In my last blog, I touched upon self-worth being demonstrated in how we treat ourselves. The small act of not running for our phones in the morning, but instead setting aside a few minutes for our truest part of ourself is an act of courage and self-love. It’s courageous not to immediately start your day getting sucked into a wormhole of accomplishment and productivity, and instead honor yourself as you are in the moment.
Currently, our view of productivity is so limited. It is based on a to-do list that you feel you should start crossing things off of the moment you wake up. I’ve had leaders admit to me that they feel that they must start off their day feeling like they’ve accomplished something by either engaging in a difficult workout, making their bed, or responding to emails that were missed while they slept. It sounds good to say to yourself, “I’ve been up for 20 minutes and look at what I already got done!” Yet, what we don’t realize is that operating this way is only serving your ego. In other words, you are unconsciously reiterating to yourself that you are only worthy when you are accomplishing.
The problem is the more your ego is in charge of your life, the more you are going to need motivation to keep going. Again, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, per se. Yet the reality is you need motivation because a part of you is dreading hopping back on the productivity hamster wheel.
There is another way, but you will have to fight your ego calling you lazy, unproductive, or not enough. It will take confidence in yourself to continue to recognize your innate worth, despite your bed or dinner not being made or every email responded to before you sign off. Doing so will feel like a huge leap of faith because it’s so ingrained in us that we are defined by what we do rather than who we truly are. Lastly, it will take deep self-trust to believe in yourself despite your ego’s judgments regarding how you are falling short.
Fortunately, we have an incredible mind that can support you to rewire your self-worth in a healthier way. We no longer have to be the hamster, when we recognize the productivity wheel we have been on is making us physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually sick.
The kicker is that if you are willing to leap off the hamster wheel, you will actually find a new definition of what it means to feel productive. You will shift your identity from task master, whose priority is accomplishing and getting things done to becoming a challenge master, whose priority is your well-being. A challenge master knows that in order to get to the root of challenges, you must take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually because that’s the only way to tap into the potential and possibilities that are beyond what the rational mind that create. This level of productivity involves creativity and imagination that resolves challenges.
To shift our understanding of productivity to one that works for us both in our internal world (by honoring ourselves) and our external world (by getting things done), we have to learn to first fill the void the outdated version of productivity is trying to fill.
The best example of how we turn to the external to fill a void is the work I did with a former NFL player. He believed that his sense of self came through being accomplished in football. When we dug deeper, it wasn’t football that made him feel accomplished, it was seeing his dad’s pride in his abilities and the attention he got from others. When we hung up his helmet, he didn’t realize he was also hanging up his sense of self-worth. Without the applause coming from the stands, he didn’t know who he was anymore. That’s the void. What he needed to do was find pride in himself for who he is as a man, rather than who we was with a football in hand. Addressing the internal void was some of the most challenging work he’s ever done, as he had to learn to fuel himself internally, without applause or recognition. You decide to go into the void because continuing to avoid it is too painful.
So much of what we do as a society is trying to keep a distance from the void within through being productive, accomplished, or escaping reality through habits that hurt us. In other words, the more we turn to the external to define us, the more we lose ourselves. Then our potential is lost by constantly feeding our task master rather than reclaiming our true selves and worth.
Through my own personal experience and my experience in supporting others, the only way out of the void is to go in it. Doing so isn’t always fun, but in the end, it will teach you how to find your sense of self and inner calm, regardless what is going on around you. From this centeredness within, you can lead your life in a way where it requires less effort while you create outcomes that are beyond what you ever felt possible. I too have to remind myself that it’s worth doing, but it is, especially when there is so much happening in your life that you are experiencing as outside of your control.
Wishing you all the best as you create a new version of productivity that supports you and your goals, both personally and professionally!