The Quest for Impact, Not Productivity - zen habits zen habits - Deepstash
Being skilled isn‘t enough.

There once was a young man named Brabu, who discovered at a young age he had a superpower: he could make things move just by waving his hands.

Then he grew up, and found that his superpower meant that people expected him to use his powers to move things for a living. So he learned to move rocks from this pile to that, boulders stacked high for days on end, trenches got dug, day after day until he was exhausted. This felt meaningless.



Skills should lead to change.

Brabu looked around at others. A friend of his, Mara, used her similar powers to move a lot of things around, but in the end, the world was the same. No matter how much stuff she moved, not much changed.


Inaction itself is an action.

Another superpower friend, Llewyn, found at an early age that people would judge the stuff you moved —either you did it right, or you did it wrong. Llewyn was so terrified of doing it the wrong way that he agonized for days about every possible choice, and in the end barely ever moved anything, crippled with fear and self-loathing.


If there‘s no purpose, it doesn‘t help anyone.

Another friend named Akongo decided he didn’t want to care about what she moved or how much she moved, and so he just moved whatever he felt like moving, whenever he felt like it. He would sometimes lift a leaf into the air, flick it across a field, and then take a nap. He lived a simple, happy life. But not many people were helped.


Purpose with hatred is worse.

Yet another friend, Nuwa, would constantly be frustrated with his neighbors, who were always doing frustrating things. Nuwa complained a lot, and used his superpowers to hurl sticks and rocks at his neighbors, with great ferocity. The neighbors happened to feel exactly the same ways as Nuwa … toward Nuwa. What a jerk, to be hurling things their way! They hurled things back. Lots of people got hurt.


Self-reflection creates purpose.

So Brabu learned from each of them, and decided he wanted to make an actual difference, help people, make an impact on the world.

Through trial and error, talking to people, and sitting in contemplation … he decided he knew what impact he wanted to make on the world. Move this one particular mountain, to help millions of people who were suffering.



Focus and resilience strenghtens purpose.

Moving the mountain seemed impossible, so he almost just gave up at the beginning. But he decided to completely commit himself to this mission, out of love for those suffering people. He got up every morning, and focused his powers on moving what he could in this mountain.

Day after day, he focused on this impact. Productivity wasn’t the point — he wasn’t just trying to move a lot of rock. The impact was the point — less rock moved, but with purpose and focus.



Leadership with purpose creates an impact.

After a year of making steady progress, Brabu decided he couldn’t do it alone. He enlisted others in his vision: Mara, Llewyn, Akongo, Nuwa. They became lit up by his vision for helping these suffering people, and poured themselves into the work of moving this mountain. Brabu’s job became not moving rocks, but moving people into this vision.

Are you on a productivity quest, or on a quest for impact?



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