Peace Of Mind (II of IV)

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 2011

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‘People living in competition, all I want is to have my peace of mind.’ - Boston (of course)

Lots of people brag about being ‘Type A’ personalities. I probably did, until I read that the term was coined by a cardiologist who discovered that these personality traits are the leading cause of early coronary disease and premature heart attacks. Constant anxiety and stress will kill you. (I still yell at idiot drivers.)

At the other end is meditation, which beyond any doubt improves both your mental and physical health; you will live longer and be happier. But I can’t do it. It’s just too … I just can’t. (An expert, back when, told me that running, if you really enjoy it, can approximate the same mental state. I missed that clue.)

This is important stuff. (The Boston guitarist knew that.) We are surrounded by competition, immersed in stress and (very seriously) all we want is to have our peace of mind. But if you’re not a rock star or a Buddhist, how to get there? And if you aspire to ‘leadership’ at any level, then it’s not just about you, it’s about everyone else too. How do you all get there together? Three ideas from people way smarter than me:

Jim Collins changed everything for me with four words: ‘First who, then what.’ Spend your life (competitive and non) only with people you respect, admire and love. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going, but be uncompromising about with whom you’re traveling (and you won’t really care that much where you end up). If someone in your life doesn’t qualify under any of those three verbs – respect, admire, love - get them off your bus. I submit that Collins’ four word directive may be the biggest key to both happiness and competitive success, if you’re tough enough to live by it.

Know thyself. (Plato, though for years I thought it was from my Grade 12 ‘World Politics’ teacher). My humble advice on this: When it comes to really knowing yourself, take all the help you can get.

Find what it is in life that you find valuable, what you love doing, and throw yourself into it, gone, gone, gone. Marry your brains to your passion. Don’t separate logic from emotion, fuse them and ramp it up. Every vocation has drudgery and frustration, but you will know you are there when you can lose all track of time and everything else, just doing what you are doing. That’s peace of mind. It’s also value, and high level achievement.

And: This isn’t just about you. If you lead, you have to deliver this to everyone else. You have to get them there. That’s the ultimate ideal for EllisDon: Not merely to get everyone else there, but to get everybody here focused on getting everyone else there.

The whole point of this blog: If measurement, objectivity and pure logic are in service of these things, outstanding. But as soon as they become primary, putting people in servitude to their ends alone, flee the scene immediately.

If you’ve read this far, thanks very much for bearing with me. I’m trying to work it out myself.