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Pursue passions

11 Military Productivity Hacks For Entrepreneurs

How many times have you said “there aren’t enough hours in the day?”

Frankly, I’d be surprised if I found out everyone hadn’t said this at some stage. Most people have an ever-replenishing to-do list – and that’s before life away from your desk.
Applying your unique combination of skill, experience and knowledge isn’t something that you can outsource – and that reason makes time an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset.
The good news is, you’re not making the most of your time.
I can say this with confidence because 99.9% of people are in exactly the same boat – and this is the very reason 99.9% of people aren’t living the life they dream about.

What do I know?

Being a business mentor doesn’t automatically make me understand the intricacies of productivity – but I’m lucky enough to have worked with some extremely talented individuals who do – many of whom are armed forces veterans.
Here’s the thing:
Productivity isn’t something you’re born with; it’s an art that must be practiced, a muscle that needs to be exercised.
The instilled discipline and drilled efficiency that the armed forces inspire in people is unmatched in virtually any other walk of life. Working with veterans opens your eyes to new levels of productivity and can teach anyone an important lesson:
There are enough hours in the day; you’ve just got to know how to access them.
The following 11 hacks will help you to run your business and your life with a military level of productivity…

#1: NET (no extra time)

We do hundreds of things every day on auto-pilot.
Walking, driving, shaving, making the bed, running, cooking dinner – to name just a few.
We’re unconsciously competent at these tasks; we change gear without thinking and boil pasta without reading the instructions.
Since our brain isn’t engaged while we take part in these tasks, it gives us an opportunity to engage our thoughts elsewhere, hence ‘no extra time’ is added to your day – and what better place to use this untapped time than for learning?
Audio books are ideal for this, what’s more, you can adjust the playback rate on most apps so that you can take them in at 1.5/2.0x the speed they’re read at. The average commute is 25 minutes, cooking dinner probably takes another 20. Turn this into learning time and you’ll consume 20 or more books and the knowledge within every year – choose those books wisely and your entrepreneurial skillset will expand rapidly…

#2: Get your sleep right

Everyone’s sleep requirements are slightly different, but generally 7-8 hours each night sees us at our peak mental performance the following day.
The perfect combination of sleep and productivity comes when you understand exactly what’s right for you. Evenings can be enormous blackholes for time – with a little TV and some social media interaction it’s 11pm before you know it - and 12am before you’re asleep.
If you can, there’s a huge amount of productivity to be had if you adjust your bedtime backwards and start the next day earlier.
Try to avoid screens for 2 hours before you sleep. Our phone’s apps are designed to stimulate your brain and keep you engaged – not ideal for winding down. Reading, prepping tomorrow’s food, tidying and planning are all good alternatives that come with their own benefits.
Waking up early is no mean feat though, so I recommend the following:
Understand your natural sleep pattern.
Using an app like Sleep Cycle can help you to understand what’s happening when you’re in asleep and has an extremely effective alarm function that will wake you when your sleep is at its lightest point – helping you to feel switched on and alert right through the day.

#3: Harness the morning

If you can master your sleep and get up 2 hours earlier than you ordinarily would every working day you effectively give yourself an extra day each week.
What’s more, because you’re making that ‘extra day’ anywhere between 5am-9am (depending on your sleep requirements and chosen bedtime) that becomes one of those magical days where no one calls and interrupts, no one urgently emails and there are fewer notifications stealing your attention.
The maths is actually jaw dropping:
Add 2 productive hours to every working day and you add 520 hours to your year. Even with a hefty 50 hour work week that’s the equivalent of over 10 extra weeks of productivity every year – a sure fire way to get a lot more done, or at least feel a lot less guilty about taking a week or two absorbing some sunshine on a foreign beach.

#4: Make your own energy

It’s no coincidence that extremely high levels of productivity in military personal follows physical training each morning.
The good news is – science tells us this doesn’t have to mean running a marathon every day, in fact, a minimum of 12 minutes at an elevated heart rate is enough to produce hormones that increase awareness and mental agility for the rest of the day.
The great news is, it’s not just how switched on we are that’s bolstered when we exercise in the morning; our body’s ‘feel good’ hormones are kick-started too, leading to a more positive mood through the day.
Not only will exercise help tweak your brain’s performance every morning – it’ll also keep you healthy too, supporting your immune system to fight off illness. Want to turbo-charge your results? Get a double hit of those awareness and feel good hormones by jumping in a cold shower after you’re done, boosting circulation even further.
As productivity hacks go, engaging in some physical exercise is one that will have the greatest impact most quickly – there really is no downside.

