The Art of Accomplishment — AoA Series #1

The Art of Accomplishment
The Art of Accomplishment
The Art of Accomplishment — AoA Series #1
/

The premise of The Art of Accomplishment is simple: it is our heart’s capacity that determines our success and happiness in life. Emotional intelligence is the bottleneck to the change we want to see in ourselves and the world. Tapping into our heart’s potential opens up the possibility of fulfilling our greatest ambitions without sacrificing our sense of joy and authenticity.

We are taught early on that if we accomplish enough stuff we will have the life of our dreams, only to find it is a life that fails to make us happy and fulfill our hopes. In this 9-part series, you will discover that how you get things done is what makes your life far more fulfilling.

Not only because you will enjoy the process of an authentic life but because enjoyment and self-awareness are critical tools in making what you accomplish more meaningful and effortless.

The Art of Accomplishment podcast series accompanies the online course led by Joe Hudson. More more info, visit artofaccomplishment.com.

“When you’re self aware, it means there is a full expression of you happening. It’s why with the great artists, you see their full expression. And they can only get to that self expression, they can only get to that level of ease, by having more and more self awareness.”

Brett: A lot of people have a sense that self-development and accomplishment are mutually exclusive, that in order to be maximumly productive it’s necessary to sacrifice parts of who we are, or to back-burner our own personal evolution. We focus on creating systems for setting and achieving goals. We imagine that by doing this, we’ll somehow arrive at our fully developed self without examining where these goals came from in the first place. A question I often hear asked is how will self inquiry help me be productive and lead to more accomplishment?

Joe: It’s an amazing thing about the human brain, that we really like to create false distinctions. It’s something that we do. I think it’s because the brain in general its job is to create distinction, it likes to create false distinction. It’s very much to me like the way it was in the 1970s when you could either be a businessman or you could be an environmentalist but you couldn’t be both, that they were at odds.

Then somewhere in the ’90s, they figured out, “No, you can do both, that’s possible.” It’s the same thing with this. In fact, they really drive each other. The personal development focus, that course if you will, gets tested in business and gets tested in projects, gets tested in getting things done. You get to learn a lot from where that rubber meets the road and vice-versa; that as you learn how to understand yourself better and other people better, which is the whole point of personal development.

Then obviously you get better tools in business and you do better at getting things done. It’s why I always use the phrase, art of accomplishment. It’s speaking about the fact that accomplishing stuff is more about the how, than it is about what you get done. You can accomplish something and your focus could be like, my job is to earn a million dollars but in actuality you’re going to be less likely to earn that million dollars, if you’re not focused on the how you’re going about it.

I’ll give you an example of this. My girlfriend in college, her name was Cate and she was a really good tennis player. With her coach, she would serve and try to hit like a basket, one of those baskets that you pick up the balls with. She was good, so she would hit it two or three out of five times. Then one day the coach took the basket off the ground and put a quarter right in the middle where that basket was sitting and said, “Serve and hit the quarter.”

She didn’t hit the quarter once, but she would have hit the basket every single time if it was still sitting on top of that quarter. It’s the thing that we see in business all the time which is focusing through the goal is one of the ways to make sure you accomplish your goals.

Whether it be being the best company in the world, or whether it means beating the competition, or whether it means trying to change the world for the better through environmental solutions, or whether it means great customer service, whatever it is, having a goal that’s beyond the goal that you have, makes the goal more likely to be gotten. It makes the goal more likely to be gotten.

Brett: Tell me what makes this an art.

Joe: You think about art. Think about it like this, there’s accomplishment and accomplishment basically means that you’ve achieved something successfully. Successful is the first question that you have to ask. What does successfully mean? To me, it means that the task is done holistically. Is it an accomplishment to make $10? If that’s my goal, if I also like sacrificed everything I love for that $10? That doesn’t make any sense at all, that doesn’t feel like accomplishment. It’s a holistic success.

It means that you’re firing on all cylinders, that you’re getting the whole thing done. Think about it like a building. Success isn’t just getting the building erected. It’s a quality building. It’s a beautiful building. It’s a useful building. That’s what makes success. You’re looking for the holistic thing. Then if you’re thinking about it as far as an art form, then you have to move out of the tyranny of a checklist.

Which is like, “I’ve written something down. Now I have to do it, or I’m going to beat myself up because I haven’t done it.” It’s going to move into how you do it. How is it that I’m going about doing it? That’s what makes it an art form. There’s very specific things. If you think about art in general, what art does, the artistry of something, it means that you have more ease in doing it. It’s a path of self-awareness and you recognize that your consciousness is the product. 

