Enjoy over Manage — AoA Series #4

The Art of Accomplishment
The Art of Accomplishment
Enjoy over Manage — AoA Series #4
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The problem with getting good at managing your life is that you end up with a life that has to be managed. What would happen if you found out that focusing on enjoying your life could make you more productive and happier than managing your life? We know most of the greats enjoyed what they did. What if enjoyment is an essential part of what makes us great?

“Imagine that you are on a boat and you are going down a river. Management is when you are fighting against the river, but when you are in that effortless flow of the river, there’s an enjoyment to it. What you have to do is,  you have to be listening to that river deeply. You have to be listening to that impulse.”

We’re told all of our lives that if we want results, we have to manage ourselves and the world around us in order to get what we want. What if that isn’t true? What if intention and determination are critical, but managing life gets in the way? What if the way to get the life we want is to focus on enjoying our life, not only by doing what we enjoy, but also by learning to enjoy whatever is happening? This is what Joe and I will be getting into today.

Brett: Joe, what makes this an important topic for you?

Joe: There’s a personal story behind it. When I was really young in my career, I did international stock lending for a while. I was still sorting through so much of my personal issues at the time. I decided in my head what I really wanted was to have a creative career. That was something that I decided, which was far out there that I had to attain, instead of realizing that it was really available, if I had the right perspective. 

I quit this great job as far as money goes and as far as career path goes. I went for seven years trying to have a creative career. There was this place where I had basically reached it. I was working on this TV show and I had written something. I was being brought in to train, to direct the show. I did this two-week stint on the show and I realized it was the same thing that international stock lending was, meaning that everything that I had run away from in international stock lending, I was running to in this creative career. 

One person had all the power. Everybody was working long, hard hours. They were unhappy. I remember the actor of the TV show saying to me, “Every time I come into work, it’s like having a piece of my soul ripped out.” Everybody wanted to be doing something else and not the thing that they were doing. They had some dream of the next level of their career. Most people weren’t leaving because of the money. 

I said, wow, that’s exactly the thing I was running away from and running to. I had spent all these years of my life trying to manage this outcome. I had finally achieved it, but I didn’t have any idea that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted. At that moment, the revelation came on me and I said, “Wow, you know what I’m going to do instead, what I’m going to do is I’m just going to say yes to whatever shows up. If I enjoy it, I’ll keep on saying yes. If I don’t enjoy it, I’ll say no.”

Then all of a sudden, there was more and more stuff to say yes to and so I got to keep on picking the things that were more enjoyable. As that happened, everything took off; my money, my happiness, my career, everything in ways that I couldn’t even have expected. It was like I had surrendered and I allowed that surrender into my own enjoyment to lead my life. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by a life that I enjoyed.

I neither enjoyed stock lending, nor did I enjoy trying to become an artist nor did I enjoy being the artist, but I ended up enjoying my life, not by managing it, but by focusing on the enjoyment. That’s why it’s important to me. I think why it’s important to talk about in general is, because it’s the biggest misconception that a lot of people have is they think that if they’re going to manage their life, they’re going to end up with a life that makes them happy. In actuality, if you learn to manage your life, you end up with a life that you need to manage and that is not happiness.

Brett: What does it mean to manage your life in the way that you’re describing?

Joe: One way to think about it is, intellectually, you’re trying to assure an outcome. When I was directing films, one of the things that I really realized in that process was that, if I had a very specific outcome in mind of how the actors were going to do their thing, it was horrible. The result was horrible. Everything was horrible. The process was horrible. If instead, I gave the actor’s direction and then I just waited until it felt right and I just allowed that impulse to carry us and go, “That’s it. That’s going to work,” without the idea specifically of how it was going to be, the results were far better.

That’s one way to think about the difference between management and non-management is that you’re not holding really specific future outcomes. You’re holding the intention of the scene is going to be great and it’s going to be emotional. You’re holding the intention. The actors are holding the intention of whatever it is for them, getting the person to say they love them and getting out of the room, whatever their intentions are. Everybody’s holding their intentions, but the outcome is something that you are recognizing when it’s right. It’s not something that you’re being specific and controlling about.

