Are You Stuck in 4th Gear? Diagnosing Task Addiction

There’s an old saying I’m sure you’ve heard:

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

It’s safe to say all-work Jack is rarely accused of being the “fun” friend or the adventurous, life-of-the-party friend. If he’s not working on a deadline, he’s preparing for the next one as well as the next one after that one.

The All Too Familiar Scene

When he’s home, Jack’s wife and kids can’t get his attention very often because he’s always on to the next task. He’s surgically attached to his smartphone, and the last time he made eye contact during a conversation was when his phone was broken as he pleaded, wide-eyed, with the repair technician, “I can’t live without my phone – I’m going to lose my job. How long will it take to fix?!”

But Jack’s an extreme case, right?

Surely, you’re not guilty of getting stuck in the same 4th Gear rut … or are you?

Take this quiz to find out:

4th Gear Quiz: Answer yes or no to the following questions. Be honest!

  1. You consistently start your day with email, and that means before getting to the office. In fact, it usually means before you have breakfast or see your kids off to school. Okay, let’s be real…for some of you it means you’re already halfway through the day’s emails before your feet hit the floor on your way out of bed…
  2. People notice you are obsessed with tasks.
  3. Achievement is the chief goal in your life.
  4. There are no boundaries on your time.
  5. You feel separation anxiety when you lose your Wi-Fi connection or can’t check email.
  6. You are constantly drained and never feel fully charged.
  7. It takes a lot of effort to get into connect mode (2nd Gear) or social mode (3rd Gear) with family and friends. Or maybe you “pretend” to connect by sitting with your spouse to watch tv, but end up mostly keeping an eye on your email.
  8. Your mind is always racing and you struggle to get consistent sleep.
  9. Your spouse, kids, and friends know tasks come first. They expect you to respond to invites with the classic, “I can’t go. I have to work.”
  10. You are physically present but intellectually and emotionally absent. (See number 7 above).
  11. There is a lot of activity, but no real sign of progress.

Tactics for Shifting Out of 4th Gear

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be stuck in task mode, or 4th Gear as we call it. What we’ve learned is that if you answer “yes” to one of these questions, chances are high that you will have said yes to more than one, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

There’s also hope, however. If you’re stuck in servitude to the daily grind of task mode, here are a few helpful tips to get healthy:

  • Replace email in the morning with something more inspirational — whatever helps you come alive. It could be reading, meditating, exercising, or starting the day with family breakfast.
  • Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t let someone else define your day in an email or phone call. Actively prioritize your day and goals rather than allowing every email to blow your schedule about like a flag in the wind.
  • Discipline yourself by turning off your phone, or leaving it behind, when you are off work or in a 2nd or 3rd gear environment. This will help you remain presented and connecting with those around you.
  • Teach your family the 5 Gears sign language so they can help you shift when they find you grinding gears and unable to transition out of the task (4th gear) or focus (5th gear) modes.

Ultimately, our advice is simple: don’t let work dominate your life.

Learn to shift and be present with those in your life who matter most. A balanced life of meaningful investment in yourself, family/friends, team, organization, and community ultimately leads not just to a healthier, more joyful life, but also a more productive one. And that’s the goal that keeps you stuck in 4th gear in the first place, right? So why not give it a shot and try shifting gears for a change. We think you’ll like the results.

To learn about the 5 Gears, visit: 5gears.com/book.

If you’re interested in learning more about how task addiction and the 5 Gears can affect your leadership, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!

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25 Reasons Perseverance Works

Unfortunately, the nature of human existence and the fact that we live in an imperfect world means that we all experience hardship. We are all threatened by the variety of challenges we face every day – the pain of loss, the unfairness we endure, and the blows we take to our confidence. We all know what it’s like to wonder “Why now?” or “Why me?”

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Influence: The Importance of Making an Impact

Influence.

Some people think influence is reserved only for the extremely rich or powerful – the types of people who run governments or large organizations or become the face of a national cause. But the truth is, each and every person wields significant influence in their lives, from family and teams to organizations and community. These are you primary circles of influence.

Effect vs. Impact

As a leader in those circles, you have the opportunity to positively or negatively influence the trajectory of those around you, whether family, friends, co-workers, or members of your community.

