On OKness

Unit of production

One of the (shush!) side benefits of the whole Covid thing was that my 2020 sales goals went for crap.

In January, we’d set targets that were higher than last year. But when March came along, we were like, “we’ll do what we can.”

And as the spring dragged on, I started thinking, why the push for higher numbers anyway? Why do we always have to get bigger to deem ourselves successful? Why do we always have to be more productive?

I’ll say it now: I hate the whole productivity thing.

I’ve noticed entrepreneurs (myself included) are particularly vulnerable to the productivity drive. We’re told to hustle and crush it. Hands on keyboard, eyes on screen. Don’t look up until the pomodoro bell rings.

That’s how we’ll “get stuff done” and be “a success”.

But what if we don’t feel productive? What if we feel like crap? What if we didn’t sleep the night before, had a fight with our spouse, or drank too much wine?

What if we’re feeling sad?

And what if we sit down at the computer and don’t get anything done?

For many of us, the result of this “unproductivity” is that we feel bad about ourselves. We beat ourselves up for our failure. We think we’re not contributing to our well-being, our family’s well-being – the world’s well-being.

We start to think we’re not worthy of our place on Earth because we’re not doing enough to earn that worth…

I want to call bullshit on all that.

The fact is, by the very act of being born, we’re worthy. We’re enough. We’re OK.

There’s nothing we need to do to earn our place here. In the words of Mark Darcy, Brigitte Jones’s beau: I like you just the way you are.

So you’re probably thinking: Yeah, fine, but I’ve got to earn a living. I’ve got to eat.

That’s all true, of course.

The trouble is, our society over the last few hundred years has convinced us that we need to do so much more than that; that we need to play our part in growing the economy – because if we don’t, there won’t be enough. That we won’t be enough.

It’s convinced us that we need to be a “success”. We need to grow that business, move into that house, buy that car.

Behind my house is a thicket of raspberry bushes. At this time of year, the berries are turning red. Crows are feasting. And so is a cheeky chipmunk.

Right where I’m sitting, I’m surrounded by green lushness. There’s a boy deer who comes around and nibbles at the leaves. But there’s still plenty left.

If we step away from our computers and get on our hands and knees in the grass and the dirt, we will see and smell it’s bursting with life. Nature, just doing its thing. Existing. Successful.

So I want to say fuck productivity. Screw “success”.

Instead, let’s stop a minute. Smell the literal roses. Remember we contribute to this big, beautiful world by the carbon dioxide we expel and the food we digest.

Let’s feel for once that we’re OK – just the way we are.

And then maybe, when that weight is lifted off our chests and we look at the sky and notice a bird flying, we start to feel enthusiastic. We get into flow. We feel joyful.

It’s in that moment, when we see the abundance of the world and our place in it, that we start to be creative, when we pour or joyful hearts into whatever we want to do.

Not because we’re afraid but because we’re in love.