There’s this implicit feeling of trying that happens when you are doing management and trying is very different than doing. Doing is just the action. It’s like in mental waves, you think about doing as alpha. There’s this flow state that happens and it’s just everything’s happening and there’s not a lot of tension in it. Managing life is when you feel like you have to bring tension into the process to get it your way.

Another great example of this, I think, that’s really palpable is I see this with clients all the time is they’re thinking about a big conversation they have to have. Maybe it’s with their husband, maybe it’s with their boss, maybe it’s with a good friend. They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to say it in such a way that they’re going to get the outcome that they want, instead of thinking about, what’s the authentic way for them to say, what’s their deepest truth that they’re trying to share and let the chips fall where they may. If they’re in the first, then they’re in management and if they’re in the second, then they are not in management.

Brett: I think that film example is actually a great one, because in filmmaking, in production, you often have an art department that’s trying to make exactly the igloo that’s in the treatment for the director, when maybe they could make any number of igloos that fit the theme and that would work great in the scene. Many other parts of the scene are likely to drift through the course of production from the treatment. There are ways to flow with that and there are ways to try to manage every single detail, which you just ended up having the entire crew fighting reality for a while.

Joe: It’s something that I’ve realized. When I’m running businesses and I want something a specific way where it’s creative or someone’s doing something creative, like copy editing or some visual aspect or building slides, I’ve realized that if I just give them three adjectives, just I want it to be reliable, grounded and empowering, then the results are far better than if I start thinking I know how to design something. I’m like, well, it should be a little more blue and turn this a little bit this way. That broad stroke thing. 

We know that people in general, in the management of people, respond a lot better and are a lot more motivated, if they feel like they have autonomy. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want direction. It means they don’t want management in the way that I’m talking about management.

Brett: Right. I see that a lot in design as well. Micromanagement of design is a great way to get terrible work from a good artist.

Joe: Exactly. That’s everything. There’s a way of looking at every person’s role as an artistry. You’re going to get bad work out of everybody’s artistry in that. The other way to look at it is to imagine that you’re on a boat and you are going down a river. Management is when you’re fighting against the river. When you are in the flow of the river, even if your paddle’s in the water every once in a while and you’re doing that stuff, but when you’re in that effortless flow of the river, there’s an enjoyment to it and there’s a non-management. When you’re fighting against the river, then you’re in the management.

For that to happen, you have to not be managing a river, which obviously never really works. What you have to do is, you have to be listening to that river deeply. You have to be listening to that impulse. When people are in management mode, they usually are not listening to their internal impulse, or the impulse of the people around them.

Brett: It sounds like a distinction to be made here is, management is to try to fight reality to conform to your results and enjoyment in this concept is more combining your intention with the randomness of reality and seeing what happens.

Joe: Yes, that’s right. I work with a lot of executives and this is one of the hardest things for the executives to really catch on to because they have all made a living in being able to have this determination and drive to get the results. Many of them have used management to get there. That determination and drive, that utter unacceptance of a result that’s different than the one that you want, is really critical, but you need to be very general about the result that you want. It can be general like I want a company that’s super successful. I want a product that sells better than all the competition. That’s great.

When you start managing that process and want it to be this specific way. You want it to have this kind of sales technique. You want to have, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, then that’s when it goes south. You have to keep all that determination. You have to keep all that fortitude. You have to keep all that utter unacceptance of a reality that you don’t envision and there is also reading the river and letting the river flow and paying attention to that river and following it to get there.

Brett: A lot of this seems to happen by buying in the moment like, “Oh, no, this has to happen because if this doesn’t happen this particular way, then the entire plan is ruined.” Without this 30,000-foot view that we’re discussing right now, how would you know in the moment, if you are managing rather than following your intention? What are some ways to mindfully recognize this in the process?

Joe: One of the things that I see managers do, since we’re on management, specifically, one of the things that I see managers do is they don’t ask this question. They don’t say, “What speaks against that?” Let’s say I come into a room and I say I want to sell in question-based selling and then we’re talking to the sales team. I’m like, “Let’s do question-based selling.” I might try to convince everybody and push everybody into it, motivate everybody and give a good speech. Everybody’s like, “Yes, let’s do question-based selling.”

