Welcome to the third lesson in this ‘Purpose’ module. This lesson is all about connection and community.
Because here’s the cold, hard truth: you can’t do it alone. Finding connection, being part of a community, having SOMETHING to fall back on, this is so important. In fact, to me it’s so important that I consider connection and community as part of my purpose. All of this is why this lesson is part of the ‘Purpose’ module of this course.
Connection really should be part of the larger vision you have for your work and life. You can have the perfect productivity schedule, but that means nothing when you can’t reach out to someone or call someone when you just can't do it for that day or when you feel like you're wasting away in front of the computer and need a little pick-me-up.
Don’t make the mistake of seeing community building as a ‘hack’, of looking at partnership and accountability as something strategic, or of trying to systemize connection. Trying to do it all alone and not asking for help means less productivity and more stress. Asking for help is not a weakness. Think of it in terms of delegating or outsourcing.
Why is focusing on connection and finding your tribe so important? Well, I could go on and on about this, but here are the major benefits:
It lets you focus on things you’re good at
It keeps you focused on your values
It allows for you to grow as a person
You get inspired by other people’s views and ways of doing things
You receive valuable feedback from people want what’s best for you
It creates a culture of accountability
It creates a sense of community
You can have fun and relax (just a little bit more)
These are some helpful and actionable tips for you when it comes to creating connection that will help you be more purposefully productive. Here we go.
Let’s start with energy. Finding connection can give you energy, but we all know that, at the same time, connecting with the wrong person can leave you feeling drained.
So, these are a few pointers on how to connect and keep your energy intact.
Connect with people who inspire you. Seek out people that you’re inspired by, whether it’s by their attitude or achievements or because they have an unique way of thinking. It could be that you’re inspired by someone who’s an expert in their field or who’s done something new and different.
Inspiration and admiration for someone else can be a great instigator for you to get inspired about your own work, life, and creativity. It can give you a sense of direction or something to strive for. You don’t necessarily have to be in contact with someone you inspire for them to have a major impact in your life. You can admire them from afar and still feel inspired to take action on your values and priorities.
The key is to not get stuck in the comparison trap. If someone triggers a storm of comparisonitis within you, even though that person is an inspiration, then you need to cut that person out of your day-to-day life.
Connect with people who have the same values. This one is important. When you want to create a life that’s optimally and purposefully productive you need to surround yourself with people that have the same values as you. Someone who has different values or whose priorities aren’t aligned with yours will only be a distraction. But connect with someone who’s on the same wavelength as you and find support with them and your day will be golden.
Connect with positive people. Negative people, people who complain all the time, play the victim, or always find fault with others, people who always talk negatively about you, themselves or others, doomsday thinkers, bad mouthers, shit talkers, people who get under your skin or make you feel bad about yourself or your achievements, please please PLEASE stay away from them. They’re like vampires that suck every bit of life force out of you. *Caution! Caution!*
The other side of the coin is that positive people, people who find the good in people or situations, who are grateful, who take ownership, who show compassion and empathy, people who inspire, encourage, spur you on, boost your spirit, and give you strength, people who elevate you, congratulate you, and make you feel good about yourself or your achievements, THEY are the people you want to hang out with. THEY give you a boost of energy. And THEY can turn blegh days into the best and most productive of days.
Connect with like-minded people. And finally, seek out people that are in the same mindspace as you, that are in a similar places in their life or business, and that think like you. Finding someone you can be ‘good’ with, just the way you are, is so important. When you find yourself constantly explaining what you mean, what you meant to say, what is important to you, or where you’ve come from, that is such an energy suck and time drain. Connect with someone that gets you.
That isn’t to say that you should ONLY surround yourself with like-minded people or people that have the same values. Mind you, I think hearing a different voice, a different opinion, a different perspective is crucial for you to expand your thinking and to grow as a person. BUT… there’s a place and time for that. We’re talking here about setting you up for your most productive day. In that context, people who don’t have have the same values and priorities, who trigger comparison in you, who are negative, and who just don’t think the way you do are a distraction. They don’t help you be purposefully productive in your day-to-day life. So, shut them out during that time. However, I think it’s wise to step out of that mold and broaden your horizon during your free time.
Connecting with someone who’s on the same energy level as you can take shape in lots of different ways. Here’s just some examples:
Meet up with friends at unexpected times in the day, maybe for lunch or during a morning workout in the gym. It’s better to do this early in the day, so that you can use this boost of energy during the rest of your day.
