From the Reactive to the Creative
You can tell when you’re operating reactively instead of creatively any given day. All your action is organized around what is coming at you. It’s like walking on an avalanche. You ride the hamster wheel round and round to no avail to reach a direction. And the sense of powerless sets in, as you sink into the quicksand of the victim. You’ve become overwhelmed aimlessly delivering a flurry of reactivity at tasks parachuting in, caught in the vortex of the war on stuff.
Before we go into how you disrupt this pattern, let’s first take a closer look at how you got here.
“Why even try?” Symbolically you give yourself a little pill called a “fukitol.” Fukitol is a quick fix for dealing with being lost and out of control. It is the disease of minimization and denial. It’s throwing back a jagged edged retaliation to the trespasser of stuff. Fukitol is a nice idea, but the rebellion wears off after a while. When the drug wears off you’re faced with reality again. The fix backfires. Often times someone attempts to respond by going with the flow, but underlying this is the notion of powerlessness: I don’t have the power to create what I want. Despite the best attempts at success and keeping it going, the belief undermines like an undertow, causing a backsliding affect back to the beginning. You’ve never confronted that fact that everything you’re doing doesn’t matter to you one bit.
“My team stinks!” You have an incompetent support team. You have what I call “zero delegation confidence.” You assume you can do it bigger, better, faster, and stronger, and enjoy the immediacy of your taking on the task. But as your assumptions continue, you’ve exhausted yourself in the imprisonment of your own thoughts. After looking at it further, you begin to see that you’re not equipping your team because you use the excuse of having no time, instead of confront it not being a priority to prove that you’re right. You could coach, train, and empower your team with quality delegation and offloading, but you’re too busy being busy to do anything that’d make you quite less busy. You drop everything to the necessity of life’s wildcards, and continue to spiral out of control.
“I’m not sold!” You’re not sold on you, and you’re not sold on what you do. When you don’t buy you, or buy what you sell, your lack of conviction becomes the means to hiding out in reactive task handling. It is also why others aren’t buying from you lately. You use the extremeness of stuff as a way to cover up and hide your reluctance to bring what you do to the world completely. Your own doubt seeks to keep you from confronting your own value. Overbusy becomes the hideout to vulnerability. You have married your identity to what you do, and cannot risk using failure as a learning asset. Since you don’t trust yourself to get something done you don’t set things aside and plan. You jump when the item strikes with ambulatory speed because you can count on yourself not have a system to replace the RAM in your mind that’s stretched by a full hard drive in your life. So you try to do everything instead of the one thing that matters most.
“I can’t say no!” You don’t want to risk humiliation, isolation, or disapproval, so you play nice, and postpone your refusals. You fail to master the art of saying “no, thank you!” Your own needs are less than those of others around you. And saying yes superficially so often has taken a toll on your health and confidence. You choose to be accessible, responsive, and reactive to be revered as someone nice and accommodating, but you’re a martyr. You give yourself away easily to the short term whims of others, yet your clear inbox keeps your dreams away from being accomplished.
“Control Judgement Day!” You don’t finish things as a control mechanism to buck the criticism coming at the completion stage. So as a preemptive strike to avert this gaze of judgment you shield it by hiding in too many unfinished things. You fear failure and therefore use busy as a fixture to dodge the pain. Inadvertently people experience you’re falling short and withdraw credibility. Each time you don’t finish what you start and bank the highest currency—doing what you say, others get a picture that you’re not reliable. You’re a danger to others. Opportunities then shut off. Business lifelines cut off.
There are many more causes as to why you sink into a day of reactions. So, how does one move from this to an orientation to life that fosters choice, and getting on offense instead of defense?
Here are 5 key ways:
- Get honest. Choose to be true to yourself and confront your present situation. Be objective, and separate your identity from your behavior and take stock of what you’re doing or not doing, good, bad, and ugly, to give you a starting point. If you don’t know where you actually are, how do you know what and where to change to get to what you want to create? Having an amicable relationship with current reality just as it is, makes you resourceful. The present situation, if given honesty, is a greater source of energy and mobilization.
