I’ve been a long-time follower of Eric Davis from my previous blogging outlets (The Loadout Room and SOFREP) and have even worked with him on occasion. Eric is a former Navy SEAL and now a human performance coach.
Eric has the ability to think outside the box in order to increase levels of human performance, enter into a flow state, and become more productive than those that “work” 12 hours a day. What most people accomplish professionally in a traditional 8-hour workday Eric can complete in 4 hours due to the systems he has in place and his mindset.
When it comes to identifying your passion, acting on that, and doing what makes you happy, Eric has some powerful content you need to read and apply to your life. In this article I’m going to share one of my favorites; Working Outside. I figured since it’s springtime now and summer not far ahead, it’s a great time to share what Eric has to say about this.
Originally published on ericdavis215.com
You Don’t Need An Excuse For Working Outside, But If You Want One Here It Is
For a long time now we’ve been competing using our ability to discover and create. To accomplish this we rely on a very scarce, fragile, and internal resource commonly referred to as attention.
There are two types of attention to consider here. The first type is called “committed attention” – focusing on something to intentionally produce a result. This could be anything from curing cancer, to designing a new career (yes they’re designed not found) to just replying to a text message.
The other type of attention I call “free attention” – where there’s no focus on the production of anything specific, but a place where high levels of production occur. This is where thinking, thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings, inspiration, and rejuvenation occur.
Neither type of attention is more valuable than the other, but they must be kept in harmony with one another if we are to optimize our ability to invent, design, and create new and more valuable offers.
Consider an athlete working to produce or achieve a gold medal. The commitment requires attention and active training to build endurance, muscle, and skill equally as much as the need for “free attention” to rest, recover and allow the subconscious mind to process and internalize performance in a way that produces critical “A-ha” insights.
In Daniel H. Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, he explores the nature of outsourcing and describes how and why the process of creativity and design is difficult, if not impossible to outsource. Others may be able to mass-produce products like iPhones for American consumption, but no factory exists that can mass-produce the designing and conceptualization of such a product.
The Saddest Text Message I’ve Never Seen
Nothing makes me more upset than watching a person, stuck in life, hoping for or responding to a text message, and checking a device every few minutes in anticipation. Each glance, each text that distracts takes a tiny piece of new possibility away. And it is here that our “Free Attention” gets chopped down by the axe swing of distraction.
I so badly want to slap that phone away and yell “Give your brain a chance to recover and breathe!” No matter the content of the text it saddens me. I know, just as the vigilant phone checker knows, that nothing life-changing will vibrate, ping or alert its way into his life. There is no potential emergency more real than the one occurring as life passes by… character by character, emoticon by emoticon, second by second.
Distracted, overwhelmed, lost, and stagnant describes too many of our lives. A state of being, that is sad within itself, becomes downright depressing when the realization occurs that these life sucking situations are self-inflicted.
The good news is that we are vaguely aware that the critical progression of which we are in desperate need can be generated from within.
The bad news is that we are completely blind to the fact that this new creation depends on our ability to balance our levels of commitment and free attention.
Our blindness to this leads us to waste days desperately attempting to stay within various states of “committed attention” in hopes of progressing towards a good life. Unfortunately, fatigue sets in and we find ourselves engaging in what can only be described as a weak attempt to stumble across the finish line.
This futility is on display as we constantly engage in readily available text messages, emails, news updates, and other “information” sources – a feeble attempt to stay in the game, thus preventing the rest and recovery required to win it.
If you treat your body like a machine it will behave like one. Leave it in a state of “free attention” and it will go nowhere. Keep it in a state of “committed attention” and it will heat up and burn out.
If we would just sit still we could go so much further.
Too busy To Sit Still? Try The Big Move
I get it. You have things to do and people to see. You’re busy, your friends are busy and that’s how life is. This idea of stopping to “get going” is what’s called being a “contrarian”. We’re going against the norm; that can feel strange and seem counterproductive. This can be especially true if you already feel like you have a busy life. Here’s a secret that might help you through this.
The most counter-productive thing you can do to be productive is to try too hard to be productive. As soon as I’m done writing this post I’m going to run down to that far-off point that you can barely see off in the distance in the picture below.
When I’m running I’ll be in “free attention”. My subconscious will kick in and start doing its thing. It will “sift” through all of the things that are trying to bubble up in my head at this very moment. All of the cool ideas and possibilities that are currently being trapped underneath the surface of the “committed attention” I’m in as I write this to you will come forward.
After my run, I’ll probably jump in the water for a quick 20 minute Paddle Surf. The water is still glassy and there are some waves so it’s a must at this point. Now, if I were in my traditional office today there would be no time to go Paddle Surfing for 20 minutes, but since I’m sitting right here and my board is always on my truck, I’ll do it. I’ll be “free attention” if not mindless for a while which means I’m in a state of play. The ultimate “No attention” state. Reset happens.
Once I get out of the water, I’ll be back to work. I’ll be writing about how listening to music underwater can help you significantly increase your breath-hold. I’ll probably spend some time describing the gear I use and maybe even make a short breath-holding training checklist as well. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that between now and the time I get back to the computer, several ideas and insights will hit me. These ideas and insights are things that I wouldn’t be able to just sit here and try really hard to come up with. They need the kind of open space that will allow them to travel to the surface of my dense noggin.
Once I’m done with the most important things for the day I’ll head back to my office so I can run through the process of returning phone calls and emails. I’ll sit down and do that one single time and be done with it.
As you can see my day will still be very productive. Give up some time at the water cooler and eliminate the “Hey you gotta minutes” and most of us will find that we’ve significantly increased our working time as well as capacity; one of the benefits of working outside.
Keep in mind that while not every person can skip out of the office into the ocean at a moment’s notice, every person can get outside and access “free attention.” Hiking, biking, walking, running, swimming–even games and changes of scenery can give you hardcore relaxation. No matter where you live or what you do, you can find “free attention.” Taking it outdoors is easy when you have the right mindset, the right gear, and the right preparedness.
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