Performance, Productivity, and Getting Things Done
Performance for what and whom?
One of my favorite quotes in Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change by April Rinne is, “One meeting in which everyone is fully present is worth more than a thousand meetings in which people are distracted.” It’s the opposite of what I practiced and witnessed over most of my career.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to move to a foreign country and live in the remote countryside. And at the same time, still, be so closely connected to everything and every one as if nothing had changed.
Nonetheless, that’s the situation I find myself in, and it has given me perspective. A perspective I feel compelled to share. A perspective that has led me to conclude that the way I used to live and work was insane.
And much of the western world is still caught up in this insanity, including most of the people I used to work alongside with.
When I started my professional career, I was all about productivity, performance, and getting things done. My personal library was filled with every productivity and management book that came along.
In fact, one book in particular that had an enormous impact on me was High Performance Management by Andrew S. Grove: The President of Intel, one of the nation’s premier high technology companies, shows how managers can increase their productivity dramatically.
It was true. I implemented almost every productivity-enhancing idea and method in the book and followed it religiously. My productivity increased dramatically. It got me noticed. When an opportunity came along to lead and manage one of the company’s most important strategic projects, I got picked.
I learned firsthand that productivity was the key to getting noticed, getting promoted, and earning the admiration of your family, co-workers, and friends.
Just over a decade ago when I was leading a critical strategic project for another corporation, I was all about getting shit done. I was a big practitioner and advocate of David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (GTD).
GTD was very effective in helping me get everything that needed to be done to get done. I wanted to make my mark on the world, and I believed productivity and getting things done was the key to success, my self-worth, and living a life worth living.
Learning to slow things down
Then a moment of truth. I came face-to-face with what all that hustling and sacrificing of my family, health and free time led to once again.
What was once deemed a strategic and critical project was no longer essential and led nowhere. I had seen it repeatedly happen in many companies.
Performance, productivity, and getting things done – for what and for whom?
I deeply reflected on this experience for weeks and months. All the tireless work of so many couldn’t just go to waste. I’d join together with others from the team, and we’d share our successes and failures at the next available conference, so that’s what several of us did.
Over the past 13 years, I’ve received a PhD in slowing things down and becoming more aware and present.
All my projects and businesses along the way have been my vehicles for learning — to name a few:
- 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success
- Higher Perspective Tools
- Discover Dialog
- Presence Power Point
- Jump Out of the Zombie Box
- Forward Thinking Workplaces
- Space Beyond Boundaries
At our monthly workshops, we engage and practice being more present. Every meeting is worth more than a thousand meetings of the alternative type.