I recently published a post on why people think workaholics are sexy. The core principal I touched on was simple: Many entrepreneurs get huge secondary benefits from showing the world how flat-out busy we are.
Busyness is a psychological smoke-screen. It’s a pretend act that has everything to do with proving self worth to others and little to do with getting stuff done. The busy-act is an unconscious attempt at validation. It’s plea for help from entrepreneurs who want recognition from their loved ones.
After publishing that post, it seemed like I was attracting people with busyness issues. Clients were uncannily raising it, time and time again. Friends quizzed me about the same problem. Perhaps that post acted like some kind of pheromone for workaholics. All I know is… I couldn’t escape them.
After repeating all week, I decided to post this – my solution to the workaholic problem.
Note to some people: If I cut off our conversation and said “read my blog post that goes out on Monday”, don’t take it personally. It wasn’t you… it was the 26 “busy” people before you.
So, how do you validate yourself?
Validation is our psychological measure of our personal value, worth and success.
We all have a way of mentally checking our “done a good job” box. We all have a strategy for showing our peers, colleagues and loved ones that we’re valuable and needed. Not to mention how we show ourselves we’re valuable.
For a vast number of people, “busyness” is the primary form of validation. People feel if they can just show the world they’re busy, the world will assume they are busy doing important stuff. Sadly, this is seldom true.
The problem is not validation. Validation is very useful. The problem is validation through pointless busyness. If you’ve ever been guilty of this, perhaps its time to look at some alternatives.
Here’s a list of tried and true, Peter-Shallard-Recommended validation strategies for entrepreneurs. Each one guaranteed ten times more fulfilling than a burnout.
- 8 hour goal setting – set yourself a clear objective for the working day and call it success when you hit the target.
- Time at home – measure your success by the amount of quality time you get to spend at home. You pay a lot for your house… so go validate in it!
- Customer satisfaction – forget about money, focus on changing lives and making an impact instead. How would you feel if you measured your personal value by the number (and juiciness) of client testimonials you receive?
- Spread of ideas – you’re reading this on the internet. How far can you spread one really great idea? I can’t think of a better measure of your awesomeness.
- Influence – can you pick up the phone and secure a job interview for a trusted friend… just like that!? Pull some strings. Measure value and importance by influence.
- The look in your partners eyes – at the end of the day, what else really matters?
- Speed – how quick can you get today’s to-do list checked off? Do it twice as fast and prove yourself twice as smart.
- Leverage – Rock the 80/20 principal and move mountains. Brag about how tiny and well placed your lever was… not how hard you toiled.
- Don’t forget money – the world’s top entrepreneurs all describe dollars as the ultimate way of “keeping score”. Consider your week a good one if you earn lots, not stress lots.
- Leadership – mentor, coach and lead others to grow. Measure your effectiveness based on their progress.
Looking at this list, I’d actually bet that most entrepreneurs would give it a quick skim and dismiss it. Most business owners assume they’re already doing all of these.
Thing is, there is a huge difference between knowing this stuff and actually believing it. So many entrepreneurs can agree that these validation tactics are “important”, only to wake up to another day of busy. And another.
Changing the way you self-validate only happens through habit. That means setting the goals and planning the tactics that this list represents. Today, tomorrow and the next day. And the day after. And the day after that too.
The alternative? Read this list once. Forget about it. Get busy. Achieve less. Maybe have a meltdown. Keep doing the same things you’re doing now… and continue to get the same results you’ve always got.
That’s my final point.
Learning to self-validate better isn’t just for warm fuzzies. It’s really about shifting the bar of your behaviour and perception, so that you can rocket to all new levels of commercial success.
The more wholesome and rewarding your self-validation strategy is, the better you’re going to feel about your work and achievements. It’s no surprise that healthily validated entrepreneurs achieve more wealth and freedom than the rest.
Build a habit of positive, fulfilling validation and you’ll notice a rapid change in the results you’re capable of producing.
How could you start to validate more effectively? Got a form of validation to add to the list? Have your say in the comment section.