Brett: Let’s get into those further. Tell me more about the ease. There’s a lot of things that we want to do that are accomplishments, that just simply are not going to ever be easy, or so we think. 

Joe: Or so we think. There’s a couple of ways that go at the ease part of it. One way to go at the ease part of it is to think about it like there’s an old story about a prince coming to a butcher. He says to the butcher, “How often do you sharpen your knives?” The butcher says, “I never sharpen my knives.” The Prince goes, “That’s impossible. The best butchers in the world have to sharpen their knives at least once a month.” The Butler says, “No, no, my blade finds the space between the meat and the bone.”

It’s basically saying how you get things done is with the minimal amount of friction, that the master of a craft is doing it with the least moves. It’s not about winning or losing anymore. They’re far beyond the winning and losing of something. It’s just, how do I do it with the least amount of effort? What’s amazing in our society is that we think about effectiveness or efficiency in speed, as humans not as cars. Cars, it’s really obvious.

The fastest car doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient car, but we think that if we’ve gotten done something quickly, then we’re very efficient, but efficiency isn’t measured by speed. In the human condition, it’s measured by enjoyment. We are efficient when we are enjoying ourselves. It means the least amount of effort is necessary. The least amount of fuel is necessary to make something happen. If you’re accomplishing something with that kind of ease, when you’re accomplishing something with enjoyment, which is how we measure that ease, then you’re in the artistry of it. That’s what I mean by ease.

Brett: That makes a lot of sense, because the opposite of ease is that you are actually fighting yourself in some way. There’s a part of you that doesn’t want to do the thing, another part of you that does want to do the thing. There’s dissonance there and a loss of efficiency. It’s interesting to think of efficiency as ease or measured by ease.

Joe: Exactly. Which is beautifully put, because what you’re saying there is that the friction is mostly caused by the lack of self-awareness. When you understand what you are, when you are aware of how you work, there’s a lot less friction. That’s why the second part is so important. The artistry brings you closer to yourself.

If you’ve ever met a great artist and there’s a way, at least when they’re working, at the very least when they’re working, you see this self-awareness, this presence that occurs and that’s what it means. That self-awareness, it brings you closer to yourself. It calls you into something deeper. It has to be a full expression of you. It’s self-awareness. When you’re self-aware, it means that there’s a full expression of you happening. It’s with the great artists, you see their full expression. They don’t feel muted or stilted. They can only get to that self-expression, they can only get to that level of ease by having more and more self-awareness and the self-awareness of how they work.

Brett: That sounds similar to what might happen if somebody’s looking at a to-do list of things they want to get done and they think efficiency is efficiently knocking out all the boxes, but what might be actually more efficient is asking themselves why they want to get that list done in the first place. Maybe, if there’s one question they could ask themselves that removes half of that list, that is actually an increase in efficiency.

It sounds like this is the personal version of doing that, like, “Why is it that I want to be getting these things done? Why is it that I want to be successful? What does success actually bring to me?”

Joe: That’s a beautiful point. That’s exactly right. When I look at my list every morning, I always think about what can I do that will make this whole list irrelevant or easier? It’s the same thing with the medalist in life. There’s a beautiful technique that you can use, which is, “Okay, if I get that done, am I happy then?” Then my mind will usually go, “No, I’ll need this,” and say, “Okay, well, if I get that done, will I be happy then?” It can just go on and on.

Brett: It’s like making the one decision that can eliminate 100 other decisions. Finding, perhaps in many of these cases, the one need within us that resolves 100 other secondary needs that we thought we needed to fill.

Joe: That’s exactly it and that’s what self-awareness does just by its nature.

Brett: Great. You mentioned that your consciousness is the product that you’re working on in that case. Let’s dig into that a little bit more.

Joe: That’s the last part of what makes it an art form, is that, if you’re looking at a piece of art, there’s a way in which you can feel like a painting, you can feel how the artist was when they were painting. When the artist acknowledges that, then what the artist can do is really understand that their consciousness is what is being consumed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, or Ford, or Van Gogh, we’re feeling the consciousness of those people who made it.

We’re feeling that experience. If they were anxious and nervous, then we’re perpetuating anxiousness and nervousness. If they were worried about not having enough, they’re going to make sure that we are worried about not having enough, when we use that product or when we consume their consciousness.

