I was once reading parts of a book entitled LIFE 101 by Peter McWilliams; this was hanging out on our bookshelf at home, and when I was without other library books to peruse I grabbed this one, a veritable guide to living as a human being, which was right there all the time (how did I survive up to this point?) to see what McWilliams had to say.
Anyway, you can take it or leave it as a whole, but there were tidbits of information in short bursts about all sorts of ways to improve yourself, along with famous quotes that correlate with that section. One section that especially stood out to me was this:
One of the greatest-and simplest-tools for learning more and growing more is doing more. It may or may not involve more activity. We’re not talking, necessarily, about action but of involvement.
When we’re involved, we learn more. If you want to learn more, become an eager participator. Take part. Involve yourself. Plunge in. Embrace new experiences. Partake of your own life…
…It’s not so much what you do, but how you respond to what you do. Does the activity involve you in an active way? Does it engage your mind, body and emotions? Does it challenge you? Does it make you want to do more? If so, you’re participating.
“Experimentation is an active science,” Claude Bernard pointed out. Experiment. Make your life an active science.
Coincidentally, when I started supervising our print production area, the very first instruction I gave the group was “Show Up and Participate.” (Something that several of them struggled to do). While my original request was short and sweet, it sits nicely next to McWilliams’ advice on participating to be involved in learning, solving issues, or gaining knowledge to better yourself, and those who have followed my advice have flourished in our environment.
The quote that went alongside this lesson in actively participating was a snippet from Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life Sonnet:
Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
Often referenced, this poem sends a similar message, from a different era in the world’s history, to get up and do something laborious and pursue greatness through your active participation and involvement in whatever it is you do. School, work, being engaged with your family; you name it, this advice fits the bill.
So go forth, show up and participate. You won’t regret it.