Work or Play?

“No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year 
fails to make his family rich.”
~ Ancient Chinese Proverb

We discussed this topic in our last time together. Getting up early that is; and staying late.

Why do you think China owns such a large portion of the United States? Read the quote above again.

Any guesses?

Why do you think that the Asians nearly always outperform American children in intelligence measurements?

Do we really believe that Asians are genetically more predisposed intellectually? That they have some “intelligence gene” that Americans don’t have?

Does any ethnicity or culture have more predisposed blessings and abilities than another? Doubtful.



Entire cultures?


This is the age old idea that success and performance are “nature based” versus “nurture based.” Have you heard this one?

Nature based believes that we come in with certain abilities and they’re static. Nurture believes we must develop the abilities we’ve been given.

The Growth Mindset research of Carol Dweck (reference A Growth Mindset Blog), the Mastery Learning research of Benjamin Bloom as well as many others, prove that the failure and or success reside in:

  • How we as individuals approach life; and more specifically adversity.
  • The methods we use to teach; and maybe most importantly…
  • Our work ethic and time invested.

The wise understand that both nature and nurture are factors. Nature tells us to find our Innate Ability which we’ve discussed in great length in many previous conversations (reference IAD). Once this is found, then it’s the job of nurture to develop those abilities to a level of mastery. (reference Mastery, Genius and Greatness).

We’ve explored the research of Dweck and turning adversity into opportunity in previous editions (reference A Growth Mindset), so let’s look at work ethic and education. Nurture.

In his ground-breaking book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell quotes research that proves bottom line, in education as well as in vocation, the Asians just plain work harder than Americans.

Read the Chinese proverb above once again.

This habit dates all the way back to the Agrarian Age and how the West planted their crops versus how the East planted theirs. I won’t go into a long discussion regarding the differences, as Gladwell has done a masterful job in “Outliers.” If you’d like to dive more deeply I suggest you do so.

While the beginner works toward the weekend or for his vacation,
The master makes his vocation his vacation.

I can presume that a lot of Western parents were aghast with my stories of starting my hard work adventures at six year old in our last installment. I know because I’ve heard it before.

“Shouldn’t children have fun and have a childhood?”

“Shouldn’t they be allowed to play and connect with their friends?”

“I want my kids to have all the things I never had.”

The list is endless.

I’m not a parent but I think if I were, I’d want my child to be happy, truly fulfilled and to have a meaningful life!


I believe children should be nurtured in purpose and meaningful work so they don’t end up depressed, disengaged, and frustrated with their life.

Your work is your art and the world is your canvas. Read more about it here.

Studies prove 71% of people currently experience these emotions on a daily basis.

Grounding children in purpose is not accomplished through television, Xbox, Facebook, or selfies. Nor is it done through traditional vacation and play. The statistics prove me spot on.

We’re obviously missing the mark somewhere.

Additional research, again quoted by Gladwell and many others, tells us several things. Two of them being:

  • The vast majority of children who are gifted with their parents business or inheritance lose it within a handful of years after their parents passing.

All those years of grit and determination are gone in the blink of an eye because they’re gifted to someone who has not developed the same grit and determination.

  • Long summer vacations are known to cause a lack of intellectual abilities in children.

Read that again.

Both of these issues relate to work ethic and time invested.

Why are we conditioning our children that they need a break from learning and growth?

Just because it’s hotter outside?

This conditioning of stepping away from growth and development for long periods of time starts early and starts young; and it stays late and old.

So in other words, “When the weather is nice outside we should not work… we should play.”

Properly understood work and play are not mutually exclusive!

When asked: Are you at work or play?
The answer should be yes in both cases!

Do we see this behavior of work and play being separate entities continuing into adulthood?

Of course we do!

We see it in the Western “working for the weekend and summer vacation” mentality.

The person on purpose does not need a break
or a get-away vacation from their mission.

Disagree with me? That’s okay. Most do.

And most are in the 71%.

Let me please remind just in case, I’m not advocating a lack of rest, recuperation or recovery. Far from it. Adequate rest and recovery are imperative to superhuman performance.

If you must have a vacation, one of true re-creation, let me just state that further research proves that a well-positioned regeneration of 3-4 days tops, is shown time and again to be more truly enjoyable and regenerative than the traditional 1-2 weeks of many in the Western World.

Check the research of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl and his ground-breaking book Flow for more information on this principle.

So by now you should realize that if you’re truly here to reach your own Ultimate Performance, to live your best life, then you’re going to have to think and walk differently from the ways of the mass majority.

“What the world does, do thou not.
But in all things walk contrary to the way of the world.”
~ Jacob Boehme

There’s an ancient esoteric axiom called The Law of Reversal which states:

“To turn misery, disease and failure into joy, health and prosperity; I must think, feel and act in ways which are the exact reverse
of how most people think, feel and act.
~ The Law of Reversal

So to reach your Ultimate Performance, just take a look around. Notice what most people are doing; and chances are highly likely that if you do the exact opposite of what they’re doing, you’re probably on the right track.

That means that if most people are sleeping in late—you get up early…

If most people are eating and drinking themselves into oblivion to escape their own discontent—you eat healthy and reach for a book versus a bottle—a salad versus a snickers…

If most people are watching an average of 4 hours per day of the plug in drug (a.k.a. television)—instead of vegging out, you go workout…

If most socialize and invest in mindless activities to escape into entertainment—you focus on networking and education…

If most are working for the weekend and planning and hoping for their next big vacation—you work towards great work; and realize that your own greatness is life’s greatest reward…

For such is the price of greatness; and it can be no other way.

“Give the masses a little bread and a little circus and they will be content.”
~ Adolph Hitler

What price do you choose to pay?

The masses formula: A little food, circus, socializing, vacation and entertainment—or; 

The Master Formula: Purpose, Greatness, 
World-Class Work, Legacy and Impact

For as we’ve discussed many times… there is always a price.

But when you find your Innate Ability and purpose; and you commit to developing and living them fully and completely; the price you pay is worth it; and the rewards of greatness are truly great beyond measure.

And the journey continues…

Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic!

james arthur ray