30 Days of Jung — Day 5: #Service, #Action #Honor #Character


Today’s Jung quote would be more suitable for a Monday or the start of something, but we will forge ahead nonetheless, because I’m in.

Welcome to Day 5 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

This is today’s quote:

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
C.G. Jung

Start the count to end at 1,186…

I feel like this is another easy one, like yesterday’s about us not being the sum of what happened to us but rather that we are what we choose to be. But then I realized it’s much deeper than that, damn that dead Jung.

Just so both of you guys know, I’m getting these quotes as they are ranked on Goodreads. I’m not arbitrarily selecting them. But in keeping with today’s quote, I’ll say this: I wasn’t sure I’d commit to this series when I first considered it about six months ago, even though I loved the idea. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it or come up with enough content to see it all the way through. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it entertaining, I wasn’t sure was afraid. I was afraid I’d falter or that it would suck. But I need to be bigger than that. I need to commit, which I have, and get it done and do the best I can at keeping you entertained and maybe enlightened and hopefully become a fan of Cap’n Crunch cereal if you weren’t already.

By the end of this series, I will have produced more than 30,000 words devoted to these quotes. (I have just chewed up about 300 words talking about doing this… sound frighteningly apropos of the quote?)

I will admit this also: when I’m in, I’m all in. But until that moment, I’m dust, vapor, a chance of follow-through.

Goodreads has its own tags beneath the quotes and I used two of them for today: Service and Action. But even though, yes, those two tags are appropriate, they still felt anemic to me; they weren’t “thick enough” (to borrow Prego pasta sauce’s tag line from years ago). So then I added “lip service” which was close, but not quite right. Then it occurred to me, this quote is well and good, but the thrust of it, the core of it — to me, is about honor; and then even deeper still, it’s about character. Guts. Thicker: it’s about fearlessness.

It’s about believing in yourself as much as your people believe in you and doing what you say you will do rather than talking about it all the time and letting people expect you to do it. Worse: it’s about not keeping people on the line when you promise to deliver. It’s about showing up.

I’d rather have someone never commit to something than tell me they will do something and not follow-up. Those people, those Chex Rice people, they are hard for me to be around. Their sentences aren’t words, they’re sonnnnngs and they whiiiiiine their responnnnnnnnses when they taaaallllllk to yooooooou.

“AAAAH SHADDAP!” said Bugs Bunny.

One of my first and all-time favorite editors is a guy I still have the honor of knowing. I worked for him as a lowly editorial assistant back in 1993 in Alexandria, VA. I learned more from him in the first year of my job than I ever did in my fourteen years of college. When I took that job, my skills and interview spoke for themselves, but I’d never worked in a newsroom. The plan was that I would shadow someone and learn by example. I would watch and assist in the culmination of the entire week’s work go down on Friday and then take over the following week. It was for a weekly column called “Legislative Update” which was a summary of action that happened on Capitol Hill relative to the education legislation we were covering.

So I started on a Monday. I had my Cap’n Crunch for breakfast, a cold glass of OJ and a piece of toast, just like on the box. I was a freakin’ carb mess. I showed up at the front desk, and presented myself to the receptionist. My hands were likely shaking and my body was vibrating. I don’t remember driving there, I think I just hummed my way to work and up the elevator chute (I’m quickly approaching 1200 words).

I was all, “Girl Friday” about it. “That’s swell, boss! I’ll get on that right away! You bet!”

Tuesday, same thing, different suit.

Wednesday, getting a little nervous but paying attention and taking notes. “You betcha! This is a hum-dinger!”

Thursday, I’m keen, enthusiastic, “Cat’s pajamas! You’re the tops!”; watchful, asking lots of questions and pretending I knew what the hell was going on.

Friday, I’m all in. I’m wearing jeans even because it was casual Friday. “Oh Boy! Is this is great!” I’m all “Flounder” from Animal House when they’re about to sabotage and spill the 10,000 marbles at the Faber Day Parade:

And so I’m waiting for the marbles, y’know. I’m waiting for my mentor to show up, the one I’d been shadowing all week.