What is usually far more effective and that tells you that you’re not in the management of that experience is to say, “Let me give a good case for question-based selling. Here it is. Now, tell me what speaks against it?” People will tell you, “Here are the things that we don’t think will work about it.” That tells you the things that you have to address. Then you address them and then you’re in the flow of the situation. Then you’re like, “Okay.” Most likely, you’re going to get a much better solution because the things that they want you to address are important to address. 

If you can’t address them, then you don’t have real buy-in. Without real buy-in, they’re not going to do as good of work. Without real buy-in, it probably means that there’s a better solution out there. That’s one of the ways to know is, if you’re trying to push people into a result instead of being eager to find out what speaks against it. When you’re listening to what speaks against it, your results are going to be far better. That’s one way to know it.

Brett: There’s a delicious irony there, the idea of trying to sell a sales team on a sales process about question-based selling without asking any questions.

Joe: I hadn’t thought of that in my example. Yes, exactly. That would be incredibly ironic. Yes, exactly. It’s why question-based selling works is, because you’re not managing the customer. You’re actually empathizing with, following the customer. You’re following the river instead of trying to manage the river. That’s one way to know it.

Other ways are, when you’re more listening to the outcome than you are to the impulse. Right now if you listen for the impulse, as to what to say next, that’s a very particular somatic experience. You can still have determination in this experience. You can still be feeling like, “Oh, we’re going to get to a resolution and I can be listening,” and waiting for the impulse to speak. That’s all a very possible situation. But when I want your next sentence to be something or I want my sentence to do something to you, to get to a particular place, then I’m in management.

Brett: That adds another filter in the process of what you’re going to say when you have to think about how you think it’s going to be received.

Joe: Exactly.

Brett: Which then builds in all of your projections into the conversation.

Joe: Yes, totally. It also builds a tremendous amount of inefficiency. When you’re managing stuff, what you are always doing is not looking at the root cause. As an example, which is a more enjoyable car to own? Is it an MG or is it a Lexus? Most people who don’t like fixing cars would say a Lexus is a far more enjoyable car to own than an MG, because you know with an MG, every 500 miles, you have the thing up on blocks and you have to do something.

When you are in management, you’re just constantly trying to figure out how to fix the MG with the least amount of money and as quickly as possible. When you’re in enjoyment, you’re looking at the core issue. If you are looking at the core issue, everything becomes far more efficient. You’re not trying to patch the boat as it’s sinking. Instead, you’re thinking, “What’s the right boat to build?”

Brett: Getting out of context to the bigger question.

Joe: Exactly.

Brett: We have learned to manage things for a reason, many would propose. Don’t you have to manage some level of things for anything to get done? If so, where is that line?

Joe: It’s not where you think it is, that’s for sure. What I mean to say is, if you ask the people at Hyatt, “Hey, man, do you have to manage your properties?” They’d say, absolutely. If you ask the people at Airbnb, “Do you have to manage your properties?” They’d say no. If you ask SK Telecom and all those telecom companies that tried apps before Apple, “Did you have to manage your apps, the building of the apps?” They’d say, “Yes, absolutely. We need to manage it,” but Apple said, “No, we don’t. As long as they hit a minimum requirement, they can be on the App Store.” If you think about all your great employees, how much management do they actually require? It’s the people that you’re managing that are not usually your great employees.

Brett: Maybe because you’re managing them so hard.

Joe: Indeed. Do you have to manage and what’s the boundary? The answer is that the better your system is in place, the better you have the mechanism working, the less management is necessary. Every place that you are managing is basically a way to look at an inefficiency that you have. If you build a really good machine, say like an iPhone, you don’t have to manage the iPhone. You and I have never said the word, “Well, I really had to manage my iPhone yesterday.” It’s because it works.

Brett: We might have to manage our iPhone use and that arises from inefficiencies in our attention.

Joe: Exactly. That’s right. Even that, that’s the self-management part, which is you can say, “I need to manage my cell phone use,” or you can turn off all your notifications. You can turn your phone into black and white and don’t allow for color usage on your phone. Or you can turn on the sleep mode. There’s all things that you can do, so that you don’t actually even have to manage your cell phone usage, so that it’s all done systematically.

