoming traffic because it isn't constant, but whatever it is, it feels better when I step back.  When I spend time away from the grindstone and LIVE for a few hours.  When I come back with rested eyes and settled mind.

So that's my message to you:  Work hard at your passions - until it starts to feel like your working hard.  Then back off for a bit.

If your passion feels like work, you're doing too much.

Am I full of shit?  Tell me where I've gone wrong BRAINIAC!!


Michael Carty

Michael Carty Photography Email