The Intellectual Life and Catch 22

‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ Socrates (Plato, Dialogues).

When I read about home based business, either in the books I buy or scan at the bookstore, or in magazines or online, I seem to find an overwhelming amount of advice about practical matters, like how to set up your office, how to get your business card designed, how to find a good accountant.

But if our inner life is important to us, and our intellectual growth, reading a series of ‘how-to’ books on home based business might be a limiting and counter-productive approach to being successful at this caper we have taken on.

One of the things I had very much in mind in calling this blog ‘Thinking Home Business’ was that so many people in home business are very intelligent, widely read people who need to set up appropriate circumstances or (as coaches in the Coachville world say, “environments”) to enable them to keep their brains operating fully and richly.

After all, a lot (most?) of us in home based business people these days are in some mode of being “brain workers” (I prefer this to “knowledge workers” – knowledge alone does not create).

For a combination of reasons – personal growth, business effectiveness, longevity – people in home based business need to have arrangements in place that make it more feasible for them to keep up their intellectual stimulation and growth. This is all the more something to take on consciously, to plan and to implement, precisely because – as I indicated in my previous post – a home based business environment sometimes (often, usually?) doesn’t have the same elements of intellectual stimulation that people get in a more traditional business environment.

Mind you, the central business district business environment might also be intellectually restrictive and stultifying.

But there are often benefits we hardly recognise at the time while we are working in larger organisations – discussions, arguments even, with colleagues about politics, about the state of the world, about broader economic issues. And in a milieu I have been part of, about art and culture and education and what makes a society, a nation, worth living in, worth making a contribution to.

In the early days of establishing a home based business, when there are usually more cash outgoings than incomings, it is easy enough to cut back on buying/reading books for pleasure or intellectual stimulation, or going to the theatre or art galleries/museums. That mentality of limiting our exposure to intellectual stimulation outside the narrow focus of our business can become habitual, to our eventual detriment.

If our brain, the ‘real estate between our ears’ is our most valuable asset, as I believe it is, then not keeping it fully operational and regularly stretched is not a good career move.

We need to be creative about installing and maintaining environments that keep us intellectually stimulated and challenged

I’ve been delighted to discover recently that I can log on at any hour of day or night to our local library and order books to pick up when I am next at the library. Today I picked up the Dummies Guide to Paint Shop Pro 7 and Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 – how’s that for a mixture of pragmatic, cost-containing home based business and eccentric mind food? (Why Catch 22, which is indeed one of my favourite books of all time? I had heard it being discussed on a TV program about Australia’s favourite books.)

Do I have time just now to re-read Catch 22? Probably not. Do I have time not to? Probably not. Now here’s a piece of trivia, Yahoo just logged 1,890,000 searches on ‘blog catch 22’.

I know it will be good as a right brain workout. And fun (in a serious, sad sort of way).

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.