Essentials vs. Incidentals

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”    Henry David Thoreau

Recently, the Oracle, the US entry in the America’s Cup Race plucked astonishing victory from the clutches of the Kiwi competitor.

The Oracle had lost 7 races in a row.  New Zealand had been all but designated the newly anointed sovereign of the seas. Most sideline observers considered the USA’s likelihood of fortune reversals akin to “swimming with the fishes” in San Francisco Bay.

The American Cup Race team astounded the sailing world and most everyone else with such an unlikely victory.

How did they win?  They focused on what needed to be done.  They cut the crap and got to the point.  They devised a step by step plan, with allowances for the unexpected, to get back into the competition and win.

And, that’s what we need to do.  We must get back into our own race by giving ourselves permission to eliminate self-imposed limitation.  Call it self-emancipation.  Call it what you will, just do it and stop wasting time.

We’re over 50 now and the clock is ticking.  So, what the hell are we waiting for?  No one is going to save us until first we truly desire to save ourselves.

That requires removing clutter.

Ask yourself what is Essential and what is Incidental?

Essentials are our choices, the things we must do.

Incidentals differ in importance and determined by circumstance.  If allowed, they vary from slight distractions to thoroughly obstructionist matter. The degree of distraction is unimportant.  Know this: they are goal toxins.  Incidentals clutter the mental landscape and trigger the ambiguity of purpose.

The problem is there are so many incidentals in life today it’s incredible that anything meaningful ever gets accomplished.

Here’s a few quick examples:  You know you need to contact someone.  However, you believe the outcome will be not all that favorable.  So, you do everything you can to avoid making that call. The Incidentals get in the way of the Essentials.

Tell that to the crew of The Oracle.

Sure, it’s procrastination.  Who sparks with anticipation to any form of rejection?

When I was in Radio Sales, I had a very good client who noticed a billing problem.  I told them I’d get to it.  It was no big deal.  But, I just let it go.  I don’t know why but I developed a fear of straightening out this relatively simple matter.

But, months passed, fear grew and I still had not taken care of the billing mix-up.

Talk about task-avoidance. I had concocted in my head some ridiculous pathway of Incidentals that inhibited me from uncovering a Solution.

I was evading the Essentials.

Finally, I got off my butt and with some help, got the billing problem resolved.

Why did I let this happen?  I don’t know.  But I had bestowed upon Incidentals the muscle to obstruct the completion of Essentials.

Am I the only one who’s ever done this?  I don’t know.  Philosophers say the closer we get to project completion, the more “noise” we begin to hear.  In other words, Incidentals have the capacity to sideline and even subjugate the Essentials.  They are a countermanding force with no redeeming properties.

Now, perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to this:  You’re working on a proposal. You’re on a deadline. They want it delivered only by snail mail.  It’s late in the afternoon. The cartridge printer has run out of ink and time is ticking away. You must finish this presentation and get it in the mail today.  It’s getting late. Traffic is brutal.

You get to a box store.  They’re out of the cartridge you need.  Next place, same story. Time is wasting away. Finally at the third location, success!.

Heading home, you’re stuck in traffic.  It’s a mess.  All you want is to get to what is Essential but you’re are bogged down by these symbiotic, draining Incidentals.

Sure, that’s life!  Understood.  But today, there seems to be more delay and distraction and much less free and clear.

Part of it is Time Management.  It’s living with the reality that today almost everything comes with an attached Incidental levy.  It is incumbent upon all of us to make provision for the expectation of Incidentals (fatal flaw analysis) as we plod on toward the completion of Essential.  It’s Murphy’s Law adapted to the 21st century.

I was discussing this piece with my very enlightened daughter, Christina, and her take was:  “Leave the dishes and go conquer the world.”  And, you know she’s right.

So, what’s important to you?  Like the Americas Cup Race, are you “in it to win it”?

Are you allowing Incidentals to override Essentials that transform your active, creative and productive status to something passive, languorous and aimless?

That’s not life.  That’s existence.

You are too young to be old.  Incidentals lead to stagnation.

Face the Essential, fight the Incidentals, get back in the race and win!

For return response go to dickheatherton@outlook.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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