In search of answers as to why so many of us feel tired, not truly alive and bored by the daily routine I came across an article in “The Art of Manliness”: “10 Overlooked Truths about taking action” by Kyle Eschenroeder...
As a personal development coach I obviously got interested in the title and started reading. Half way through the text there it was - “The Output Challenge” - inviting me to spend a week of only outputting! That meant no facebook, no twitter, no reading books, no watching TV and any other activities where you intake ... stuff, simply being active yourself. I am not particularly addicted to any of the above mentioned except reading perhaps so I though this could just be a good exercise to help my research .
Determined that the concept is great, life is too short and convinced that outputting is equivalent of taking action and taking action is the ultimate answer to most problems - I was ready! One week of only output! Done.
Little I knew how much this will teach me. So here I am to tell you the true story of the output challenge put in practice and share the lessons learned by a modern woman going back to basics.
In the very first hours of the very first day of my attempt there was the first realization!
There is an enormous difference between output and action.
Not only that but output turned into that dream equivalent thing that I personally never actually did. I never wrote 20 blogs in one week, I never drew paintings as much as I’ve wanted to, I made very few hand-made presents. Bottom line was - I never created much with my own two hands! For a whole quarter of a life I didn’t give much output to the world and to my loved ones. This was as sad as it was empowering. Empowering because I noticed that this was happening so I could address it. It was now in my power to change the "unfortunate turn of events".
Enthusiastically I started making a plan of what was going be my “output” when the second challenge appeared. I had no idea what I can actually call a real output other than a blog or … a home-cooked dinner (was that even considered an output?).
That lack of imagination was the evidence! 100% of my days and I dare say those of most modern people go by without ANY real, tangible output sent out there to the world. That’s right!
We have become junkies for information, for more intake of “stuff”. We aim at getting more out of every single activity or interaction. We want immediate benefits for ourselves. We count how much we are giving and how much we are getting back on interpersonal level and even when speaking of love. It is the norm!
We make sure the balance of how much we are giving and how much we are getting is kept intact and “giving less than getting” is the rule of the “clever realist”. You are even considered silly if you obviously got your balance wrong.
We also wait for “innovation”, "creative mavericks", "bald entrepreneurs" to give us more outputs, quicker. We have dis-attached ourselves from responsibility of our own reality and world. The personal, individual output is close to a big fat zero!
It has become a reflex to reach out for your phone, to reach out for the newspaper so you hide your empty face from the weird neighbour in the tube who is not doing anything during his/her journey. We “kill time” yet demand more from everything and everyone. We turn into creatures sucking greedily from the world pool… with good intentions. We exhaust ourselves in the never ending cycle of wanting more and giving consistently less. I hear all the “buts” and the “caveats” and the “in reality that’s not how it works”... but it actually works the way you and I make it work.
Yet, I am convinced it's not all hopeless. It never is!
A friend once told me that he’d like to go to an island and make surfboards all day long. He specifically said that it would be great to “create things with his own hands”. On the question what’s stopping you from making that happen he said that “it’s of course not realistic” as we live in the real world. Do we? He is a trader (yes, financial services) - I hope you see the paradox and the hope!
People naturally want to create, want to contribute, want to make surfboards. We want to be a part of the world in different ways but we fall asleep and become numb from time to time. All we need is a slight shift in perceptions. A cold shower and a week of outputting. We need to start enjoying again the fact that it is in our own hands – mine and yours.
As per me and not knowing what I can output – I will figure it out. You will figure it out for yourself too. Just give it a try! Live a little and if you like it - continue!