Find groups of like-minded people, fellow creatives/millennials/moms/introverts etc. This could be in real life, in your city, or virtually through Facetime or Skype. When you can’t find such a group, set one up yourself.
When you work from home and prefer to stay at home, find connection online through online communities, blogs, Twitter chats, Facebook groups, or forums. Or set up a face-to-face chat through Skype or Google Hangouts.
Listen to one or two Ted Talks from people who are an inspiration to you.
Browse through blogs, websites, or Youtube channels from people you admire. Seek out content that gives you a boost and leaves you inspired. Mind you though, you can easily get sucked into the Youtube vortex and before you know it more than an hour has passed. So, set a time limit for yourself and stick to it.
Find a co-working space with like-minded creatives or professionals.
Invest in going to art shows, conferences, or museums, either alone or with someone, that leave you inspired and re-energized.
There are tons more examples I could give, but I think these give you a sense of direction for you to seek out people, circumstances, or activities that boost your energy for your most productive day.
Asking for help
Asking for help is a tough one for a lot of people, I get that and I understand that because I’ve been there. It is, however, an essential and meaningful way to find more connection during your purposefully productive day.
A lot of us think that asking for help equals failure. When you can’t figure something out on your own and you ask someone to help you out, that sometimes feels like you failed, like you’re no longer perfect, like ‘you see, I’m not superwoman’.
It’s weird how being human has become not good enough. You know what I mean: when you say to someone ‘It’s okay, you’re only human’, people roll their eyes at you. No shame here, I’ve done it too. But it’s shocking to me how the comfort of being human is no longer good enough. What do you expect? That you’re superhuman? I know that the superhero theme is big in popular culture now, in movies and on TV, but that doesn’t mean that YOU have to be a superhero.
(By the way, I just want to say, it’s not like superheroes don’t have problems. Just watch an episode of Daredevil.)
You don’t have to be a superhero. No one expects that from you. The world doesn’t ask for you to be superhuman. The universe only calls for you to be you. Being human is enough. You are enough. Let me bust a myth here: being human doesn’t mean you’re ordinary. It, per definition, means that you’re extraordinary. And extraordinary people ask for help. Just ask Oprah, or Richard Branson, or Brené Brown. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It is not weak. Strong people ask for help. Smart people ask for help.
Another way to look at it, is this. Asking for help happens more than you think. YOU seek out help more than you think. When you want to cook something new, you pick up a cookbook to find a new, challenging, and delicious recipe. When your car breaks down, you let a mechanic take a look at it. When you find yourself with a complex problem, you google it to find a solution. When your computer isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, you look in the manual to fix it. You catch my drift here? All of this is asking for help.
You do it to save trouble and time. The trouble of having to do it yourself and the time it will take you to figure it out. So do it. Reach out to someone who’s better equipped to handle a certain situation than you are. Ask someone who has a degree in the thing that needs to be done or to be fixed to do the work, instead of winging it, googling it, and spending three days by yourself trying to understand what’s going on. Again, this is SMART thinking. You don’t know how to install a program on your computer? Ask an expert. You find yourself with an unexpected deadline? Ask a friend to help out with the little tasks that you hate doing. Think of it not as failing but as freeing up your time. Freeing up time so that you have more time to do the things you’re good at and that you love. It’s creating space and time for yourself to shine.
One more thing, all of this doesn’t mean that there is no value in experimenting, in fiddling, in trying something, in figuring something out, in stretching your imagination to be able to conceive a solution to your problem. All I’m saying is: do this with purpose. If it’s in line with your values and priorities, if it grows your skill set, if you feel like it’ll be a confidence booster to solve this puzzle on your own, then, by all means, go for it. But don’t mindlessly waste an entire day solving this puzzle that doesn’t mean anything to you and that someone else could’ve solved in less than half an hour. If that’s the case, ask for help.
Delegating takes asking for help one step further. It’s also one of the best ways to build connection, create community, and set up a support team.
Here’s my definition. Delegating is the act of empowering and entrusting someone to do something for you.
That’s a powerful thing for you to do. It’s not just handing off a certain task. It’s empowering someone. Can you feel that?
You can only empower and entrust when you delegate intentionally and purposefully. By that I don’t mean the mindset of: I’m so overwhelmed and stressed-out, too many tasks and too little time, *argh*, I need to pass off tasks NOW or else I burn out or break down! That feeling and mindset is all too real, but that’s not what we want here in the ‘Productivity with Purpose’ course. Ya feel me?
