Beyond productivity: Do vs be

The world of self-development has a whole range of fields inside it, and you know, reaching from some kind of abstract, spiritual, philosophical concepts about, you know, what is the meaning of life and what is the best way to be, and going all the way down into the nuts-and-bolts particulars of what are practical strategies, practical techniques I can use to make things better.
And when it really gets down into the tiny details, there’s always the risk of being lost in the tools and forgetting what the point of those tools are.
And I’ve talked about this before.
It’s just so easy to get into this state of tuning up and making myself better, but then what am I doing with myself? Well, this is another aspect that is part of that, and maybe it’s even more basic, even more limited, and it’s the whole world of productivity.
Even this word itself, I already, you know, it already feels a little bit off, because it sounds like you’re like a machine in a factory, and your purpose is to produce, and you are measured by your output.
So this is getting- this is even worse than simply, you know, being a machine and I want to make myself into the best machine that it can be.
In the world of productivity, it’s only about making more output.
I want to be able to squeeze more output out of myself, just like I’m, you know, being managed like an assembly line.
And of course, we want to get more work done, and of course it’s very useful to be able to produce output, because output, you know, can be used to do things that are actually important and helpful.
And you know, we don’t want to, you know, have your whole system worked out so that you can get the focus to go to do a solid batch of several hours of work and really, you know, put that focus and effort into that work, but then at the end of that time, because of the specifics of your techniques, you end up getting almost nothing done.
Now that gets really frustrating, to just have low productivity despite very high effort.
It starts to feel like what’s the point, like this is all impossible to get any traction, to get any movement, to get any progress.
So of course, it can be helpful to improve our productivity.
But this is really such a low-level basic thing that by itself doesn’t go very far.
And it’s so easy to get stuck in this sense of measuring ourselves, measuring our output.
This seems to be one of the classic mistakes: treating ourselves like a factory machine and measuring ourselves by our output.
It seems to be influenced by, you know, all kinds of concepts of engineering and business, management, economics, all about measuring systems and then looking at ways of optimizing those systems.
And you know, I love thinking that way.
I love looking at things as systems and engineering those systems and optimizing and managing and innovating ways to adjust the systems.
I mean, that’s like the whole game of self-development, part of it, just our life system, engineering a better life system.
But it seems like it’s important to remember that life is not a factory machine producing output.
There is no output for life.
Productivity is a very specific, narrow thing.
There’s no productivity of life, that we can somehow measure our value as machines based on what we can produce.
Maybe what makes it so easy to fall into that is that it’s easy to measure.
There’s a special love for things that can be measured, because then you can be much more- you can much more reliably look at improvement, or you can see, well, you know, “Choice A is better than choice B, because choice A I can produce 10 widgets and choice B I can produce 20 widgets, therefore clearly choice B is a better choice for my life.” But what all that is missing is the dimension that’s beyond just being a machine, beyond just being a cog, producing things.
It’s what are we becoming? What are we being? A machine in a factory only has value for its output.
How can it efficiently turn input into output in an efficient and correct way? That is the value of the machine.
But for a human life, there is no output that we can sort of measure this way to measure its value.
And maybe the value of a human machine is in being that machine itself.
Of course, maybe the word “machine” of course is not the right word.
But it’s a value of being a human itself.
So maybe when we’re developing our productivity, we’re developing ourselves.
Instead of looking at “What am I producing?”, we can look at “What am I becoming?” What is what I’m doing- what is that doing to me? What is the result as me becoming a new me? It’s a lot harder to measure.
Maybe there is no way you can quantify it.
You can’t put any numbers to it.
But at the end of the day, maybe that’s what really matters in self-development.
That’s what makes the difference, is to become a better person at the end of each day’s work.
And in as much as that can be measured, maybe that’s the way we should measure our progress.

#productivity #becoming #dovsbe

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