The state of your mind is reflected by the state of your room. That’s what my Dad always told me. Every time he comes to my house, I dread he will go into my room and see chaos, so I usually try to contain him to the living room.
But alas, it’s true. The state of your mind does in fact reflect not only how your room looks like, but how you live. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time. Admittedly, I’m a grinder and a bit of a time-waster. I will work day and night if I have to, to meet that deadline. Over the years though, I’ve really noticed that grinding doesn’t scale. Smart work ethic, does.
You can only grind so much, push so much, sleep less, and not take care of yourself in lieu of getting it done. Eventually though, it takes a toll. The good news is if you are grinding, it means you’re a real player. Someone that is in the game for the long run. You believe in yourself, and you care about your work. The other glad tiding is grinding talks to you and tells you a lot about you, including that there could be smarter ways work and get more done. The bad news is, as we age, and as we work-a-lot, typically by very unhealthy means, you start to realize that this way of working might actually shrink your capacity. You could feel more tired, cranky, have racing thoughts, generally cannot be calm, and just overall, feel sick, unhealthy, and this constant feeling of being behind. Can this truly lead to sustained or better output? (Especially if you are trying to share your gifts with the world.)
I know this firsthand because I am always working. Day, night. It doesn’t matter. I don’t see time, just work. I take my work everywhere, including dinners, weddings (say what??? yeah), my parent’s house, restaurants, and anywhere I can find time to get a few minutes in. It’s cool actually, I like working and not losing time. But is there a smarter way to get ahead?
For those who remember the original Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, and even the more recent one with Jaden Smith (similar scenario), there is the famous wax on wax off scene. The Karate Kid complains that he has a major tournament in a few short days, and Mr. Miyagi, his teacher, is asking him to put wax on cars in a circular fashion. But what The Karate Kid does not know, Mr. Miyagi knows from experience. The Karate Kid is actually being taught a foundation of life principles. He’s establishing a rhythmic way to complete opened tasks, and importantly, as he works, his rhythm is reinforced because it’s consistent. In the film, The Karate Kid is able to transfer those circular motions of cleaning cars, something unobvious, to something obvious, which is fighting. What am I trying to say? I look at this in one very important way:
Working holistically means doing all the other work that still needs to get done, all those menial tasks, that makes up your life. The tasks aren’t what you necessarily do as a career or a main focus, but it’s still stuff you need to get done. Like cleaning your room, paying your bills on time, owing someone money and/or being responsible with followup, being on time, cutting the grass, sending an email informing someone you cannot make an appointment, essentially being responsible and getting all the other tasks done that you still need to get done.
Balance might not be the accurate term, but you still need to balance all these tasks. In other words, I believe that by scratching off these tasks (work or otherwise), one by one, it creates a solid baseline of confidence in your mind. It sends you a message that says you aren’t saying you are capable, but that you actually are. You can’t fake it till you make it. Not with yourself. And that’s all it is.
You can’t fake it till you make it. Not with yourself.
I call it the Karate Kid Effect. Completing work elsewhere – those tasks that still need to get done and then get done – will allow you to be a better you with the work you like to focus on, simply because you have addressed those other tasks. There is a ground you stand on that is firm and not fleeting. You can focus better. Breathe better. You become more efficient. Your mind is free and can give you more input, insight, and creativity. What’s even better is the things you learn while you are doing those menial tasks, can also be transferred to the work you are trying to focus on.
One note. I’m using the term “menial” to describe those monotonous tasks you still need to do. But in actuality, embrace those tasks. The question of those tasks getting done or not is the difference between someone grinding and someone scaling out. I think this is what living holistically is all about. Addressing all parts (realistically what you can plan for) of your life. It just improves your overall output. It will transfer over auto-magically and make you feel better and more productive about the things you want to do, just because you’ve completed work that isn’t related at all, elsewhere. It will give you power. It will make you better. The quality of your work will be sounder.
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