I’ve wrestled lots of big, sweaty guys. It was usually in a jiu jitsu gi, on my way to black belt, with guys I’d been training for years to be better than me. And after some chokes and arm bars we’d get up and kick each other. And then we’d add in a few elbow and knee strikes. Until time was called.

Then we’d switch partners and I’d wrestle the next big, sweaty guy.

Good times.

But doing any of that outside the safe confines of the dojo – on the street, say, acting in self-defense – definitely would not be good times.

Because of rules. On the mat, we had plenty. None of that eye-gouging and crotch-striking and knife-pulling. But in real, dangerous, wrong-side-of-the-tracks life – no such rules. Which means it’s not play. Not at all.

Play needs rules. And the first is: you can quit at any time. It’s not play if you can’t quit.

Cherry Picking

So to make life more like recess, to have your days be more play than work, you need to be able to quit the things you don’t like.

You need to cherry-pick.

So how do you do that?

Solve It with Money

Give yourself choices by recognizing that if it can be solved with money, it’s not a problem. A loved one dies? You need solace and time and strength from faith and friends. Money can’t help that.

But your A/C goes out? Solve it with money.

(I hear you: “Easy for you to say, Mr Moneybags, with your designer jeans and fancy color TV.” Yeah, I was saying this back when I was trying to meet payroll and 3 weeks from business collapse, so simmer down there, hombre.)

But how do you get enough money? Well, that’s a perfect question to ask, one that’s much more tractable than solving all of the thousand other problems that occur because you don’t have it. For efficiency’s sake alone, learn how to make money. Then use it to solve almost all of your other problems. To quit the things you don’t like.

This isn’t glib, this is practical.

Learn to make money and you won’t have to learn how to insulate your attic, repair your furnace, stitch up that cut, or hunt your dinner. Unless you want to.

And if you want to, it’s play.

Play Where 3 Circles Meet

The question simplifies to:

What’s the best way to make money that also feels like recess?

In their Vegas show, Penn and Teller intersperse head-shaking magic tricks with asides on freedom, self-expression, and life. I remember Penn giving advice on selecting a career in one such interjection.

He described a Venn diagram of three intersecting circles. What you’re:

  • born to do
  • good at
  • can make money at

Your career is at the intersection. Mine tells me to write. That is correct.

The intersection is out there for you, and if it’s not, then you just got your next game to play: Get better at something that fits the other two circles. Find something you were born to do that you can make money at, but at which you are not good enough … yet.

Then level up your game. I’m here to help.

Glenn Miller's Newsletter – The Recess Bell

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