So, my friend, how was your May? Great----how does June look? Many of you who are reading this work somewhere in the revenue chain of a company. Sales, sales management, customer success, consulting. And, as we all know, we are as good as our last 30-day productivity metrics say we are. If they are favorable, we have the privilege of being employed for another 30 days, and are asked to produce even more.
The problem is, there is nothing in the
natural world that operates that way!
Rising, falling, this is the way of nature. The tide goes out, the tide comes in. The leaves fall, the branches are bare, buds appear, leaves blossom again. My hair, once brown, is decidedly no longer so and continues to trend toward the white end of the color spectrum.
So----where does that leave us? On a revenue treadmill dictated to us of more, more, and still more that goes against what we know are the rhythms of the universe. It leaves us feeling stressed at best and unappreciated and depressed at worst. And there are no villains to point at, either. Trust me, your boss answers to someone and even the CEO has a board she/he answers to.
Which is why, 30 years ago, I decided to embark on the path of mastery.
Mastery dictates that you not rush the process toward higher performance. Instead, focus on the daily tasks, chopping wood, carrying water------or in our case writing effective emails, becoming knowledgeable about our products and services, learning how to connect with people who might buy them, working consciously with others and trying, day by day, to perfect our skills. It is extremely hard to operate like this in a revenue-producing position that demands constant results, but that’s why it’s even more critical to do so. Watch a sushi chef sometime. Or an accomplished pianist. Do you think they got there without many days of repetitive practice? I would bet the true masters among them have learned to love the practice as much as the performance.
We can still achieve our goals
without grasping them so tightly.
When our focus is on the excellence of our work, and we practice to improve our concentration, and we learn not to react so quickly to what arises in each moment, then we often find that we hit moments of increased accomplishment--- which may then be followed by more of a plateau, a time to practice our skills. If you just keep the goal in sight and try to control everything and get there as fast as you can, well, let me ask you------what level of wellbeing do you think the work world reflects having tried that system in recent years?
Rest assured there are many things to learn along the
path of mastery that will help you for the rest of your career.
Among them are meditation, practicing mindfulness, visualizations, reframing your entire work existence, learning to love the dailiness of work, not being so quick to judge, learning to love those who cause you stress, loosening your grip on your goals, learning to experience joy at work and much, much more.
And no-----you are not going to lose your edge.
I am fairly certain you are all such type A achievers that you will still do well, only with more presence and more joy in the process. I know I have, over a period of three decades in which I have won numerous awards, paid for my children’s education, and done all the things I did before mastery, only without that feeling of constant struggle and a strong ability to maintain my center, regardless of what was going on.
All of this takes practice and a fair bit of guidance.
But here’s a tip: after a while, regardless of what you get or don’t get out of your career, what you will inexorably get is older. You have the choice to look back and wonder where you were while it was all going on, or to be fulfilled in the knowledge that you experienced each moment along the way and savored the richness. The only way I know how to do the latter is to get off the treadmill-------and onto the path of mastery.
Please join me... see you on the road!
Jim Schaffer is a mindfulness trainer and consultant who has had a decades-long career in the corporate world, primarily in advertising and market research. He has been conducting workshops and speaking on mindfulness in business since 1990. Jim helps organizations and leaders develop the ability to see things clearly, focus on getting results, and maintain high morale & deep resilience, regardless of what is going on around them.