[crosstalk]

Brett: That seems even more true these days, as a lot more consumers are thinking about products that they feel much more personally aligned with rather than just, “Oh, look, it’s a jug of milk.” It’s like, “No, because this is a jug of milk that treats cows in the way that is more agreeable to me.” Or, “This is the company that is working on making more fuel-efficient or electric cars and that’s something that really speaks to me.” What you’re saying is that, even a company, even a product, is a piece of art and that the consciousness of its creators should come through in that.

Joe: It does. You just can’t help it. There’s a great quote that my friend Steve used to say to me, he said, “At the peak of a poet’s career, he is a businessman and the peak of a businessman’s career, he is a poet,” or she is a poet or she is a businessman. It is an absolute truth, that how we get something done affects what the end product of our doing is. It’s as simple as if we rush to sweep the porch, or if we enjoy sweeping the porch. We’re going to get two different jobs done and it’s going to look different at the end of it.

Our consciousness affects it and it’s the acknowledgment that that’s the case, that the real gift that we’re giving to the world is in the product, that’s tangible, it’s the product of our consciousness that we’re delivering. Acknowledging that the consciousness is part of the equation of the product, that it is in part the product that we are producing and that other people are consuming, is what makes it an art form, not just a doing.

Brett: I think another great example of that would be in software development. Any software that’s developed by a team that’s frenetically running around trying to finish completing their backlog, product and engineering aren’t communicating with each other very well. That product is going to end up having that consciousness writ large in its implementation in bugs and missed– like features that don’t make sense, et cetera.

Joe: Exactly. That’s right.

Brett: Let’s talk a little bit more about our consciousness as the product of this work. A lot of people would see that as odds with business because the focus is moving away from perhaps the business itself towards yourself. What would you say to them?

Joe: Again, it’s a lot like the ’70s with the environmentalist. You can make money cutting down trees. You can make money planting trees. You can make money making all of your product artistic. You can make money making all of your product as cheap as possible. There’s a thousand ways to make money. Just walk down the street of any city and everything you look at has got 7 or 8 or 10 people making money behind it.

There’s infinite ways of making money. The idea that how we are when we make the money isn’t part of that equation is just silliness. It’s something that happens when people don’t want to feel their whole experience and they make the excuse that, “Oh, it’s just business.” Or they make the excuse that I had to do this because it’s business. The craziest thing is, you look at incredibly successful businessmen who are just merciless in their desire for winning competition or for quality or for customer service. They will  never allow a team to not deliver or allow a team to sacrifice the important things.

Yet, as soon as the idea is like, “Oh, we can all be growing as humans,” or that we can all be having full expression here comes up, they’re like, “No, I can’t do that.” We can out-compete. We can build a billion-dollar company. We can out-compete over-resourced competition, but we can’t also do it in such a way that we really enjoy ourselves. It’s a ridiculous notion and it comes from an inner thought that they have that they can’t be their full selves and be successful. 

That they had to cut off a part of themselves to be successful. That normally just comes from the fact that they had to cut out a part of themselves to make mom and dad happy. That’s where it’s really coming from. It’s just very limited thinking.

Brett: A belief that productivity and achievement requires sacrifice. If you’re feeling sacrificed, that might mean you’re on the right track to achievement.

Joe: Let’s take a look at that one for a second. Who sacrificed more, the men who created Google or the men who created Benelli Tires? Who worked harder? Who put their family at bigger risk? It’s just nonsensical to think who worked harder. It’s nonsensical to think that there is that level of sacrifice needed. There’s people who make millions of dollars without it, millions of dollars with it. It’s what do you enjoy? It’s what do you love?

If you love working 80 hours a week and you love that kind of productivity, don’t tell everybody it’s necessary. Just say it’s what you did and you loved it. I listened to Elon Musk talk about this and he said, you have to work all the time and I thought to myself, “You had to work all the time when you had one company. Now you have three companies or four companies, or five companies and you’re still working all the time, which really means that you only had to work 25% of the time to do the company that you originally did. You didn’t have to work all the time. You’re proving it.”

Brett: That’s a really good point. A lot of people say that they have to get a paycheck and so all this art sounds great, but they’re not in that position or maybe they’re not running their own company. Maybe they’re in some hierarchy in some organization or even if they do have their own company, they’re just, “Well, I have to make money. I have to make money now. I have to make money with this particular runway. I just don’t have time to make this an art.”

