Why I’m A Workaholic (Hint: Because I’m Not a Genius)

As spring warms things up, I have yet to “turn” my closet. That is, store away black woolens and break out brighter linens. Today, I rifled around for something more light weight to wear, and as I stepped into the skirt, I discovered it no longer fit me. Too big.

Last summer, I came off an 11-city book tour for RenGen fat and breathless. Over half my wardrobe no longer fit. Furious at myself, I headed to the gym. With gritty persistence, I clawed my way back to some level of fitness. Six months into it, I felt great, but little else changed. Rather than give up the work outs, I gave up caring about my looks. I just kept dragging my sorry ass to the gym.

Nearly a year later, I have results. I feel stronger and have more staying power. Great! But my fascination is more about the working at it. Challenging myself. The results are gratifying, don’t get me wrong. But I’m more proud of the effort.

David Brooks takes up the issue of genius in a recent Op-Ed. Brooks debates the merits of pure talent versus hard work to produce extraordinary results. He considers also that genius may be divinely inspired. Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, gave a rousing speech at TED this year on divine inspiration that holds a message for all creative souls.

Like most people, I’m no genius. And while I have a relationship with my God, in my experience, divine inspiration is rarely available on demand. Instead, I’ve learned to rely on effort. The work is what I control. By staying everlasting at it, a lot of regular folks like me can achieve things that make us proud.

A grey linen suit sags at my hips. I feel proud. And now to the tailor.