The Morning After, Looking Ahead
I went to sleep at 8PM last night, and woke up 12 hours later. I’m refreshed, and dehydrated; today’s goal is to rejoin the gym and drink 64 oz of water.
I’m super re-energized by the events of the weekend, and this morning am facing the mountain of tasks with pent-up inspiration bursting at the seams. Usually, I am facing the mountain when I have a low supply of inspiration, having instead to draw on a sense of duty or the desire to stand for something. The mountain of tasks, I’m realizing, looks the same no matter what my energy level or attitude is. I want to do things, but I find the task of breaking down the mountain into some kind of approach to be energy-draining.
It occurs to me further that I really don’t SEE the mountain clearly. That would imply I know what I’m doing. It’s more like I sense the MASS and SIZE of the mountain, so I assume it’s there and gigantic. And I know I have to go climb the mountain if I want to get things done, but you know what? I’m not sure what mountain I’m climbing.
The mountain is not a mountain. The mountain is my labeling of a set of uncertainties and expected hardships. Hardship is guaranteed, but to shy away from hardship in the abstract is not a character-building attitude. To not define the set of hardships is to give into uncertainty.
Let me try to simplify this further:
I know I have a lot of things to do, and it’s going to take time and energy and perhaps be unpleasant in the following ways:
- It will make me feel trapped by the situation until it’s done
- It will take a long time
- I won’t possess the skill or resources to do a great job the first time
- I may never get it right, and I will disappoint someone
- I may fail, and it will have been a waste of time
These are guaranteed feelings I will have, and they loom large in my mind. However, I should think about how I will feel if I do get something done:
- I will have learned something
- I will have a new story to tell that draws from life experience
- I will have something new to build with, sell, or show to people
- I’ll be one step closer to a goal
- I will see new opportunities
- I can see one more data point in the larger patterns of life
These are good feelings. The combination of the unpleasant feelings with the pleasant feelings reminds me of a contraction followed by an expansion. Repeated over and over again, progress is guaranteed. It’s as simple as the contraction and concentration of effort, followed by release. I can get behind that, I think.
That leaves the what mountain and also the myriad commitments I have? These represent piles of related tasks. There are many piles. There is also a main theme that ties all these piles together, that of leading my best and my productively fulfilling life. That is measured by what I can build, what I can refine and polish, making the best communities and contributing in them, and bringing in enough money to fund all those dreams.
What comes to mind is that the client commitments fit into the overall commitments. There is one product: a Dave Seah that can create useful things and garner revenue from this activity while maintaining a flexible and free lifestyle in a community of like-minded people. The challenge is to manage all those engagements with people while making progress on building the machine that supports me. That is the peak of the mountain, and the client commitments are subpeaks and basecamps scattered from sea level on up to the top.
The actual climb consists of hitting all those peaks and basecamps successfully, and this is a sequencing and logistics problem. It’s not related to the action or produced experience; it’s a management issue. To be able to plan this, though, requires an intimate understanding of the terrain and environmental factors as they impact the available ability to perform.
Since I lack an intimate understanding of the terrain, I’m reduced to guessing. This is a bad strategy when it comes to mountain climbing, I would imagine, unless you are in the process of EXPLORING. Exploring can be thought of as way of converting uncertainty to certainty, or adding more knowledge about a particular activity with the intention of improving something. Exploring without these intentions is just entertainment or looking for inspiration. This is probably what a vacation is supposed to be, giving one’s brain a rest from trying to change the world all the time.
So, what does the mountain look like now? At the peak is a successful David Seah, doing creative things with a like-minded group of collaborators to generate the revenue and expertise to expand the scale of the operation with style. To reach the top, I have to identify the basecamps and develop the logistical plans that link them together. I have been doing that for the past 15 years. I think what I need to do now is start the real planning to pull the logistics together.
Task management strategies, then, probably will become clearer.