Brett: Or I can find out what it is in my emotions that makes me want to go to Instagram and start scrolling.

Joe: Yes, exactly. All different levels of it. Even managing your own state is ineffective. In fact, that’s the thing about meditation generally, is that most people call sitting still and trying to manage your state of mind meditation. It’s not meditation. It’s torture. Enjoyment of sitting there is meditation. 

Yes, management is going to happen. This isn’t something that you get upset about. Is it something that you’re going to never have to do in your whole life? No, but every time you’re managing something, you can absolutely see it as a chance to become more efficient and the way that you find that efficiency is through enjoyment.

Brett: That’s great.

Joe: The other thing that happens here, oftentimes when people are talking about they’re like, “Yes, but I got to manage my company. I got to tell people what to do.” Then you look at other companies. There’s this company called Valve. There’s this Valve Handbook, which is just amazing. The way they manage what they do, is they figured out how to choose really good people. They have a whole thing about that and then when you get to Valve, you have a desk that’s on wheels. Where you push your desk is what projects they do. There’s not even somebody saying, “Okay, these are the projects we’re going to do. Here’s our big initiatives.” They literally just have people roll their desks to what they want to do and those are the initiatives that get done in the company.

If you look at our entire economy. We have four tools to manage our economy and we don’t do it very well. There’s just interest rates and how constraining the laws are for businesses, et cetera. Our whole economy doesn’t have a manager and yet, we’re the biggest economy in the world. So far, we have been the most resilient economy in the world. 

Is there really a need for management? Is there really a need for that level of centralization? There may be in certain circumstances but guaranteed there is a more efficient system out there and when somebody finds it, they will be the winner of that business and their life will be more enjoyable.

Brett: It sounds like, if somebody wants to start experimenting with loosening management and finding more enjoyment, there seems to be a requirement for a certain amount of slack in the system. If you’re running a company that’s just barely making payroll month after month after month and you imagine that if you just stopped managing people in the way that you’re currently managing them and you even have one or two hiccups then everything is all over. Or imagine in a life, where somebody’s like, “Well, I’m working three jobs right now to make ends meet. If I just started focusing on enjoyments, then if I left one of those jobs, then I’m not going to feed my family.” 

How would you respond to there being a feeling for a need for slack or people’s fear that they don’t have enough slack to try an experiment in this way?

Joe: I would say that they’re looking at enjoyment in a backwards way, meaning there’s one way to look at enjoyment, which is, “Here are the things that my head says that I will enjoy when I do it, like me having a creative career.” Your head doesn’t really know what you’re going to enjoy. You can try to organize a life where everything you do is enjoyable, meaning that you’ve chosen things to do that you enjoy, that you think you enjoy, or you can learn to enjoy the things that you’re doing.

I’ll give you an example of this. When I was 27 years old or something like that, I did this experiment where I said, “I’m not going to do anything I don’t enjoy for a month and see how that goes.” After the first three or four days, it was everything that I enjoyed. I took a nap when I wanted to take a nap, I did everything I wanted, then the trash started smelling. I was like, “Well, I’m not enjoying living with no trash and I don’t enjoy taking out the trash. What the hell am I going to do?” I learned, “Wow, how do I take out the trash and enjoy myself? How do I write emails and enjoy myself? How do I pay bills and enjoy myself.” I don’t enjoy not having bills unpaid or having a bad credit rating. That’s not enjoyable for me.

The only way to really get to a life that you enjoy is to not avoid the intensity. It’s not to run away from difficult things. It’s finding the pleasure in whatever you’re doing. It has to be a major part of the equation. If you have three jobs and you need the three jobs to get by, then learn to enjoy the jobs that you have. Learn how to do them with more enjoyment and watch, when you do your job with more enjoyment, your job changes pretty darn quickly. People want to be around people who are enjoying themselves. People want to work with people who are enjoying themselves and people will be attracted to you, people will give you more opportunities.

