Tag Archives: Seth Godin

Productivity, Fulfillment and Status Anxiety

I read Seth Godin’s post today on all the things that someone can do that are better than TV. In the past I’ve also read Clay Shirky talking about the cognitive surplus – and indeed fully bought into it. It makes sense  to buy into a thought process that encourages productivity.

On reflection though, I’m not sure these mantras  are necessarily as healthy and fulfilling as the authors suggest them to be. For the majority of intelligent people, there is a desire to fulfil potential and somewhere along the line there has been a universal acknowledgement that productivity = fulfilment.

 There is no doubt that satisfaction comes from a sense of achievement. Ticking off a to-do list creates fulfilment in many instances, as does making the most of your passions.

 Is there a danger though that when we don’t feel like performing a variety of tasks based around our passions, that we feel a sense of failure? And are these thought processes actually creating a form of status anxiety amongst people who want to achieve and try their best – but simply can’t ‘produce’ 24/7?

 Watching TV isn’t bad. Switching off isn’t bad. Each of us is different and we need to find the balance between what we feel we should achieve and what our body and brain are telling us.

 Recently I found myself running around frantically. I wanted to see the best films, theatre, art, music before anyone else. I wanted to know everything about anything. And then I realised it wasn’t making me happy. I love going to Arsenal football club and watching the games – but, taking my lead from the likes of Clay Shirky, I began to feel that I should be conducting interviews with fans, writing blog posts, getting involved with supporters groups, creating banners for injured players – rather than just going for a few pints with friends after the game. And when I didn’t, I felt bad.

 So whilst productivity is important – I think it needs to be tempered with some reflection on what truly makes you happy. And if happy is sitting on the sofa watching crap TV – then go for that. Cognitive surplus or not cognitive surplus.

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Hierarchy of Success

I’m thinking of doing an executive MBA. It means I can still carry on working but would work every other weekend to gain what increasingly appears to be an important qualification in the world of business. The communications industry is after all the fusion of commerciality and creativity – and anything that can help that seems worthwhile.

 Part of the application process to all the leading business schools is a course called the GMAT. It’s a test of logic – split into verbal and quantative sections. Put simply, to get into the best schools – you need to be in the top 5-10% of all the people taking it. It’s a real challenge – and really separates the men from the boys. Now, the most intelligent people get the best scores it would seem. People who have high flying careers and have always achieved scholastic excellence get the best scores. That would make sense after all.

 The fact is though, this test is not a test of intelligence – it’s a test of dedication. It’s this point that neatly ties into a recent blog post by Seth Godin. In it, he outlines what he perceives to be the hierarchy of success:

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

Attitude and approach are what leads to the greatest levels of success. Attitude relates to why we lead our lives and approach looks at the things that we do to make our reasons for living happening. Neither of these are easy to master – if they were then everyone would do them! It’s this reason why the GMAT is such a good test for business schools as it focuses specifically on these areas rather than pure intelligence, which is worthless unless applied practically.

Some more questions that Godin then mentions are:

  • How do you deal with failure?
  • When will you quit?
  • How do you treat competitors?
  • What personality are you looking for in the people you hire?
  • What’s it like to work for you? Why? Is that a deliberate choice?
  • What sort of decisions do you make when no one is looking?

It’s really interesting stuff, and I have found recently that sometimes you don’t know what you want until you take some time to evaluate. In the hecticness of modern life – you presume you are what you are. In reality, you are who you want to be…

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