Burnout hits nearly every entrepreneur and creative at some point. If this feels like you, it may be time to declutter your attention.
Recognize this? Your neck and shoulders ache. Your temper is irrationally short. You are more reactive than creative. You worry more than wonder. Your internal eyesight is myopic. There is no vision for the near-future. If you keep pushing forward this way, you just might self-combust.
You can catch yourself in default mode behind the screen or in the office – constantly paying attention to tasks, to-do’s, obligation fulfillments, and other people’s requests. Everything feels immediate and urgent.
It’s hard to build your brand and business with integrity in a state of default attention. Sometimes you need to step away to declutter.
The Patterns of Default Attention that Get in the Way of Growth
I recently traveled to Springwater Center just south of Rochester, New York, where I spent 4 days mostly by myself on 200 acres of rolling hills and wildflower-laden meadows. It was without comparison the most still 4 days I have experienced in the past 10 years. I spent no time writing. No time on the computer. Instead, my days included my own schedule of sitting in meditation or calm repose by a pond, wandering along the paths, taking a sauna, preparing and eating a meal – and repeating that pattern. My nervous system quieted. My mind decluttered.
Yet at the same time, I was humbled. I was humbled because I saw the deeply engrained patterns of my mind that needed decluttering.
There are three cluttering patterns of default attention I’ve noticed that get in my way of my growth and in our clients’ way, too. You can live into your vision gradually if you learn to observe these patterns and check them. Not erase them – impossible. But check them by observing them and not feeding them all of the time.
1. Desire – This pattern appears in different ways. For me it comes in the constant desire to think of new ideas – for creating, for improving the world, for our clients, our academy members, our community. As someone at the retreat center I attended this past week said, “Yes, thinking of ideas can be addictive.”
You might see this pattern arise in the constant desire to be of value to others. To serve others. To be validated by others.
Nothing inherently wrong with these patterns except when they dominate your daily thoughts and actions. What if you observed that pattern and every once in a while let go of the tendency to feed it? What if you stepped outside of your daily work life to get perspective on what matters most and fed that?
2. Fear – This one also shows up in different forms for entrepreneurs and organizations. The obvious ones that arise for clients relate to revenue, health, and failure. But tied to desire, there’s also the fear of not fulfilling obligations, of appearing negligent to others who count on us.
And for some the fear of success actually holds them back (thank you, Carol McIntyre, for reminding me of this).
No doubt: Healthy doses of the right kinds of fear help optimal performing professionals and entrepreneurs reach beyond their comfort zone and grow.
But when you dig into subtler daily patterns of how you act, you might notice a pervasive pattern of unnecessary fear driving you.
What if you observed that pattern every once in a while and stopped feeding it?
3. Anger – You might not think anger drives your daily attention. I rarely feel full-blown anger. Instead, I often feel agitation and irritation. It’s usually tied to being upset when something related to our activities at Tracking Wonder go wrong such as when we make unnecessary logistical errors that in my view waste people’s time and energy.
In a recent work survey of nearly 60 people we conducted, a majority of them reported that they experience a high degree of resentment toward other people with whom they work.
One client recently recognized a connection. She caught herself obsessing about fulfilling (i.e., the desire to fulfill) other people’s needs to be validated. She feared letting them down. And then she surprisingly observed a pervasive, subtle anger.
What if you observed that pattern every once in a while so you could check it and perhaps make space for something else to gain your attention every day instead?
Something else like a vision for a better brand of impact and growth?
Some of these patterns are distractions. When you can redirect your distracted attention toward what matters, you set up yourself and your brand for growing with integrity.
Brand Growth Requires Inward Growth
Grow with Integrity. That’s one of Tracking Wonder’s Principles for Doing Business as Unusual. To grow with integrity means that an entrepreneur or organization’s leaders conducts research & discovery. That research & discovery requires increased self-awareness and self-knowledge.
What do you really stand for?
How does your unique genius best serve?
What’s the difference among your showing up to work being competent, your showing up with excellence, and your showing up with your true genius abilities?
How could you be serving a community that helps you make a difference exponentially – beyond 1:1 meetings or consulting gigs – and helps you scale your time and energy?
How could you fashion your life, structure your days, and change your strategy now to experience a higher quality of life and brand experience in 2018?
I know, big questions. These are questions that when lived into produce profound change for the better. I see it happen over and over again.
But rather than let those questions send you in a head spin, sometimes you need time away to see the underlying patterns of your default attention.
If you’re looking for a collaborative pack to share ideas with, a community to lift you up, offer feedback and help you step into doing your best work, I invite you to join our Tracking Wonder Quest Community.
In our community, you’ll gain weekly inspiration, access to special meetups, and opportunities to find allies online and in your region of the planet. Our free community is comprised of professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives, teachers, coaches, and consultants (many of whom align with being introverted) from 15 countries, dedicated to doing business from a place of authenticity and wonder. Join us on Facebook too.