A little over 10 years ago, in a rush of adrenalin brought on by a surge of ambition, I suddenly shifted into high gear. I hired a team, restructured my website, created a new marketing campaign, purchased complicated new software, and created all sorts of new products. I was driven.
Until my enthusiasm dwindled and I couldn’t understand why. The answer came loud and clear when I helped my daughter, an organic farmer, prune the fruit trees.
“If you don’t prune back most of the new buds,” Anna explained, “too much of the tree’s energy goes into producing foliage instead of growing fruit. You don’t want the trees to spread themselves too thin, reducing the amount of fruit they bear.”
The metaphor was inescapable. I was that fruit tree, spreading myself too thin, letting too many budding projects sap my creativity, my energy, my focus.
Busyness, or the act of spreading oneself too thin, is an occupational hazard for high achievers. It’s basically the absence of discipline. Discipline means doing with discernment, thoughtfully pruning rather than tirelessly pushing.
I wonder if we instinctively recoil from discipline, like a kid ordered to eat veggies. It may be good for us, but damn it, we’re not going to like it and we’ll try anything to get out of it.
Instead we slip straight into our drug of choice. I call it ABTS—“Addicted to Busyness Syndrome.” We stuff every cranny of our lives with so much activity that we’ve lost touch with what’s really essential and what’s truly irrelevant.
But ask us to lighten our load, actually say no to a task, and we start to panic. As if our world would shatter if we slowed down.
Over time, I learned to value Disciplined Action—making prudent, sometimes unpleasant choices, doing what I need to do to, even if it’s not what I want to do. It’s the only thing I’ve found that allows me to successfully do what I love without sacrificing my sanity, or my Soul.
Where are you pushing in your life when you should be pruning? Leave me a comment below.
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