- Have a place to go. Consider where you’re going. What’s the point of all this? What do you want to create? Take a moment to reflect what really matters most to you. This is about rising to the very top of your priorities the one thing above all others that make everything else simple or unnecessary. Picture the outcome, manifest your senses in it, and write down the goals that matter to you. People do what they do, because they have nothing more compelling to do. When you give yourself bigger business to turn toward, anything small, puny, or non-essential withers away, and greatness appears to outgrow the small. Having a hierarchy of importance to organize your decisions, actions, and communications is where simplicity begins.
You don’t know what you drop off your hard drive in life until you have this perspective. When everything has equal meaning, this is where imbalances lead to personal energy crisis. Stop all your entertainment—make a list of the 5 things you couldn’t live without if you made half of your current income. Take everything else and list it as a need or a want. Identify what is indispensable to your happiness and pursue having this show up in your life right away. Stop giving others what they can do for themselves, to affirm your existence. Let go of the hero.
- Brain Dump your Stuff. Download all the stuff you haven’t been getting to and write it down, get it out in front of your eyes. Getting this out of your head, although painful, while provide you an inventory of what your demands are on you to produce. By doing this, you can begin to consider this question on each: “What outcome am I committed to with this item?” Anchor each to an outcome you deeply desire. If the task or item isn’t anchored to an outcome, it may not be a priority, and needs to be treated as such. Name it accordingly as a non-urgent and unimportant item and put it in it’ place. It may not hurt you to dump it, so negate it, don’t do it. Or if you want to relay it, consider whose best fit in your universe to carry it out, and schedule a to-do to reach out to them.
You can also delay the item by putting it in the next 90 day period after this one, or something later that you’ve scheduled, so it’s out of sight, out of mind, not taxing your head anymore. Making decisions like this settles the mind’s questions. Stress comes from open loops. Open loops are unanswered questions that ask you to answer for resolution. Next to each item that supports an outcome you’re committed to creating, identify your next step, to lower inspiring dread to do something big. Starting small will mobilize you to take a forward step and build confidence and momentum, as well as motivation.
- Get help. Ask for help. Other people can be offered leadership by you asking for their help. Consider the unique abilities of others around you. You are not super human, you are limited with incompetencies and distastes for certain things. Where have you been reluctant to ask for a favor? Or why haven’t you looked at an intern if you’re tight on cash? How about one of your employees taking on a special task or project? Or asking a family member or friend for collaboration. The point is asking for help isn’t demanding, when others would love to contribute and have an impact. When people are brought into touch with their unique abilities, work isn’t a job, it is an opportunity. Unique ability holds voluntary energy in it that wants to be utilized. Unique ability is the activating principle of the creative fire within, and passion for work that someone has a superior skill doing.
- Master the NO. You have 24 hours in a day life everyone else. Not everything you do or attend to has equal meaning. Learn to say no, and do it politely. Stall requests by getting an assistant. When a request isn’t commensurate with your unique ability or what matters to you, bypass your YES. Stay in the lanes of what you love, and what you want to create. When you fowl outside this everything goes haywire. Everyone around you is on the hook to fill the hole. You lose respect for you, you show up to events and tasks with a phony face, and put people at risk by having you wander outside who you are at your very best.
You owe the world your need to be happy with what you’re doing. If you’re not involved or enjoying what you’re doing, or working towards, you’re not useful to anyone. Make a strict policy to organize your time around what does matter to you, and within the activities and roles that energize you. This is what living on-purpose is about. When you trust this with your life, some amazing coincidences and miracles will show up in your life. You will summon unforeseen forces that come to your aid as a confirmation to your conviction.
In this brief you’ve heard ways to replace your reactive behavior with the creative. But beneath it all there is a fundamental choice available to us all, at any time. We can choose to become the predominant creative force in our life. When we make this choice, it orients us to obey our choices. These are not obligatory but deeply desired for their own sake. We channel our life spirit in the direction of the aspects of our lives that involve us most.
If there is a single source of permanent happiness, it is this involvement in our lives that we all hunger to occupy. Do not ever invest your life spirit in a compromise; years later you’ll be at your final breath wondering what you were thinking.