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Another old blog post from December 2006:
I had a busy family weekend and needed to get back to a couple of clients regarding important meetings for this week. So, just before I went to bed last night (12:55AM this morning, actually), I sent them both Emails suggesting dates.
When I got up this AM, I checked my Email and BOTH clients had already replied, the first at 2:10 AM and the second at 2:55 AM! At the risk of sounding old, I’m sitting here shaking my head saying, “What’s this world coming to?”
In the past (5-10 years ago), I was the one person I knew who worked crazy hours, deprived myself of sleep (and health in general) for the sake of business, and really attached my self-worth to the results of my business. In fact, I remember having taken pride at my “dedication” when others would be astounded by my ridiculous hours.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for high-production, high-innovation, and a get-the-job-done focus. But I wonder what will happen in the world, when it becomes the norm to check your Email at 3:00 AM! In fact, I wonder how people are doing it? Are they staying up until that hour? Not sleeping at all? Or do they take their Blackberries or Email-based PDAs to bed with them??
As I grew older, I realized that I had to re-prioritize my life, or I’d end up dead at 35. I did this by assessing EXACTLY what was important to me (clearly understanding/defining my core values). Business should have been just a means to an end, but instead it was the end, itself. This was because I turned to business to satisfy my emotional needs for acceptance, self-worth, and value to the world. I learned that there’s a problem with doing this when you make work the ONLY place to turn for these things. In fact, I had taken it so far, that I was on 3 non-profit boards to try to get even more of what I was desperately seeking.
There is a big problem with this thinking, however: Until a person learns to be “ok” with himself first, he’ll search all over for what he thinks he needs to be “ok”. Unfortunately, he won’t find it anywhere else. He’ll find things that look like it, feel like it, and even temporarily fill the need for a while. But none of these will last. He has to learn to become INTERNALLY motivated, otherwise he will become a people-pleaser, doomed to feeling sadness by misinterpreting everyone else’s behavior as critical or demeaning to him. This isn’t fair to him or the other people and certainly is no way to live a joyful life.
By being “ok” with himself, he is able to be confident of his own decisions, actions, and beliefs while being open to learning and growing from other people. Ironically, by deriving self-worth only from others (EXTERNALLY motivated), he will become a barrier to learning and growing he is so desperately trying to receive. In addition, he ends up using and manipulating others to get what he wants, rather than accepting and embracing others as they are.
Now, I’m working at having a much more balanced life which includes my family time, time with just my wife, time with just my daughter, and my SELF time. I’m happier, and MUCH more productive than ever, because I AM more balanced now. I’ve implemented Getting Things Done by David Allen, which is a set of tools for helping people become highly efficient and effective in their task management. By doing this, I added structure to my balance and armed myself with techniques I use to manage myself when I get pulled in 50 different directions.
It’s a constant struggle, however, to achieve balance. I so often “fall off” and have to “get back on again,” but that’s fine with me because I’m learning and growing through the process.
I must also add that I wasn’t able to do this on my own – I had help from my business coach and numerous books, including The Four Agreements, Good to Great, Jump Start Your Business Brain, Getting Things Done, Boundaries, The 9 Things a Leader Must Do, The Secret (DVD), The Art of Possibility, and The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent. I highly recommend all of these books.
My larger concern is that as we “progress” with the benefits of technology, we may be leaving behind some things that we really need, and creating new problems for ourselves. I wonder if there really is a true net benefit to the individual, the family, and the business.
I’d really enjoy hearing your thoughts regarding 24-hour Email, business-based self-worth, and the future of the world with new technology. If you have a moment, just comment on this blog entry.
Another old post, from January 2007:
I recently reread a fascinating little book, which I had originally read 15 years ago, called Acres of Diamonds. It is a written copy of a speech given by Dr. Russell H. Conwell in approximately 1910. Reading this insightful book really helped me recently.
Dr. Conwell works diligently throughout his speech to explain that there are an unlimited number of opportunities sitting right in front of each of us, just waiting to be noticed and implemented. All one needs to do is look at what is needed and do something about filling the need.
He talks about MANY people who started simply filling a simple need, such as the poor man out of work in Hingham, MA who whittled children’s toys out of his firewood and eventually is rumored to have become the richest man in Massachusetts selling his amazing toys. Or a woman in New Britain, CT who invented the snapping button because her regular button had gotten stuck in the hole one time.
He tells a funny story about a man from PA who wanted so badly to work for his cousin in the oil business (and get rich) that he studied hard, sold his farm for $833.00, and moved to Canada to work in the oil business. Amazingly, the man who bought his farm found that the previous owner had put a plank across a brook of scum to cross. It turns out that the scum was actually oil and the farm produced over $1 billion over its lifetime!!
He also does a great job of explaining how making money is a good thing and is in no way something to be ashamed of or bashful about.
What’s this go to do with the Internet?!? Well, just before I read this book, I had been thinking recently that it seems the Internet opportunity of the past had dried up. It felt to me that every great idea had already been taken and fully exploited, and that any worthwhile venture would take an enormous amount of money to accomplish because the Internet standards and expectations had been raised so high.
However, after reading this little book, it became clear to me that at ANY TIME IN LIFE, especially RIGHT NOW, there are opportunities sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF US just waiting for us to pick them up and take advantage of them. Often these opportunities are hidden because they’re SO close that we don’t even see them.
So, this book really changed my outlook and shifted my paradigm such that I’m starting to see new and interesting things already right in front of me. Like most successes, these things I’m seeing are not at first earth-shattering or monumental, but little things I can do (and am doing) to fill a need or make something better in what I already do.
Amazingly, in the past 2 weeks, I’m already noticing improved results beginning to appear in an exponential way – small at first, but almost growing as if they have a life of their own.
I’m really interested in your ideas regarding the INTERNET Acres of Diamonds sitting right in front of us. Please read this little story and let me know if it changes your insight, as it did mine. I’d enjoy reading your comments.