#5: Take regular breaks

Our brains aren’t designed for being focused on just one task permanently – so if you want to maximise the time you’re spending with your mind at full throttle it makes a lot of sense to rest it frequently.
If you’re at your desk all day, get up, go and get some fresh air, stimulate the visual parts of your brain in different ways.
If possible, find somewhere you can be completely free of thought, even just for a few minutes.
Some people refer to this as ‘meditation’ – other call it ‘mindfulness’, whereas some prefer just ‘clearing your head’. Whatever you choose to call it, thinking of nothing, or focusing just on your breathing can help to slow your thoughts and internal monologue – and a slower thought process general leads to more rational and considered decisions.

#6: Use the right fuel

We can all occasionally lose sight of the fact that our bodies are biological machines, with the right fuel required to see a positive energy output.
Our brain is very much part of that machine – and it’s extremely sensitive to the conditions food creates in our body. Heavy lunches that comprise of sugar and simple carbohydrates require a lot of energy to digest – and can also cause our blood sugar levels to spike, leading to drowsiness and lack of focus in the mid-afternoon.
Just as making use of hidden hours can add up in our favour, losing hours to drowsiness and low energy can see that time disappear again.
If possible, try to avoid the following lunch time usual suspects:
White bread
White rice
White pasta
Refined sugar (chocolate, sweets, hidden sugar in sauces/dressings, etc)
Instead, try to create lunches around:
Lean protein (beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, mackerel, etc)
Pulses and beans
Salad leaves and vegetables
Good fats (olive oil, avocados, unsalted nuts and nut butters)
These things might need a little prep the night before – and might not have the same immediate appeal as something sugary or salty, but let me assure you, your workload will thank you for it while others around you are yawning at 2:30pm…

#7: Don’t multi-task

This next hack is a simple one – but can take some adjusting to for those of us with short attention spans.
Don’t multi-task.
You might think that doing three things at once is smart use of your time – but actually, you’re far more likely to make mistakes and elongate the time needed to finish each job.
Where possible, minimise your email inbox, switch your phone to silent and dedicate your focus to the task at hand. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you work when your blinkers are on.

#8: Focus on what you’re good at

If you wake up every morning knowing you’ve got a day of your least favourite task ahead of you it can be very difficult to get started.
On the other hand, knowing you’re got a day of something you love lined up is likely to have you out of bed and in the shower ahead of your alarm. Don’t underestimate the power that your brain has on your desire to be productive – and as such, try to create days that you want to meet head on.
Consider making a list of everything your day will entail – run a highlighter through the things you like the least.
Now consider outsourcing those tasks.
There’s someone online who will do these for you – check sites like UpWork, Fiverr and PeoplePerHour and you’ll find everything from general assistants and book keeping support to advanced programmers and social media experts.
If funds are tight, consider exchanging skills, money isn’t the only way to pay.

#9: Prioritise and execute

Plenty of people will tell you to make a to-do list – fewer people will tell you how to use one properly.
As you approach your day you’ll be aware of one, two or more priority tasks. For most people, a priority represents a task that is vital to the next part of the business process – whether that’s establishing a key part of infrastructure, honing your service, creating a sales proposal – or so forth.
Understand what’s needed in the day to drive your business forward – these become your priorities.
Now decide which order these priorities should be tackled. Mark number 1 and number 2 on your list. Now focus on number 1 until it’s complete. Don’t be tempted to jump to number 2 or get distracted by something that’s a much lower priority.
Every time you flit to another less-important task, you create a transition – a small period of time is consumed, your focus drops and you lose productivity. Be methodical – and if required, ignore everything else going on around you.
Now, we all know your to-do list grows through the day – so when tasks 1 and 2 are complete, reassess and mark your next two most important tasks – then watch your productivity go through the roof as your tick them off.