It’s the same thing in your business. Maybe you don’t have the ability to reinvent your organization, where the management is so low that people are deciding their own payroll and people on the bottom line of a company like the manufacturing line of a company are deciding what $3 million pieces of equipment to buy. Those are companies that are run like that and maybe you can’t get there tomorrow. Maybe it’s not even smart for your company to get there, but the question that you can always ask is, “What’s making this so unenjoyable and how do I enjoy this process?” That is going to build efficiency in your company.

The thing is that there’s somebody in mind right now when they’re listening to me and they’re saying, “This isn’t necessary. I can be successful without enjoying myself.” That is so true. You can be successful financially. You can accumulate a lot of power. You can have a good looking mate on your side. You can have all the toys that you want and not enjoy yourself. That’s absolutely 100% the case. They’re not actually being correlated– that success and enjoyment. There’s a lot of people that are successful who don’t enjoy themselves and there’s a lot of people that are successful who do enjoy themselves. What I am saying is that you can have both. If you are having both, you’re finding efficiencies.

Brett: Yes. Let’s define enjoyment then. A lot of people think of enjoyment as there is a sense of control. People have the freedom to do what they want to do, but a lot of what it seems like you’re describing with enjoyment is that it doesn’t really require freedom. For example, you could be working three jobs and be micromanaged and potentially find enjoyment in what you’re doing. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Joe: Yes, absolutely I can. There are people in jail right now enjoying themselves. There are people on this earth right now, who are sitting in three by three cells who haven’t lied down in two years, two months and a day who are doing it to learn how to enjoy themselves. That’s part of the Lama tradition. The enjoyment is available to you right now. Right now I can say to everybody who’s listening to this, “Hey, enjoy yourself just a little bit more right now. Just a little. Just allow a little more enjoyment in this moment.”

Brett: My entire body just relaxed a little bit.

Joe: Right. Exactly. What did that take? Your conditions did not change at all. You’re in the same space. You have the same bank account. You have the same girlfriend. Nothing has changed and you just enjoyed yourself a little bit more. Enjoyment doesn’t cost anything. Enjoyment is just a perspective. It’s just an allowing. It’s just a receiving. It’s visceral. It requires us to be a little more present. That’s it. It requires us, maybe to be a little bit more in our body, but it’s not something that is ever inaccessible to us.

Brett: It sounds like this is definitely an internal thing as well. We’ve been talking a lot about enjoyment in our environment, in our circumstances, in our businesses, in our organizations. How does this management and enjoyment dynamic work internally in the way that we just experienced?

Joe: Yes, it’s a bit of a mystery exactly how it works. What I’ve seen is that, internally, there is a capacity to feel pleasure that is almost like a muscle. It’s a nervous system thing, but it feels like it’s a muscle in the fact that you can build it. You can build the capacity for this feeling of enjoyment in your life and this feeling of pleasure. There’s a certain amount of overwhelm that happens when you feel too much of it. Your level of too much is going to be different than my level of too much, which is going to be different than person C’s level of too much.

Brett: What makes it be too much?

Joe: I’ll tell you what I think it is. If you put your hands together, put your hands like your thumb and your fingers all together and then intertwine your fingers. Now, intertwine your fingers in the opposite way so that your hand looks the same but your pinkies have switched positions. You’ll notice that one of those ways is comfortable. The first way is comfortable and the second way is uncomfortable.

Brett: Yes, interesting.

Joe: Pleasure being too much is very much like that. It’s just what you’re used to. It’s very much a level of comfort based on what you’re used to and based on what your nervous system feels safe handling. If your nervous system had to be on high alert to feel safe as a child, then there’s a low level of pleasure that you are going to allow yourself an enjoyment that you’re going to allow yourself because you’re going to feel unsafe. If you were deeply nurtured as a child, then that level of pleasure and enjoyment is going to be much higher. We can train our nervous systems to start accepting higher and higher levels of pleasure.

Brett: It seems like there’s an inverse relationship between enjoyment and letting our guard down. The more enjoyment we’re experiencing, the more down our guard must be and there’s some baseline level of guard that we must viscerally believe is required to be safe. Does that make sense?

Joe: Yes, that’s right. That’s exactly right. What you’re basically saying there is, that you have to believe that a certain level of defense is necessary, to be able to protect yourself, which also means that you don’t believe that you can respond in the moment, that you have to be prepared. That is one of the main things that creates us not listening to our impulse, not watching the river, is that idea that we have to be prepared so we’re not in the present moment handling the thing that’s in front of us. Or that we’re in the future in a way that’s very hard. We’re not in the future in a soft way.

