The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Discipline and desire

The things we do can be one of two areas. They can be the things we perceive as a duty and they can be the things we perceive as a possibility.

It is as Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence once wisely taught us. There is work and there is play. What distinguishes them is our sense of obligation. As long as he felt obliged to whitewash the fence, Tom was distracted by all the other activities he could be doing instead. With those in mind, he wanted nothing more than to get rid of his task and couldn’t bring up the discipline to do the whitewashing.

Things shifted when he devised a way to make others step in and find this task attractive. His friends started to ask him if they could do the whitewashing once he had succeeded to make it look like an interesting task. Those stepping in perceived the whitewashing as fun. Bringing up the discipline to do good work was not an effort.

Duty restricts desire. Possibility builds on desire.

Tom Sawyer found an answer to his desire to be with his friends by reframing his desire.

Instead of being where his friends were, he set out to have them be where he needed to be. His goal had shifted from finishing the whitewashing as soon as possible to having his friends with him. To achieve this, he had to involve them somehow, which meant that he had to change his role. He now was responsible for having the fence whitewashed.

Transforming how to connect task and desire, Tom Sawyer found that discipline came automatically.


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