Have you recently gone from no job to a bad job?
A lot of people have emerged from their parents’ basement. They are dressed for work that they loathe. You know why. The crazy boss. Lazy coworkers. Angry customers. Too many meetings. Not enough freedom. The air conditioning is too cold. Someone steals your lunch from the fridge.
Even if the compensation is good enough, there’s no “there” there. Nothing that personally means anything to you.
Why? The job is about productivity not people.
Maybe your keystrokes are counted to ensure you meet quota. Maybe your job is to get on and off the phone as quickly as possible.
Or maybe the product or service is deficient. It does less than it could. Less than the competitors do. It’s not the latest in technology, fashion, approach or media.
Or maybe you don’t like the customers. You can’t relate to their problems. You never use your company’s product or service, because you like something else better.
Or maybe, as we used to say in advertising, your job is to “put lipstick on that pig.” The product or service is truly awful. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do.
There’s at least one theory that gets to the root of the reason you actually want to go back into the basement.
That theory is:
You feel like you don’t matter.
You feel like you are not making a difference.
You have been cut off from a part of yourself that is dying to be expressed.
Before you quit or start looking elsewhere: consider what would boost your personal involvement. What would ignite your feel good emotions? What could you do that is OUTSIDE of your job description that would make you happy or proud?
An enlightened CEO or department head knows how important it is to develop your personal investment in the job. And, we know it has nothing to do with the tasks or skills.
When we can create meaning, we retain employees. And that meaning needs to be genuine, and personally gratifying. In other words, meaning is worth more than money to employees. All the studies have shown that.
A janitor who interacts with employees working after hours might find joy in the jokes he tells to his audience of over-timers. A customer service rep who actually meets a tech-frazzled customer, sees that solving her problem really saves that customer’s business.
Whatever you do, see if you can see yourself as a hero.
So your task is to think beyond the tasks you must do. Think about the results you help accomplish, and how it changes lives. Don’t wait for an enlightened boss to do it for you. In fact, if you do this for yourself, you are likely to become the boss.
This is something you do not want to hear. It’s the opposite of human nature. It is anti-happiness. The only thing good about it? It’s the truth about productivity.
The ultimate productivity hack is sticking to a very boring routine. A life filled – at least for a short time – with almost no variety. No choices. No novelty.
Happiness has been dissected by the experts. Novel, fun experiences create happiness. So the highest level of productivity comes down to eschewing anything that is new and exciting.
The anti-happiness regimen is largely about removing any variety, any distraction and any fun for a period of time. That time is when you are able to fully engage in whatever your work or project demands.
I can hear the life balance people moaning.
Take heart. This is not a prescription for living your life. It is the prescription for getting something done rapidly, with the full force of your intelligence and imagination.
How many times in your life do you need to be ultra productive? It depends on your life, your desired ultimate outcome and your ability to pledge allegiance to a burning desire. Without a burning desire, this won’t work.
I just finished writing my third book. It took 32 edits. It is– as each book has been – my life’s work for a period of time. It – like the other books – aren’t my whole story. I work. I teach. I coach. I speak.
Oh yes, and I live. Bathe. Dress. Drive. Work. Teach. Coach. Speak. But mostly I WRITE. READ. EDIT. REVISE. And repeat. (You get the idea.)
The secret of the ultimate productivity hack is to put everything possible on auto-pilot. At the simplest level, I start with what I eat. I make something I call my “writer’s mix.” It is turkey, Brussels sprouts, spinach, carrots, and a huge volume of turmeric and chile paste.
I eat it three times a day. I start out with a huge stewing pot of this stuff. Then, for breakfast, lunch and dinner: I eat it. The goal is simple: no joy of eating. I start out hungry. I eat the mix. I am full.
I do the same with every other task in my life, while I am writing and editing. I do my social media interactions every three hours. I pick up my email while I’m eating. I walk my dogs for an hour, during twilight so it’s cool enough for them and the right time to clear my head. I don’t hibernate nor am I rigid. I went to a wedding of a dear friend last Friday evening. I met another dear friend for lunch on Sunday afternoon. So, part of the routine is two times over a weekend, I have three hours with people I know well and adore.
There’s a religious text with a passage about there being a time for everything. When you have a project that must be done and have a life that must be folded in around it: this is the time for being focused on your purpose.
Promise yourself, you will be happy. Later. For now: set up the rules, routines, rituals and habits that protect you from distraction, confusion, choices and decision-making.
The more boring your life is the better, when it comes to being super successful at getting something important done. Need some tips on setting up your routine? Email me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Productivity.
Creativity, innovation and adaptability are the hallmarks of today’s best leaders. Not CEOs mind you, leaders. Don’t confuse a title like CEO with the reality that most of us will lead from the back of the pack, or somewhere in the middle.
Creativity is a calling. Innovation is a burning desire. Adaptability is personal trait.
CEO, COO, president and general manager are just job titles.
Most top officers find it difficult to be creative. There are too many responsibilities and constituencies to look after. Focusing on squeezing out profit every 12 weeks. Cutting costs to keep shareholders happy. When you are watching your back, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road ahead.
A job title does not imbue the individual with courage or charisma. Those are personal traits. Creativity takes many forms, so don’t count yourself out because you are in accounting, operations, human resources, logistics, project management or any other field or specialty.
Employees, consultants, coaches, freelancers and suppliers: the opportunity to transform an organization (and with that your own career) is yours for the doing.
How do you start? It helps to hold a deep affection for your company and clients, since creativity is a gift you give. Think about the impact your company could have and the growth your clients could enjoy.
Creative leadership makes your job more meaningful and gives you visibility. Do something small at first – deliver a project early, come up with alternative courses of action, and whenever possible deliver unexpected added value. A bit of qualitative research or sentiment analysis (collecting comments made on forums or social media) is a good example of providing new perspectives that lead to new solutions.
David Ogilvy, one of the original Mad Men, a real ad man, espoused ten qualities he saw in creative leaders. They are:
- High standards of personal ethics.
- Big people, without pettiness.
- Guts under pressure, resilience in defeat.
- Brilliant brains — not safe plodders.
- A capacity for hard work and midnight oil.
- Charisma — charm and persuasiveness.
- A streak of unorthodoxy — creative innovators.
- The courage to make tough decisions.
- Inspiring enthusiasts — with trust and gusto.
- A sense of humor.
Do you want to increase the reality of possibilities in your career or business? Then pick one of these qualities each week for the next ten weeks. Find every way you can to demonstrate the quality you’re working on. Add them up and in ten weeks you will have transformed yourself, and perhaps the organization and clients you serve.