Profitable, difficult or important

children important work

Is being a parent Profitable? No. Is being a parent Difficult? Sometimes, sure. Is being a parent Important? Absolutely. To me, it is the most important and valuable work I’ve ever or will ever do.

As I write this post the last of my three sons has headed out of London, ending a summer where I got to spend so much time with them all. Two of them are already “fully-fledged”, the third trying out his wings, so who knows when I will have so much time with them again. My reflection on that, then is on how important time spend with our children is.

Why, though, today’s title and thoughts around “Profitable, difficult or important” though?

Well, this came from a post this week from the man who, nearly a year ago, inspired me to commit to posting daily. First was the commitment to make it a habit, then the habit became embedded, now I simply write. I am a writer.

Writing is something I do not because it is profitable, nor do I find it difficult. I do, however, find it to be important, both for me as a human to share what I learn and also from reflections from others on the difference it has made for them. If I can touch one person with what I write, it is important to me.

So, the post title here comes from the man himself, Seth Godin, and today I give you his post this week:

Profitable, difficult, or important?

by Seth Godin, September 14, 2018

Apple became the first company to be worth a trillion dollars. They did that by spending five years single-mindedly focusing on doing profitable work. They’ve consistently pushed themselves toward high margin luxury goods and avoided just about everything else. Belying their first two decades, when they focused on breakthrough work that was difficult and perhaps important, nothing they’ve done recently has been either. Tim Cook made a promise to the shareholders and he kept it.

Amazon became the second company to be worth a trillion dollars. And just about everything they focus on is difficult. They carry more than a million products, ship on a moment’s notice, rarely have a glitch, host a bulk of the internet’s traffic and disrupt one industry after another. Tons of tiny details, many leaps. Investors have patiently waited for them to be incredibly profitable, but the company focuses on the relentless, incremental work of the difficult instead. A totally different promise, kept.

But the most daring and generous, those that are often overlooked and never hit a trillion dollars in the stock market, are left to do the important work. The work of helping others be seen, or building safe spaces. The work of creating opportunity or teaching and modelling new ways forward. The work of changing things for the better.

Changing things for the better is rarely applauded by Wall Street, but Wall Street might not be the point of your work. It might simply be to do work you’re proud of, to contribute, and to leave things a little better than you found them.

Profitable, difficult, or important—each is an option. A choice we get to make every day. ‘None of the above’ is also available, but I’m confident we can seek to do better than that.