Awakening from Delusions of Grandeur

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is the ego a window to the soul
Image by alshepmcr

It’s a strange world we live in online. Delusions of grandeur call, singing like that sweet Siren in the midst of the sea. To win, we must appear like we are Doing Important Things, but in the end we find our lives dashed on the rocks.

I’m speaking about the competitive rat race to see who can get the most social media rock star badges; keynotes, books, followings, awards, blog mentions, yeah!

I have to admit, I got caught up in this hooplah again during the past year. Then I looked at my real life (the one I physically walk around in), and my toddler clinging to my pants leg crying every time I moved to the door, afraid that she wouldn’t see me again for days.

Well, when that happens it’s time to reevaluate what matters.

As the New Year turned I focused on less demanding projects, reduced my travel, and invested in more personal family time.

With no hard deadlines or need to market publicly declared personal projects, I am free. And it feels great, a new sense of levity and sanity.

How Projects Become Distractions

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I remember my time with the monks of Plum Village. They kept talking to me about projects and how they distract us from being present. I didn’t realize that they were suggesting this for a reason, but sure enough, a few years later the message hit home.

You could say the bubble I was stuck in popped. Delusions be gone.

I have my business, my family and whatever else I choose to invest my time on, which for the most part remains private and not online (and that feels good, too).

What a sense of relief to not have anything to do or serve anyone else online. I have no hole to fill, no persona to live up to, no need to compete with my peers. Instead, I am present.

Sure, I get asked to do things, I might be tempted, but when I consider the time investment and impact, I just say F*&$ It, and move on. Windmill chases can wait another day.

The business demands enough of me, usually 60 hours a week or more. Then there is a half hour or more spent every day on physical therapy (I had microfracture surgery on my knee a month ago to repair cartilage damage).

Now that I am home, I try to invest three hours a work day with Soleil. Weekends offer significantly better periods to parent.

I invest the precious remaining time as I see fit, some of which includes Very Unimportant Things. At least to the online digerati.

It’s not that I won’t continue writing, speaking, running races, or pursuing other projects with my free time. But the project has to be one of significant personal value, too. Time commitment is quite a sacrifice.

When Grandeur Is Gone Life Can Happen

Last weekend, I planned to spend a few hours on one of my personal hobbies. But Soleil woke up in the middle of night on Thursday, demanding parental attention.

I opened the door. She had climbed half way over the crib, and basically jumped into my arms. A repeat performance on Saturday cemented it: Soleil needed a new bed before she broke her neck. Thus my grand plans fell to the wayside.

We drove to Ikea where she chose her bed by laying down and play napping in it. After a real nap with her Mommy and Daddy’s physical therapy time, we built the bed together.

Soleil handed me tools, screws and bolts while playing in the frame.

Though she is a girly girl stylistically, Soleil has quite an engineering mindset, really getting into puzzles, cars, computers and lego bricks. So it was only a mild surprise to see her insist on helping.

We hi-fived when the job was done. Soleil was excited: She helped build her first bed.

The time expenditure I planned couldn’t replace that radiant smile, not to mention knowing my daughter wouldn’t fall out of her crib.

And because I wasn’t set on chasing that very public Quixotic or Faustian dream of greatness, I didn’t really miss my hobby time.

Such a freeing moment. What a relief.

Have you ever had this kind of epiphany?

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  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    I adore you, Geoff. This post is perfect.

    • geofflivingston

      And I even edited it one more time afterwards.

  • http://twitter.com/Spafloating Pamela Morse

    Free at LAST!! Great God Almighty,so happy for you.

    • geofflivingston

      Hahahahahahha!

  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    What Margie said. God bless you.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/RogierNoort Rogier Noort

    Good for you.., I always enjoy reality-check posts….

    • geofflivingston

      I just wish they weren’t so painful! LOL.

  • http://twitter.com/RoWPodcast Riffing on Writing

    Stupid onions.

    • geofflivingston

      LOL.

  • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian D. Meeks

    I love building things from Ikea and with Lego blocks. It sounds like your daughter has excellent taste in what is fun.

    • geofflivingston

      Me, too. I think we’ll have some good times together! Cheers!

  • Brent Carnduff

    Very nice post Geoff! No role in life is more important than that of “Dad” or “Mom”. I wish you the greatest success in it!

    • geofflivingston

      I agree, she means the world to me!

  • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

    this is beautiful. that is all.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you. Hope you are doing well.

  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    Based on your comment about Soleil’s engineering mindset, this is the perfect toy for her: http://youtu.be/y-AtZfNU3zw
    And as far as the getting off the gerbil wheel and committing to what’s important first, well…we’re kindred spirits on that. Cheers! Kaarina P.S. let me know what you think of GoldieBlox…I think it’s simply the coolest!!!! Something for you and Soleil to play with.

    • geofflivingston

      The reading component is dead on. I just forwarded the video to Caitlin, looks like a huge winner! Thank you for this little discovery!

  • Pat Riccards

    Thanks for putting this into words. I actually had a near identical epiphany a few weeks ago. Now I’m in the process of reframing professionally so I can focus personally.

    • geofflivingston

      I think this is an issue every working family person faces. It’s inevitable I suppose.

  • http://twitter.com/shelleypringle Shelley Pringle

    Beautiful. A good reminder for all of us.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you, Shelley.

  • http://twitter.com/ericamallison Erica Allison

    Our children are an excellent reminder about what matters most. All else can either support what matters (work) or nourish (family, hobbies, time to recharge). Good for you for putting it into perspective.

    • geofflivingston

      Always a constant battle that’s worth the fight plus 1000. Hope you are doing well, Erica.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    I made a decision a while back to reframe how I was approaching business so that I could provide more focus on my family.

    I was spending far too much time working and missing too many moments with my family. Of course I was working hard in the name of my family, but you can’t replace time so…

    • geofflivingston

      No, you can’t, and I find by flipping things around, I just burn midnight oil instead, which seems to work better for the kid.

  • Alicia Kan

    Excellent piece. I scaled back myself last year after realising that I had created a digital landfill of significant proportions, yet as a legacy body of work the value was questionable in some areas (my location check-ins illuminate no one, for example).

    I’m now pruning the platforms I’m on and blogging only when I think I’ve got a relevant idea, not churning out oh-god-I-must-post-something-this-week-or-I’ll-be-out-of-the-running pieces. It’s freed up more time to pursue depth and clarity about concepts that genuinely interest me, instead of constantly racing to skim, mention, then move on to something new.

    I don’t have a Soleil of my own (lovely name), but I too want to build a solid bed for the ideas that are my children.

    • geofflivingston

      As we get more and more platforms on board, it will be harder and harder for people to become omnipresent. We are forced to make choices. The sooner we realize that, the better for our own lives, I think!

  • http://www.b2bkingdom.com/ Andrea Naomi

    Absolutely…I went through exactly the same thing; completely different manifestation “obviously” in mid 2012 …deep breath -> focus -> LIVE ! Thanks for the refresher

    • geofflivingston

      It’s always good to remind ourselves on what matters.

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