Use Your Tool to Build Something!

Did you ever know anyone who
     kept their tools sharpened and hardly used them?
     kept their house meticulously clean and never invited guests over?
     studied art, but never found the time to paint?
     studied meditation and never practiced it?
     took medicine for ADHD and remained unfulfilled in a miserable job?

Your brain is an important tool and, of course, you will benefit from sharpening it. But how sharp is sharp enough? How will you know when you have done enough sharpening of the tool and are ready to use it to build something of value to you? We therapists sometimes focus too much on the tools and too little on what our clients might want to construct. Our clients—not their therapists—are the experts on their values and their vision. Without a commitment to your vision, how much value would you place on learning to prioritize, activate, sustain attention, sustain effort, and manage time efficiently?

What if you found the perfect ADHD medicine and optimum lifestyle, and you were able to relieve all of your symptoms? What if your enhanced brain could now play blackjack, free cell, or video games more successfully? Would you want people to say this about you: “Hey, that guy has a great brain; he reached the top level of his video game the day he bought it?” You can squander the most perfectly nurtured brain, and you can achieve something worthwhile with one that has been nurtured well enough!

Dennis is the high-achieving CEO in my “Success Stories” chapter. He was always afraid that some executive, somewhere along his journey, would ask to see his college transcripts. He had been an average student, and yet he was a people person, someone his employees could identify with. They knew how much he valued them, and that might have been his biggest gift to the company. One employee on an assembly line had a suggestion for an engineering improvement, and Dennis arranged for him to meet with a group of the company’s engineers. After hearing the employee’s idea, the engineers wondered why they had never thought of it themselves. They made the changes, and the employee got a bonus. Dennis was resourceful enough to achieve his goals, and his company was a model for success.

Maybe your tool is sharp enough to construct what you wish to construct. I challenge my professional peers to consider this question: When is good enough good enough? Perhaps my challenge seems too shallow for well-educated and licensed therapists, since encouraging adults to have a vision does not require an advanced degree. But how many adults do you know who would be sufficiently motivated by a plan to overcome obstacles? How many do you know who would be more motivated by a plan to actualize their dream?

We can get so carried away focusing on brain-sharpeners that we lose sight of why we are sharpening. So, take your medicine, exercise, maintain a healthy diet, get seven or eight hours of sleep each night, and practice meditation routinely. Then build something you want to build with your tool.

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