Joe: [laughs] I lived in Los Angeles for a while, I live next to this first generation from Central America family, just sweethearts. The son, when he decided it was time to go out to work, he was 18 years old and he worked at a subway. When he was working at the subway, he just did it with pizzazz. He did it with friendliness, he did it with joy. He did it with a bit of like a singing– he was just one of those characters.

You’ve had the experience, you’ve gone into someplace and there’s somebody on the other side of the counter who’s enjoying themselves and they’re maybe singing or they got a little pizzazz, he was one of those people. He worked there I think for three weeks until somebody walked in and was like, “Hey, I have a restaurant and I need someone.” Then within another six months, he was the Sous chef. Then he just kept on going.

I don’t know where he is now but that was the example to me, that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you do it with artistry, you’re creating the world that you want. The idea that you can’t do that in any situation– I mean, Mandela did it in a prison. How he wanted to be. The artistry that he was delivering to humanity was there when he was in a prison. To think that you can’t do it because you’re in a bureaucracy, it’s just as limited of the thinking as a businessman saying, “We can’t be whole humans and do business.”

The crazy thing about that that I think people don’t recognize is if you think you can’t do it because of your situation, then you’re owning the position of a victim. It’s like somebody whose life is oppressing them. If you have that position, there’s only two people who really want to spend time with you, other victims and people who abuse you, because that’s the only people who you have that value for.

Other victims will be like, “Great, yes, we’re oppressed. Let’s all talk about how oppressed we are.” The abusers are like, “Cool, you feel like you’re oppressed? Great, I will oppress you. That’s exactly what I need to get my world cranking.” The mentality of that invites it, just like all of our mentalities invite the world that we see, to become real.

Brett: Right. That could be an entire episode of its own and I’m sure it will be. How does a person get to this place then?

Joe: There’s three bits on how a person gets to seeing all of their accomplishment as art, to seeing that there’s an art of accomplishment. The first is an intention. I don’t call it a goal. I don’t call it a mandate. It’s just holding it in your consciousness that this is where I want to be. It’s like looking at a map and saying Los Angeles is where I want to be, or San Francisco is where I want to be. It doesn’t require any more weight than that.

Brett: It’s like an implementation agnostic goal.

Joe: Yes, exactly. That’s right. If you dig into that a little bit– there’s this story about an admiral. I can’t remember his name, who it was, taken in the POW camps in Vietnam and he was asked, “Who got out of the camps?” He said, “That’s easy. It was the people who knew they would get out.” The interviewer asked then, “Who didn’t get out of the camps?” He answered, “That’s easy. It’s the optimists.”

The interviewer was confused and said, “Optimist? What do you mean? How is that different than your first answer?” He said, “The optimists were the ones who thought they’d get out by Christmas, or by Easter, or by the rainy season. They were the ones that didn’t make it.” The intention is just holding that intention out there, knowing that you’re going to arrive there. That’s the first bit. The second bit is take it all as an iteration. There’s no failure. There’s no success.

There’s just I am learning by iterating and experimenting, iterating and experimenting, iterating and experimenting. I don’t have to be hard on myself to learn lessons. I don’t have to be hard on myself, because I had a certain timeframe. It’s just a very gentle iteration, iteration, iteration, just the way you would think an artist would do after a 20-year career. They kept on playing, kept on trying and new and crazier things came out. Then the last part is to know that it’s not really a doing.

You asked, how does a person get there? It’s not a doing, it’s an undoing. We’re just basically learning to undo a whole bunch of training and be in a natural state. I’ll give you a great example of it. If you put your two hands together and put it like, let’s say that the palms of your hands in front of your face and try as hard as you can to pull your hands apart.

If your hands are apart right now, you’re not trying, you’re doing, so forget the doing and just go to the trying and try as hard as you can to pull your hands apart. Now without thinking about it, feel the exact opposite thing that you feel when you’re trying. That’s what it means to undo, you’re undoing. That’s what you do. To make all of your accomplishment artistry, to make life the art of accomplishment, then you’re undoing.

Brett: It’s interesting. As I did that, during the trying, there’s like a sense of planning going on throughout my entire system. Imagining which muscles I would move and how to move my hands apart. I can do all of that without actually moving at all. It feels like a good metaphor for beating myself up over a to-do list.

Joe: Exactly. That’s exactly it. Awesome. That’s great.