A part of me died inside.

“Well, you know what you’re doing, Molly, you’ve been following her all week, you can do this. We’ll need copy by 3,” said my almost executive editor, the man I still know today.

“Uhhh…” I thought I was going to hurl right there. Lose all that Cap’n Crunch all over the industrial midnight blue berber carpet.

It took me all day. I learned how to format, I learned how to edit, I learned how to not die.

I did it.


He liked to say later that it was all part of the plan, but I know it wasn’t. It was “baptism by fire,” as he described it last time I saw him at Costco. That’s how I’ve learned to operate since; I don’t talk about what I’m going to do too much until I’m ready to do it; then I just try to get it done. I grew up with a talented, smart and beautiful mother who never followed through. I don’t know what stopped her other than some incredible fear. It’s heartbreaking, really. Then there’s me who believes, “You can’t win if you don’t play” and that the only way to do things is … to DO things.

I have a friend, RICK, who has zero patience for people who say, “I want to…” she cuts them off, with love, but says, “Then do it.” She is countered with “But I…” and she will again interrupt with love and say, “Then stop talking about it. Do it or shut up.” She’s said that to me a couple times, and she’s right. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never started this blog. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never entered that fiction contest (I didn’t place as a finalist, but I did it…). She’s right. She’s Bugs Bunny.

So, yeah: we are what we do. It’s pretty a clear message.

Thank you.

16 responses »

  1. “We are what we do”…. So simple and so powerful. It makes you wonder if everyone were self actualized enough to understand that and held up a mirror to their actions, would they like what they see? And if not, would they change it? Or would they continue external blame and lament that their thoughts are well intentioned while not contributing a single self defining action to themselves or the world. Great post, love the Bugs Bunny references.

    • I have this sick feeling that while your thought is noble that the end result would be just depressing! I have done that, I have said, literally, “broken record” and they don’t bat an eye. they seem to be so caught up in their dream (outward) than their reality which is that it takes time and work and effort. i can’t play innocent in this — i’ve been talking about publishing a book for a long time, but i do know this: i get closer every day to saying. “let’s do this thing.” it’s coming. i just don’t talk about it much…

      i sometimes like to pretend my life is being recorded, like the truman show, and when i do that, i’m much more effective. 🙂

      thanks for commenting. your moniker is dead on – you are quite sharp.

    • One more thing: I am loving your blog. Reading on mobile, so commenting is nigh an act of congress but I want you to know I am a fan. Do you have an fb page? I will look for it. You and I have similar: I have younger pastor brother too. I heart him with all my heart.

      • I do have a page. I’m the only razorblade brain on FB, so easy to find!

        You imagine Truman Show- I pretend I’m being interviewed by Diane Sawyer or Oprah at least once a week to see if I would have anything of value to contribute to their show. If not, something’s gotta happen. Lol

        Thanks for your sweet words!!

  2. I love this so much. It really applies to art. So many people say they aren’t in the right mood, etc. to be creative, but really you just have to start. Do something. I guess that’s why that Nike saying is so popular: Just do it. I keep thinking of that somewhat crude saying people say sometimes too: Sh*t or get off the pot. haha! I find Jung to be really empowering. He shifts the locus of control back onto people while simultaneously encouraging the cultivation of spirituality. Kind of amazing.

  3. So what holds us back from actually doing it? I think in my own case if would be fear. Fear of failure. Fear of humiliation. Fear of looking like a complete idiot to others. Probably it’s all due to an overactive imagination. Can’t absolutely predict the future no matter what Carnac the Magnificent says. Fortunately mostly we survive these pin pricks to our ego 😉

  4. I work a lot on “being impeccable with my word.” So glad you wrote this. I need to reread a few others though, so I can deal with the irritation I feel toward others who offer lip service.

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