I’m suspicious of productivity. And I’m obsessed with it.
I’m a product of my generation, and for us productivity matters. We live in a world that is outcome-obsessed, driven by metrics and external performance. We look busy, and we’re damned good at it. We eat at our desks and find ourselves checking email right before bed and right when we awake (is that another email from 11:13 p.m.?).
But when I get obsessed with external productivity at the sacrifice of internal centeredness, my work suffers. My managing suffers, projects stall, and I create inferior work products, all because I forgot the fundamental thing that makes work fruitful: I forget to lean in. And leaning in takes space. It doesn’t always look productive.
I’m suspicious of productivity, because emotions aren’t efficient. Neither is systemic change. Yet at my core, I believe the most important work I can do results in changing hearts and systems for the long haul.
I find that in today’s world, there’s often not much space for truth-telling about the condition of our own souls—and certainly not in the office—yet I hold resolute that this kind of truth-telling matters a whole lot. I find I get in trouble when my heart and my work go down two separate paths, and even worse trouble when I leave my heart behind.
What does it look like to live in the intersection of work and heart? It means I ask the hard questions even if it feels vulnerable. It means I stay present in meetings rather than checking my cell phone. It means I cry with my colleague whose parent is sick. It means I respond to criticism with curiosity rather than defense.
It’s hard work to stay in the intersection of work and heart, and I will always feel the tension between moving fast and making space. But when I do, it means my work—and my soul—are well.
Emily Chittenden-Laird is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network, the state’s alliance of child advocacy centers. Emily provides leadership in every aspect of the CAC movement in the state — from training to fund development to advocating for public policy. Three things to know about Emily: she loves serving on the Generation WV Board of Directors, she’s a wildflower enthusiast, and she’s jealous of the knights and ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.
Like party favors, but for your brain. Enjoy these weekly goodies including viral videos, interesting articles, curated playlists, and more!
- LISTEN: Emily’s back and her playlist is better than ever.
- READ: What if we could be our whole selves at work?
- KILLER PODCAST: Check out the Mystery Show.
- VIEW: People I’ve Loved, an Instragram to follow.