Is Productivity A Virtue?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Do you believe you are what you do? Is your self-worth hinged on whether you accomplish your to-do list?

As our ego is our self-identity based on external things such as possessions and achievements, it often leads us to believe that we are what we do. And out of that main belief comes thoughts like “I should be busy….all the time.” “If the house is clean, the errands are done, and the emails have been sent, then I’m a good person worthy of love.

Have you ever uttered such thoughts or ones like that in your head? Lord knows I have.

There’s a popular bumper-sticker that says, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” The number one rule in comedy is that it’s funny because it’s true. The truth is, if word got out that son of God was dropping by, I think most people would heads down it and throw in a few grunts for extra measure.

Admittedly, in the past, I have chosen to do laundry over going out to see a movie with friends, so I can avoid hearing my ego whisper with disdain, “There you go being lazy again – good people get jobs done first and only relax if there’s time left over.” Oh yes, there have been many times that I chose to do something productive over spending time relaxing, rejuvenating, or playing so I didn’t have to spend my entire day obsessing about what I should have be doing. Have you ever suffered from a bad case of the shoulds? You finally make time to relax or have fun and then you spend the whole time feeling bad – there you are trying to JUST BE and shoulding yourself. God bless us – we try desperately to enjoy yourselves but so often we just end up in a state of self-loathing because our almighty to-do list isn’t going to-do itself.

As the CEO of Yahoo, Carol Bartz, once said at Maria Shriver’s annual women’s conference, Let’s be very clear – the issue isn’t about balance, it’s guilt.” Can I get an Amen?

Here are some secret thoughts that you may or may not have had that indicate a belief that be busy makes you a good person…

If I’m not busy, others will think I’m lazy.” (most of the time people are too busy and too busy thinking about themselves to really care what you’re up to)

The busier I am, the cooler I am.” (do you ever get the feeling that some people are just showing off?)

I don’t know how not to be busy.” (and you’re too busy to figure it out)

Hey, everybody else is busy.” (it’s like the peer pressure to wear Ralph Lauren button-downs, Bass penny loafers, and acid wash jeans all over again…sigh…)

If you are busy due to thinking it’s some kind of virtuous act and makes you a better person,  please consider that being busy is nothing more than being busy. Being busy doesn’t create self-worth, however, it can create fatigue that can compromise the quality of your life. Please consider that times of stillness, laughter, and play are actually essential if you want to be truly productive and achieve quality in your work.

Think of your energy much like a bank account. Being productive and being busy are the withdrawals. Rest and play are the deposits. Have you ever experienced  over-draft???

You may have had the fleeting or not-so-fleeting thought that being busy equals success. Well, if being busy leads you to lying spread-eagle on the floor gasping for air, can you really call that success? I mean, come on, isn’t it a real bummer when you finally make it to the end of a busy week – it’s Friday night – and there you are at home fast asleep on the couch by nine o’clock? Yeah, that’s sexy.

Do you want to have more rest, relaxation and fun in your life? It’s not really about better time management and making charts, it’s about having the courage to turn your back on a voice that has made you believe that productivity is virtuous like being honest and being generous.

It’s about creating a loving, supportive voice within yourself that allows you joy.

You won’t be as busy if you silence that chatter in your head that has made you believe that relaxing and having fun is right up there with lying and telling those kids with those UNICEF boxes at Hallowe’en to buzz off because you’re keeping our pennies for yourself, damn it.

Big Love,

susan

 

Do You Put Yourself In The “Ideal Performance State”?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I have a big, dark secret to confess. I LOVE CURLING! I’ve been a die-hard curler and curling fan for almost 25 years now. I might as well tell you that I also have a massive passion for golf – I play it as much as I can and watch almost every PGA tournament on television. In fact, the only reason I have the hundreds of channels that I do is because I originally wanted access to the Golf Channel. The reason I mention my love of these sports is because the sporting world shall be the illustration I use to describe the immense powers of lightheartedness and playfulness in anything we do.

As I mentioned, I have enjoyed the sport of curling for many years and have worked hard to execute the standard curling delivery with very few flaws. At this point, I’m going to hope that you’ve caught at least a few minutes of curling on TV and can picture how someone throws a curling rock down a sheet of ice. With my strong desire to be great at the sport, I have a past history of taking my curling performance VERY seriously and have been VERY hard on myself when I miss my shots. I also have a past history of this when I play golf, but I’ll stick with the theme of curling for this part of my post.

Have you ever wanted something so much and that desire for success ends up bringing about a bunch of tension, stress, frustration, etc.? Do you ever end up experiencing all kinds of stuff that doesn’t help you perform well at all? How does it usually turn out?

In my experience, I never play well when I take the game too seriously and want success more than air  - it usually ends out to be a messy display of irony.