Brett: Then what are we undoing exactly and what does that help us accomplish, or how does that help us to accomplish things?

Joe: The main thing that you’re undoing is this misconception that you aren’t inherently good. Basically, what we’re undoing is a whole bunch of limiting beliefs. There’s probably about seven main limiting beliefs, but they’re all resting on one limiting belief. The one limiting belief is that you’re not inherently good, that you have to put effort to make yourself good enough, of value, better, that it’s not your natural place, that you’re not there yet.

If you think about an oak tree, when is an oak tree good enough? Is the oak tree good enough when it’s an acorn or when it’s 2 years old or when it’s 150 years old or when it’s collapsing, when it’s becoming dirt, when is it good enough? When is it not inherently good? That’s the thing that we think about ourselves is that we have someplace to be to get inherently good and or some way of being and what’s actually preventing us from acting in an inherently good way is only the idea that we’re not, it’s only the idea that we’ve done something wrong–

Brett: Right. I think that’s a really good point, because there’s a really big pitfall that I’ve experienced in personal development or trying to become more productive or work on my systems of accomplishment, where we start to see how everybody else is doing things and we’re like, “Oh man. I need to get from where I am to where they are by somehow making myself better, because I’m not good enough. If only I had this person’s system or that person’s motivation and drive or that person’s clarity. If I could get there, then I would be able to get things done,” which just really does reinforce that, “Oh, I’m just not there yet. I just don’t have it in me.” Silently.

Joe: Exactly, which just slows down the whole system. A baby doesn’t think that they’re bad, because they’re crawling, they’re going to walk. They don’t need to think that they’re bad, because they’re crawling. It’s just a natural part of the developmental cycle and there’s that form of goodness and there’s also the other form of goodness, which is every time you defend something in yourself, there’s some way that you’re believing that you’re not inherently good, that you have to defend something about yourself.

I don’t mean defense like someone tries to throw a punch, you block it. I mean defense like someone accuses you of being bad and you think you have to justify something. What would make you need to justify something? If somebody came to you and said the sky is purple at noon, the sky is purple, would you really need to defend the fact that the sky was blue? There’s some inherent belief system that there’s something, that there’s a shame, that there’s something wrong with us and that’s part of the inherent goodness that once you understand that that is your natural state, there’s so much less to be doing, so much less.

I’ll give you an example for a second about how it works. Let’s say one of the limiting beliefs that I see people do all the time is that perfection is more important than connection. They think that they need to be perfect because they think that they’re not good enough or their thing needs to be perfect or their presentation needs to be perfect or their product needs to be perfect or the date needs to go perfect or whatever it is.

They focus on that trying to make it perfect instead of how do I connect. They choose perfection over connection. If they choose connection, they’re far more successful and they will choose it naturally if they don’t think that they have to be perfect to be good enough or to be good. Specifically, how this works is, you can try to create the perfect product or you can try to create a product that’s in connection with your customer and to stay in connection with your customer. The second is going to do much better than the perfect product. If you have a first date and you’re trying to be perfect, that’s not going to go so well.

Even if they happen to have a second date for you, you’ve been trying to be perfect so they’re not dating you, they’re dating some idealized version of yourself and eventually that shit’s going to go sideways. Whereas, if you just go for the connection, if you say, “Oh, how do I connect with this person? Let’s see if it’s a match.” Then it’s a far more productive stance. The place where it’s most articulated is in meditation where people try to have the perfect experience of meditating instead of being in connection with themselves. It’s the difference between torture and meditation. Meditation is connection. Managing yourself is torture.

Brett: I spent a long time in meditation doing maybe an hour practice every day just because I was really stressed out about work and beating myself up over to-do list, the usual. I would meditate more and more and find that it would call my mind, but my goal in meditation was to call my mind not to feel what I needed to feel. That really just pulled me away from the emotions that were trying to help me update to my situation.

Joe: I find that if you’re trying to manage your experience, it’s pulling you away from yourself instead of being with what you are and enjoying it.

Brett: Tell me some more of those limiting beliefs.

Joe: There’s a couple others that I can think about. There is improvement instead of being authentic. That’s the one that you mentioned earlier in the podcast, where you were talking about wanting to be better at this or better than that, instead of wanting to know what you actually are. I want to be enlightened instead of wanting to know what I am. Wanting to be enlightened path is a far slower path than wanting to know what I am.

