Be The Action, Not The Title

Our society often places a inordinately high value on titles—particularly so in business, academia, and politics. Chief this, Senior that, VP of such-and-such.

This preoccupation with titles can get in the way when it comes to doing our work and making our contribution to the world. Because the focus becomes not about the journey but the end result—the idea that we’ve “arrived.”

But the end result is not always within our control. In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey introduced the term Circle of Influence. Simply stated, it means to work on those things you have direct influence over, and don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

Actions over outcomes and titles.

Only time and public opinion will say you are a master, an artist. Instead, be a painter, a draftsman, a sculptor, a dancer.

Be a programmer or a business owner. Let society determine if you are a tech-entrepreneur startup wizard.

Stop chasing the dream of becoming a world-renowned author. Be a writer instead. Write.

When in doubt, follow Neil Gaiman’s advice and, “Do what only you can do best. Make good art.”

And here’s the secret: If you focus on mastering the actions—making good art—for a long enough time, by and by the titles work themselves out.

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