This started with an e-mail I received in April:
- Good morning,
- My client KalDer has asked about availability and fee for Ernie Zelinski to participate at their 17th Annual Congress in Istanbul, 24th - 26th November 2008.
- KalDer is the Turkish National Quality Organization.
- Their annual congress brings together approximately 2,500 persons from the Turkish business community, academics, students and journalists.
- I would be pleased to provide you with additional information and look forward to hearing from you.
- Speakers Bureau International
As I pondered whether I wanted to consider going to Istanbul and what I should charge (initially I was thinking of $1,500 plus all expenses including busines class travel) I got a call from the Speakers Bureau.
Asked what I would charge, I said $2,500 for a one-hour speech, business class travel from Edmonton to Istanbul, and all associated expenses including meals. I was told that I would be paid $3,000 plus all expenses.
I still didn't know if I wanted to go but when my friend Michael Attwood and his wife Willy who live in Vancouver said they would likely fly to Istanbul and be there the 3 days that I would be there, I decided to give this a little more consideration.
After it was confirmed that I could be put up at the Ritz-Carlton in Istanbul for three nights in a suite, I decided to take this gig seriously even posting as an important speaking event on Morgan James Publishing.
No doubt the interest in having me make this one-hour speech came about because of my book The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed, and Overworked which has been published in 17 languages including Turkish.
The cover of the Turkish edition is shown below:
I thought about a number of topics that I could address:
- If You Recently Got Fired from Your Job, Your Good Luck Has Just Begun
- The Joy of Not Working Nine to Five
- Retirement Planning Made Easy
- Profiting from Creativity at Your Retirement Jobs
- 1001 Ways to Enjoy Your Retirement
- Tips for Retirement Speeches and How to Write a Retirement Letter
- Career Success Without a Real Job
- Creative Free E-books for Innovative Marketing
I sent an e-mail to the woman of the speakers bureau and she replied with this:
"Here is their translation into English of the text for the event brochure:"
- The Joy of (not) Working
- Questioning our point of view about work life as an individual and organization, Zelinski says that when working meets with love, it pleases and he reveals that expectations like materiality and career contributes lowly to individual and organization.
- When listening to Zelinski, you will find the opportunity to revaluate your outlook for work life and consider your organization's human resources policies and approaches differently. Working tires, what about not working?
- Zelinski introduces the features of the every activity of pleasure and improving the life quality made for working or not working. He tells to workaholics whose lives consist of only their jobs an neglects their family, friends and above all themselves that work but turn your job into pleasure and joy and by working efficiently become happy and he tells about how to make their life cheerfully despite everything to his retired readers.
- Where should we put work life in our lives?
- For this, first by completing our own adventures we should bring our life purposes to code which is open for change. For positioning money which is ranked one in our lives, everyone should ask this question to themselves: If we think that happiness can be bought by working too much or earning too much money, why don't we try to sell some part of our own happiness?
- This is one of the most critical questions and an NLP anchor that shows us by balancing working or not working how can it be the key for pleasant and calm life. If you are thinking about how to work efficiently and pleasantly, what can be done for making physical and mental health better, how to live for physical health and inner calmness pay attention to Zelinski.
Wow! This is confusing. These people want me to talk about something I don't know anything about.
So what am I going to talk about?
Perhaps I can adapt this topic from my book Career Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations, which I am presently revising.
- Hard Work and Real Success - Oil and Water!
Although I ofen stress the importance of imagination, perseverance, dedication, commitment, and action in my books, it may come as a surprise - to a few people at least - that I am not a proponent of hard work. By hard work I mean working strenuously, for long hours, and on as many tasks and projects as possible. Here is a Zen story to make my point:
- A student, most eager for enlightenment, went to the Master and expressed his desire to be his student and become enlightened.
- The Master welcomed his enthusiasm and told him he would be honored to help him.
- "How long will it take?" asked the student.
- "Usually about two to three years," the Master responded, "but it depends on how hard you work at it."
- "Oh," the student declared, "I will work extremely hard - I will try to work at it both day and night."
- "Well, in that case," the Master advised, "it will take you at least seven years."
Plain and simple, the moral of this story is: hard work and real success - oil and water! Put another way, hard work and real success don't mix all that well. Real success, in fact, is about working smart and not hard.
Personally, the only time I am a big fan of hard work is when someone else is doing it and I am paying for it. This is not to say that I won't work hard at times, particularly on projects that excite me immensely, or ones that I must complete within a certain time frame. But for all intents and purposes, I find most hard work detrimental to my well-being.
Contrary to popular belief, the work ethic is a terrible mistake, a cute term gone haywire. It is promoted most vehemently either by employers who want to exploit pathetic workaholics or by pathetic workaholics themselves who are trying to justify why they work so many hours and have no real life.