I want to work successfully 60 hours a week is far less effective than understanding what your natural rhythm is and what your natural way of being most productive is. It’s that constant question of like trying to improve yourself instead of find out what your authenticity is.

Brett: Or I want a hundred million users versus I want this to improve people’s lives.

Joe: Right. If it’s authentic that you want a hundred million users, if that’s really the thing that’s going to charge you, then that might be your authenticity, but then the question is, what do you have to do that is authentic to you to get them, instead of how do I make my podcasts so great that they get them, that I get the users?

Brett: What are some others?

Joe: Other ones is shoulds before wants. I find people always are trying to motivate themselves with their shoulds instead of with their wants and wants are far more motivating and far more effective at getting us places. If you think about the first seven years of your life, you couldn’t even have shoulds and then all of a sudden, shoulds show up and all your development slows down. You get more development in the first seven years of your life than you do pretty much at any other time of your life.

It’s when you stop following your wants and you start following your shoulds that everything gets slowed down. Again, like with both of these, the only way you would think, oh, I need to improve, instead of, I need to be authentic, is if you think that you’re not inherently good. The only way you would think I should do that, instead of, I want to do that is because you think that you aren’t inherently good.

There’s seven of them but the other one that’s just coming to mind right now is the one we spoke about, defense versus love. That most of us immediately move to defend ourselves rather than love the person. The quintessential example of this is the boss tells you what you need to do to improve and most people get defensive, instead of saying to themselves, “Oh my goodness, my boss just took a social risk on me. Potentially risked our relationship, because he cared or she cared enough to help me be successful.” We don’t think, “Oh well, thanks. Thanks for taking the risk of telling me that.”

Brett: That’s quite a flip on the usual script.

Joe: Right, because we move from defense instead of love. These are all the ways and we only have to do that if we think we’re not inherently good. That’s what they are.

Brett: How does seeing your inherent goodness tie into the art part of this art of accomplishment?

Joe: If you see that you’re inherently good, then obviously things become more enjoyable and more easy because there’s less fight that you have with yourself. That’s just simple. The more that you focus on your enjoyment, the more you stop having to fight with yourself. There is this quote that, “In a war with yourself, you’re always going to lose.” That enjoyment comes to a large degree because you’re fighting with yourself has ceased or has slowed down. That happens when you see your inherent goodness. That’s part of how that works.

Then when you fully realize, that your consciousness is what is coming through whatever product you’re creating, then the question is what’s the consciousness that you want to give to other folks. If you’re coming from a place of understanding your inherent goodness, then that’s the product that you’re going to be creating. It’s one that ties people into their inherent goodness. It’s not so limiting as one might think. Meaning, take a look at some of the great artists of our day. I’ll use a comedian because it’s the–

Brett: For example?

Joe: I’ll give us an example because some people might not call him an artist but Jim Carrey. If you listen to his story and this is so much the case, it’s like they were going about their career. It wasn’t going so well. Then all of a sudden they just were like, “I am going all the way. I am not going to hold back. I am going to take the big risk of my full expression. I’m going to basically trust that if I just go all the way with myself, things are going to work out. I’m going to trust that goodness.” All of a sudden, bolder and bolder things come out of the artist. Jim Carrey is an example of this.

When we watch it, we think it’s confidence. We’re like, “Oh my God, that guy could do all that crazy stuff. How confident must he be?” It’s really a confidence in something that’s beyond them. It’s a confidence in their inherent goodness. When you see that in people, we just naturally want to follow it. We just naturally want to be a part of that. It’s why we see so much of that in some of the greatest movers and shakers of our time. People who’ve accomplished just amazing things in their lives is that full trust. I guess one of the ways to look at it, is to see it as it’s like channeling. You can only channel if you trust what’s coming through you.

That channeling is what it starts to feel like when you’re deeply in the art of accomplishment. A way to look at the art of accomplishment is like in some traditions they would call it channeling. They would call it cleaning out your tube so that you could have greater access to the thing that’s moving through all of us. The animator of all life. Neurology would call it alpha waves but it’s not flow state. Being in that flow state can only come when you can rely on your inherent goodness. If you’re judging yourself, you’re questioning yourself and you’re in a fight with yourself, you can’t be an alpha. You can’t be in flow state.

Brett: Another good way to describe that I think is just something, this idea of channeling is acting from something that’s coming from outside of your identity of yourself. A lot of artists– we were talking about artistry here. A lot of musicians have talked about how when they were in the flow and they were writing some of their biggest hits, they felt like it wasn’t them doing the writing. It was just the words were coming through them. 

