steam shovels and re-inventing yourself

I read a book most nights with my son before bed called Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. The book is about a man and his steam shovel named Mary Anne who are losing work due to the new gasoline shovels that have entered the work force. In order to prove that they should be given the work of the more advanced shovels they go to a small town and promise to dig as fast in one day as 100 men could dig in a week or the town won’t have to pay for their work digging out the basement of the new town hall. The town takes them to task and they begin digging. As you can guess the childrens book does a good job of describing the hard work of Mike and Mary Anna throughout the day. People continually get behind them, cheering them on. There are few that want them to fail as well (hence no payment), but the majority are quite supportive. We always seem to want the underdog to win.

Mike and Mary Anne finish the job on time but forget to create a way out. The amount of time it would take to get out would put them over time so in essence they failed. All seems to be for not, especially when you think that they will probably never get a job again, when the town comes up with the idea to use the steam shovel as the new furnace in the town hall and allow Mike Mulligan to be the new janitor of the town hall. A sort of evolution, I guess, into a new role and purpose.

I feel much in the same way as Mike. I felt like at one point I was in a role that was relevant and I could really stretch my wings, but somewhere along the line there was no more need of the steam shovels and I could either die slowly, or re-invent myself. Today I feel like I have re-invented myself, even if what I am becoming is not clear yet. But I now ponder that former role I had and wonder its relevance today. I am not sure which metaphor to use here, but we will always need holes; perhaps the way to dig them will continually change and evolve but I am not too sure I know what the new shovel will look like.

But what I am sure is that I still haven’t seen it.

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2 Responses to steam shovels and re-inventing yourself

  1. Ella says:

    I really relate to this article Kyle. I have awoken everyday for the last month or so amazed to realize that my ‘shovel’ changed right before my eyes. For the last year, my goal has been to find a passion. Ironically for me, finding a passion is like pursuing happiness -the more you look for it the more elusive it becomes. I have read in many books the tips and exercises to help flesh out what ‘I love to do’ but ultimately I think finding a pursuit worth mr energy and attention crept up on me gradually. Knowing what my ideal life would look like in broad terms was the only thing I was clear on – this was homies down to 5 things: 1.discovering myself 2. Creatin innovative business online that is life changing for others and pays monetarily 3. Being in close relationships 4. Engaged with intellectual world changers). Initially, I thought that these were too broad of categories but then I noticed that by being really clear on these 5 things -I knew which activities to pursue and which to stay clear of. Sometimes I would need to remind myself of these things and keep my list by my bedside table. Anyways, it sounds cheesy but ‘cheese’ online was really what I wanted to pursue and the opp was always right infront of me for years. I just didn’t know that it fit my 5 items so well. It’s like that story , the steam shovel realizes his good fortune -after she is forced to look at or size up her situation. It was right there infront of her even when she thought she was stuck. I think her good fortune came because she couldnt keep digging and look up. A neat analogy actually -the door to possibility was that there was no door at all.

  2. Kyle says:

    Ella, thanks for your comment.

    I really appreciate your insight. As I wrote this post I was continually thinking about in the past I would only relate this to the church (since that role was my past), but I found myself relating to the story about Mike as it connected to where I am going now and how fast things can change. I really like your values (goals) you posted and I found them abstract enough to be timeless, but specific enough to give direction. I love the cheese idea and it “feels right” from my end as I think about you.

    I am not sure if I need to pursue to the wrong means (steam shovels) in order to figure out whats next, but either way understanding that all “means” will end, gives me hope.

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