Last I wrote, we were talking about the things we do when we procrastinate (aka, the stuff that comes easy). The overarching question being: What if your next breakthrough was not a grind, but easy—like the things you do when you procrastinate? What if you could do more of the “easy” work you love to ultimately discover more success? You can read the backstory here.
In order to walk you through this, today I’m pulling two major concepts from the book, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown (you might think I’m on a world tour for this book, I’m not ;)—it was just that impactful for me last year).
Concept #1: Poietical Work
In Essentialism, the author writes that there are three kinds of work, but in our modern world we only emphasize the first two below. Types of work include:
- Theoretical work (planning/solution-based, the goal is the truth)
- Practical work (task/action-oriented, the objective is action)
- Poietical work (to produce or bring forth more from that which already exists)
I became fascinated by the idea of poietical (pronounced “poy-tical”) work, so I dug a little deeper into the concept. Plato introduced poiesis with procreation being an example. Two humans exist, an entirely new human becomes of their interaction. Then, Aristotle furthered the philosophy a bit.
But it was Martin Heidegger (a German philosopher of the 20th century) who started using the term in its widest sense, as a “bringing forth.”
“He explained poiesis as the blooming of the blossom, the coming-out of a butterfly from a cocoon, the plummeting of a waterfall when the snow begins to melt.”
It made me wonder: How do I bring forth more from the work which already exists? How do I do less, but better?
I have a huge body of work—I bet you do, too. How can we better repurpose what we already have? Where are we producing more for producing’s sake? How do we maximize our existing creations or body of work to its fullest potential?
Concept #2: Paradox of Success
Paradox of Success is the phenomenon in which finding success can erode, and eventually destroy, the clarity that brought you success in the first place. Take a look at this graphic …
The Paradox of Success can be broken down into four phases:
- When pursuing a new endeavor or project, you’re outfitted with a clarity of purpose and passion. Success is possible because your clarity is what inspires and connects you to others (customers, readers, clients, etc.)
- As the success and connection of your endeavor grows, your reputation is formed. You become a “go-to” and you’re presented with increased options, opportunities, and opinions (this is a big one for online entrepreneurs). Unconsciously, your direction starts to shift and the clarity of purpose begins to waiver.
- The new opportunities and changes in direction create new demands on your time and energy. Without realizing it, you begin to zig-zag on the path you’re traveling rather than staying the course forward.
- Over time, you become distracted from your clear purpose and passion—the very thing that helped accomplish your earliest success. You find yourself so far off the mark that the work no longer feels like a calling, it feels like a grind.
Can you relate to these stages? Have you ever experienced this? Are you possibly feeling uninspired and void of purpose currently? I’ve been here multiple times, and it’s not a great feeling.
For example, I started a gemstone bracelet storefront in 2010 on Etsy, The Energy Shop. I’m obsessed with the attributes crystals carry, and I loved working with gems and attaching their meaning to my products. My passion for the work radiated from me and resonated with customers immediately, and the storefront earned early success because of it.
Over time, the work was no longer about the intentions and inspiration of it all. It was more about the demand, production, and manufacturing. It was no longer about attributes and exploration. It was about order fulfillment. And that’s when I closed up shop.
A New Approach
When I dusted off my website and email list and half-baked creations a few months ago, I thought reaching back out to the world meant doing all the same things I used to do, the things that ultimately ran me into the ground: constantly producing, posting, sharing, creating, selling, promoting, etc. I know you know what I mean!
It’s a self-induced, high pressure grind that cultivates a feeling of never-enough and bears a thousand have-to’s.
I have an enormous body of work—blog posts, systems, programs, and books that have withstood the test of time and proven themselves successful repeatedly. With the idea of poietical work, I realized: I already have everything I need and then some. I do not need to reinvent the wheel or do anything from scratch.
In better understanding the Paradox of Success, I realized how I’d gotten so far off track over the course of my businesses in the past. I could repeat the entire paragraph above about Marketing Creativity.
Over time, the work was no longer about the intentions and inspiration of it all. It was more about the demand, production, and manufacturing. It was no longer about planning and exploration. It was about order fulfillment.
Not only that, but because of social media, open comments, ever-expanding audiences, etc., being in online business has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not only information overload we face; it is opinion overload. It can feel as though there’s an endless chant for “MORE!” from the crowd – whether you feel called to deliver it or not.
These concepts have made me rethink my approach to work and business entirely. And if these latest posts have your gears turning … GOOD! You’ll enjoy the next few I’ve got lined up—I’d be honored to be a reset + reminder toward your biggest accomplishments this year.
Until next time and all the best!
Thank you. A very good question: How do I do less but better? I am looking forward to exploring this with myself and ideas are already popping!