The unbearable lightness of getting stuff done

einstein quoteI wrote about this in a Copiosis Monthly Report few months back.  Amazing things have happened since then.  I believe those things happened, are happening, because of a shift I made in how I lead the organization.

In the nine years I spent in the private/corporate sector I learned that deadlines are the best way to get shit done.

Corporate workers depend on deadlines. Your contribution is measured by them.  Resources are allocated by them.  Deadlines drive project management.  I mastered setting deadlines but in my mastery I missed how many times we missed, extended or ignored deadlines I set.

In my ignorance, I brought my deadline mastery to leading Copiosis. In my ignorance I missed how setting deadlines for Copiosis does little more than create internal stress for myself while increasing the risk that I might try to “lead” by trying to control and manipulate others’ emotions in order to get them to get shit done.  The stress of an approaching deadline turns people into a means to the end.  People—lovable, contributing human beings—become cogs in the machine, “human resources” and “personnel”.  For me, my ignorance produced little more than a deadline missed and an opportunity to apologize to myself and others for missing it.

In late Spring this year, I had an epiphany.  I realized focusing on numbers—monthly visitors to the website, likes on Facebook, how many follow our tweets—made no difference compared to getting actual work done.  Every deadline—for my editor to finish editing my book drafts, for the book to be complete, for it to be published on—every single deadline had been missed.

Life was teaching me a lesson.  Luckily, I learn fast.

Not really.

I realized I was leading a future-oriented organization using capitalist management methods originating from American slavery.  That’s dumb.  It makes no sense to use status quo management methods to create something supposedly better than the status quo. Instead, in June, I changed my approach, leaving deadlines behind in favor of focusing on fun.  Back then, I wrote:

Our focus will primarily be about having fun and being positive. Having fun is attractive, it’s light, it is creative. Being positive opens new opportunities not available to pessimists, “realists” and those focusing on the way things are. Our effort will be purposeful, while remaining open to opportunity. We’ll celebrate every success large and small. We believe this will lead to more success without reinforcing what we’re replacing.

Old habits die hard though, and in summer I strayed from the path. I publicly announced that our first demonstration project, Copiosis Kenton, was going to launch this fall.

Did I say I learn fast?

Guess what? It’s Fall. Where is the Kenton project? It’s not launched.  And good thing, because we are realizing beautiful surprise happenings that will make it so much better when it does launch.  We’ll be announcing those shortly.  The point is, I shot myself in the foot by putting my foot in my mouth committing to a Fall project launch.

Last June, I wrote:

What we expect will happen: Staying positive, open to opportunity and purposeful, we expect we’ll see increased awareness in and momentum about Copiosis. More opportunities will come our way, especially unexpected ones. Our team will increase. Meantime, we’ll continue to work on our key areas: Net benefit algorithm design, outbound communication, strategic relationships and education.

All these things are happening in rapid, surprising, happy ways.  The only thing setting a deadline has done is prove how useless they are.

Lesson learned.  No more deadlines.  Instead, I’m going to rely on being light, having fun, and letting shit get done in ways that continue to amaze not only me but the entire team.

“Albert Einstein (Nobel)” by Unknown – Official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “The unbearable lightness of getting stuff done

  1. Yes, yes, yes…trust the unfolding and enjoy the journey all the way as we know the universe wants to delight us and as we feel good and have great fun connecting and sharing in a beautiful vision, we create more and more and more! Thank you.

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