Why I Stopped Being Productive

When you ask people how they are doing they often say something like “I’m really busy”.  I used to wear my productivity as a badge of honour.  I’m getting sh*t done!  Recently my eyes were opened to a new way of seeing productivity.  Being ‘of service’ is much more powerful than just being productive.

Two years ago I read a game-changing book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte.  This book helped me connect the way I want to feel with the core inner desires that generate those feelings.  My list of core desires included being mindful, connected, balanced, energized … and productive.

At this year’s Wisdom 2.0 in San Francisco I had a breakthrough moment during a workshop led by James Flaherty, author of ‘Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others’.  During the session he said that being “productive” was not a reliable measure of success.  He further clarified that while machines are productive, it is not the best way to assess yourself.  The definition of productive typically refers to things like crop yield.  People are capable of more.

This insight created a problem for me given that being productive was a foundational part of my operating system.  I also recognized that some element of being productive that truly generated positive energy for me.  So what was it?

After further reflection I realized that the subset of productivity that created meaning was being of service to others.  I generated the most energy by offering service to others without any expectation of anything in return.  Aside from helping me feel great, being of service is also aligned with how many of us want to show up in the world.

I had a tangible experience of this recently.  After a particularly challenging situation, I was left feeling deflated and devoid of energy.  The incredible thing was how being of service as an executive coach helped me rebound.  During a 30 minute coaching session I noticed my energy level lifting.  I found resilience.  It was amazing to see how much energy I generated by helping somebody else grow.

The next time you are looking to generate positive energy or rebound from challenge, find somebody to be of service to.  I knew that mindfulness and deep human connection are major energy sources for me.  It was only recently that I realized being of service might just be the greatest source of strength … not just being productive.

(Originally posted at ChiefYogaOfficer.com)

One Comment

  1. Barry Dunne


    I enjoyed the post. I underwent my own challenges in 2015 and learned that simple meditation helped to calm my mind, spirit and body. Mindfulness is an important principle for me that I monitor and keep front and centre on a daily basis (sometimes on a minute by minute basis). In short, being mindful helps to keep me grounded and in the present. I haven’t made the leap to the yoga side of things but as I strive to remain open minded it is something I need to explore more.

    All the best and Happy Easter (and remember to put your salt fish in water for Good Friday).

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