In the past couple of years, my athletic endeavours (and lack of stretching) have caught up to my thirties-something body and mild/early arthritis has set into both of my knees. My left knee has been quite the trouble maker over the last few months and has made executing the curling delivery a much bigger challenge than it needs to be. In fact, my knee got so bad that I couldn’t bend and slide at all. Because I didn’t want to miss out on playing my weekly game with my very fun team mates and because all four players on the team MUST throw two rocks in the game, I decided to execute an ugly replica of the curling delivery that involved me pushing the rock while WALKING down the ice. This display was the most ridiculous thing I and everyone else on the ice had ever seen. I spent the entire game cracking jokes, laughing, and in a twisted way, enjoying the challenge of the weird-ass delivery.

And I made almost every damn shot.

As my success with this newly coined “walk the rock” delivery was unfolding, I realized that my relaxed mindset and playful nature was allowing my mind and body to do what they can do. I didn’t have any of the mental or physical tension that can (and typically does) interfere with my ability. With my make-shift curling delivery, I was placing myself in what sports psychologist, James E. Loehr, calls the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE. James studied the performances and outcomes of athletes for many years and determined that when their mindset fills their bodies and minds with stress and tension, the performance is much lower than when they are relaxed, lighthearted, and HAVING FUN.

The legendary golfer, Fred Couples, described the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE a few months ago during a television interview. He told the reporter that he plays better and is seeing more success on the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior Tour) than the regular PGA Tour because he finds himself laughing and having fun more while he plays along with his old pals versus taking things quite seriously at the PGA Tour events.

Think back to a time when you watched a team or an individual athlete win a major championship or olympic medal. When the reporter asked them how they felt during the game, they most likely described aspects of the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE. They most likely talked about how they felt relaxed and had fun.

Think back to times in your life when your light has shone the brightest. I would bet big dollars that you weren’t trying too hard and taking it too seriously – you were probably some version of Freddy out there playing with his peeps from the glory years.

Are there opportunities in your professional and/or personal life to try a lighter approach and a more relaxed mindset? If you sense that taking something(s) too seriously is interfering with your ability, remember my success with “walk the rock”…release your expectations and have fun with every step!

Big love,

susan

THE GEEK SHALL INHERIT THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

It is my pleasure to introduce the wit and wisdom of Deborah Kimmett. A fellow author and speaker, Deborah is my guest blogger for today’s post. To learn more about Deborah and read her blog, visit her website.

Enjoy the laughs…

Hi, I am Deborah Kimmett, a humorist who believes life starts getting better after we say Yes.  Babies are born. Cars are invented, and new ideas start to come. However, first we protest, then we make jokes.

Last January I cancelled my satellite television.. I had convinced myself I would read novels by authors like James Joyce. It’s been 365 days and I’m still on page one of Ulysses, but I have cut my sleeping medication in half.

No,  I have just traded one screen for another.  I stare lovingly at my computer screen waiting for pop-ups. I worship it. I have become a checker. I check endlessly.

This is how my day goes. I get up and I go to the coffee shop for a cup of anxiety. I check my LinkedIn, eBay account, Zoomers and Craigslist, and then read the news online. The news is so bad, I read it again on another site just to make sure it’s that horrible.

Then I notice a lump on my index finger so I Google my imagined illness du jour. I either have a malignant tumour or gnarly knuckles. We have enough information to be dangerous. I can’t trust my doctor or my financial advisor. I go online to look at the state of my mutual funds, to see how many points I have on my fifteen rewards cards.

I have so many passwords. I fear I will lose my mind and be sitting in a nursing home saying “rascalsbum343.” If you want to check your income tax online, Revenue Canada now makes you create your own security questions. This means I don’t know the answer or the question. And don’t you love it when the customer service people start giving you hints?  “Your first dog’s name mixed with Grade 1 teacher’s name?”

I check my email and look at the many jokes forwarded by retirees who’ve just discovered how to use a computer; the virus warnings or the modern day chain letter offering me the blessing of 10 thousand cherubs as long as I forward it to 10 people within half an hour. If I don’t, I will burn in hell. Here I am. I live on an island and I’m sinking in spam.

What I need is human contact — a little Facebook to Facebook. I have 499 friends; 349 of them are Kimmetts who are talking about how much they’ve been drinking. At least they won’t blow over the legal limit driving on the information highway.

But I am so old, I remember when the phone rang and I used to pick it up. Now I stare at it and say, “Ah great. Why is he calling me at this time of night?” and I let it go to voicemail. Then when he doesn’t leave a message, I think what’s his game? There is only one thing worse: when you call your phone and that woman says, “You have no new messages.” Read: you have no messages, loser.

If I don’t text, do I exist? If a tweet falls in the forest, does it make a sound? I have been reduced to short form replying; I spell when I could speak. I type TTYL to my BFF but I refuse to write LOL. For someone with gnarly finger syndrome, I have the fastest fingers in the west.

So, I’ve gone back to watching TV.  No. I won’t sign up for satellite. I will now stream everything I really like. It’s like that old saying, “The Geek shall inherit the earth, or at least the World Wide Web.”

- Deborah Kimmett