I love this week’s Roundtable Discussion in Quest 2018 with Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder #WeQuest #BestYear.
The discussion is on the topic of:
Getting Stuff Done versus Dreaming Up Ideas
As Jeffrey says: “The entrepreneurial world places a premium on getting stuff done. That’s helpful to catalyze creative-minded people out of analysis paralysis and daydreaming fantasy-making. On the other hand, not enough time for or skill in deliberate daydreaming can lead to burning out and supporting the status quo in our lives and culture. How do we learn the best practices to get stuff done and to dream stuff up? How do we become more aware of our excesses in either capacity and optimize our best days and weeks to assure we advance our best work while taking care of our best selves?”
In the conversation they discuss:
- How the seeds of their young geniuses came to play in their life’s purpose
- How systems can help you stay afloat and act on their vision
- How to use prototyping to figure out what works for you
- Discovering that the key to innovation starts with you
- The importance of dreaming as responsible entrepreneurs
- How to avoid the dystopian state of ‘total work’
- How to use digital tools deliberately to daydream deliberately
Both visionaries Ishita and Charlie shared their experiences in their formative years that allowed them to develop their gifts of creativity and productivity. Ishita grew up with a twin sister and describes herself as “always curious”, asking many questions, often ones that would get her into trouble. Her insatiable curiosity has served her well, together with her innate ability to dream big and to develop systems and structures that help her “get stuff done”. Charlie was a Boy Scout and later an Eagle Scout and went on to work in the Military, and his strength has always been an ability to be resourceful, productive and finding ways to be more efficient. He has an innate ability to look at how other people do things and to improve on them, to continuously improve his own efficiency and productivity.
It made me think back to how I was as a young child and some of my experiences that created who I am today. I had a tendency to be a bit of a dreamer and ‘getting stuff done’ was not my natural inclination. There was one pivotal point that changed all that:
My defining moment of the need to develop ‘grit’.
I remember it well. I was in Year 5 (aged 10) and we were all given the task of researching the River Nile and putting all our findings into a wall poster with pictures and information. I wasn’t particularly fascinated by the topic and found it very hard to make myself sit down to work on it. As a result, my poster was poorly done and not very visually appealing at all.
At the end of the project, all our parents were invited to school to have a look at the posters, which were put up all around the walls of our classroom. When my parents came in and asked me where my poster was, I felt embarrassed to show them. When I pointed out my very plain poster in between all the other colourful and vibrant posters that other students had done, my parents were horrified. “Is that yours?” they asked while I hung my head and nodded.
On the way home in the car, my parents told me how disappointed they were with me and how embarrassed they were to see my poster hanging there. I felt so small and humiliated, and like most children, I desperately want to please my parents. So I made a commitment in that moment to do much better next time.
From then on, I did everything I could to develop ‘grit’, which has become a popular term since Angela Duckworth popularised it in her TED Talk on True Grit: Can Perserverance Be Taught? It’s often defined as “Passion and perseverance for long-term goals”. I did whatever it took, hours of devotion, research or studying, to make sure I never let down my parents again. And I developed long-term over-achiever tendencies as a result, which served me very well, earning me a University Degree with Honours and a Ph.D., and a successful career as a consulting process engineer for almost 15 years. But it also eventually became my own downfall, causing me to suffer from burnout in my mid-thirties and a need to completely switch careers.
But despite the challenges I suffered later in life, ‘grit’ is the one skill that I will always be grateful for because it allows me to apply my mind, time and energy to anything I want and to make it work. I do believe it’s one of the most important life skills we can cultivate. And it helps us “Get stuff done.”
And while this week’s Roundtable discussion acknowledges the critical importance of “Getting stuff done”, it also asks the question of how we can create space in our lives to “Dream stuff up”.
Creating ‘white space’ in my life is something I’ve been forced to learn to do. My earlier over-achieving tendencies of pushing through all kinds of discomfort and pain not only led to chronic fatigue and illness, but also to a complete disconnect from my own heart and soul. If we want to do our best work, it’s imperative that we find the time to unplug and drop into silence on a regular basis, or at the very least to sit in quiet reflection.
