I made a couple changes this year and they’ve led to greater productivity (published my first book, lost a couple pounds and enjoyed more quality time with family). I thought I’d share them with you:
Create an Intentions List, not a “To Do” List. Reflecting on your intentions (as opposed to “tasks”) ensures your actions are aligned to your deepest values. When you sit down to enumerate all the things you want to get done, think about your intentions. Is it your intention to help others? Bring joy to loved ones? Be creative at work? This line of questioning will lead to precise calibration of your actions to your ultimate goals.
Make your first intention task easy and simple. Crossing a task off your list will light up the rewards center of your brain. It gives you a natural boost! Start the day off with an (easy) sense of accomplishment. Set yourself up for success!
I was shopping in a clothing store yesterday. I overheard one lady tell another, “Tag these before you put those away.” She said it in a very bossy and unkind way.
The other lady responded in a cheery tone, “Sounds good! I will definitely do that.”
Another command in a cold tone followed: “When you’re done with those, these need to be put away.”
“Got it! I will do it right away. No problem!”
For a second, I wondered if they were joking around. But there was no joviality or levity with the first lady. She was dead serious. The commands continued with the same enthusiastic, positive voice responding. They didn’t share a laugh. It was a genuine conversation with the junior retailer maintaining a positive demeanor.
The cheery saleslady demonstrated true persistence and integrity. Most people react to negativity with more negativity. In remaining unchanged, the lively retailer took responsibility for her own actions and her own feelings. She was unshakably positive. This is what is meant by “non-reaction” (Tolle). This is one of the keys to inner peace.
When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.
The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”
There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”
The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”
In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”
In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.
Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.
People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.
I am about to chaperone an 8th grade Close-Up trip. It will be hard work: a red eye flight and then lots of walking, talking, learning, and teaching for 6 entire days (and nights). BUT, I will not have to:
Our daughter played in a symphonic concert tonight. She’s almost 14 and is very active in several orchestras at the moment. The symphonic group she played in tonight celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. This group is a district group, including all the kids in the city who audition and make it. The kids then come to three different rehearsals of 2 hours each. They perform in the local Ikeda Theater for parents and friends. Admission is free.
Wayne Roederer started this program 50 years ago. He has conducted and started many programs and just retired two years ago. He conducted one of the groups and spoke to the parents, his voice breaking with emotion. “It was a joyous experience for me,” he said, “to work with your children. It was well worth missing Judge Judy for several days.” We all laughed.
The kids played with pride. They moved to the music.
Afterwards, we spoke with him. We congratulated him and told him how we appreciate his work. He said that he has worked with children who grew up to be adults who started orchestra programs of their own and now those kids have grown and are starting programs…
What might appear to be his legacy at first glance: the kids he worked with directly…is much more than that. This man has literally influenced thousands of people.
One man. An idea. And many helpful hands, parent volunteers and eager students. That’s all it took.
You are one person. You have an idea. Start building it…people will help you.
I’m reading a synopsis of the book Unleash the Warrior Within. It’s written by a former Navy SEAL Michael “Mack” Machowicz. Obviously, he’s quite a self-disciplined, productive individual: host+ producer of Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons”, author of Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals and he possesses multiple black belts in martial arts.
One surprising piece of advice he gives (considering he’s a former Navy SEAL!): pursue your objective at 80%, not 100%. Why? Because you can’t give 100% long-term. You’ll burn out. This made me relieved because that is what I already do.