Busy work is not productivity. It is just activity. We have too much of it and it is costing us our excellence in performance. It is costing us our health and happiness due to the killer, stress. It is a contributor to poor relationships – who has time for relationships after all? It reduces creativity. In 2012 Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine et al. did a study in which they deprived 13 people in IT business access to email for five days and studied them intensively. They found that people without email concentrated on task for longer periods of time and experienced less stress. This would support the McKinsey Global Institute’s study that revealed that skilled workers spend a quarter of each working day responding and writing emails. That’s 25%!
There are many people going nowhere fast. When we see life in pieces – such as “to do” lists without an overarching purpose, we can lose our meaning for living, our zest for life. Passion is lacking because we are too busy to develop it, too busy to “in joy” our work. Most people have forgotten who they are at their core, and life is a series of going through endless motions.
My conclusion, based on my experience with perception and also neuroscience (which is validating my conclusion) is that, our energy is going where our attention is going. We believe that to be successful we have to work really hard. What, enjoy work? Now that would be a novel idea! We believe that more is always better and that to rest is to be lazy. We believe that “enough is never enough” so we keep working harder and harder – instead of smarter. Smarter would include purpose, clarity and innovation. It would include re-energizing so that you can be more efficient in less time. Then you can have more time to have some fun.
Emotional and mental agility is a skill set. Repressing feelings instead of learning how to manage them reduces performance levels and can negatively impact health. Of course it is not rational to believe we can “check our emotions and feelings at the door.” It is not very intelligent to believe we can disconnect from our body’s physiology. Numbing or distracting our self is not the same as actually disconnecting.
Unfortunately it was a type of cultural “code” at one time to think that we could ignore our feelings.
The intention was to avoid discomfort. Yet, when we become more self-aware, we can learn to become comfortable with feelings. The feelings were not checked at the door; they were circulating in the mind and body causing havoc within the body and inauthentic, and not surprisingly disengaging relationships within the office. It was just an example of being asleep or in denial about what was really going on within us. I used to deny my feelings admittedly; I bought into this myth at one time myself. An added benefit to me for quitting this self-deceptive practice has been an even healthier body – and heart.
One important, intelligent and giant step forward is to recognize that “you are not your thoughts and feelings.” We get into trouble when we buy into thoughts running through our minds as if they are facts/truth. We need to question our thoughts before mindlessly accepting them. You must learn to “name them” if you are ever to get a grip on self-managing your state of mind. You must be mindful to call out the thoughts and to begin to notice the repeating patterns.
You can’t get unstuck without becoming aware of them – so that you can take charge of them. You can learn to redirect them in healthy ways, and in so doing, reconnect with your passion for life, joy and inner peace.
Here are three common patterns for managing thoughts, emotion and feeling. When we are not aware of what feelings are or that we can manage them, they tend to:
Happiness for many people seems to be constantly out of reach. Mindfulness can lead to happier and more productive lives. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Fortunately there is now a way to objectively change your “state of mind” on purpose – with purpose. This method is known as mindfulness or the general term of “meditation” can be used. This is an ancient practice that has historically been resisted by science and western culture – until now. Thanks to technology, we are better able to objectively measure and reproduce outstanding results attributed to practicing mindfulness such as:
• A reduction in stress and feelings of overwhelm
• Strengthening “mind muscle” in the area of the brain connected with learning
• Rewiring your brain to calm hyperactivity in our brain’s fear and worry center
• Reducing feelings of melancholy, even depression
• Improving empathy and your ability to connect and relate to other people better
I can say without reservation, that I began to experience these types of results over a decade ago. I was able to move ahead of the curve because I was seeking to perform at my best, and fortunately, I listened to my own intuition to guide me. Science is evolving. While we don’t have all the answers, we do know enough to show objectively that we can retrain and rewire our brain to more easily change our behaviors that no longer serve us.
We can lead happier and more productive lives with greater ease.
When we come from a place of self-awareness, we can see clearly how to get the job done without necessarily working so “hard.” We can work from a place of purpose, passion and peace of mind.