You can be in the future and be like, “I’m dreaming the future and have intentions in the future,” but most of the time when we’re in the future, we’re trying to control the future. That’s like the perfect example of management. We do this internally all the time. We’re literally having conversations in our heads to control the future. Have you noticed that the conversations that you’ve had about how you want the future to go, they have never worked out specifically as you planned? You think about how you’re going to have the conversation 10 different ways and it never happens that way. It always happens differently.

We’re thinking about our thoughts. We’re trying to manage our future. It never works out and it’s definitely not enjoyable. That’s called spin. We’re just spinning. Now, I imagine that you’re in that conversation with that person and you’re just listening to the impulse and focused on enjoying the conversation.

Brett: Which results in a lot more listening to what they’re saying as well.

Joe: Exactly and it helps them feel connected with you. You feel more heard and they feel more heard. The conversation goes better. It’s the same thing internally. Internally, we’re trying to manage ourselves all the time. “Hey, lose weight. Hey, get more in shape. Hey, you should listen more. Hey, you should stop managing.” Whatever it is that your brain is constantly telling yourself you should manage and it doesn’t work very well. It’s not the most efficient way by any stretch.

We do this in meditation and we do this in yoga. Now, what is it like to meditate and focus on enjoyment? Not just doing something that you enjoy, but also enjoying what you’re doing. Now, what is it like to do yoga and focus on enjoyment or crossfit for that matter? What’s the internal thing that you do when you’re managing and how effective is it compared to enjoyment?

The amazing thing is, I could say to somebody, “Hey, look, whatever internal exercise you do, just focus on enjoyment. Just enjoy that exercise. That’s your number one thing to do.” Most people won’t, because they’re like, “Enjoyment is scary,” subconsciously, but if they do it, what they notice is that they do it a lot more, because it’s more enjoyable. If meditation isn’t enjoyable, you don’t keep on meditating. If working out isn’t enjoyable, you don’t keep on working out.

The enjoyment propels the practice. Telling yourself you should do it and you really have to do it and you have to do better and stronger da-da-da, it’s not very enjoyable and so you stop doing it. The other thing that’s important here to say is, that the reason you think you have to manage yourself is, because you don’t see that you’re inherently good. You don’t believe in your inherent goodness. You believe that you’re like some lazy gluttonous asshole, if you were left to your own devices and that you need to be whipped into shape.

If you believe that about yourself, then that’s who you’re going to end up being. If you believe that you are inherently good, you want what’s best for you and for the people around you and that you want to have an active, enjoyable, fulfilling life, then why on earth would you need to be managed for? If you want that stuff, what would make it, that you wouldn’t just naturally do it?

Brett: It seems that that would also show up in the way that you manage or treat your employees or expect to be managed or treated by a boss.

Joe: Yes. Any boss you’ve ever had who is a micromanager, I guarantee you they micromanage themselves horribly. If they’re not depressed now, they will be. If they don’t have major anger issues, they will have. Any boss that you have, that is constantly in fear of how you are behaving is constantly in fear about how they’re behaving. It’s just the nature of it. The self-development-work works so well in companies, is because you are projecting your internal relationship externally.

Brett: Yes, let’s dig into more about how this management enjoyment dynamic shows up in relationships.

Joe: Yes. Here’s the story that I think freaks everybody out and it’s very apropos. I have two girls. I don’t think there’s any time I punish them and I don’t think my wife ever punished them. We got angry from time to time. That absolutely happened. I’m sure they felt ashamed from time to time, though we did our very best not to ever shame them. The thought process then is that, well, your kids must be spoiled and that your kids must not do what they’re told and your kids must not behave well.

If you get into my home, what you find out is that my kids are amazing kids. It’s so palpable that when people come they’re like, “Wow, you have amazing children. How did you raise them?” That question gets asked all the time. Even after they see our kids, most people are dumbfounded that that’s how we did it. 

