“What is productivity? When you hear the stats on NPR, ‘U.S. productivity down .06%,’ what does that even mean? How exactly does one measure productivity to the hundredth of a percentile? Is the boss standing behind you with a stopwatch? ‘ WTF, Fran? Can’t you hit the start button sooner? You could have had the fax number ready, you could have skipped the cover page, you could have put the coffee down for three seconds. There’s a 4-year-old kid in China who wants your job and is willing to work for a twelfth of what you make.’”  ~ Alicia Dattner

When we were at IOY/OBX last fall, Christine Wiggin’s sister, Carol, described herself as someone who “got sh*t done.” Knowing what I know about Christine, I looked at them both, smiling in admiration at their shared family trait.

I also reflected on how I can get so caught up in a task that I don’t take the time to connect with my family, my friends, or my community. I might be being productive, getting sh*t done, but am I being effective? Am I being loving? Charitable? Am I taking the time for what matters most? How might I find a better balance between productivity and meaning? And can I love myself when I fall short?

A heroic example of someone who got sh*t done without losing meaning is Nicholas Winton. I had never heard of him until I read Corey Hassman’s Valentine to him in her blog last month. Corey explained that Winton was a London stockbroker who, in 1938, had organized and personally funded eight passenger trains to carry about 1000 Jewish children out of Czechoslovakia and into foster homes in the UK. Seven of the trains carrying 669 children made it. The eighth was caught by the Nazis, and the 250 children in the train are thought to have been killed in concentration camps. Winton never spoke of his deeds and his wife only learned about them 50 years later after discovering dusty records with names, ages and transport details in their attic. Her husband wanted her to throw them away, but instead she contacted the BBC. Please take 1-½ minutes to watch this video which aired after she found the papers in 1988. I promise it’s worth your time.

What’s driving much of your productivity? Does it provide meaning to you and others in your life? Can you look at it more closely this month as you strive for balance?

Susan JohnsonComment