Positive Outliers

Persist When Ready, Not Mere Productivity

After avoiding COVID for the last two years, my wife and I tested positive this week. Whilst we are ill, we are doing fine. We are being kind to ourselves.

We are thankful for our immune systems, which seem to be fighting off this infection and will make us more resilient as we go on.

However, my work has had to take a back seat. This includes a presentation I was supposed to be giving today to a major UK government department. It has had to. I am about as clear as a muffled goat right now, so my vocal clarity is just not there.

As I have stood back from my work, it has made me reflect once again on productivity and how it can all too easily become a driver, where we choose quantity in the short term over value in the longer term.

Gentle persistence—seeing a project through to completion—is more important at these times than mere productivity.

This is not universally true at all times to all people. Some of us have roles that must deliver to deadlines. That is not me right now. I’m in for the long game. Are you?

In fact, I now have a growing aversion to goals, that is, outcomes or dreams with a deadline. Quite apart from COVID, the world around us is chaotic enough to mock our plans. Just ask the UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss. What an astonishingly disruptive couple of weeks she has had at the start of her prime ministerial office.

I am working on an advanced draft for my fourth solo book. I had hoped to get this to reviewers this month, but it will likely be October now. Is that such a big deal? Sure, I may now be missing a Christmas launch date for the book, but I learned to play the long game. My first solo book was published nine years ago and is now selling more copies than it ever has. In our instant economy, 9 years is an eternity. Yet, I’m so glad that I saw that particular project to its completion.

So, I am learning gentle persistence. I will not fret about matters outside of my control. It does not trouble me as much if I am delayed. I will press on—when my stamina returns and my body is healthy.

My new book has a working title of Thinking It Out and is about the power of externalising our thoughts, ordering them, linking them and observing emergent themes. I argue for a non-mechanistic approach to this and share examples both from the digital world as well as the paper-based one. Also, I make the case that having such a private set of organically linked notes is an investment in oneself, a cumulative compound interest effect, in fact.

It was Peter Drucker, I believe, who coined the phrase “knowledge worker”, and we now talk about the knowledge economy. I would rather aim higher and participate in what Drucker really was an advocate for, the wisdom economy.

If the subject of my work seems relevant to you, let me know if you would be interested in being part of my final review round.

2 replies on “Persist When Ready, Not Mere Productivity”

Wise and helpful as always Patrick. Looking forward to the book when it arrives in good time, or should that be God time. Be healed and get well soon. Ordered 500 copies of I am Edison this week. Much blessing on you.

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