We trusted that they wanted to be connected with us. We trusted that they wanted to be connected with themselves. When they were connected with themselves, they would show up thoughtfully and lovingly and with care. That’s what they did. That’s how it worked out. We never said to them, “Hey you’re a bad person. Hey, you’re naughty and we need to control that naughtiness.” That never happened. They never believed that they were naughty. They just saw that we saw them as good and they ended up as good.

Obviously, some adults, that would take years and years and years of treating them that way for them to act that way. I’m not suggesting that you go around and go into a maximum security prison and treat all of them like they’re amazing people who are inherently good, because unless they believe that, there’s going to be friction to get to that point. In general, that’s the way that you walk around in a relationship. The way you walk around is that you find out what’s motivating them, find out what’s moving them, find out what they want to do and follow that flow instead of saying, “This is what I want you to do and do that.”

You see this happen all the time. One person convinces another person to join a project. If I’m hiring somebody for a project, I basically say, “What’s your dream job?” If they’re not really close to the job that I have in mind, it’s not a good fit. I’d rather have somebody whose dream job it is, to do the job that I have in mind than to convince someone to do something because, eventually, I’m going to have to manage them. 

It’s something that I learned in making investments. What I realized was that the amount of management that it took to make a deal happen was the same amount of management that I would have to consistently provide to make the deal work. Then that’s really inefficient investing. I’ve learned that if I had to manage to get a deal done, I just would not do the deal. It was the deals that happened with a certain amount of flow and ease that then continued with that same amount of flow and ease. Obviously, there’s ups and downs with everything, but generally, that flow and ease was far more likely.

Brett: There’s also that disempowering factor of managing. If you invest in somebody’s company and then you manage them, you’re really saying that you don’t trust their idea, unless it’s done the way you think it should be done.

Joe: Yes, that’s right.

Brett: That brings me back to that prison example, as well. You could go to a maximum-security prison and yes, on one hand, you can’t just relax all the restrictions and behave as though everybody knows their inherent goodness, but we could actually stop doing a lot of the things that we do that reinforce the, “I am bad belief.” There’s a lot of talk about how the system reinforces itself.

Joe: Absolutely. You can go in and treat every single person in a maximum-security prison like they are good people. That absolutely will help them. There’s a great video documentary called Being Human. If you look it up online, Leonard, Being Human, you will see an example of somebody who has killed a woman and her child. The grandmother of that woman and the child showed him a certain amount of love that changed his life and you can see it. It’s absolutely doable and that’s how it works in relationships.

The other thing is when you’re trying to be managing a relationship, you don’t want to be in the damn relationship. There’s some part of you, whether it is you are getting sold a car and the person is trying to manage you into buying the car, you don’t want to be in the relationship. That salesperson isn’t as successful. They know that the best car salesmen are the ones who focus on having a good relationship and that don’t try to sell the car and they outperform the ones trying to sell the car, usually, four or five to one.

It’s the same thing we see in our love life; our husbands, our wives, our girlfriends/boyfriends, that when we are trying to manage the other person’s mood, there is less love. When we are trying to manage the other person’s reaction, there is less love, there’s less enjoyment in the relationship. If you are enjoying the person, there’s a lot less management. If you’re enjoying the moment, there’s a lot less management.

Brett: In the prison example, you can have boundaries.

Joe: You can have boundaries without having to manage anything. A boundary is following an impulse. That’s a great point. Having a boundary is basically the deepest act of non management on some level. The reason it is is because what you’re saying is, “Here’s what I’m going to do,” and then you allow the other person to do what they are going to do, which is like, “Hey, what I know is that interacting in this kind of relationship isn’t working for me. If I’m going to continue to act in this relationship, then what I want is to not have a lot of yelling and I want it to be respectful and kind.” 

Now, that person can leave and they might leave you. It’s really non management. It’s just saying, “This is what I’m game for, this is what I’m willing to do in this world.” That’s what non management is to a large degree. That’s what creates an enjoyable life even if it’s scary to get there.

Brett: It sounds like what you’ve been saying would be also if a partner is going to leave you and then you’re going to have a lot of uncomfortable feelings, because of that and sadness, then that is also something to be enjoyed.

Joe: Absolutely.

Brett: Or we’re going to be trapped by it.