#10: Have a quick decision making process

A quick decision making process is an absolute must for those who have served in the armed forces. Whether or not you are ever deployed in an active war zone, training acknowledges that an enemy will never ease off to give you time to create a ‘pros and cons list’ as you take cover behind a wall or vehicle.
For entrepreneurs, every decision you make has an ‘energy tax’ – the longer you spend mulling it over, the more time and energy is sapped away.
That said, rash decisions aren’t always reliable – so where possible, quickly consider the facts relating to the situation along with the risks that you foresee; then move swiftly based on this.
The likelihood of your swift decision being correct is boosted enormously here if you’re in the habit of following hack number 5 on this list – as the more cool and collected your thoughts are under pressure, the more you’ll be able to tune out the ‘noise’ and focus on what matters.

#11: Understand the ‘Pareto’ principle

Productivity and efficiency are closely related – but until you put both under the microscope you can’t be sure that you’re honing either skill.
A Pareto analysis is an ideal way of considering if you’re being productive and efficient as an entrepreneur. The principle suggests that 80% of a person or business’s success comes from 20% of the action input. Therefore 80% of the action is incredibly low yield – offering just 20% of the result.
To ascertain where your energy is going, you’ll need to start recording what your days look like. A simple way to begin is setting a chime for every 30 minutes on your phone or watch. When you hear that chime, make a record in your diary or notepad what that 30 minutes has comprised of – even if it’s just a simple tally chart.
Don’t worry – this isn’t something you’ll keep up forever, it’s just to give you an accurate picture of what your day looks like. It’s important to be honest with your recording – it’s the only way you’re going to be able to make the absolute most of your day.
When you’ve created a picture of an average day (perhaps after a week or so of recording) you can start to consider the time you take on each task alongside the money that you or the business brings in as a result.
You’ll start to see patterns, perhaps in your own work, perhaps in the time invested in employees, clients or particular tasks. Your business is unique – so I’m not going to make suggestions that are specific to you here – just ask yourself if your effort is commensurate with your reward – and ask yourself if you could do more of the high yield tasks if you dropped a few that ate up your time for little reward.
It’s one thing to work hard – it’s quite another to work smart. When the way that you work so directly relates to your ability to achieve your goal and stay alive in the process, it’s no surprise that veterans aren’t just productive – but extremely efficient in their actions too.

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Productivity - Side Hustle

Side Hustling And The Importance of Productivity


Trying to juggle a business and full time job all at once? Productivity is key to maximising your time, energy and money.

My pal Nic Woodhams is a man with a rich background in the field of productivity. With one of his previous businesses pitching successfully on Dragon's Den, plus a career in the military under his belt, Nic is well placed to provide tips on how best to make the most of your time under stressful situations.

Join us whilst we wade through puddles and wander through fields in Cornwall discussing the perils of spreading yourself thinly and the benefits of focused, deep-work.

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Find my purpose

Untamed Interview 5 – Purpose with Mark Boyns

Do you have a clear purpose? Are you striving towards a particular goal or mission?

In this Untamed Interview, I discuss this topic of purpose with Founder and Co-Director of the unique and brilliant 'Opening Up Cricket', Mark Boyns.

Despite a drunk cameraman and some wet dogs Mark shares some fascinating insights into what drives his social enterprise and the positive effect this mission has has had on his life!

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military leavers

Untamed Interview – Veteran Entrepreneur Nic Woodhams

British Army veteran, social entrepreneur and Rick Astley look-a-like Nic Woodhams talks me through the challenges and opportunities of applying military skills in civi street.

We stroll through the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh and discuss how well the military breeds and then prepares leavers for life as entrepreneurs.

How do you plan on leveraging your unique skills to reach your potential?

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Start a small business

Untamed Interview – Art Green

Join me as I chat to Arthur Green: entrepreneur, adventure-lover, athlete, celebrity and all round good bloke.  We chinwag whilst kayaking the waters of the Southern Pacific Ocean in New Zealand.

We discuss the importance of pursuing your passions; how to align your life with your goals; the best wrist watch on the market and many other riveting things...

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Leverage Strengths

8 Mis-Perceived Weaknesses of an Untamed Entrepreneur and How They Should be Leveraged

Untamed Entrepreneurs - A Not Quite Oxford Dictionary Definition

‘Untamed Entrepreneur’ - Noun
a person possessing an entrepreneurial mindset who engages in both life and work activities in an unconventional manner. They are distinguishable by their gregarious nature, disregard for half measures (in any form) and insatiable appetite for adventure, fun and self-development.
“It’s easy to spot an Untamed Entrepreneur. They will first to the top of the mountain and first in the bar"
synonyms: N/A

Why I Am Writing This Ramble

Finding ones purpose, pursuing ones dreams, and living a life on ones own terms, are three of the narratives I champion with the most vigour.