Joe: We’ve all had this experience. We’ve all had the experience of playing music without having to think about it or just channeling the emails and just knowing exactly what to write. We’ve all had the experience of being in that flow state and that only comes when we can trust our inherent goodness.

Brett: I think that’s the feeling people are trying to get at, when they’re knocking out a to-do list, finding themselves in that flow. I think a lot of this is just it’s not about the to-do list, it’s about what it is that you actually want to be doing.

Joe: It’s about allowing the lack of fight to be in your system. Our system by nature doesn’t want to fight with itself. To allow that to happen really allows the flow state to occur. The final bit is as I think you already mentioned it, it’s the self-awareness, which is the only way that we’re ever going to see that we’re inherently good is for us to see what we inherently are. It requires us to drop the stories of ourselves and the ideas of ourselves and it requires us to love the ego right into oblivion.

That self-awareness is what allows us to see that we’re not just channeling it, we are it. That we thought we were small, but what we really are is part of everything. When we see ourselves as everything, when our identity switches from the little me to the whole, then the inherent goodness is all. Everything is in that inherent goodness. There’s just a piece that comes with it. That’s why, when you see those artists who have 50 years at the carving table and you see just this piece in them, the piece of artistry, of a deep artistry, that’s where it comes from.

Brett: As we start to view accomplishment more as an art, what is going to change about the way that we do things and how do we address that fear that might exist, that getting into this personal development stuff is going to make us even for a period of time, less productive? If we have a 18-hour Workday right now and that’s the thing that we’re doing and it just feels like the whole house of cards is going to collapse if we just take one day off from that, what’s the step forward?

Joe: That’s a great question. They did this great study in the US Army. The study was that they took two tests that were the same test, but different reliable and whatnot. They took a group of soldiers in boot camp and they just worked them to death and had them sleep-deprived. Then they put them in front of the test and they did the test and then they let them rest for a couple of days, RNR and then they came back. They weren’t sleep-deprived and they did the test.

They asked the soldiers of these two tests, which one did you think you scored better at and which one do you think you did quicker? 80% of the people thought that they had done quicker work and more accurate work on the first test when they were sleep-deprived. In actuality, 100% of them did better when they had rest and they were not being rushed through the whole situation. It tells us that we have a mental illusion that happens, like an optical illusion. We think that when we’re busy and we were sleep-deprived and we’re running around checking off boxes, we think we’re more efficient when in actuality we’re not. 

Brett: The multitasking studies as well, where they proved that people really do not multitask. They just think they multitask, but their performance actually degrades.

Joe: Exactly. It’s exactly the same principle. The first thing is to acknowledge that situation. Then to start to disassociate the idea of ease with productivity. Some people, because they’re only productive when they’re in friction, they think that productivity is friction. To see, to really find real ways of measuring, “Are you getting the stuff done and not working as hard or enjoying yourself more?” They really find that out.

It’s interesting. This culture, it’s, “You didn’t work 60 hours, why are you lazy?” In other cultures that have been doing particularly Southern Europe, they’re like, “You had to work 60 hours to get your job done? Why are you so incompetent?” It’s just a completely different way to take a look at it. That’s the first thing to know. The second part of your question is how do things change? Well, you get bigger things done. You get things that are more aligned in your system done. You don’t sacrifice your well-being from the accomplishment of your career or your money but you don’t sacrifice your career and your money, so that you can have better well-being.

The dichotomy starts to go away and you see that your work is a means to an end of your well-being. That the well-being is a means and an end to your work. That they become the same thing. They stop becoming separate in your system. The nervous system starts to relax. You start doing things like, “Oh, I can move this lever here and I just have to wait for a couple of months and everything will fall into place.” Or, “I could put two weeks in and I will have it done in one month instead of two.”

You start to see these little leverage points. You start to see the world more as a system. The way the artist talk about it is– like carving artists, they’ll talk about, that they see the work in the wood, before they even get started. It’s not about, “I have an idea of what I want it to look like and I’m going to carve it into the wood.” It’s like the wood is telling me what it wants to be carved into. What it wants to be made into.

That’s the experience of life in general. Is that you’re following. The Daoists talk about it as the way of water. Water doesn’t require any effort to get to the ocean. It just follows. It just goes to the lowest point. It is effortless in its way. It is more powerful than any sword. Try to fight water with a sword and you’ll know. That’s the way that it starts to feel. That life starts to feel.

