The Misconception of Motivation and Productivity in the Tech Industry and the True Superpower of Mindful Resilience
The tech industry is often a productivity-driven rollercoaster ride with high stakes, tight deadlines, and an endless to-do list. To keep up with the pace, many people put the pedal to the metal and ride the wave of motivation. But, as surfers told me when I lived in Australia, waves eventually crash, and it’s a long wait for the right wave to come. They taught me their secret: it’s not motivation that keeps us paddling but the resilience we’ve built along the way. Resilience is the superpower that helps us get back on our boards and find the strength to paddle against the waves after all of the waves have hit us.
I hear you say, “But I’m not resilient; I wasn’t born with that.” No problem and no excuses—resilience is a strength you can develop, and in the next few months, I will teach you how! Hi, I’m André van Kempen, and today I’d like to debunk the glorification of motivation. In my previous article, “How to Become a True Full-Stack Engineer: Developing Your Mental Resilience,” I highlighted the importance of resilience for IT professionals. By building resilience, you can deal better with stress, keep your mind on the task at hand, and improve your job performance and overall health. Only today, I’d like to frame the concept of “resilience” a little bit more specifically by introducing the term “mindful resilience.”
So, what are your thoughts if I told you that the key to staying focused and achieving success in the workplace is cultivating mindful resilience rather than simply being motivated? Buckle up because we’re about to take a deep dive into this underappreciated superpower that will have you saying, “Motivation, who?”
I: Motivation and Productivity Overkill
Motivation and productivity have become the staple buzzwords of the modern tech industry. Every office has a poster with an inspirational quote, and a dozen productivity apps are fighting for your attention. But why are we still struggling to stay on top of our tasks?
The answer is found in the ephemeral nature of motivation and the allure of productivity. Motivation is like a sugar rush–it feels great while it lasts, but eventually, it crashes, leaving us in a state of despair and procrastination. On the other hand, productivity often focuses on checking off tasks rather than making meaningful progress. It’s like climbing a ladder with no idea where it leads.
II: Resilience – The Unsung Hero
Enter resilience, the unsung hero of the tech world. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and persist in the face of adversity. It’s the quiet strength that keeps us going when motivation has left the building.
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Resilience doesn’t care about your perfectly curated to-do list or how many productivity hacks you’ve mastered. It’s about embracing failure, learning from it, and finding the determination to try again. It’s about recognizing that success isn’t a straight line but a meandering path filled with twists and turns.
Only often does resilience get confused with being tough, strong, mescaline-infused, and unstoppable, like the terminator.
In my eyes, this is not resilience; this is more being stupid, or as a clever man once stated, insane…
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
— Albert Einstein
Because of this, I believe it’s important to add an extra layer of mindfulness to resilience. This will help us to become more aware of our actions, responsibilities, and the influence of the outcomes for ourselves and others.
III: Mindful Resilience – The Ultimate Combo
Now that we’ve established the importance of resilience, it’s time to level up with mindful resilience. Mindful resilience combines the adaptability and persistence of resilience with the self-awareness and purposefulness of mindfulness. This powerful combination gives you the ability to face challenges with a clear head, a strong sense of purpose, and a strong sense of focus.
So, how can you cultivate mindful resilience?
Here are some ideas:
- Practice mindfulness: Develop the habit of being present in the moment while observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This will help you respond more effectively to stress and adversity.
- Embrace a growth mindset: View challenges as opportunities to learn and improve rather than as insurmountable obstacles.
- Practice self-compassion: No, this doesn’t mean be a softie… I mean, treat yourself with respect and kindness (like you treat others), especially when you struggle. Recognize that failure is a natural part of growth and success.
- Build a support network: Surround yourself with people who uplift, encourage, and challenge you to be your best.
- Set realistic achievable goals: Break down your goals into smaller, achievable tasks and celebrate your progress along the way.
Over the next five weeks, we will explore a new idea, providing various exercises to enhance comprehension and establish a practical approach to these concepts. With the ultimate goal of “Helping you seamlessly integrate these concepts into your daily life as a developer or engineer”.
Exercises for today — Strengthening your focus and attention
To not let you leave empty-handed today, I’d like to share two simple exercises you can use daily to strengthen focus and attention.
One important note: As you read this article series, I hope you’ll see it as an opportunity to practice, embrace vulnerability, and approach learning with a beginner’s mind. Because even if you’re learning nothing new, I’m sure that I will give you lots of opportunities to challenge yourself and maybe even your colleagues.
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