Productivity And The Trouble With Gurus

I read a couple unrelated blogposts today which, of course, I am piecing together in my mind. They do have something, both of them, to do with productivity. Productivity is a subject I am interested in at the moment. Should I list the posts in the order that I read them? Why would I do that? … it really doesn’t really matter. What matters is what they have to say and some ideas that the two of them sparked.

The Posts

First post, ‘Keeping Your Options Open…’

One had to do with whether keeping ever open choices, or having many options is a good thing or not.
Keeping Your Options Open Will Cost You

This post took ideas from two books and posed the question “Why are you really keeping your options open?” and whether that is a good thing or not. Author Betsy Wuebker lists these pertinent books:

One of the writers cited in the first post submits,

“…by keeping your options open with more choices, you’ve levied higher opportunity costs.”

I haven’t read the books, but I know that people who keep their options always open are frightened to close the deal on their decisions and -more often than not- in order to escape responsibility. They can feel like victims who are helplessly overrun by those who do make decisions. So the ideas caught my interest, and I started to consider them. I don’t have problems making decisions, myself, I go through a deductive sort of process, but there are times when I have difficulty knowing when a good time to close the door and take a specific direction is the best thing to do.

The difficulty is in the balance, because being quickly decisive is not always a good thing “act in haste, repent at leisure”. And yet, none of us wants to be in a constant cycle of confusion, unable to move forward; nor do we want to have expensive life failures from seeming (or being) arrogant.

If you are thinking what I am at this point, you realize that, yes, this can be complicated. Another time in which wisdom comes in handy, to steer our path in the right direction, to close doors, and/or keep them open at the best times… for relationships, for career moves, for retirement, for most of the decisions that crop up. These are often the things that make or break resolutions and goals.

The Other Post I read

From INC., 5 Trends to Ignore in 2013 posits that we don’t always have to listen to the Gurus. What must we do in investments, in blogging, in relationships, in child raising, … IN LIFE? Everyone who writes articles seems to want to establish their authority, to be the next important guru that everyone must pay attention to…. only, sometimes that is not going to work out for you. And I might suggest here that if you have lots of experts all telling you things that are musts, necessary, and urgent… you will likely be unproductive in the very area you hoped you would find your magic formula for success. It is the “too many cooks” syndrome.

Most of that last paragraph is my own thinking as inspired by a somewhat more business oriented information article. INC. simply pointed out how unnecessary some of the big trends in business are. They aren’t necessarily important for you. Which is exactly what we can apply to many voices of authority.

Although what I wouldn’t try to say is that we can figure everything out on our own, or that whatever seems right to us is just as valid as what anyone else thinks. Like it is all some homogenized cosmic palaver.

It might appear to be in certain cases, but that would likely be just a fluke… a random stroke of luck. There is true authority, actual expertise, and we would raise our chance of success and happiness if we found and followed those voices.

It all comes down…once again… to discerning what is true. That is always the big quest in life, isn’t it?

Not “what is true for you”, not “What is truth?”, but finding real truth. Gurus may not be the best way to do that. Just saying.

Testing Truth: Do You Believe A Lie?

This is one of the things that is roiling around in my life. We think we know the answer, but what if there are indications that perhaps we don’t have as strong a hold on gauging the truth as what we thought? This comes home to us in many ways in modern life. Maybe it was always so through the ages, but not having “been there”, I’m satisfied to just comment on us, today.

I’ve been challenged by God to question some of my basic premises. But instead of delving right into that I want to leave you readers with something to cogitate a bit about. Seth Godin has a book on Marketing that has been repackaged with a new title “All Marketers Are Liars”. In it he deals with how we often operate in terms of what we believe to be true. No wonder he says “I’ve seen this book in campaign headquarters and carried around at evangelical conferences.” Yes, that’s you, Evangelical…. or you, observer of Evangelical. Interesting that we market the gospel, but we market ourselves in this age of ubiquitous new media, so I suppose that is not too hard to grasp.

So, what are the thinking points I’d like for us consider from Godin’s thoughts, for now?

Seth:

You believe things that aren’t true.
Let me say that a different way: many things that are true are true because you believe them.
…Here’s the first half of the simple summary: We believe what we want to believe, and once we believe something, it becomes a self-fulfilling truth.

…Here’s the second part of the summary: When you are busy telling stories to people who want to hear them, you’ll be tempted to tell stories that just don’t hold up. Lies. Deceptions.


“What’s your story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”
…When you find a story that works, live that story, make it true, authentic and subject to scrutiny.”

OK, that is a powerful big bite to chew on.
If I talk about Big T truth, then I am talking about a standard that does not change according to circumstance or what we want to believe about it, but for most of us we rarely operate in the confines of Big T truth (maybe we ought to, more). Most of us are trying to swim or sink inside the truths that are more fluid, like who we are, and what we believe about how we should behave, or how we ought to relate, or even as big as how we ought to live our lives.

Feel free to comment… and I’ll be taking the conversation into what this looks like in my own life and heart right now.
It will take me further down the road of Imposters and Inner Critics, but with a spiritual touring car.

If you want that book by Seth Godin, get it here – but that isn’t the main point of this post.