At our house, we love the book Deep Work. And on this same topic Bryan read The War of Art. When I’m ready to change my life and actually produce something worthwhile and when I’m ready to have the skills to teach my children how to create, then I’ll read it.
What we learn from the book is that when it’s time for work, you should eliminate distractions so you can actually work. Being distracted is extremely costly. It takes like 17 minutes to get back into your work to the place you were before you were distracted.
Being in a managerial position guarantees you will be extremely distracted. You have to be available for other people’s problems, on other people’s problems’ time scales, which are by definition inconvenient.
One of those books talk about Richard Feynman, who was a great physicist. I just looked him up. He just did a few things in quantum mechanics and electrodynamics and particle physics. No big deal. I could totally have done that this afternoon, but I didn’t want to. Anyway, people kept asking him to speak and to be the department chair. He said no. He said, (paraphrased by the author and by Bryan and by me) “You don’t want me to be the department chair. I am worth much more to you right here in my lab.”
Bryan feels like he has a superpower. He could make anything on the internet. He could make anything he wants to someday be on the internet. So every hour watching shows is an hour of not creating something amazing the entire world can benefit from. It’s a blessing- and a curse.
Anyway, people ask him to do managerial tasks (and he does because he wants to be generous.) But he agonizes internally because those things are distractions to what he wants to do. He said, “I just want to do real work.”
This is not a post to people to stop asking Bryan to do things. This is a metaphor.
The “highest” administrative positions in the church can only be held by Priesthood holders, and the Priesthood can only be held by men. Which is unfair if your only value is prestige and visibility. What if you value actually doing real work? It is my opinion that a mother’s role in the home balances in eternity with a Priesthood holder’s role in the church. (There is a lot of overlap and exceptions that I am simplifying to get my point across. I’d be happy to talk about them later with you.) What if the work of the home is actually doing the real work in eternity?
Bryan likens his “real work” to spinning a fly wheel. A fly wheel is a large, heavy, bike-tire-shaped wheel. It is very difficult to start, and it is very difficult to speed it up. But once you get it going fast, it keeps its momentum for a long time. Bryan’s work might not look like much- he spends hours tapping on a computer and staring at white text on a dark screen- but energy is going in and it’s preserved. Unlike managerial, administrative tasks that need to be done over and over again (I’m oversimplifying again).
As he was talking about this, I saw that in my own life. Maybe Priesthood holders have more visible administrative tasks and distracting prominency, but I’m spinning three fly wheels right now, which will only increase in momentum throughout their lives. Should I really wish I was doing something else? Should women really wish they were doing something else?
Well, if you do wish you had more administrative responsibility, just move into my ward and I promise you you’ll get more responsibilities.