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  • Writer's pictureKrzysztof 'Chris' Daniel

Procrastination, fear and conditions & consequences

Last weekend, I learned something very, very interesting - that procrastination is caused by anxiety, and anxiety is, in fact, a hidden fear.

The mechanics look very reasonable to me - a person will pursue goals and complete tasks only if the after state is more attractive than the current one. The challenge is that there is no such thing as an ideal future which one can pursue. We only can set the direction and control where will we put our feet, but no self-respecting mapper should assume predictability.

I know that you know this, but I want to emphasise the fact the future is uncertain, which makes it impossible to imagine ideal end state, without which there is no motivation. And I find it a little bit ironic that low levels of motivation manifest themselves as energetic people who are everywhere. Those people are distracting themselves. They are just like organisations which have to execute projects and continuously change because everyone else is changing, because, as a leader in the organisation, you are not allowed to be idle.

In the interview above, you can find perhaps the greatest strategic play I have seen so far - achieving success by doing nothing. Imagine the level of courage required to even mention that to your boss.

And now, the trick. @BenMosior inspired me to think in categories of conditions and consequences. This is a convenient pattern of thinking, mainly because it not only removes the disappointment of not achieving but also shifts the focus to the desired process rather than the result. Doing things in the right way (enabling success to emerge) brings very little uncertainty, especially for small actions inspired by beliefs. Trying to do the right things (trying to achieve goals) is far riskier, and may be demotivating in some circumstances.

This brings me to the following table:

The last row (should it be the default one?) shows the attributes of a situation in which you may want to focus on the process rather than on the outcome.

How do you and your organisation cope with highly uncertain environments? How do you identify your next step?

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