When the Boulder of Productivity Threatens to Flatten Us

I was a pill last week. Not 100% of the time, but enough that I wasn’t enjoying my own company. Wednesday night, as we were getting ready for bed, Theresa said something about how much we’ve been trying to do lately, that it’s been nonstop. And I felt two parts of me pipe up at the same time.

First and loudest was a gremlin voice that said (in fact, it passed the words right through my lips): “I don’t feel like we’re getting enough done.”

The other, quieter internal voice – the one that carries wisdom – said: “That’s Push, Rawz. Remember Push?”

Here’s what that voice was talking about:

There are plenty of spectrums where every last point along them is perfectly lovely. Think gender identity and sexual identity, or preference for dogs versus cats or smooth versus creamy peanut butter. This one, though, this one is more like a spectrum where the end points are hyper-conservative and hyper-liberal. Things get problematic – deeply problematic – at the fringy edges, but there’s a big, wide swath in the middle that’s a-okay.

With Push/Allow, I’m talking about productivity.

On the fringy Allow edge, we send up a prayer or set an intention for something to happen and then park our keisters in a comfy recliner while we quietly await mystical delivery. No action = no productivity. My fellow Type A folks, I know this is shocking to even read about but it exists. I have met two actual people in this camp.

You know who I’ve met TONS of? People much more akin to who I was seeing in the mirror last week, people who lean more toward an unhealthy relationship with Push.

Push is like Sisyphus, the guy from Greek mythology who angered the gods and was punished with an eternity of rolling a boulder up a hill. He rolls it up, it rolls back down. He rolls it back up, it rolls back down. So on and so forth for all of time.

Dude is, no doubt, ripped and well tanned but that’s neither here nor there because he’s getting nothing done. All that rolling and pushing and sweating is for naught.

This, my friends, is exactly what I do – and maybe you do, too – when I’m getting so caught up in my goals and to do lists and obsession with busyness that I don’t slow down enough to consider pesky details like recharging through sleep and play, or even evaluating whether I’m working on my highest priorities or if I’m just pushing the nearest, most obvious boulder.

Some lessons we learn over and over and this one? I created this spectrum for myself years ago and have shared it countless times since and yet it still crept up on me, this tip-toeing toward Push. As I brought some curiosity to finding myself behind a boulder again, I realized two things:

  1. Fear is pushing me to push the boulder. I’m terrified of looking back on my life and seeing that I didn’t try hard enough to make the contribution that I believe I can make or create the life I most want to have.
  2. I’m already making the contribution I can make and living the life I most want. Yes, there’s room for improvement on both. I’d like to inspire even more people to see their own value and potential, teach more people to manage their gremlin voices and embrace life’s inherent imperfection. I’d like to travel more broadly and set up the homestead that Theresa and I daydream about on road trips. But today, in our apartment in the downstairs of a house, with a thrifty road trip vacation coming this summer, in view of the jar where I place a marble for every client I’ve had the honor of coaching – a jar with plenty of space left to fill – this life is pretty freaking amazing.

Between the two extremes of Push and Allow lives that big ole wide swath of a-okay where we’re taking consistent, thoughtful action and also enough time to recharge, reconsider, and appreciate. It is in that swath that we find a life well lived.

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