I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post.
I have had so many things going on that this blog – something I really care about – ended up getting neglected. With all the demands of starting a company – business, technical, financial, and social – less critical things have just started to slip. I really hate when this happens, but it has forced me to face up to something I never really wanted to consider before:
I have limited bandwidth.
The fact is, this is true for everyone – whether they want to admit it or not. There is a point where we all simply run out of the cycles we need to engage with the range people and events that are demanding our time and attention.
Of course, our competitive sides don’t really want to acknowledge these limits.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that we can keep doing more by simply working harder, longer, and smarter. Unfortunately, at a certain point, we cross some line where we stop actually “engaging” and simply start “interacting” – and there is a substantive difference between the two. I liken this to the way a tired parent interacts with a talkative toddler – answering their questions and displaying pro forma interest, while remaining mentally disengaged from the conversation taking place. It preserves the appearance of engagement, but eliminates the substance behind it.
It isn’t something that we do consciously – it’s just a coping mechanism that kicks in at some point. True engagement demands time. It’s something that requires thought and focus. It requires enough downtime to remain energized, and enough quiet time to let our sub-conscience help out with the inspiration and insight that important challenges require.
By contrast, “interacting” just requires us to do something reasonable and responsive – but not necessarily well considered or forward looking.
When we reach the limits of our internal resources, we start to become less effective – and both the important and less significant alike end up suffering. For anyone that is highly motivated and driven, this is an easy trap to fall in to. To avoid it, we need the discipline to say “No” to more of the things we know we really shouldn’t be taking on. We also need a level self awareness that lets us understand and operate effectively within our personal limits. This isn’t about slowing down or taking it easy. We absolutely need to keep pushing ourselves – but pushing to be accomplishing more instead of simply doing more.
It’s about optimizing our outcomes instead of overloading our activities.
I think this is as good a time as any for us to review and prune the things we have on our plate, and make some space for the right opportunities that will no doubt come our way in 2013…
Happy New Year Everyone!