Ever since my own self-analysis led me to major life-changing realisations -and the opportunity to achieve all three- I have been on a mission to help others do the same.

My default setting is to help anyone who asks for it -and many who don’t. My business mentor on the other hand, fights a constant battle to keep me focused on my niche.

In homage to him and his discipline I shall therefore focus this Ramble on said niche. My favourite audience. The people to whom I can most relate and thus provide the most effective help.

I am speaking of course about the Untamed Entrepreneurs of this world.

During the last 10 years of my life, I have lived two extremes. Five years ruining my body, liver and wallet in Whistler, followed by five years of career focus, fiscal responsibility and a diligent approach to health when living in Australia (I told you we don't do half measures).

Whilst ultimately, neither lifestyle was sustainable, one was true to my natural personality and one was not.

Whilst living in Whistler, whether I was ski instructing, plumbing or partying, I was surrounded by like-minded people and encouraged to be myself. Retreating within my shell would have served no purpose.

At the time I took it for granted but after five years in Perth working in a proper job and taking life more seriously, I soon realized I had been on a pretty good wicket back in BC.

Upon reflecting on my time in Perth, I have learned some pretty valuable lessons. It is these lessons I wish to share with you fellow Untamed Entrepreneurs.

In doing so I hope to shorten your route to finding your purpose, passions and a life on your own terms.

Re-Framing Weaknesses and The Importance of Self-Awareness

Perhaps the single biggest turning point in my path to self-discovery was when I realized I had spent years perceiving some of my biggest strengths, as weaknesses.

Whilst a lack of self awareness ultimately allows these types of misunderstandings to prevail: society, and the manner in which it consistently misconceives strengths and weaknesses must cop a lot of the blame.

In Australia -whilst I value every minute of my time spent with the company- I was ultimately working in the wrong industry, in the wrong role, serving the wrong people.

To make it more relatable and hopefully more useful I will quickly breakdown all three aspects and explain their misalignment.

Firstly, lets look at my role. I was managing a small business. This meant paying attention to small details and getting bogged down by day to day operations. Neither of which I enjoy.

Secondly, the industry -mining. A large, antiquated industry reluctant to embrace change and more concerned with risk mitigation than innovation. Not ideal stomping ground for the young and hungry looking to try new things.

Lastly, the people I served. When one works in an industry with the characteristics described above, two things can happen. You either stay true to your beliefs and spend everyday frustrated, or you give up, fit in and become part of the fabric.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the old timers I dealt with were in the latter camp. They were tired, unmotivated and spent most of their time in meetings, finding ways to avoid risk and complicate the system in an attempt to justify their own existence.

It is not hard to see how my personality was at odds with my situation. I would spend meetings ‘playing the game’, pretending I cared about the latest iron ore price, rather than taking the piss out the hair of the old git I was talking to.

Occasionally I would misread the situation and go all in with a joke or two. They rarely went down well. It got even worse when beers were involved!

The Best Time Is Now

I tell you all this because I want to help those who find themselves in similar situations.

It took me five years to realise the problem was not with me, but my environment. I was convinced that this was all part of growing up and working in a proper job.

Gone were the carefree days of Whistler and turning up for work still shit faced to unblock someones drain. This is what working life looked like for adults.

My conscience was convinced this was the reality and my environment supported it.

Thank fully, I realized my situation and got myself out. The longer I had stayed in, the harder this change would have been - there is every chance I could have ended up like my embittered peers in the industry.

And now, I want to do the same for you.

The Most Commonly Misperceived Strengths

So, as someone with a larger-than-life personality and adventurous nature; what perceived weaknesses do you possess and how can they be turned into a strength?

Here is a list of what I believe to be the 8 biggest misunderstandings of an Untamed Entrepreneur.