Since influence is power, we all have a great responsibility to utilize our influence for the best interest of those in our lives, so let’s start unpacking this responsibility by first understanding two key words:

  • Effect – to affect someone is to do something that changes the way they think, work, or live.
  • Impact – to impact someone is to mark them indelibly or otherwise alter their trajectory due to a deep, core-level influence.

For instance, we are affected by a thunderstorm due to electrical surges or temporary power outages, causing inconvenience, discomfort, and possibly changing the way we react to storms in the future. But we are impacted forever if that thunderstorm produces a tornado that destroys homes, property, and lives on a deeper level.

Aim for Impact

Similarly, every one of us affects each other in our lives on a daily basis, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

But very few people truly make an impact on others.

People who merely affect us can be forgotten, as their influence is passing and impermanent. People who impact us, however, are memorable and significant to our personal growth.

Therefore, we can choose to:

• Positively affect those around us through random (and intentional) acts of kindness OR
• Negatively affect those around us through annoying behavior.

That means we can decide to…

• Positively impact others by going above and beyond what they expect OR
• Negatively impact others by domineering behavior.

As leaders, let’s choose to not only make a positive effect, but to raise the game and invest our efforts in making a lasting impact that ripples beyond the surface. Let’s be intentional about altering the trajectory of others in a positive way for their long term benefit.

To be memorable is to carve out the gift of a good legacy and it all starts with a choice… a conscious choice that each of us needs to make.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to make an impact vs. an effect, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!

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Once you begin to truly know your teammates – what drives their lifestyle and priorities, what affects them inside and outside the office, what they value – you will start to feel a natural interest in the things that help them grow as leaders and people.

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Toxic Culture: The Need for Healthy Work Environments

If you were suddenly dropped onto a different planet – say Venus or Mars – how long would you live without a spacesuit? Maybe 4-5 minutes? Less if you can’t hold your breath very long or the atmosphere was too toxic?

Let’s try another one – how long would you be able to live in Dzerzinsk, Russia – known as one of the most polluted cities in the world? The average life span is 45 years! It sounds obvious, but…

Atmosphere affects our breathing, which affects our living.

The same is true for organizational cultures – they are an atmosphere. Some cultures (aka atmospheres) can choke people in a matter of minutes. Other cultures tend to degrade and “kill” people over months or years. Pretty much all negative cultures come with a “hazardous materials”  risk for employee well-being. Others, however, remain free and clear and produce effective, long-term health and prosperity.

We have have seen organizations exemplifying all three scenarios. As a company devoted to helping plant, water, and cultivate healthy organizational culture, our team is always working hard to create its own atmosphere of positive growth, fruitfulness, and productivity.

“The culture is the atmosphere.”

Culture = Atmosphere

So, which atmosphere are you experiencing?

Are you currently in the Venus atmosphere where you can’t breathe for even a minute?

Or are you in a smoggy atmosphere, where you know your health is declining over time?

Or maybe you are thriving in your environment with clean air and plenty of sunshine in your culture.

Thinking of culture as atmosphere is interesting. In a city full of smog you can usually trace the smog back to certain political and business decisions that enable such issues, or it may otherwise result from specific geographic realities within certain areas.

The same is true within organizations. Certain leaders and leadership decisions can lead to a divisive culture built on short-term fear to produce results. If you are an employee then you can only rely on your influence to clean up areas of leadership pollution. However, if you are a leader in some capacity, you have the opportunity (formal or informal) to clean up or establish the right atmosphere in which your people can live and thrive.

Removing the Toxins

Think about the economic and social implications for cities with horrible pollution and the astronomical costs it incurs to care for its ailing citizens. Now imagine the same implications for companies with bad atmospheres – lack of productivity, divisive drama, high turnover, and demoralized employees.

The best thing you can do as a leader is commit to a clean up.

Dedicate yourself to liberation, health, and a vibrant atmosphere at work. Let’s work today to change atmospheres for everyone’s benefit.

Your culture is an atmosphere, how well are you breathing?

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how your company atmosphere (culture) affects your organizational health, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!