Thoughts On Martin Short's Nine Categories

by Joshua Routh

Workplace Renaissance

Martin Short is one of the rare breed of comedy legends who's wisdom, humanity and depth sometimes eclipses the funny man persona. Also, he is one of my personal favorite entertainers. My youth was spent enjoying Ed Grimley sketches on Saturday Night Live, wearing out the VHS copy of The Three Amigos and even renting Inner Space more times than I would like to admit. More recently, my wife and I are tremendous Only Murders In the Building fans.

Recently, I listened to him read his book, 'I Must Say - My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend'. It is a wonderful book, sweet, insightful and of course funny. In Chapter 9 he reveals his self-evaluation system, called "The Nine Categories". As a person who loves debrief and taking stock, it resonated deeply with me.

During a difficult time in his life he sat down and crafted this simple system that has helped him weigh the good with the bad in his life. I believe it is an idea we can all benefit from.

Let's look at these categories:

1. Self: How are you doing health-wise? I've found this question vital. It's the starting point for all else. If you're not in good shape physically and mentally, nothing else will align properly.

2. Immediate Family: When was the last time you expressed your love for your partner, kids, pets? Family is the cornerstone of our existence. It's the core connection that fuels our emotional engine.

3. Original Family: Reflecting on my relationships with those I grew up with is a recurring theme. It shapes who I am.

4. Friends: We live in circles, ever-expanding. Friends enrich our lives in countless ways. Are you investing enough in these connections?

5. Money: This is about more than dollars and cents. It's about financial security, peace of mind, and the freedom to live life on our terms.

6. Career: Martin Short's idea is profound here. You don’t need a career; you just need a job. What do you think about that? How does it align with your own path?

7. Creativity: Our creative endeavors breathe life into our existence. Are you fulfilling your creative needs?

8. Discipline: Can you sustain work towards your goals? Discipline, for me, is the quiet engine that drives success.

9. Lifestyle: Are you making a difference and having fun doing it? Life is short, and filling it with joy is not an option; it's a necessity.

Every once in a while, Martin Short sits down and works through each category. The aim is to see if logic can overcome emotion. When I was young, a mentor opened my own eyes to the fact that, "Your feelings don't always match your reality". This was at a time when I was having some serious challenges. It opened my eyes to this truth and the "Nine Categories" practice supports focusing on the evidence and not feelings.

It also becomes an idea of treating life as if you're taking nine challenging courses at University. A great assessment tool to keep score or grade yourself. It resonates with my own values of constant learning, growth, and self-improvement.

Martin Short's "Nine Categories" is also a philosophy. It's a way to strive for balance, to remind ourselves that there's more to life than the fleeting emotions of the day. It's about the connections we make, the love we share, the growth we achieve.

For me, it's a reminder to be grateful, to avoid falling into the traps of negativity, to look beyond emotion based success markers, and to focus on what really matters.

I encourage you to consider these categories. Perhaps they might inspire you to craft your own system, or simply reflect on what you truly want your life to be about.

Because in the end, it's about the winding and crooked path that is life, the connections we make, the risks we take and the growth that comes from each mistake.

Keep living 'To The Hilt',

Joshua Routh

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