The Most Commonly Misperceived Strengths of the Untamed

Perceived Weakness Actual Strength
Can’t focus on one task or project until completion Best at getting new projects up and running
Moves too quickly, others can’t keep up Has energy others can’t match
Speaks mind too much. Quick with opinions Always trusted to give honest answer. People know where they stand
Not serious enough at work, always attempting to entertain Best motivators. Great at engaging people and creating an enjoyable atmosphere
Talks too much Best communicators/salesmen/advocates
Lacks attention to detail. Often misses small things Great at seeing the bigger picture whilst not getting bogged down in details
Divides opinion. Either liked or loathed Doesn’t waste time and energy appealing to everyone. Friendships created are long lasting
Requires specific environment to thrive Can outperform all others in correct environment

Do any of those resonate with you?

How have you -and others around you- labelled these characteristics?

Have you ever re-framed them in this way before?

Don’t Change Yourself, Change Your Environment

The phrase ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’ springs to mind. The notion that if your energetic personality is viewed as a weakness by those around you, it simply means you’re in the wrong crowd.

Rather than change who you are in order to fit in, change your surroundings. There’s a business or marketplace out there craving someone with your positive outlook, dynamism and ceaseless enthusiasm.

As I mentioned in my last Ramble, when you find this place, magic happens. This where you truly begin to add value and start having fun.

If my story, or the aspects listed in the table above bare a resemblance to your situation, I implore to re-frame what you may view as weaknesses.

I encourage you to view your role in society, and the business world, differently: to realise that every trait you possess can be reframed and used as leverage to add more value.

Look around, find the people and the markets that want what you have and continue to be yourself.

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Find a job that matches your passions

Work Life Alignment – The Reasons Why Your Work Should Be an Extension of You

Is This Ramble For You?

Let me get one thing straight before I even start.  This Ramble is for those who are looking for happiness and fulfilment in all aspects of their lives and who value the role that work plays in achieving this.

If you view work as merely a vehicle via which to makes ends meet and disregard it as a primary source of enjoyment and pleasure, then this is not for you.

What Is Work Life Alignment?  The Simple Version

If I was to boil it down to one sentence, the Work Life Alignment can be described as ‘the proximity between ‘the work you’ and ‘the real you’.

You in your most natural state vs you at work (whoops, that’s two sentences).

What Is Work Life Alignment?  A Little More Detail

The real you is made up of your: passions, purpose, interests, character, strengths, weaknesses, wants and needs.

It is you in your most natural, unfiltered state.

The work you on the other hand, is you in your work state.  The decisions you make; the way you act and the tasks you perform, whilst at work.

I am not breaking any ground when I suggest that being in ones natural state and being happy are inextricably linked.

Factor in that many of us spend over 50% of our waking hours working and it stands to reason that the closer to the real you, you can get whilst at work, the happier you will be?!

Admission Is The First Step

How to become an entrepreneur

The first step is doing something many people never want to do, or even think to do.   Self-analysis.

Grinder profile aside, have you ever actually written down the components of your character?  Have you ever stopped to think what your purpose is, what you’re good at and what you’re truly passionate about?

I’m sure you’ve spent time mentally analysing each in isolation but never produced an exhaustive list, tying them all together?

Similarly, have you ever critically assessed the extent to which these are reflected in your cur

rent work situation and the effect this has on your happiness?

Without honest self-reflection, the path to alignment is a tough one.

How Is My Alignment Measured?

Establishing your alignment in detail is one of the aspects of my mentoring programme.  Done right, it can take time and a fair bit of thought.

Amongst other things it involves taking my ‘Work Like Alignment Review’ test.  Only when you’ve finished reading of course.

For the sake of this Ramble however I have extracted a couple of the key questions and listed them below to provide a quick dry run for you to do now.

Simply answer the following and mark out of 10 how true each statement is (10 being completely true):

  • My work role and the tasks I perform make the most of my strengths and mitigate my weaknesses
  • I am passionate about the work I perform and proud to tell people about my role
  • I am able -and encouraged- to be myself when working and don't have to act like someone I’m not
  • My company/business and I share a similar mission and purpose

Common Misalignments

What was your score for the those 4 questions?  Where did you drop points? 

Here are some common misalignments which may help stimulate some realisations:

  • You are at odds with your company’s purpose 
  • The industry you serve expects a certain type of behaviour which is contrary to how you naturally behave
  • You are amazing with people but spend most of your days working with a laptop behind the scenes 
  • You crave variety but your work life is rigid and monotonous
  • You are someone who comes up with 10 new ideas a day but gets criticized for not focusing on one thing at a time 

These are just a few examples.

