Driven, motivated, ambitious—who doesn’t want to be described by these words? We associate intense productivity with these words. But, there is a flip side…
Driven, motivated, and ambitious can also be associated with having a phone in each ear, running 5-10 minutes late to everything, or emailing 24/7. It’s the Rat Race! Which, believe it or not, has a formal definition:
RAT RACE: A way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power; an exhausting, usually competitive routine. ~Google
This fiercely competitive struggle is justified by our culture, but the Rat Race can be an illusion of productivity! Here are three myth busters:
- The Rat Race is NOT Required: An exhausting routine does not always yield fulfillment. Wealth and power, though desirable, are not really the end game. Fill in the blank: I desire wealth and power because ___. Now, ask yourself ‘why’ (at least once or twice). Now, you’re getting close to what you really want. The Rat Race is an illusion of productivity!
- Stress is NOT Work Ethic: A frantic pace and mild panic are not the same as work ethic (which I define as “a constant and best effort on the right thing”). You may LOOK busy, but stress wastes mental and physical energy on behavior returning little to no value. Stress is an illusion of productivity!
- Multitasking is NOT Faster: Research tells us that multitasking not only reduces the quality of work, but also increases mental strain, increases time required to complete tasks, and increases stress (see #2). Due to the overhead required to switch between tasks, it may FEEL like you are working harder. Guess what? You are! Multitasking is an illusion of productivity!
“But,” you might say, “I feel guilty when I am not ‘rat racing’, stressing-out, or multitasking like my peers.” Yep, this is when you decide to run yourself ragged, feel guilty about NOT running yourself ragged, or (and this is my recommendation) you figure out how to leave both behind and just give “a constant and best effort on the right thing”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.