Twain’s Law of Work

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Not too long ago, I gave a talk on the idea that Passion is a Life Management Tool as the more you enjoy something, be it a simple task or your vocation, the more likely you are to excel at it and produce superior results.

Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, offers a similar formula for success.

In his novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain suggests that enjoyment and compensation are directly linked to one another: “The law of work does seem utterly unfair–but there it is, and nothing can change it: the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher shall be his pay in cash, also.

Later is life, Twain gave a more profound statement on this same concept for his own career within ‘A Humorist’s Confession’ which was published in the New York Times on November 26, 1905:

“What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. Who was it who said, ‘Blessed is the man who has found his work?’ Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work–not somebody else’s work. The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it.

When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world. The fellows who groan and sweat under the weary load of toil that they bear never can hope to do anything great. How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains? The product of slavery, intellectual or physical, can never be great.”

Want to be more productive and paid more for your efforts? Then obey the Law of Work!