Selfishly serving

There’s really no such thing as selfless or selfish.  Even those who “selflessly” dedicate themselves to the service of others do so because it makes them feel good.

Perhaps we need new words that recognize that everything we do is out of self-interest, but we can still feel good about serving ourselves and others.  Selfish and selfless imply that someone loses.

Or perhaps we could see certain kinds of selfishness as a virtue, and feel good serving others and ourselves and know that it doesn’t have to come at anyone’s expense.

The best tools I’ve found for getting through difficult times

BREATHWRK: Very simple, guided breathing exercises to change your physiology and help de-stress, oxygenate, and focus.

HOME GYM EXERCISES: I’m guessing you don’t need convincing on the value of exercise. No need for an actual home gym or equipment for this workout:

CONNECT WITH FRIENDS: Connection with those we love boosts our mood, deregulates the stress response, and actually improves your immune system.  For friends and family not nearby use Zoom.

HUMOR: Read or watch anything you find funny.  Laughter truly is the best medicine for your body.

My humble advice in trying times

In uncertain, even devastating times, it’s easy to get caught up in how surreal life feels when we see how quickly things can deteriorate.  I’m not a therapist and am not trying to play on the Internet.  Just some humble advice for friends coping with the pandemic or any hardship.

DON’T PANIC – Panicking has never improved a situation. Sometimes even over-reactions are appropriate, but panic has never caused anything good to happen to our health, economy, or ability to help others.  Do your best to stay grounded.
CREATE A PLAN – Spend the time you need in disbelief, denial, and anger about your circumstance.  It’s warranted. But then accept reality.  Focusing on a plan is the fastest path to feeling more in control.
OBSESS ONLY OVER THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL – This is smart advice regardless of circumstances. Getting mad at the weather simply diverts resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
DO THE BEST YOU CAN – WITH WHAT YOU HAVE – FROM WHERE YOU ARE – Read that again slowly.  Commit to taking inventory, using resources you do have, and moving forward.

Leadership goal

I believe that your job as a leader is to create an environment where people can absorb the knowledge of the leader, the group, and as much collective human wisdom as possible.  But it shouldn’t stop there…

Ultimately when you’re gone, people should feel blessed that they had you, more than they feel wounded because they no longer do.  So the true test of leadership is that the people you led can not only get by, but deliver better results than you.  Without you.

Prioritizing action

Some of us who are intellectually curious, voracious readers are constantly consuming information.  It’s natural to want to stay on top of breaking news, trends, and learn new things.  But we’ll never have “all” the info.  And many times we’ve already consumed enough to determine a reasonable course of action.

Here’s something I’m working on for myself, that may be helpful to others:  assuming I already have reliable info on any topic (a pandemic, water consumption, sugar intake, sleep…) I force myself to change my behavior based on what I learned before consuming more.

Tricking yourself into doing what you should

Psychologists call it temptation bundling when we pair something we want to do with something we know we should do.

I want to listen to a podcast or newly released live music, so I make sure I commit to doing it only while I’m running, cleaning the house, doing mindless administrative tasks, or anything else that feels more like a “should”.

Pairing wants with should’s is an effective psychological hack, because you can actually look forward to the activity and be productive.

Productivity hack: batching

Batching is reserving a block of time to complete similar tasks, rather than doing them arbitrarily. You’ll be better focused and you’ll reduce the stop/start transition time.

We already do this with shopping – we create a list rather than driving to the store every time we want an apple.  But most don’t think to do this with things like bills – we pay sporadically or as they come in (or the day they’re due), rather than in one 10-minute block every other week.

You’ll find you spend less time rushing if you batch email time, phone calls, reading, accounting, studying/learning, creating/writing, cooking and any other tasks worthy of your time.