Mike Jay on performance management and personal effectiveness

Rebekah and the kids are away for most of the weekend, and so I am enjoying “that blissful solitude, that was so painful in my youth” [Einstein].  Truthfully, the events of the last 6 weeks (starting with the book I am writing and on to extremely exciting events at WordPress Academy, that I haven’t shared yet) have been so intoxicating that I had resolved to spend the entire weekend in bed reading paperback novels and listening to inspirational audios.  But I need to share with y’all what happened yesterday.

Mike Jay is a business coach and developmentalist that I have been connected with loosely for a number of years.  I had actually started his coach training program 5-6 years ago, before deciding that being a business coach probably wasn’t for me.  He’s been pretty quiet for the last few years but has recently surfaced with a coaching / business development program that is so compelling I joined right away.  I will be doing this program over the course of the summer, culminating in an intensive in Las Vegas in late August.  It turns that he has been traveling a lot for the last few years, coaching billionaires and major third-world banks.  I think he is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, and his ideas on development are both very practical and timely.  The intro call for this program occurred yesterday, and it blew my mind.  I will post the audio to this call when I get permission, but let me summarize some of the key ideas here, and their impact on me.

The relationship between happiness and success, and effective tools to achieve these two goals,  has been the dominant inquiry of my life.  It has always seemed to me that a person could be one or the other – entirely dedicated to work and achievement at the cost of one’s personal life and relationships, or else living a life dedicated to pleasure, connection and authenticity, but at the cost of success and/or financial stability.  I have had very happy times in my life, and quite successful times in my life, but they rarely coincided.  In one way or the other, I have been obsessed with this theme my whole life, which I see as being connected to the “right-relationship” of masculine and feminine forces within oneself [Shirley Luthman, Waking Down in Mutuality], and in the outside world as “sexual polarity” [Lafayette Morehouse, David Deida].  For the last 6 years I have been engaged in a deep exploration of  these teachings, all of which have a lot to say about happiness, and perhaps even about “awakening” – surely, “awakening” needs to include some deep acceptance of self and unconditional enjoyment of life, and so the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of awakening need be very closely related.  But I have not yet found a philosophy or developmental school in which there is a practical analysis and action plan for simultaneously achieving these two goals, happiness and success. 

Mike Jay’s fundamental idea – and this of course is just the tip of the iceberg – is that happiness comes from being oneself, whereas success comes from meeting the success criteria of one’s chosen profession, that will vary (an athlete has different success criteria from an executive).  And the problem is this: that success comes from predictably (repeatedly) doing the work that will cause one to meet the success criteria for one’s profession;  however, unless one has enjoyment (happiness) in these activities, it’s virtually impossible to do anything with any kind of consistency.  The majority of people struggle their whole lives trying to improve their character or motivation in order to do the things that they know are necessary for their success, and they fail miserably, simply because human nature and our individuality (skills, likes and dislikes) cannot be easily changed, if at all.  Mike Jay talks about a trillion dollar industry built around training people to do this (change their motivation), which, of course, doesn’t work.  The real solution is to:

  1. Understand oneself sufficiently to know one’s limitations, and not even attempt the things that one is not suited for.  It’s much better to not even begin than to spend one’s lifetime in a battle with oneself, in which the speed and efficacy of one’s entire system gets degraded.  This of course is no different than the prime Socratic directive to “know yourself”, brought into the 21st century and expanded to account for all the layers of complexity that must be handled within our modern lives.  (I am reminded here of something I heard the Dalai Lama say: “If you are not going to meditate, don’t even pretend to be a spiritual person.  You will have so much more freedom”). 
  2. The way to meet the success criteria for which one is not suited, is to partner with someone else.  This however is not an easy thing because in addition to “knowing oneself” it requires the ability to ask for what one needs, and distinguish in the answer whether it’s a good fit.   According to Mike Jay, introverts have a particular difficulty with this, both because going outside themselves is difficult, and because they don’t know how to ask the question (present clearly and enrollingly) and distinguish the answer.  But it’s hard for everyone – this of course is the fine art of leadership, or management.  

So there you have it – in a nutshell – the cause of the overwhelm that I have been experiencing lately.  I am an introvert which compounds the problem.

It’s difficult for me to fully convey the importance of this insight for me – along with the fact that I seem to have found at least the beginnings of an answer to the problem that has been tormenting me my entire life.  I have studied Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen (other major integral philosophers / developmentalists), and I am becoming increasingly connected to the “integral evolutionary” community which I see now as my “spiritual home” – but I haven’t yet found anything actionable in these teachings – anything that helps to either alleviate human suffering, inject more love in the world, or put money in my pocket and in the pockets of my clients / business associates.  Even before Mike Jay, I had already started to partner with people more in my business, and will also be getting into social media in a big way in the coming months, but it’s really wonderful to be a part of a coaching and inquiry group around these important issues.  It feels wonderful not to be alone any more, and I am ecstatic. 

Much love,

Marc

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