Performance, Productivity And The Red Pill Called Purpose

"You take the blue pill -- the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe." Morpheus, The Matrix

So what does the red pill offer? A brutal awakening into reality where you are no longer an automaton, subject to the whims of an alien authority. You are your own person. Your successes, failures, rewards and consequences determine the path your life takes. No, don’t get me wrong, as with the blue pill you’ll still need to have good performance and productivity, but the red pill offers something more - purpose.

The average human being is intellectually equipped with a career oriented life just as easily as he was equipped to deal with being a hunter-gatherer. In fact, the concept of having a “ high level of performance” or “adequate productivity” which has given rise to a multi-million dollar industry of self-help books, apps and hacks to increase your overall efficiency as a worker isn’t brand new - only the resources are.

A quote from Betty Smith’s famous classic novel A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (set during 1943 era) reads, “The girls told her not to break her neck - that it was seasonable work and they'd all be laid off when the fall orders had been made up. The quicker the orders were finished, the sooner they'd be fired.”

It’s an apt description of the realities of productivity, at the layman level or professional level - your productivity can only go so far up as to hurt yourself or your co workers. The Harvard Business Review in an article states, “The productivity revolution is over because there are too few people employed in making and moving things for their productivity to be decisive. All told, they account for no more than one-fifth of the workforce in developed economies.” So what revolution is silently riling up our industries now? A purposeful revolution, I suppose.

You’ll find countless examples since the time early human inhabitants populated the earth where you were assigned a “role” (note, not purpose) and depending on your performance and output, you were sufficiently rewarded.

What could have changed now? Well, the internet and the generations preceding it did. In a life where being connected is important, we are oddly disconnected from each other. Where we can invest in ourselves, we invest in things and our time on the internet. How many hours of the day do we dedicate to focusing and working towards our dream? I don’t have the numbers. But here’s one I do have - we spend more than 50 minutes a day on Facebook.

Here’s where I offer you a choice. The red pill or the blue pill? The former will put you into the hardcore reality of life, where the currency is sweat, blood and success but with an ounce of honesty you will break free from the manufacturing line poping out the one size fits all identity. The latter will lull you back into the production line and you’ll drift safely with the tide controlled by the sea.

The question is, set sail or drift away?

Take a look at how Simon Sinek explains the problem with millennials and how patience and purpose, or the lack thereof, impacts our life. Purpose is intangible. It’s the understanding of self when you know where you want to go in life. As for performance or productivity, once you’ve decided on your journey and set sail, a matter of motivation, focus and a few skills picked up here and there will have any dime a dozen professional become a purposeful and proactive person on par with those who dream big.

Ted Talks has a great playlist of inspiring moments where or how people have discovered purpose. Take a look at it here.

Once you’ve discovered your purpose, you will undeniably discover your inner sanctuary. No matter the chaos and distractions eating away at you, no matter where you work or what state you are in, you know where you need to go by working harder (which in corporate jargon translates to performing better and having higher levels of productivity). Do you see that before all else, you must find your purpose? We unwittingly in the race for glory run fast and far, and get lost somewhere in between, spent and tired, while someone else ran right to the finish line because he had purpose.

The average professional changes his or her job 15 times in their career. An article by The Guardian reported back in 2011 that approximately 3 billion people were employed globally. All these professionals are required to meet a certain level of performance or productivity in their workday. Just like writing a resume, sending an email on time, taking at least 20 calls a day, selling a certain unit of goods etc. Sounds familiar? They are nothing more than habitual tasks, habits and actions that even the most mundane person can achieve given a little bit of zeal, a paycheck and some benefits, of course.

Now take those 3 billion professionals and put them up against a handful of individuals such as Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and even Adolf Hitler, all of whom created a far greater rift in history than all of us put together. We don’t call them workers. We don’t call them professionals. We don’t call them performers nor productive citizens. We call them by their name, in respect or fear, because they had something we didn’t - purpose.

With purpose you have an identity. You have a calling and you have a void to fill in this world. Your purpose will give you direction and allow you to lead people to places they haven’t gone before. If you were feeling sick of life, a red pill was just what the doctor prescribed.

See also: 6 steps to adjusting to working from home.

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