Emotional intelligence, as a term was first documented in an article by Slovey and Mayer in 1990. We have multiple intelligences, not only IQ as Howard Gardner from Harvard University has theorized. If we want to perform at our very best, with confidence and purpose, we must know ourselves. IQ has its place, yet, in order to apply the data and factual information, we also need to have an understanding on other levels of our intelligence beyond just the facts themselves. Problem-solving effectiveness depends also on our emotional intelligence.
It’s time to stop the attitude of, ‘checking your emotion at the door” as this is only a self-deceptive concept. Decision-making involves our emotional brain and without it, there have been studies shown that even making simple decisions – such as what to wear in the morning – can be insurmountable. By the way, there have also been psychological studies revealing that people who seem to be so out of touch and repressed in their emotion are more likely to test as psycho/sociopaths. I think I’ll happily learn about healthy emotional states of mind, thank-you.
An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do… Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. ~Howard Gardner
Self-awareness helps us to raise our emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is not only awareness of your “self”; it includes your ability to become aware of the emotional states of others and your relationship to society at large. Not only are you able to be in tune with your internal landscape; you are better able to navigate the external world landscape all around you. The foundation to developing emotional intelligence begins with addressing your “Intrapersonal Self-awareness” – by making friends with your feelings.
Performing on the stages of life with enjoyment and success will require among other qualities a sense of humor. It will also require self-management. Often times we face challenges when we attempt to achieve new heights – be it getting into physical shape at the gym or starting a new business. Optimism and lightheartedness can go a long way when you have to have to rise to the occasion to learn and grow out of your current comfort zone. Things don’t always work out as plan so,
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!” ~Jonathan Winters
While you are swimming, hopefully you are learning new skills to enable you to complete the course. We can always learn to swim better as the waters can become unexpectedly choppy at times. I have found that it matters not how smart you are, how many degrees you may have or who you know – sooner or later uncertainty will find you and the environment will shift. You see to perform at your best you will need a growth mindset, one that is flexible and willing to expand. Are you able to relax and also enjoy the journey?
You will need to have good people skills, as it is getting quite tough to go it alone; the Lone Ranger is no longer popular. You will need to think and see clearly to avoid potholes along the way. Here are five factors that can fuel high performance that are not often taught in “How to be Successful” tips when making a career shift, starting or expanding a business. These are factors that are not as simple as taking a sales course and hiring a new accountant or consultant. They are skills or traits that we all need to develop within ourselves to a functional degree if we desire to perform at our very best.
Productivity and performance is more likely to be higher when you are energized. Feeling stressed and sluggish reduces focus and makes work hard. Have you considered that the reason why success takes ‘hard work’ is because you are plowing through so much resistance? Resistance is created when:
1. You don’t like your work
2. You are feeling stressed and pressured
3. You are worried about your job
4. You are afraid of change or new challenges
5. You are just plain…tired and drained
Did you know that sitting at the computer for hours at a time is a health hazard? It contributes to a stiff neck, knots in your back and shoulders and it is highly likely that your breathing is very shallow under these conditions. Shallow breathing is stimulating your stress response and it not allowing healthy oxygenation of your blood – this is certainly not going to help you to think clearly. A brain that is poorly oxygenated and stressed will not only reduce your performance – it will reduce your memory. None of this will contribute to your happiness, to say the least.
Productivity is not simply activity. Without a clear vision, a heart-felt why and a clear strategy, you will waste your resources – time, energy and money. You will also increase the likelihood that you will create dis-ease in your body from overworking and stress.
On the surface, these different aspects would appear to be disconnected issues. Really, underneath there is a cause for the effects. The cause is a lack of, “brain awareness” – we don’t understand how to control our own brain and mind consciously. We have lost a sense of PEACE in our lives because we live in “pieces.” Just running down a ‘to-do’ list, or creating a goal without a clear context and clarity for long-term results will cause burnout – emotionally, physically and organizationally. You won’t have a sense of purpose. The interesting fact is we must slow down in order to accelerate our results. Life is full of paradox. When we can optimally operate our brain, we can perform at our best.
