I’ve adapted to (and adopted much of) Parisian life over the past few years.
My American ‘go go go’ mentality has been beaten, bent, reshaped, and refined. Instead of long hours of hit and miss effort, I now work intensely in focused and compartmentalized blocks of time, then walk away from the task at hand when I’ve done my daily best. Letting it rest. Letting it settle. Letting it be.
Of course, ideas come to me in the evenings. Notes are scribbled. But it’s rare that I’m consumed day and night with work, or thinking about work.
This subtle transformation may have been the exposure I’ve had to a more European way of getting things done. I’ve watched artists and entrepreneurs here. They are committed to their craft and their business, but they exhibit a few important differences that their Anglo counterparts.
These strategies have helped me. They may help you.
First, more than a few of the high achievers I know Live in Their Own Little World. This means that distractions and disruptions are kept at a minimum. They focus on mentally building and living in the ‘context’ or world of their own creation. Then they concentrate of the work that needs to be done to make that imaginary world a reality.
Outside input from the media, gossipy friends, and society at large are kept at a distance, or blocked out altogether. It is a form of denial, to be sure, but it also discipline. It is a selfish act, to some extent, but it is also necessary.
It’s not that these people don’t care about others, they just don’t tolerate toxic or needy relationships or time-wasters of any kind. (Television, social media…) They also are very stingy with their time, even with the people they care about.
Second, they Keep Their Own Counsel. They don’t share their ideas prematurely. They don’t talk about what they’re working on. They let the end result speak for itself, and even after it’s successful, they don’t talk much about it, or themselves. They’re focused on the next project, the next goal.
Third, they possess an Unreasonable Faith. In themselves, in their work, in their purpose, and in the value of their contribution. Again, this may border on sociopathic behavior, but it is often necessary in order to create achieve something that others say is impossible, to invest in something others say has no value, to see the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel, to persevere when others would quit, to believe when others are certain all is lost.
Fourth, while they enjoy the fruits of their labor, the biggest reward is having the Opportunity To Do The Work. The creation is a goal and a reward and a purpose all unto itself. The act of doing the task is independent and insulated from anything that might spring from it or relate to it. It provides all the fulfillment necessary. The rest–money, recognition, etc,—is gravy.
All these lead to predictable results: professional excellence and personal satisfaction. And isn’t that what we all strive for?