Creating white space in our lives for quiet reflection, dreaming, and stillness allows us to reconnect to our hearts and our full creative potential.
This week’s first writing prompt comes from:
Ishita Gupta – Creative Entrepreneur helping people unleash their full potential.
Ishita says “I help you build confidence and power into your life + business so you feel in control, instead of overwhelmed. If you’re struggling with fear, stress, indecision, or healing from a rough experience, I can help you develop the inner strength to get through it. If you’re starting a business – or thinking about it – I can help you navigate that too. I understand where you’re coming from, because I’ve been there. I didn’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. I learned from scratch, trusted myself, and worked out my problems guerrilla-style. I can help you do the same.”
This week in Quest 2018, Ishita asks the question:
If what you desired most – the book deal, the mentor you’re scared to send the email to, the perfect partnership – what you’ve wished and prayed for – if it landed on your doorstep tomorrow, would you be ready for it? #DreamDone
My answer: YES.
Since quitting my consulting engineering career in 2017, I’ve spent the past 6+ years living overseas for my husband’s work while raising our two young boys. I’ve been “squeezing my business startup into the cracks of motherhood”, and while I’ve managed to do a lot in that time, I haven’t had the time and energy to really ‘give it my all’ in my business. And now I feel beyond ready to do so. My boys are now 6 and 3 and so I feel like those highly intense first years are easing up and there’s more time for ‘me’ in my life now.
I think what I currently desire most is to be more impactful in my work.
What I would love most is to be able to stand up in front of large crowds of high school students who are contemplating which professional field to go into, and to help them make a career choice that is aligned with their heart, their natural gifts, their true nature and their passion. Rather than being overly influenced by those in their environment who would have them pursue a career for money, status, or other inauthentic reasons. I chose my career path for mostly the wrong reasons and ended up burned out and miserable as a result. So I feel passionate about helping young people avoid the heartache that I went through, to find their authentic and joyful professional path and purpose.
And if that showed up on my doorstep tomorrow, I would be one very happy person.
This week’s second writing prompt comes from:
Charlie Gilkey – Creative Entrepreneur Helping People Finish the Stuff that Matters
When prompted to dream, a natural default for many of us is to start thinking and end up in our head. We dream of logical possibilities, things we might do, places we might be, and so on. What’s often left out of it, though, is how we feel. Since feeling drives action more than thought does, this is a major oversight and often leads to dreaming that never turns into action. So, rather than dreaming from the head, I want to prompt you to dream from the heart. What do you want to feel at the end of 2018 that you currently don’t feel or don’t feel enough of? #DreamDone
This one is easy for me to answer because I’ve been building my goal-setting process around my desired feelings ever since I came across Danielle LaPorte’s Core Desired Feelings and Desire Map concept in 2015. So, here is how I want to feel at the end of 2018:
I want to feel excited about the projects I’m working on and the people I’m working with. I make time in my life for the things that make me feel alive.
I want to feel connected into a web of like-minded, passionate, soulful, creative entrepreneurs and people whose mission is to uplift and inspire those around them. I want to feel nurtured, encouraged and supported to be my best self.
I want to know that my work matters and that I can make a positive impact on people’s lives through the work I do.
I want to feel as though I’m important and invaluable the people in my life, including my clients.
I want to feel nourished by the work I do, emotionally and intellectually. I make time in my life for things that nourish and uplift my heart and soul.
I want my work to bring me great joy and satisfaction.
I want to feel magic in my life. As I tune into and pay attention to the synchronicities, pleasant ‘coincidences’ and grace that’s at work in my life, I make way for more of it to flow to me.
I want to feel financially abundant and free.
What about you? What will be your words for 2018?
You can read more about my Quest Journey here:
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D.
Personal & Professional Freedom Mentor
Whispering Heart Coaching