Joe: Right, that’s another way. Most of what we are trying to manage in our life is an emotional reality. We’re trying to manage emotions, trying to not feel heartbreak when our lover leaves us, trying to not feel like a failure if our boss gets angry at us. The non management of those emotional states and when I say non management, I don’t mean that now you’re like a puddle on the floor throwing temper tantrums and throwing tennis rackets around your house.

I’m not saying non management in that way. I’m saying allowing yourself to feel the emotions fully, not act out on them, but allowing the non management of emotions so that you can actually feel them fully and you’re not trying to push them down and repress them and hold your muscles to not feel them or judge other people not to feel them. That is a far more productive way of changing patterns in your life, than all the management of telling yourself you should do this or do that. 

You even mentioned it at the beginning of the podcast. You talked about, “…or I could just look at emotionally what’s happening when I scroll on Instagram and what I’m trying to avoid.”

Brett: How can we cultivate the enjoyment of those feelings that we are trying to avoid by managing?

Joe: Well, stop resisting them. Half of the lack of enjoyment is the management itself. Stop trying to manage them and they’ll all of a sudden become a lot more enjoyable. Stop resisting them.

A lot of the things about emotional states that we find out is that it is the resistance to them that’s painful, not the actual emotion itself. It’s the fear of them that’s painful, not the actual emotion itself. All of it is a physical sensation in your body. It has different intensities, but once it’s unresisted they change rapidly, the sensation of them changes rapidly. No one’s ever really been killed by an emotion or maimed by an emotion internally. Maybe an angry person maimed somebody else, but if you internally are feeling your emotions, you’re not going to be wounded.

Brett: Through the process of managing and suppressing our emotions, we can slowly kill ourselves with stress. That’s true and depression.

Joe: Yes, that’s exactly it. Generally, that’s the thing about management, we think we need it. What it actually is, is just a constant signal that we can find a more efficient way and a more enjoyable way. Just dropping the management itself can be enjoyment. Just to say, it’s just about taking your hand of control away from it slowly.

Some people, after listening to this, are like, “Okay, I’m just not going to manage any of my employees ever again.” Then everything goes to shit and then they’ll be like, “Yes that’s right. I needed to manage it and I’ve proven that. I do need to manage it.” What I’m saying is, see what the next level of enjoyment is, see what the next level is, because you have to find the new ways of being without management.

An example that’s really critical is, you’re sitting with a bunch of employees or people that you work with and you need a job done. Let’s say you need the car cleaned. One way to do it is to say, “I need the car cleaned.” That would be maybe the least amount of management. The least amount of management is to see if anybody cleans the car, which may happen. If they have the right to defined roles and everything like that, reinventing organization style, somebody might just come and clean the car because they see it needs to get done.

There’s, “Hey, I need the car cleaned”. Then there’s like, “I need to get the car cleaned in this way, this way, this way and then make sure you detail this and do this and dah, dah, dah.” Then there’s car cleans just like, “Hey, I need the car cleaned and I need it to look like it looks when you get off of a new car lot. I need it to be done for less than $150 and I need you to enjoy yourself doing it.” Where you give people the parameters of what a good job is but you don’t tell them how to do it. You just tell them how to win.

You don’t see a lot of people doing it that way. You don’t see that interim step, the interim step of letting people discover how to do it in a way that lets them win. Most people want to know how to win. If you keep determination and you keep intention and you keep boundaries and you keep maintaining and mandating the results that you want, then how necessary is management? The management is just the fear, that you’re not going to get there. The management is just the fear, that people are going to hurt you, that people aren’t going to show up.

Brett: What you have been saying then in this entire episode is that in order to stop managing, we need to be willing to feel and enjoy feeling these emotions that we’re trying to avoid like fear. That sounds like a really interesting topic to get into on another episode.

Joe: Yes, indeed. That is a great way to think about that which is, we often try to figure stuff out before we actually allow the feeling of stuff. If we really let that feeling happen and learn how to enjoy that feeling, then most of what we’re trying to figure out doesn’t need to be figured out anymore.

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

Resources:

Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, https://www.reinventingorganizations.com/

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Human, http://www.human-themovie.org/