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By David Harder on May, 21, 2018

Trapped by Frenzy? How About A Cure?

“One reason most people never stop thinking is that mental frenzy keeps us from having to see the upsetting aspects of our lives. If I’m constantly brooding about my children or career, I won’t notice that I’m lonely. If I grapple continuously with logistical problems, I can avoid contemplating little issues like, say, my own mortality.”

        – Martha Beck


Real change often generates discomfort, perhaps even fear. Change in today’s culture is accelerating. For many, fear is also accelerating as the way we work and make a living transforms. Much of America’s great talent pool is so distressed by that people are seeking comfort over the very actions that create positive self-change. Much of our self-wrestling match with pursuing change begins with the fact that virtually everyone has been trained, since birth, in how to torpedo personal progress.


When we launched Inspired Work in 1990, our participants came from all walks of life. But, it quickly became clear that all of them were armed with four common filters when the fear of self-change emerged. Perhaps, for example, as they defined a new mission, vision, and purpose. Four filters came up and like a camera, if we used them long enough, we could swear we were looking at the truth. Most everyone will recognize these filters.


We use cynicism to talk ourselves out of change. We use contempt, a distilled form of cynicism, to kill change on the spot. Aimlessness is the filter of life without a clear sense of mission, vision, and purpose We clock-in and we clock-out. Resignation provides the reasons why we cannot effectively respond to change. Filters require a certain mindlessness to thrive. They thrive in the dark. Point them out, turn on the light, and the trance loses power. But now, modern times have given us a new and particularly difficult filter. It is the one that looks like anything but a trance and yet it is turning into the biggest trance of all.


We call it Frenzy.


I first noticed it while walking through Manhattan with a colleague to give a keynote speech. We were dodging insane foot traffic. Suddenly I stopped and yelled, “What’s wrong with these people, they aren’t looking where they are going, they are barking into the air around them!” I was greeted with, “They talking on their cell phones.” When I finished the presentation, an executive raised his hand and asked, “I love these filters, they all make sense. But, are there any new filters?”


I responded, “Yes. It is called frenzy and the trance appears as a continual shoot-from-the-hip reaction called, ‘I don’t have time.'”


The numbers that represent or influence frenzy speak for themselves.

  • US adults spend 12 hours and 7 minutes a day consuming media.
  • The fastest growing sector of commuting time is now over 90 minutes.
  • The average adult watches Television 35 hours-per-week.
  • The average family communicates 7 minutes per day, 4 of those minutes are spent arguing or “adjusting.”


As Martha Beck has so eloquently pointed out, frenzy is distracting many of us from dealing with the confrontation of so much change that we might, as the late great futurist Alvin Toffler predicted, be in a continual state of Future Shock, a condition from trying to absorb too much change in too short a period of time.


Science has proven that when we eat junk food we need larger quantities of it in order to meet our basic nutrition needs. When we treat our time as junk food, we need more of it to get by. But, it just isn’t there. When one of our client organizations provides our engagement process to a team, everyone is given an opportunity to transform their relationship towards work, to bond with each other in ways that are life-giving and revolutionary. However, these programs often begin with resentful participants. Why? We are pulling them away from their growing mountain of tasks.


Without developing the skills to change we demonize technology. But the advancement of technology is eliminating the very task work that shackled us to boring and monotonous work. In essence, the obsolete task-worker is offered the opportunity to find work that is far more interesting. But, long-term aimless clocking-in and clocking-out are numbing and comforting. We avoid the fear of change by simply responding to the notion with,


“I don’t have the time.”


The trance is making life on the streets of Los Angeles a truly dicey affair. Parents are multi-tasking in their big luxury trucks, yelling at the kids in the back while sending out e-mails and working on their hair. The only way many of us make it to destinations alive is to apply big portions of paranoia as we navigate across town. I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of Los Angeles that overlooks the Pacific. But, we step into an upscale grocery store only to encounter frenzied aggression from all of the people who’ve run out of time.


How do we rise above the overwhelming amount of e-mails, tasks, intrusions and demands, requests, interruptions, and get the best use out of the time we have? Let’s begin with a request:


Give me just 5-minutes of your time.


Select at least 4 of the following questions and answer them before you jump into the river of frenzy. Do this at the beginning of every day and see what happens.

  • What is the single best use of your time today?
  • What do you most want to accomplish and what could be turned over to someone else or delayed?
  • Who most needs my attention today and why?
  • How can you take better care of yourself today?
  • Define 3 ways you can generate more value and fulfillment for either yourself or someone else.
  • What could you be asked to do that would be clearly a waste of time?
  • How can you sell your mission, vision, and purpose today?
  • Who do you most want to help you?
  • Before the day is over, what can you do to take a break from the frenzy?


Create a mini-mission. Recognize that all of us get equal amounts of time – 24 hours. How are you going to use your time? By writing it down, you will implant a simple roadmap that reminds you to stay on purpose.


Consider taking a walk alone or with your kids and leave the devices home. Turn off the TV and invite the dog to come over and shower you with attention. Instead of watching another autopsy drama or negative news on TV, consider going out into the world and doing something for the less fortunate. And remember, when we define and live with a compelling and a meaningful purpose, every moment becomes more valuable.


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


Schedule 15-Minutes to Discuss Your Workplace or Career with David (Here)


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