My Story

As an example, my own work misalignment stemmed from the disconnect between the way I was expected to act around clients and suppliers of the engineering company I managed, and my default behaviour setting. 

My immature sense of humour, direct approach and a strong desire to not take myself very seriously were in stark contrast to the stuffed shirts I interacted with on a daily basis.    

I was constantly acting within myself and dampening my natural personality.  For me, this was not a sustainable way to live.  I needed to change my environment to one which emphasized these tendencies, rather than suppressed them.

Common Myths

For years however I was unaware this was even a possibility…

‘Surely you’re meant to be serious at work?’…’Isn’t dealing with boring people at work just part of the job?’

These were assumptions I lived by and they held me back from uncovering the true happiness one can derive from work.

The sad truth is that these myths -and the misalignments they produce- are commonplace amongst employees throughout the world.

Do you see similarities in my story? 

If you’re a bit of a dickhead like me, I am here to tell you it’s OK.  There is a place for you to not only survive, but thrive…it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.

Business Mentoring

Removing The Shackles

The problem is that many people generally agree that work can provide joy and satisfaction but are yet to be fully convinced that finding a job exactly matching their skills and personality is actually possible.

Many people who are moderately happy in their work -and aware of this-  are held back by the belief that this is a good as it gets.

I am here to shake this myth; to issue a rallying cry to the doubters and the nay sayers. 

Your work can -and SHOULD- be an extension of you!

When it is…magic happens!

The Dangers of Pursuing Passions

I should make it clear, I am not one of these dreamland residents who believes that simply finding ones passions and blindly pursuing them, is the correct path to follow.

To promote something so simplified is ill-conceived and reckless.   A market needs to exist first.

What I do believe is that for the Untamed out there, creating your own concept and tailoring it around the real you is the most effective way of narrowing your work life alignment and achieving happiness. 

For more on the idea of creating your own concept, check out another Ramble The Modern Way of Working Pt 1 and Part II.

Pursue passions

What Is The Cost of Misalignment?

Unbeknownst to many, living a misaligned life has numerous negative implications, beyond that of ones happiness levels. 

The following symptoms often prevail when a gulf between the work you and the real you exists.  The greater the gulf, the greater the effects.

  • Exhaustion
  • Feeling drained at the end of a work day
  • Lack of clear identity
  • Lack of confidence at work
  • Lack of engagement
  • Lack of productivity
  • Lack of fulfilment
  • Lack of satisfaction
  • Reduced happiness

Any of these sound familiar? 

At the risk of sounding dramatic, a large misalignment is like leading two separate lives.  Barring the odd superhero example, this rarely goes well. 

Come to think of it, even they suffer from the strain.  If Batman struggles to find the energy to maintain two identities, what makes you think you can?

The End Result?

Only by establishing our identity and thoroughly analysing our present situation, can we begin to understand the basic components our dream business needs to possess.

Upon conducting my own review, I soon realized that no job existed that was aligned closely enough with my strengths, passions and interests to bother pursuing…I decided to create my own.

My work is now almost exactly aligned with who I am, and what I am best at.  I work harder now than ever but it neither feels like work, nor drains me of energy. 

I love my daily interactions and rather than hiding from my natural tendencies, my business is shaped by them!

It all started with an honest self assessment about where I stood and what I really wanted. 

I urge you to do the same.

Work Life Alignment Review Test

To take the full test and establish your work life alignment, click here.


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Escape 9-5

The Modern Way Of Working – Part I

Part I


Before I get into this Ramble I’d like to clarify something. The below theories are generic and applied in wide brush strokes to inherently complex subjects.
Discussions around macro topics such as generational differences will always disregard countless exceptions and no doubt as you read this, you will know of many. I certainly do.
For brevities sake however, I had to take a big picture view and keep the details light on! I hope you enjoy.

Maslow Was Onto Something

The idea of pursuing a life of purpose and meaning is one which has grown some serious legs in recent years. As millennials -us lot born between 1980-2000- begin to dominate the workplace, the old notions of what a ‘J-O-B’ represents, are being ushered out and replaced by a fresh new set of beliefs.

“Works work” and “work is not meant to be fun”, were both central pillars of the Baby boomers and, to a lesser extent Gen X’s thinking for over 50 years.