Brett: So, what you were saying earlier, is that a lot of this work is actually an undoing. An undoing of the limiting misconceptions of self?

Joe: If you look at the martial arts, they really subscribe a lot of the same theory to what I’m talking about. One of the ways is that your whole body is relaxed until the moment of impact. If I was going to tense the whole time and hit you, my punch is a lot less powerful than if I’m relaxed the whole time and then tense right before I hit you. It’s conserving your energy and making you stronger at the same time. Making your movement have more impact. We somehow think walking around tense all the time is going to make us more effective. It’s just ridiculous.

Brett: Right. Also keep us narrowed and focused too. If we’re walking around tense about all the things that we’re thinking about getting done, we’re not asking the bigger questions, that really help us find that one decision that can eliminate a hundred decisions. A lot of what you’re talking about, this idea of breaking down these misconceptions of the self and trusting and leaning back into our inherent goodness. Letting go of the trying and just being in the doing.

A lot of that allows us, our entire nervous system and our minds to relax and see outside of the boxes of any of the shorter-term tasks of thinking that we’re doing which, really helps us to really guide our lives out of grander scale and then drive our businesses. Kids spend several months working on go, go, go. Getting one particular project done. Pushing one feature, that part way through the process we could have easily, if we had a big enough view, determined the landscape had changed and that this is becoming a waste of effort.

Joe: It happens on fractal levels. It happens on, “Wow, I’ve just spent 20 years creating a life that I don’t want.” It happens on, “I just spent two months doing a project, that my boss really didn’t give a shit if I did and I just spent the last two minutes worrying about something that I could have spent creating something.”

Brett: I think that’s one of the things that makes this so counterintuitive is that often it’s just much easier to think, “Oh, I’m almost there. I just need to do this, that and the other things, that are in line with my past 20 years of plan and that would get me there,” which is a much easier thing to experience for many, than the recognition that maybe 20 years of my life has been spent further and further away from my authenticity.

Joe: Right and getting me there is the crux. That’s the bit, the idea that where you are right now isn’t good enough. You see this all the time in business where you see somebody who’s been successful talking to somebody who’s trying to be successful. The person who’s trying to be successful is like, “Well, you’re able to be so confident, so being able to say yes or no to things, so nonchalant about opportunities, because you already have success.” There’s some truth to that. There’s no doubt about it, but what I’ve seen is that the people who hold that position, invite the success, more than they get it.

What I notice in my business is that the more that I became picky, the more that I decided it just wasn’t worth it if I didn’t do the thing that I wanted to do. I started rejecting clients, or I started rejecting investments, or I started rejecting really good deals, then all of a sudden, more and more good deals, more and more good clients started showing up. That comes when you aren’t in that place of fear that you need to prove something. To be good enough, to be loved, it comes when you can trust your inherent goodness.

Brett: I think that speaks a lot to this reciprocal nature of accomplishment versus personal development, where it seems that, many of us think that accomplishment is going to give us the confidence and so if we just go for accomplishment first, then we’ll have the confidence. What you’re saying is that we can build the confidence. We can build not just a false sense of confidence, but if we are confident in who we actually are, then that will lead to the accomplishment, which then can feedback– because there is a little bit of feedback loop.

Like you said, once you’ve been successful doing something, it definitely helps you feel that way. We can actually work on that personal side directly and everything else is downstream of there.

Joe: I wouldn’t even call it confidence. It’s like the closest word that our society knows to put on it, because confidence feels like– at least the way it’s interpreted is “I’m good enough or da, da, da.” It’s not really I’m good enough. It’s just, I know what I am. I just know what I am. I know what I like. I know what I want and I am committed to being a full expression of that.

That’s the key thing and that knowing who you are and really finding out, that’s what the real cool part about the whole journey is, right? Because to do that, you have to see that you’re inherently good. Then to do that, you have to see what you inherently are and then that requires us to drop these stories and our ideas of ourselves and it requires us to just allow the ego to be loved into oblivion. 

Brett: That transforms us into an artist.

Joe: Yes and the artist transforms us into that. To see ourselves as everything, allows us to have that energy when we move in the world instead of to see ourselves as this limited thing.

Brett: Great. Well, thanks again for your time.

Joe: Thank you. A pleasure.

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment podcast.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach us, join our newsletter, learn more about VIEW, or to take a course, visit: artofaccomplishment.com