[Focus Mag] Productive Delay – The Safest Way to Fail
So, I’m sitting on a couch in a coffee shop needing to write about delay. I have been talking to the guy on this couch with me for HOURS and would like to convince myself that that is NOT delay. HA!
This is Serendipity! I am SO enjoying the conversation and time is just slipping by…
Arrrrggh, Welcome to the Training on DELAY!!
Thema Davis, Pepperdine University
Psychology Professor & Minister
Say NO to distraction, so you can say YES to your destiny.
Today’s Topic: Productive Delay
>First a definition of Delay
Delay is anything that blocks, thwarts, diverts or slows your progress on a worthwhile goal. For Alphas, delays are COVERT AFFAIRS you carry on with that other thing while your “real thing” is left on pause.
>How we use Delay – to Avoid what feels hard, unclear or scary
We use delay but still want to stay productive (because we love getting things “done”) while we avoid our true work.
The doing of something other than your highest priority is a DELAY.
I once dated an entrepreneur who NEVER went into his factory. His staff couldn’t even get him on the phone. During a stressful part of our relationship where I foolishly mentioned we should “talk”, he began working 14 hour days, 6 days a week!
He RAN from me into his work. (And yes, his ego would’ve considered THAT the lesser of the two evils!). THAT is Productive Delay.
Here’s what you need to notice, he could defend going to work. Going to work in general is a good thing. Hell, he NEEDED to go into work. But here? He was using work as a Productive Delay. His fear of tackling our “issues” was greater than his fear of the messes his employees were making.
>The Anatomy of a Productive Delay
That brings us to the important components of a Productive Delay:
- Socially desirable/praiseworthy
- Important and
- Logical BUT
- IT DOESN’T FURTHER THE ORIGINAL GOAL
The Productive Delay is seductive. If you mention what you are doing or diverting to do to someone, because it is socially acceptable or desirable, they will SUPPORT you! They will not realize they should tell you to STOP it and go back to your real work.
>Why Delay is So Dangerous for Alphas
We are PRODUCTIVE in our delay and we are champions at rationalizing. Productive delay has us and even worse, those AROUND us, thinking we are really “doing something.”
We are applauded. We are praised. We are thanked. And at night, when you are alone with your conscience and your checking account statement, you feel like a FRAUD because you really AREN’T making progress on your goals.
Here are some examples of Productive Delay I have personally seen:
- Over managing your children
- Volunteer work
- Helping employees/underlings/downlines
- Extra Degrees
- The never ending passion project – book, remodel, wayward niece
Here the very interesting Couch Guy next to me is interjecting that caring for your kids IS important. I agree and point to #2 Important and #1 Socially desirable on my screen.
He then says (not kidding) that you do HAVE to do these things (from the list above) at some point and it’s logical… I then scroll and show him #3 Logical! What awesome confirmation!
Productive Delay gives you the illusion of progress and periodically you get a bill with the truth stamped on it. Your Dreams are OVERDUE.
Yes, you still need to do things like those on the list above. The question is always the motive & timing.
If you are with your kids to avoid work – YOU ARE NOT WITH YOUR KIDS.
If you are at work, feeling guilt about your kids – YOU ARE NOT WORKING.
Productive Delay has us doing other things that are worthwhile on the surface but at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons. Your motive will taint what you are doing. Better for you to tackle head on what is making you avoid your real work.
In case you are wondering, my awesome time with Couch Guy would not be classified a Productive Delay because while my girlfriends might’ve green lit it as socially desirable and I feel a mate possibility is important, even I couldn’t convince myself it was LOGICAL to spend all night in fantastic conversation when I had so much work to do.
Look for your own Productive Delays. What do you use them to avoid doing? And which ones are your “favorites”?
Children are a common one because moms can always say at ANY moment “my child needs me” and NO ONE (ok, no one but me) would DARE question the social desirability of that, the importance of that or the logic of that decision.
Productive Delays work because no one ELSE will question them or view you as procrastinating AND you can pat yourself on the back INSTEAD OF feel cruddy that you aren’t on task. It’s an evil kind of Win/Win.
Awareness & truth are your friends and best weapons against Productive Delays. Use them to look for this insidious blind spot.
Very Important Bonus Lesson That Occurred Next (aka Couch Guy Continued)
Couch Guy was a friendly introvert and Alpha by the way. Hence my ability to have 3.5 hours of lovely, laugh so hard my face hurt conversation with him. Catch? He is also 26 & moving out of the country to begin an MBA in Spain in 6 weeks. Sigh…
Here is the bonus lesson. I did just what I would’ve advised YOU to do – enjoy the moment you have been given! Yes, I will be up way past midnight (it’s 3 am right now) because I choose to enjoy my faux “date” and I’m proud of me for receiving the joy sent my way without conditioning it!
Alphas are controllers. Could you REALLY let yourself enjoy something with no reserve, that feels just like you always wanted but you know you can’t have it?
It requires trust. Trust that yours is still coming.
In my future life with my Alpha Mate, I’d pictured us on a couch, both working on our laptops and he just KNOWS when I’m talking to him vs talking to myself & shouldn’t be answered. He knows what the different noises I make while working mean! Couch guy and I were in a perfect rhythm by closing time.
Leaving (freakin’ place closes at 10!) in the rain, I felt some sadness & longing and I reminded myself that this was the second amazing man I’d met on the SAME couch in 2 weeks. Real Focus: I’m attracting amazing men! (2nd Focus: I love that couch! 3rd Focus: No more sweats to the coffee shop!)
I think of it like a tuning knob. The angel in charge of this is working it out. Twisting the knob a little this way and a little that way. React to your ‘near good’ with – “This is a sign of land, so I’m close!”
The bonus lesson is to focus on your WIN and not your losses.
When you can graciously receive and even more graciously release what is not yours, you demonstrate yourself to be worthy of what IS yours coming to STAY.
I can play when I want because I will NOT avoid my work. Even if it means being up at 3 am before my 9 am tennis lesson…
I promised I was unveiling something good that a handful of
you would really want.
Here it is: Group Coaching for Alpha Women
Lower cost. More time. Reason to delay? None.
Read about it here. It starts soon and it will be a small group, all screened by me (don’t you hate it when there is that ONE annoying person slowing down the whole group? Me too. She is NOT allowed!)
My coaching carries a guarantee. No one else does that.
Best solution to Productive Delay is Prevention. If you let yourself go down one of those rabbit holes, whatever you are now “doing” will suck you in and keep you. It’s like a black hole that is baited with a good deed.
The solution to Productive Delay is to get ruthless about narrowing your focus to what is the one real task you need to do and staying on track for that outcome. Yes, there are times that your work needs to come first and you don’t need to feel guilty about that.
Motives drive your outcomes. The reason and energy behind your actions show up very strongly in your action and it’s result. Your motive is your deep truth for why you are doing something. In Productive Delay you are lying to yourself about your motive and that lie is what sets the dominoes up to fall the wrong way. The Universe, like a good parent, cannot permit you
to receive rewards for lying.
Wow, Did You Hear?
Denmark Coach Sends Gratitude
Hello fun and fierce Tanya,
I love your posts. And YOU also (of course!)
I wanted to write a few words for a short testimonial. The 2 times I spoke with you were super helpful and wanted those out there who don´t know HOW AWESOME YOU ARE what they might be missing.
Tanya is one of those rare women who has the ability to dig deep and truly listen to what is really going on inside you, and tell you it, in a firm but loving way. The awareness I gained about myself and my old patterns of “squirreling” as she calls it, has helped me to step back and allow myself to ask for guidance instead of trying to “fix” everything and everyone around me.
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