However, as any psychologist -or parent for that matter- will tell you, the more one gets, the more one wants. 50 years ago, kids were delighted to be given a jam sandwich for Christmas, nowadays an Xbox with only one controller is taken as some kind of punishment.

Spoilt gits aside, the concept of never being satisfied can be applied to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time.
Let’s look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs to help illustrate my point.

Work with purpose
Image: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Whilst his theory was designed to be applied to human motivations as a whole, employment plays such a significant role in our overall motivations, that it can be taken in isolation and still be a relevant analysis.

The Evolution of Employment

As recently as the 1960’s, a job was generally excepted only to provide the basic human needs of food, water and shelter. If it put bread on the table, it was good enough, regardless of the hours, duties, monotony or health implications.

Fast forward a couple of decades. With those demands met, psychological needs came into the equation. People began turning to the workplace to provide relationships and a sense of belonging. The job title, or description were yet to come into play but people wanted more than just any old job.

Then came the 1980’s and the Yuppies. As the world transitioned from an industrial economy to a information economy, it changed the employment landscape and gave rise to a new breed of worker, hungry for more.

Suddenly it was all about the pursuit of prestige and personal achievement. Flash suits, a company car and a posh title represented success and a job well done. Often, the credibility of the job was as important as the work itself.

Of course this was not the first time humans had expressed a desire to be recognized or feel a sense of accomplishment but it was the first time that it was an achievable goal for the masses.

Our Own Office Is No Longer Enough

And now we find ourselves on the cusp of the next level of Maslow’s human needs, self-actualisation.

A pay cheque, healthy relationships, company laptop and the word ‘manager’ in our title, are no longer enough to satisfy us. We’re now on the hunt for something deeper and more meaningful.

A Little Aside
A desire to seek purpose and fulfilment through work is limited not just to millennials. As Bill Burnett from Stanford University points out, baby boomers all over the world are now searching for what he calls an “encore career” to provide them with the sense of purpose that eluded them throughout their working lives.

Where was I? Ah yes, millennials have been raised on the idea that we can make of ourselves what we want. That the world is our lobster and we need only tap into our talents, to achieve amazing things.

As is hopefully quite apparent from previous Ramblings, I am firmly in this camp. In fact I live by it…literally.

The Search Is Getting Harder

I do however realize the implications this self-confidence and expectation has on our job satisfaction. It has essentially raised the bar of what we consider a ‘good job’ and made our quest for happiness in the workplace that much harder.

Think about it. Back when i-phone was still a verb, any old job was enough. How else can the clamouring for work down the carbon-monoxide-rich mines in 1960’s Britain be explained?

Nowadays, it’s a different story of course. For a company to truly appeal to many in the modern workforce it must serve a greater purpose, provide opportunities for personal growth, allow freedom of expression and imbue it’s employees with a sense of self-worth.

And rightly so in my view. We work for around 80,000 hours in our lifetime -a figure that is increasing rapidly as we live longer and save less. That’s way too much time to spend feeling unfulfilled or pretending to be someone you’re not.

Whether you agree with me or not, millions of people do and are finding it increasingly hard to achieve true happiness in their jobs.

You’re Looking In the Wrong Place

The main reason for this? You’re looking in the wrong place!

The way the modern workforce view their working life may be changing fast, but the marketplace as a whole is not.

Pioneering companies like Google, Facebook and Airbnb aside, the majority of organizations simply cannot keep pace with the rapidly evolving expectations of it’s workers.

Institutions, governments and large non-tech corporations are the biggest culprits but they're by no means alone. For now, employers who pay genuine attention to the emotional needs of their staff and put measures in place to ensure they’re addressed, are the exception, not the rule.

With this in mind, if you're conducting your search in such places, you will likely be left bitterly disappointed.

The Solution

Fear not young cohorts, I am here yet again to offer a suggestion.

But first, a caveat if I may.

This suggestion will only provide value to those who:

  • Feel unfulfilled in their current situation
  • Firmly believe they have more to give
  • Want to tailor their work around their passions and strengths
  • Can tolerate a bit if risk
  • Are ready to commit to making drastic changes in order to make it happen

If the above criteria apply to you and you REALLY ARE ready to make the necessary changes in order to pursue your purpose and fulfil your potential, then please read Part II of this Ramble.