by Dave Wine, President & CEO
Most of us suffer from what I would call “action addiction”. That simply means that we feel best when we are doing something. We love to accomplish, get things done, cross things off of lists, and feel a sense of accomplishment. Much of that is just fine. But action addiction also keeps us from focusing on those things that really matter. And it keeps us focused on the small things we can achieve quickly rather than the bigger things that take time and energy or the key issues in our lives. In the workplace, action addition can mean we get so busy doing our tasks, crossing off our ‘to do’ lists, managing the routines of work, that we forget we may not be focused on what is most important and what we really need to be doing. We climb the ladder but forget it is leaning against the wrong wall!
Don’t get me wrong. We need activities in our lives. We have to answer the phone, write emails, cook, clean, care for our families and others, file things, open mail, etc. And we like staying busy and accomplishing because that literally releases dopamine in our brains which provides a sense of gratification. So the more we get done, the more dopamine which feels good for short periods of time. But that gratification can hide from us those things that are most important or that we really should be doing instead and studies show the highest and longest lasting gratification comes from accomplishing major projects or life focus. Why mindfulness becomes so important is that it slows us down enough to focus on those priorities, making sure our ladders are leaned against the right wall or doing the right things for the right reasons.
The best test to see if we are ‘action addicts’ is this: Stop at times during the day for a full three minutes. See if you can quiet your mind for that length of time. Can you keep awareness on your breathing or any other object you choose? Can you stay focused on just being? Can you let your mind ‘do nothing’? How hard is it for you to do? It is important to practice this because as we learn to do this we learn to slow down to speed up. Speeding up is doing the right things, the priority things, staying focused on what really matters. That is not done by crossing things off a list or moving quickly from task to task, but by attentively allowing space to happen between tasks and activities. It is listening rather than doing. Sometimes “doing nothing” is the most important thing we can do!
David is the President and CEO of the MAX enterprise, having served in that capacity since its formation in 2001. He has forty plus years of leadership experience in the business and faith-based worlds, being an ordained minister, having been elected to the highest position in his denomination, and receiving numerous awards and recognition for his leadership in the insurance industry. He currently serves on numerous boards in the church and insurance sectors. His hobbies include hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing as well as being an avid reader. David and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.