As is to be expected, everything has a price attached to it. There is a price for not working hard enough; there can be an even larger price for working too hard.
Not so long ago I received a letter from Jeffrey Carson (his name has been changed due to the personal nature of the letter) from the eastern United States. Incidentally, the letterhead indicated that Carson's occupation was Attorney at Law.
- Dear Ernie,
- It's Monday and I've taken the day off. I've just finished reading The Joy of Not Working, which I found at the bookstore last Saturday.
- It's always exciting when a bit of revelation occurs in one's life. After two heart attacks and a near-death cardiac arrest last winter, you'd have thought I'd have gotten the message, but this work ethic doesn't go down easy.
- So, after six months of near-suicidal depression about work and how much I hated it, I found your book. I can only say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
- Best regards and sincerely,
- Jeffrey Carson
The really good news for me was that this attorney had no intention of suing me on behalf of a client or himself. The good news for Carson was that he had realized how the work ethic could end his life if he didn't stop believing in it so fiercely. Of course, corporations would like you to believe that "hard work is good for you and it never harmed anyone."
There are reasons to believe otherwise, however.
- Evidence That Hard Work Can Kill You
- According to a 2002 study in the British Medical Journal, employees with stressful jobs are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who have jobs with little or no stress.
- Employees who work over forty-eight hours per week double their risk of heart disease, according to a 1996 UK government report.
- According to a 2003 American study, long-term job strain is worse for your heart than gaining forty pounds in weight or aging thirty years.
- Approximately two million workers die annually due to occupational injuries and illnesses, according to one United Nations report. This means that work kills more people than war (650,000 deaths per year).
The core of the matter is that hard work can kill you. Another dark side of the work ethic is how many rainbow-chasers end up working hard all their lives, expecting success, but with nothing to show for it. The key to success, in fact, is to work on the few things that are truly important and make a difference in this world, and to disregard the rest.
In this regard, Peter Drucker advised, "Do the right things instead of trying to do everything right." To ensure that you don't spend time on projects that don't produce meaningful results, and instead have time for creative thinking and leisure activities, get in the habit of asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the best use of my time right now?
- What is the best book I could read right now to learn more about running my unconventional business?
- What is the best way to market my product or service right now?
- Is what I am doing today going to enhance my life today and in the future?
- What project will make me the most money with the least risk?
- Who are the best people to spend time with so that I can learn more about my career or business?
Clearly, if you are channeling your hard work into areas that offer little chance for big payoffs, your hard work will likely be in vain. On the other hand, if you work only four or five hours a day at creative endeavors that offer the likelihood of immense payoffs, four or five hours a day may be all that you need to hit it big so that you can live a comfortable life. Even two or three hours a day can do the trick in Britain, Canada, the United States, and Australia, given the opportunity that exists in these countries.
In the same vein, perhaps you have been told by the career experts to gain broad experience. In my view, it is better to focus one's energy in one key area, certainly not more than two or three. Too many projects will divide your focus at the expense of all your important ones. The ideal is to specialize in a very small niche, a niche that you enjoy, where you can excel and become a master.
Some people may want to pursue more than one source of income, as advocated by Robert Allen in his book Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth (Wiley, 2004). His advice on cultivating more than one source of income is sound. A person in an unreal job or unconventional business can only devote his or her attention to so many projects, however.
If you want to keep your business a simple operation and a one-person show, as I do, the number of sources of income should probably be limited to three or four. Although in the past I have handled being a writer, self-publisher, professional speaker, and part-time college instructor all at once, I wouldn't attempt to undertake more sources of income. No doubt if I had attempted to add being a landlord and multi-level marketing to the other four streams of income, I would have experienced a serious drain of mental and financial resources to the point that my writing and self-publishing would have had to be abandoned.
The key is not to overdo things. Pablo Picasso was one of the most prolific and influential artists of the twentieth century. No doubt you will agree that Picasso, who excelled in painting, sculpture, etching, stage design, and ceramics, attained an impressive measure of real success without a real job. Yet Picasso, like me, did not believe in being an achiever at all costs.
"You must always work not just within but below your means," claimed Picasso. "If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle only five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a feeling of strength in reserve."
There is much more to say about why overwork can ruin you, but the topic in itself deserves another book. Come to think of it, I have already written two that cover the topic quite well. But, instead, let me recommend Richard Koch's The 80/20 Principle Doubleday, 1998), which will teach you the secrets to achieving much more impressive results with much less effort.
Suffice it to say that, regardless of your field of endeavor, creativity ultimately produces the biggest payoffs. Although both creative effort and hard work require action, the former is at the heart of real success without a real job. The latter has been known to lead to nervous twitching, heart attacks, and dubious results.
NOTE: All in all, I will be able to speak for an hour about The Joy of Not Working. There are many other topics that I can incorporate in my speech including why workaholism is a serious disease and why workaholism is a form of severe laziness.