Are you a human being or a human doing?
Sometimes it takes a cosmic 2X4 to get my attention. Other times, a Nerf™ bat will do.
This has been a bat week, fortunately.
I’ve been getting all kinds of nudges that have a similar theme: slow down, be still, allow things to unfold.
Then there are these other nudges: follow your passion, claim your power, let some things end so others can begin.
It all got me thinking about a distinction I came across several years ago. A speaker made the comment, “We’ve all gotten so busy that we are no longer human beings; we are human doings.”
You, like many entrepreneurs, may be susceptible to feeling so pressured to do everything possible as quickly as possible that you don’t slow down. Forget about stopping to smell the flowers; you don’t even stop to take a breath and consciously, strategically evaluate whether the stuff you’re so busy doing is the right stuff to be doing. You have morphed into a human doing.
Can you say “formula for stress, burnout, and lousy results”?
What if, instead, you were to take a both/and approach to work and life? How would your results (and your mental health) improve if you were to:
- both work and rest (or play) with conscious intent and focus?
- spend time both doing tasks you’ve identified as important and assessing/thinking about those activities to determine their effectiveness?
- both focus on how you want to be in the world and allow your actions to flow from that state of being?
Sound luscious? Then see how applying the following tools can help you attain better balance and better outcomes for yourself and your business.
Get serious about your play.
Do all your days look alike? Is it hard for an onlooker to figure out whether you’re in the midst of a work day or a play day?
I realized a while ago that I’d fallen into the habit of taking multiple mini-breaks throughout the work day. I’d spend a few minutes on Facebook, or doing my Lumosity brain training, or reading a chapter in a novel…Even though I didn’t let those “few minutes” turn into a day-long interruption of my work, I was still trashing my productivity with start-and-stop activity. Even worse, in a way, I was sometimes using those breaks as an excuse not to push past a reluctance to tackle a tough task. [Warning: Do NOT trying say that last phrase three times quickly.]
Now, I’m far more conscious about taking intentional, purposeful breaks. They’re fewer and further between, and they genuinely do give my brain a rest from work; what they don’t do is give me a free pass on uncomfortable but important tasks.
And if you’re one of those workaholic entrepreneurs, you really need – and deserve – to take genuine recharge breaks. Remember that old adage: “All work and no play makes Jack and Jill really lackluster entrepreneurs.”
Get ready. Fire. Then aim.
Whether your nemesis is analysis paralysis, perfectionist’s procrastination, or a “can’t fail if I don’t try” mindset, you cannot succeed if you never take action. One of the best – although far from easiest – ways to get some traction is to adopt as your mantra this advice I came across long ago: “Ready. Fire. Aim.”
Why is this so much more productive than the more common version of “Ready-Aim-Fire”? Because you can get so caught up in aiming that you never do pull the trigger… and an un-pulled triggers hits no targets. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky had it so right when he observed, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
So what happens if you fire and the Universe lets you know in no uncertain terms that you were way off base? You celebrate! You’ve just gotten invaluable feedback you can use to come closer to the goal next time.
Failure to act = failure. Period.
Act as if.
Harvard psychologist Dr. Jerome Bruner once observed, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” That’s what this third tool is all about.
“Act as if” is one of my favorite techniques for business development (as well as self-enrichment) because:
- it’s versatile
- it’s powerful
- it stimulates your creativity
- it builds your confidence
- it enables you to flippin’ get things done
So…not sure how to shift yourself from a human doing to a human being? Here are some ways you can act as if you’re living and working more consciously and deliberately.
- Set an intention in the morning for how you want to feel that day: accomplished, productive, energetic, peaceful, successful….
- Avoid the “cursed hows” – Mike Dooley’s term for micromanaging the route that will get you where you want to go. Instead, employ Tool #2 and take a step; you’ll get feedback as to whether or not it will propel you forward.
- Break up your day into “focused work” and “intentional recharge” periods; I strongly recommend using a timer for this. Until the timer goes off, force yourself (if necessary) to stay in a particular mode, whether that’s work or play. Start very small if staying focused is a challenge; 10 minutes of truly concentrated effort will produce more and better results than 10 minutes of effort dribbled out over the course of a whole afternoon.
- Change venues. If I’m huffing and puffing to stay focused (when, for example, I’m on deadline to get a blog post written ☺), I often find that leaving my home office to work elsewhere both improves my focus and enhances my creativity. Some of my favorite go-to spots: a local retreat center where I can just grab a table in their wood-paneled great room; the fabulous new library downtown; a tucked-away corner of an independently owned coffee shop.
So…Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you fall on the “human doing” side of the line more often than the “human being” side? How’s that working for you? What would it be worth to your physical, mental, and financial health to tackle fewer tasks but get better ROI from the ones you do tackle?
If that sounds like a delightful fantasy, maybe I can help you shift it from make-believe to real life.
I specialize in showing overwhelmed doers how to toss aside the tasks that are only distracting them from their big goals, how to focus on what will really propel them to the revenues and clients they crave, and how to follow through on their action plans.
Is that something I could help you with? Perhaps. There’s one way to find out if we’d work well together: get acquainted on the phone.
By having the chance to ask and answer some questions, we’ll accomplish two key things: You’ll get crystal clear and focused on your real stumbling blocks, and both of us will be able to confidently decide whether or not we’re a good fit for each other. Total commitment: one telephone call.
If that sounds worth exploring, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “Maybe it’s time to become a human being” in the subject line. We’ll set up that get-acquainted call and she what shakes out. And in the meantime – slow down and rest a bit!
(By the way, thanks to eviljohnius for posting his image of the Sufi dancers – AKA whirling dervishes – in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in effectiveness and tagged productivity. Bookmark the permalink.