Love and Productivity

You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love” – St. Catherine of Sienna

The Last Dance

The Last Dance is a 10-part series documenting Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ championship run in the 90’s.  It brought me back to when I was a young kid watching those Chicago Bulls win three championships in a row twice.  They were a different team when Michael Jordan was there.  Jordan’s insane work ethic raised the standards and led the team to winning and creating so many incredible moments. With all the pressure…with all the eyes watching them, they accomplished so much. I always wondered where that work ethic and drive came from.  

Back when Jordan was interviewed by Ahmad Rashad on his 50th birthday, I was on the edge of my seat wondering what he’d say.  At the end of the interview, after they had recounted Jordan’s whole career, Jordan was asked to finished the sentence, “The greatest thing about the game of basketball is…” He answered:

The greatest thing about the game of basketball to me is the passion and the love I have for it. Because when you have a love for anything, you’ll go to the extreme to maintain that level. That’s what love does, it drives you to do everything to maintain that connection. If I didn’t have that love for the game of basketball, all the things that I just penned out to you in my career would have never been achieved by me.

Love. Love is what brought out the real productivity.

More on Love

I’ve also come to this conclusion – it just took a little while to get there. I’ve done A LOT of things I didn’t love. As years went by, I continued to do more of what I know I didn’t love. I remember this inner voice that was giving me all types of negative feedback on what I was doing getting louder and louder. No matter how much I tried to ignore that voice and plow through it, it was still there.  Eventually, I just gave up.  I surrendered to that voice and let it express itself.  It was very difficult to let go of all expectations I had of myself and other people had of me, but it was so worth it.  

We all have this inner voice.  If you can listen to this voice and work with it instead of ignoring it and/or trying to suppress it, it will motivate you to blast through and creatively solve problems like, “I don’t have enough time to do what I love,” or, “what I love doesn’t pay well.” It will call you to face the doubts and fears associated with success, failure, responsibility, commitment, etc. If your objection is that you don’t know what you love, you’ll be driven to prioritize discovering what you love through exploration and adventure. The voice might say something like, “If you don’t know, you’d better find out!”

I know this feels like a tall task if you’re in a situation where you feel like you need money and someone is offering a work situation where it looks good financially. I have been there. However, as much as you can, stick to your guns and keep the standards high for the work you will do. If you know you’d be doing it just for the money, say no.

Sometimes love is not love at first sight—you might have to learn to love. I love music and piano now, but I started off hating the learning process. I hated practicing piano; I hated the lessons and not being able to play the songs I liked. Learning classical music was boring to me. Eventually, I mastered the basics and discovered that I could learn to play these complex pieces. I grew to enjoy the accomplishment of learning and performing those difficult pieces.  It started to be…fun.

The process of struggling to learn to play the piano, and eventually discovering my love for it, taught me that I could love more aspects of life if I could make my way through the dip and struggle of the learning phase.

“Love shows itself more in adversity than in prosperity; as light does, which shines most where the place is the darkest.” – Leonardo da Vinci

When you hear the word “productivity” there’s an inclination to frame it as a mental concept with tips and tricks and hacks to get more done in less time.  If you’ve found that framework limiting, you might want to look to integrate it with more heart, emotion, and love.  You are the author of your own story. Get invested in your journey; put your head and your heart into it.  That’s how you get to badass work.

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