Our left-brain logic alone doesn’t see the “big-picture.” It is great at steps and strategies, but if you don’t create a clear blueprint, a clear map, you will probably end up who knows where. Our right brain is wonderful at the big picture. Yet, we will have to slow down to see it. Reflection comes when accessing not only our “right-brain” but also the area of our brain that can envision and problem solve. You need a calm mind to access this level of thinking. This is the area that pulls together SEEMINGLY dissimilar parts. It weaves new creative solutions together. Then your left-brain can take action on these new ideas. The catch here is that you will have to be willing to slow down in order to:
Understanding optimism is important to elevating your performance. Finally, the power of feelings and emotions are beginning to be openly discussed within the context of science, business and leadership. Historically, the term, “touchy feely” has been used to dismiss important aspects of ourselves that we were not comfortable dealing with. We perform at our best when we approach performance from a holistic perspective.
We human beings are an “eco-system.” We are not just a mind in a body. We have spiritual and emotional aspects to ourselves also. Optimism points to the important role that feelings play alongside our intellect in making decisions that influence our future performance – in all areas of our life. Optimism is an attitude that chooses to look for the good in situations, with positive feeling. So how do I define optimism as it relates to performance?
Optimism is not about denial of current reality; it’s about the resiliency to rise to life’s challenges with faith, hope and courage.
Often when I hear the discussion of “optimism” there is a connotation of ignoring the facts. There is an implication that one is looking through, “rose colored glasses.” There is a type of cynicism or stigma that if one is optimistic, they must have their head in the sand. No, I disagree. I’m an optimist and I know that this attitude has elevated my performance over the years and it is not because I pretend that there are not roadblocks or challenges.
Quite the contrary; optimism allows me to look right at the scary issues, stand my ground with composure and stay open to insightful solutions to overcome them. We need to stop “facing reality” as the pessimists do. I assess the situation that I am currently in and I address what needs to be immediately addressed but I divert my intention and attention to solving the problem, not continuing to “face it” and talk about it. That is where negative attitudes and pessimists fall down in performance; they need to stop facing reality so much and focus on finding new solutions. Besides, as Einstein said,
Clarity is powerful and is a primary ingredient to performing at your best. It is poorly understood and generally not a feature of most people’s strategies. Why? Because we are too busy…being busy. We take pride in taking, “massive action.”
Yet, if you are not clear about where you want to go and why, IF you arrive at your chosen destination at all you will likely find it was not the solution you were seeking. IF you even make it to your goal, you may find that you wasted much time, energy and money and made unnecessary mistakes – a.k.a. “learning” by trial and error – along the way.
Why do this? Why do we typically do this?
1. It’s because we don’t know what we don’t know.
2. We have not been taught the energy efficient way of creating and innovating with intention.
3. We believe it takes “hard work in order to be successful.”
4. We really don’t know what we really want.
5. We don’t know who we really are and what our authentic, heart-felt vision is.
There are other reasons; these are five significant ones. We tend toward massive action without insight because we are not used to the idea of reflection, restoration and we don’t know and trust ourselves. We don’t listen to our own inner intuitive voice.
We love storytelling; this love affair began in childhood and we never outgrow it. Our brain is a, “storytelling” organ, made perfectly for creating storyline. Life is not as objective as it appears on the surface. Via our perceptions of ‘how’ we interpret the facts and experiences of our lives, we see the world through our own unique lens.
We set the stage of our lives based on these perceptions. When we become more self-aware by learning how our brain operates optimally, we can start to direct our life story on purpose, with purpose. You see we can change our, ‘story’.
“What story”, you may ask. Many, if not most people do not realize that they have created a story about:
1. Who they are
2. What they can be, do or have
3. Whether or not they are a victim or can change their circumstances (a victor)
Do you realize that all three are changeable?