To all the lazy engineers out there, read this!
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
I’m at mile 24 during a trail marathon and the sun is in full heat now. Two hours earlier, the morning air was so crisp and I was fortunate enough to witness the sunrise over Lake Texoma (Texas or Oklahoma, depending on who you support as your college football team). However, that crisp morning air has now changed into stifling heat. The silver lining is that the trees offer solace in the form of five degrees below 95 degrees. Each step sends a painful pulsing sensation through my legs and orders my mind to stop trudging up another hill, treading through another stream, or maybe just slowing down my pace and letting the younger man I passed back at mile 18 to fly by me. “It’s alright, it’s just a race, this will not place you into the hall of fame, just give up now, want an ice cream?” These are the thoughts racing through my head, but I refuse to let them in and allow it to dictate the end of this race.
The question I get from friends and family most often is “why?” This is among the ranks of my favorite things to hear, along with “you must be insane” or “you did what?!” However, the answer to this question of why is much more simplistic than you would think. From the outside looking in, it appears as though I am putting myself through physical challenges, numerous miles and bodily pain with no measurable reward. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Week after week, as a Chemical engineer, you’re faced with seemingly impossible obstacles and issues, not so different than a 28 mile run through the tough Texas (or Oklahoma) heat. As engineers we consistently want to improve, make things more efficient, and drive to have the best and be the best. Is there a reason to not also strive for this in your personal life? When you start to challenge yourself and push yourself to your limit, something surreal starts to take place. The stress that you carry all week seems like a mere moment in the face of a 28-mile run around Lake Texoma or a mile high climb up the side of a mountain. That issue that other engineers have been losing sleep over is something you have been thinking about and formulating a solution to for the last two hours of running. The issue no one in the office can wrap their arms around, you’ve figured out a fix by Monday morning.
To the Lazy Engineers (Source: Giphy)
It is counter-intuitive to think that running and exercising is inversely proportional to the amount of energy that we have to expend during the day. C’mon, we are engineers right? “Simple math and chemistry proves that, by exercising, we should have less energy based on our bodies’ caloric consumption!” But perhaps this exercising bit has more to it than meets the eye. Maybe by exercising we unlock chambers in our minds that lay dormant in our bodies as we sit on the couch. Or maybe by exercising, we simply filter out all the confusion and a clear path of where to go presents itself. Exercising is like a good virus–as you start, it will spread to all faucets of your life, personally and professionally. This will allow you to think better, be better, and do better as an engineer.
I leave you with this, a challenge, to get off the couch and go against the engineering status quo. What do you have to lose? You’re already living the other side of the coin by not challenging yourself to be the “best” version of yourself. For one month, get outside and run every day. Start with what you can do and gradually increase the distance. And be honest with yourself. Would you have passed chemical engineering if you stopped at .25 miles? Get out there and get after it. You have so much more to waste than just your physical health.
To the Lazy Engineers (Source: Giphy)
“The mind and the body have a symbiotic relationship, when you step outside of your comfort zone to improve one, the other will pursue”
About the author:
Aaron Kesel is a chemical engineer who works in semiconductor processing and manufacturing for one of the top 3 semiconductor companies. His specific area of expertise include Photolithography, diffusion, epitaxy, and metrology. Prior to this role, he has held positions in power distribution working around water purifiers and large scale industrial applications.
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