A good friend and now an avid reader of mine shared how my recent blog post “Someone Who Does a Half-Hearted Job” had resonated with her and asked me to write on how to do things whole-heartedly. Hearing from readers is always exciting to me so I immediately got thinking about her request. Basically there is no magic way to one morning wake up as a “whole-hearted” person, but there are steps we can take to get there. Here are four of them.
1.Little Things Matter
It’s true when they say that we don’t have to wait until we can do great things, instead we should start by doing little things in a great way. Take pride in everything you do – no task is small enough or insignificant enough to do it half-heartedly. Let’s say you have a job sorting mail at a large corporation and feel like a small cog in a wheel thinking that your job doesn’t matter because you never lay your hands on the product or get in touch with customers. First of all, any job has the ability to either add to the overall organizational success or to take away from it. Secondly, building a reputation for quality results and high work ethics will come handy – you never know when an opportunity will arise and you will be considered exactly for having those traits.
The best way to think of it is to imagine that whatever you produce ends up having your signature all over it. This kind of thinking came to me from my Grandmother who has been pretty vocal about ensuring that everything her hands touched “was worthy” of her name.
2. Keep your commitments
Most of us grew up with the mentality that words are “just words” and don’t carry much substance. There are all sorts of proverbs and sayings about the hollowness of words in many languages. We need to change that kind of thinking by making every word that comes out of our mouth count. Treat your words with highest respect and stand behind them. For example, if you have a habit of being “fashionably” late, promise yourself to arrive early from now on, and honor your word starting the very next time you are going somewhere. Create repetition until it becomes a habit, and then an integral part of who you are.
3. Be selective in what you take on
We are bombarded with a plethora of requests, invitations, offers and tasks pretty much every day. This is equally true in our work and personal lives and became even more pronounced with the rise of the social media. I myself run the risk of sacrificing the quality of the results I produce if I allow myself to get carried away by responding to everything that comes my way. If we make everything our priority, nothing will feel like a priority anymore. All of us have the same 24 hours in a day – so to be able to do a whole-hearted job, we have to choose wisely how much we take on our plates. In a workplace or business life – do not be afraid to delegate or to source out if necessary.
4. Don’t fight the incoming waves
To make a further distinction on the subject of being selective about our choices, here is a great analogy from a charming little book called “The Why Café” by John P. Strelecky. A woman snorkelling off the coast of Hawaii ran into a large green see turtle. Ecstatic about the encounter she decided to stay on top of the water floating right above the turtle so that she could watch it. Even though the turtle appeared very slow at first, it got ahead pretty quickly, until it moved completely out of sight in only about 10 minutes. Its secret turned out to be in tuning its movements into the movements of the water. Whenever a wave came towards the shore, facing the turtle, it would float and paddle just enough to hold its position. When the wave was moving back out to the ocean, it would paddle faster, so that it could take advantage of the water force. The turtle never battled against the incoming waves.
The incoming waves are all the people, activities and things that are trying to capture our attention but are in no way aligned with our purpose in life. That is why they drain our energy and resources as well as take away from the quality of jobs we do. Outgoing waves on the other hand represent everything that helps us fulfill our very purpose. If we learned how to optimize our activities and to disregard the white noise we would definitely be able to live a more whole-hearted and fulfilling life.
Can you think of any white noise in your life and what are you going to do in order to prevent it from further distracting you from your path to a whole-hearted life?