The ‘Productivity with Purpose’ way to go about about delegating, is to keep in mind what your, here they are again, values and priorities are and to empower and entrust someone to do the tasks that need to be done but aren’t aligned with your values and priorities. Do the things that you value, that are important to you, that light you up, and call in reinforcements for the other things that need to be done. Do what you do best and delegate the rest.
There are two major components that will make purposefully delegating a task a success or not: trust and communication. Trust the other person enough to know that they are entirely able and equipped to do the task that you entrust them with and trust that they will do it well. Also trust in yourself. Know that you made the right choice in delegating that thing and in choosing the right person for the job. Yes, other people will do things differently than you would’ve done them, but doing things differently doesn’t mean doing it wrong. Don’t micro manage, but trust and be trustworthy towards the people you’re delegating to.
Communication is key when it comes to delegating. Whatever it is you’re delegating, these are the things that need to be addressed:
Be clear yet concise about what the task or assignment is and make clear when a task is done and what a successfully completed task looks like.
Inform and instruct the person you’re delegating to. What is it exactly that they need to do? How should they do it and what are the steps they need to take? Which tools do they have or what programmes will they be working with? Is there a deadline and, if so, what is the deadline?
Make your expectations known.
Make sure the person you’re delegating to is fully equipped for the job, has access to the right tools and is instructed on how to use them.
Set a few ground rules on when, how, and how often to check in with each other.
Also, let the person you’re delegating to know how they can make concerns or struggles known to you, how they can ask questions, and what happens when the task or assignment can’t be completed on time.
Being clear on all of these points is your responsibility. Talk about it with the person you’re delegating to and also put it in writing, whether it’s in your work or personal life. Not everything will go right or according to plan right away. If something doesn’t work out? Then learn from it and delegate better the next time.
What are some of the things you can delegate?
When it comes to creating a more purposefully productive day in your personal life you can think about delegating things like grocery shopping and delivery, meal planning or ready made meals, house cleaning, gardening, and personal shopping. Again, let your values and priorities guide you. If your priority is to take care of and nourish your body through food, you might want to do your grocery shopping and cooking yourself. But if getting fit and being healthy is a priority you might want to delegate and hire a personal trainer.
In your work you can think about hiring out lots of things. Is writing blog posts taking you way too long and, when you do, they don’t come out in your natural voice? Hire a copywriter. Do you love making but have no idea how to market and sell your creations? Hire a marketing strategist. Do you feel sick at the thought of having to do taxes? Hire an accountant. Anything you can think of - branding, design, web development, coaching, photography, product development, ordering and shipping - it can all be outsourced.
Whether it’s a one time thing (hiring someone for a specific project), a long term partnership (delegating certain task for a longer time through, for instance, a personal assistant or virtual assistant), or a larger investment (like hiring an employee or starting to grow your team), consider delegating even if your budget is small. If you can work more purposefully it’s always worth the investment. Organize it so that you can focus on the big picture stuff that grows your business or leaves you more creatively inspired and challenged.
Collaborating is such a fun way to find connection and to immediately feel part of a community.
Think about it: how can you collaborate more in your work and life? Collaborating on projects will not only lighten your load, but it’s also a great way to meet new people and form friendships. Collaborating is a great way to network. Network with other creatives and professionals and see how you can work together or share resources. It’ll help you grow as a person and as a creative. Just take the plunge and reach out to a few people that you know and like (but might not have met or talked to before).
A major benefit of having a community, collaborating, and/or hiring out is that it brings this new sense of having to be accountable in your life. In this scenario accountability is almost a byproduct of collaborating and delegating. But, creating an environment of accountability for yourself can also be a goal in and of itself.
Some people thrive off of freedom and can never have enough of it. For other people too much freedom is really too much. If you recognize this, you’ll know that it can leave you feeling alone and restless and after a while you feel like you’re less and less motivated.
That happens when you’re not accountable to anyone or to a bigger set of goals.
Sometimes having someone else hold you accountable can go a long way. Ask a friend to help you on your quest to lose weight and exercise more. Announce the start of a new project on social media and don’t forget to mention the date on which you want to have to project finished. Sticking to deadlines is easier when someone else is waiting on you.
To conclude this lesson, your values and priorities will determine the type of connection and community you want in your work and life when it comes to creating productivity with purpose. Combining those values and priorities with the right kind of connection for you lays the foundation for the rest of this course and for you to create a successful and purposeful productive day-to-day.