One story about Mahatma Ghandi sticks in mind after hearing it from James Altucher.
The story goes like this:
Ghandi, becoming busy with his work and a full meeting schedule, decides he is not spending enough time meditating. He asks his assistant, “Please make time in my schedule each day for one hour of meditation.”
His assistant replies, “Ghandi, your request is impossible, your schedule is too full to dedicate one full hour to meditation each day.”
Ghandi contemplates this answer before quipping, “In that case, please schedule two hours every day for meditation.”
Replace meditation with any activity important to you. Distractions and busy-ness get in the way of spending time doing what we love. When the assistant rejected his request, Ghandi realized it was worse than he thought. He needed even more time dedicated to cultivating himself.
Your activity might be:
- Calling an old friend
If one of these activities matters to you, you need to work extra hard to carve out time for it. This might mean waking up an hour earlier every day; sometimes sacrifice is the only way.
The lesson I learned is:
Life is too short to let busy-ness get in the way of living.
Law #1 : Performance correlates to how the situation occurs to people involved
It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. What matters is how you are heard.
If the situation occurs to you as broken and unfixable, it won’t change. However if the situation occurs to you as unsustainable and needing to be changed, it is likely to change. Compare the ‘default future’ with the ‘ideal future’.
Our ‘default future’ is where we end up if the story is not changed. We can choose not to accept the default future, and embrace transformation. We can imagine a future we want and move towards it. Large groups of people can rally behind a compelling vision of the future.
Ask yourself: What is my default future? What is my vision for the ideal future?
Personal Health Default future: Stress, over-eating, relationship issues will persist and I will die early and lonely.
Ideal future: eating healthy in moderation, drinking lots of water, pushing myself in the gym, will lead to a long and happy life.
Three Laws of Performance Law #2 : How the situation occurs arises in language
Whatever you resist persists. Leaders have to listen to verbal and non-verbal language. There is often tension in the room and controversial things are left unsaid. These issues need to confronted else they persist.What is unsaid? What is unsaid but communicated non-verbally? Leaders must have the courage to say what is unsaid, to confront issues that make people uncomfortable.
Three Laws of Performance Law #3 : Future based language transforms how situations occur to people.
To elevate performance, you have to change the story of the organization and get buy in from the whole community. The story is the vision of where the group is headed.
Ask yourself: Where do you see your team in 5 years? 10 years? What stories will you tell when you get to the old folks home?
Managers differ from leaders in that no one wants to be managed and most people want to be led. As a leader I care deeply about enabling my people do their best work.
I know that people cannot do their best work when their health, home and family are not in order. If their own health is not in order they cannot do their best work and cannot do their best to care for loved ones. They are at work, and the family crisis is always in the back of their mind.
The person’s health comes before family comes before work. When those things are in order, when they are at work, they can give their all. They are enabled to do their best work.
Creating a safe environment and enabling this to happen distinguishes a Multiplier Leader from a Diminisher Leader.
- Your Own Health
- Your Family
Sometimes it’s hard. What if a key team asset has a crisis and needs to take months leave of absence? The team needs to come together and cover the gaps. Each individual person may deal with a future crisis.
How to apply it:
- Take an honest assessment of your own health of mind and body. Are you taking care of yourself?
- Take an honest assessment of what baggage you carry to work. Are you thinking about a brewing home crisis instead of being fully present?
- Practice empathy with your peers. Support them when they need it most.
Happiness comes from four things:
- Perceived control
- Perceived progress
- Human connection- depth and number of relationships
- Being part of something bigger than yourself
How to Apply It:
Set aside time for all of these things. Build career capital for later investment, to gain more control of your life. Set incremental SMART goals to progress on. Take time to reconnect with friends and family. Don’t forget how large the universe is compared to you.
This fall has been crazy. I made a few lifestyle changes. Changes like that are never easy.
It helps me to remember my favorite quote from The Daily Stoic, “YOU are the project”.
I wrote myself a poem of reminders.
Building on Healthy Habits
Spend more time reading and writing
Spend more time breathing and thinking
Spend more time hydrating and moving
Spend more time loving and laughing
Reading and writing always surprises me. It leads to discoveries and ideas. But, it takes time to be effective. And to be honest, my primary reason to read is for entertainment. So, reading competes with all other forms of entertainment.
Breathing and thinking needs it’s own time too. Some days, you move from appointment to appointment without space in between. Gotta take breaks in between to catch your breath.
Drink more water, take more walks. Thrive!
Do not underestimate the importance of play. Make time for it. If you don’t, are you alive?
A reader of this blog recently wrote in: “How important is taking deep breaks and spending time with family? How do I unplug physically and mentally? I struggle with this from time to time.”
It’s extremely important to take time to unplug. We know that creativity is diminished by stress, and deep-seated stress accumulates over time if not addressed. In addition “Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.” Taking time to unplug physically and mentally is critical for overall health and optimal creativity. Creative thinking (or lack of it) affects every aspect of life including relationships, fulfillment and happiness.
A study of road rage explains that a contributing psychological factor of road rage is a perceived invasion of personal space. The human mind is capable of expanding it’s perceived physical boundaries beyond skin to physical objects like cars and smart phones. Smart phones and computers can become like virtual appendages. When this link is severed, or the space invaded, it can feel extremely unsettling.
Tips for unplugging physically and mentally:
- Forget meditating, go for a swim
- Ryan Holiday: “My writing wasn’t just enabled and encouraged by the clarity I had after my swims, but in fact, the process of swimming itself was a writing tool.”
- You probably don’t have a waterproof smartphone, so the activity of swimming forces a short period of unplugging. It’s just you, the water and your thoughts.
- If you are spending time with someone else, leave one phone at home.
- You only need one device to take pictures, hail ride shares, and look up information.
- Throw your phone in a backpack
- Adding to the opportunity cost of pulling out your phone will break the normal social media feed checking routines
- Set regular black out periods, and turn on airplane mode.
- Be more present during the black out period, disconnect for this short time.
- For example, spend 1 hour with your kids every night after work. Turn off connections during this time to avoid distractions. No work email!
- Leave your phone/tablet/laptop in another room
- Leave it in your car if it’s a safe place.
- Putting doors between you and devices also adds to the opportunity cost of grabbing it.
- Use a $10 electric outlet timer to shut off WiFi at night
- Do you really need WiFi from 12am to 6am?
- If your streaming movie gets cut off at midnight, it’s time to go to sleep.
- The science isn’t clear, but EMF/radiation from WiFi signals may affect sleep quality.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for submitting this great question.
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