One Of Life’s Truths: You Are What You Do

I have this friend that I really admire for a lot of reasons. He’s a level headed guy with a calm way about him, but it is his countless little tidbits of wisdom on life that really strike me about him.

A while back we were talking about hunting dogs as he is an avid outdoorsman and he said to me, “Dogs are what they do. If you want a good hunting dog, make him hunt and that’s what he’ll become.”

That struck me as important but I didn’t really understand completely until now.

Recently I’ve been working on a lot of other projects, trying to make good on my new years resolution to finish things I’ve started in the past few years. One such project that I’m really excited about was just a sparkle in my minds eyes six months ago, but I wanted to get it going before 2011 so it would fit into my finish things up plan.

This project is called It’s basically a site set up so others can follow my journey from the awful pianist that I am today, to what I will be in 2012. It’s a twelve month journey and I’ll be learning a new song entirely from scratch to finish each month, with vocals if the song calls for them. I’ve set steps in place to insure I move forward, but at this point, I’m still awful 🙂 (If you’re a music/piano fan, please check it out and subscribe!)

My talent (or lack thereof) aside, while I’m shifting some of my focus onto piano playing and music, I find that it’s on my mind quite a bit. I think about beats and sounds I hear in a different way. I also get a lot more musically geared ideas.

I started Personal Finance Firewall back in 2009 in order to take control of my finances and share what worked and what didn’t with anyone looking for the same kind of help.

Since then, finances have occupied my thoughts and I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on things. I’m no guru by any stretch but I’ve gotten to a certain point of control that I’m happy with and I’m able to make informed financial decisions without too much stress. I have also gotten a lot more business and entreprenurial ideas than ever before since I started really concentrating on PF Firewall.

Each of these projects and many others in my life were started without any experience. I went off somewhat half-cocked, but as experience came, I became what I claimed to be. I became a writer by writing. I became financially savvy by getting involved and doing financially savvy things. I will become a pianist by playing the piano. And each time, my mind shifts completely from one thing to the next and ideas are honed into that subject as if no others exist.

No matter what you do, commit yourself and believe in what you’re doing and it will be sure to happen. Planning can only go so far and if you’re always stuck in the planning stages of life, you will never reach the final result; you will never reach the point where you can live and sometimes a little faith and taking the first little step is more important than all the planning you could have ever done.

The famous maxim by René Descartes “I think therefore I am” rings far more true today than it ever has.

So, What are you?

Let me know in the comment section below!

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16 People have left comments on this post

» krantcentsNo Gravatar said: { Jan 20, 2011 - 04:01:16 }

Descartes is brilliant! If you believe you can do something you can. Determinations trumps everything!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ain’t that the truth!

» SquirrelersNo Gravatar said: { Jan 20, 2011 - 11:01:28 }

Yeah, belief in what you do is key. If you don’t believe in yourself, it won’t motivate others to believe in you either. And to your point about over planning, it’s good to think and do at the same time, instead of thinking and planning too much. I’m a planner by nature but after all these years I’m cutting the planning time and stepping up the doing. I can tell you it works to have a balance.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Balance is exactly what we need. And we can start doing and plan in chunks as we go too which can help with analysis paralysis. It’s not a cut and dry line between being well prepared, planned enough, and ready to start doing, you can mix things up and do things in parts too.

» Kevin @ Thousandaire.comNo Gravatar said: { Jan 21, 2011 - 09:01:49 }

I love it. I truly believe a person is simply the sum of his or her actions. You can’t be a “good person” and go around doing bad things all the time.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Kevin, so if I’m to maintain that bad boy image, I should stop helping old ladies cross the street? Dang, they always give me gum..

» JennaNo Gravatar said: { Jan 21, 2011 - 06:01:03 }

I’m not sure I completely agree with this statement. For one, you could have a great breed of hunting dog and still get a nervous dog. Just the same way, people can be defined by more than what they do. People wear more than one occupational hat and you can be different things to different people.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

But when you ask someone, what do you do, they say I’m an artist, or writer, or musician. They don’t say, “I do music, but I’m a fireman” right? I agree people wear more than one occupation in their life, but each one they have creates an impact on their life and defines part of who they are, even if they don’t want that to happen.

» MoneyconeNo Gravatar said: { Jan 22, 2011 - 07:01:43 }

Ah a fellow Yanni fan! I love Yanni – that’s the best background music for me at work! The site looks awesome Jesse! (I haven’t clicked on the videos yet – early in the morning, don’t want to wake up everyone! ) 🙂

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks! Let me know what you think once you get a chance to watch. I know my playing doesn’t give Yanni justice, but I’ll try my best. He’s always with me at work too 😉

» MyMoneyMessNo Gravatar said: { Jan 26, 2011 - 05:01:29 }

Wait a darn minute here! I thought “You are what you eat” was how it worked! Actually it’s probably better that it isn’t, I wouldn’t know how to cook Warren Buffet anyway. 😉

All kidding aside, I’m not sure this rings true for me. I have a number of different fields I actively work in and I don’t think any one of them defines who I am. You’re focusing some of your attention and efforts on improving your ability to play the piano. You’re doing piano playing. I would hesitate to say that you are a pianist, or a musician because you’re still learning and it’s not how you earn your living (people don’t usually pay “still awful” piano players to play for them).

In your reply to Jenna’s comment you said, “But when you ask someone, what do you do, they say I’m an artist, or writer, or musician. They don’t say, ‘I do music, but I’m a fireman’ right?” I live in LA. Everyone is an actor, screenwriter, musician and so forth if you ask them, including the waitress at Denny’s, the receptionist at the dentist’s office and maybe even firemen. These people are what their avocation is, rather than what their vocation is. They will certainly “quite their day job” the second they are able to make a living acting, playing music or writing scripts.

When you ask such people, “What do you do?” Their answers could very well go along the lines of, “I do a receptionist job to pay the bills, but I’m an actress.” In fact I’ve been told similar things many times.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I think he’s a bit past expiration.. 🙂

Your thoughts on the subject are really interesting, But I bet that waitress at Denny’s can waitress with the best of them, right? I’m not saying you are limited to just one profession and you aren’t just one thing, that’s the beauty of being an individual, but that even the receptionist is a receptionist, shes probably really good at it and that defines her to some extent right?

EvanNo Gravatar Reply:

I think it is all about letting your passion/drive define you.


I have a really tough time answering the question. I can’t think of myself as being constrained to one noun/adjective….does that in of itself define me?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I think you’re right, when you have the passion for something that creates a bond that better defines what and who you are.

as for your question, that creates some curious thoughts, us doing nothing actually doing something? very Froidian 🙂

» Invest It WiselyNo Gravatar said: { Feb 2, 2011 - 08:02:50 }

I haven’t thought of things too much this way but it actually makes sense. I think it’s a good companion to “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ah, great connection. I hadn’t made that myself but I like it!

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