Welcome to Day 1 of a 3-day "Productivity Blog Showdown." If you’re
just joining us, here’s the quick background of what’s going on. A few
days ago, I noted that I’d like to see a "showdown" between two upcoming gurus of personal productivity, Fred Gratzon and Steve Pavlina. Both guys agreed to do the showdown, we collected some questions from readers, and here we are.
We’ll start off by laying some groundwork, which will help provide a
little bit of context for the next couple of days. I’ve collected some
key words that are thrown around in conversations about productivity
and I’ve asked both Steve and Fred to define them for us. The following
words are what I’ve asked them to define: success, hard work/working,
passion, happiness, laziness/lazy, productivity, work ethic,
Steve Pavlina is a recovering software developer, specializing in gaming. He founded, and currently runs, Dexterity Software. I say he’s a "recovering" software developer because on his blog,
he has been very transparent about his vocational goals and his roadmap
for achieving them. Steve has built up a very popular archive of free productivity articles here. Finally, for a great background sketch on Steve, be sure to review his "about" page. Without further commentary, here’s Steve…
My favorite definition of success comes from Earl Nightingale: "Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal." Since our goals and values are unique, our personal definitions of success will be unique as well. Therefore, we must treat success as a relative term. The key part of this definition is "progressive realization." Success is a process, not an end result; it is a path, not a destination. If you’re pursuing a worthy goal or ideal (worthy based on your values, not mine or anyone else’s), then it doesn’t matter what your external results are right now — you’re successful.
Hard work is whatever challenges you to grow. Hard work need not be tedious or boring or painful. You can do what you love to do and be passionate about it, and it can still be hard work if it causes you to push past your perceived limits. Writing and giving speeches is hard work for me. It challenges me tremendously and requires me to work at 100% capacity. But I also love it and find it deeply fulfilling. I think one of the greatest breakthroughs people can make in their lives is to fall in love with hard work, which means finding a challenge that you can pursue with passion. As Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, "Work is love made visible."
Passion is enthusiasm and desire. It is the emotional fuel for work which can provide extra drive and energy. It’s easy to sell people on the idea that if you just dive right into doing what you love most, you’ll be incredibly successful and fulfilled and everything will magically work out somehow. For some people this certainly does work, but desire is just part of the equation. For most people (myself included), passion alone is not enough. Personally I’m more passionate about making love than I am about giving speeches, but two kids is enough for me. The value of passion varies from person to person; for some people it’s a better fuel than others. If you’re a fairly emotional person who’s driven largely by your heart, passion is likely to be a powerful success factor for you. But if you’re more logically minded and driven by your head, you’re likely to find passion a much weaker fuel, and you may be suspicious of passion’s risk of leading you astray. Using the fuel of passion effectively requires a high degree of self-awareness, and you must intelligently decide for yourself what role it should play in your life. As a human being, you must respect the fact that you are also an emotional animal. You have the high-level cerebral cortex of a human, but you also share the limbic brain of a leopard. It’s extremely valuable to learn to control your own limbic system instead of being controlled by it. This means using positive emotions as added fuel to achieve the goals selected by your cerebral cortex. Learn to use your emotions to drive you to fulfill your purpose instead of being victimized by them. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to influence you through your limbic system, so if you don’t take control of it, you can bet someone else will.