I work with someone who is kind of the office jester. He’s always making people laugh, and has the disposition of an eternal good mood – much to the chagrin of the Debbie Downers, I’m sure. But when he’s having just a hint of an outwardly off day, everyone thinks that something catastrophic has happened to him or in his life.
How come you’re not in a good mood today?
I haven’t heard you tell any jokes today. What’s wrong? I need to laugh.
This is the curse of the jester. We have an expectation of him because of how it affects us. When that expectation isn’t met, we are thrown off and we want answers.
This curse is also similar to the paradox of getting things done. I know because I’ve been wrestling with it for the better part of a year now.
Let me explain.
I’ve theorized that you’re judged on what you’ve done, on what you’ve finished. I am not going against this notion but in our lives, the finishing is never done. It’s always on to the next one. On Monday, Seth Godin put it succinctly when he talked about “wanting the wanting” and how desire can’t be sated. This is what keeps us moving forward and (hopefully) finishing what we start. But the pursuit of wanting and finishing comes at an expense.
Namely, if we’re only hooked on getting things done, we run the risk of being addicted to the feeling and the recognition of getting that said thing done, and we forget why we were doing it in the first place.
Even Seth later said, “we race down the endless road faster and faster, at greater and greater expense.”
It becomes…get things done (no matter why you’re getting them done) so that other people can see what you’re doing.
I realized that in my 32-day homeless-like living on the Mongol Rally (video here in case you haven’t seen it yet), I wasn’t really concerned with who knew me, what I was getting done, what I was helping someone else get done, likes, retweets, comments, clients, articles or any of that.
What percolated to the top of my thoughts were the things that I wanted to do because I wanted to do them and surprisingly, it wasn’t what I had been doing. And now that I’ve been home, having had time to let things marinate (you know I love that word) and reading books like 10% Happier (you should read it), I’m sure of it, even as I had just spent months and months and thousands of dollars building my new coaching site: Ready. Set. Finish.
Over the past couple of years, I was able to put my head down and build up a coaching business and a following from scratch, but I hadn’t really asked myself in quite a while if I should continue to do so. I was starting to live the story of what other people were telling about me and now wasn’t sure of my role in the movie.
This is the hardest part about “accomplishing” any goal. Goals aren’t always stagnant or pre-defined. They’re fluid because they are part of the world around you and a future world that doesn’t exist yet.
When do you push on?
When do you reflect?
When do you deal with it?
When do you change directions?
When do you walk away?
When do you attempt the next goal?
It’s stopping to smell all the roses vs. power sliding through the flower bed.
Pride. Momentum. Mindfulness. Status quo. Stubborness. Habits. Clarity. Competence. Confidence. Change. Skills. Scars. Identity.
It’s a battle royale.
Know this: There’s a huge difference between letting something go because you don’t want to do it anymore, and letting something go because you couldn’t get there.
For all you science minds out there: The former is an electron that has jumped to the next shell. The latter, isn’t.
It’s the difference between malleable change and elastic change.
You have to earn the right to stop.
But while there is this gargantuan difference, it might be the hardest thing to differentiate between because our brains can convince us of anything, at any time.
Maybe the mental process of getting things done should go like this:
Do something because you like to do something
Get better at this something
Get to know people
Get people to know you
Get some press or testimonials or both
Increase your cred and/or income
Do this thing better than most until you…
Jump electron shells
Then ask yourself if you want to continue doing this thing.
If no, then stop.
If yes, then ask yourself if it’s because you like doing it, because you’re good at it, because you’re getting recognized for it, or because of who might recognize you soon?
Bad things come when once you solely did something because you liked it or were good at it and now you do it solely because other people like it or worse, because someday other people might.
This is what I came face-to-face with when I was gone on my trip.
And the reality was that I was good at one-on-one coaching, but I wasn’t really enjoying it anymore. I was turning a bit cynical. I was more interested in a larger future recognition from people I didn’t know (and what that would bring) than I was in the recognition and the thanks that I was getting from the people I was actually working with.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
I originally got into coaching not because I was dying to help other people but because I enjoyed the idea of working for myself. I didn’t want to be reliant on a company to pay me (based on my past experiences) and of what the lifestyle would be able to bring me: freedom of schedule, freedom to travel, freedom from being marginalized by an employer.
And I’m ok with that and I’ve never felt guilty for it.
But I got good at a rare and useful skill and now I’m tangenting off to something else. The operative word is “tangent.” I have been presented with an opportunity only because I started my own coaching business, filling the lower electron shells of my knowledge and skills. Nothing is wasted. I’m happy as a pig in shit.
Next week I’ll:
– show you the website I spent months and months building (but the one I won’t launch to the public)
– tell you what I’m going to be doing next
– give you my new book, In 5 Years You’ll Be Wrong (Sneak peak of cover)
Don’t worry, you’re not going to be getting rid of me completely, it’s just that you’ll get to choose if you want to stick around for the next iteration of me. And if you haven’t learned yet that I’m addicted to change and new experiences, well now’s a good time.
Rock and roll. Upward and onward.