Hyper and Hypo Work

It’s hard for me to do “righteous work.”

What do I mean?

“Righteous work” is about being content with the work you are doing. Getting tired, but not exhausted. Taking chances, but not with reckless abandon. When its done, you feel right.

The other kinds of work I do happen to show mental fatigue.Too much fatigue and I get away from righteous work.

It becomes either:

Hyper Work – “workaholic” syndrome. Long hours, over thinking, overdoing. For example, if I am writing something, and the goal is 500 words, I do 1500.


Hypo Work – “avoidance” syndrome. Short hours, under thinking, under doing. For example, if I am writing something, and the goal is 500 words, I do 200.

Either way, I get consumed by fear, and constantly question my work.

Cursing As A Mantra – Getting Through The Lizard Brain and Resistance

I spent 3 hours cursing  and hitting the send button

I didn’t want to do it but I had to. It was January 3rd, and I felt scared. I came up with this proposal to email everyone I talked to over the last year a personal end of the year email. After doing it with the people I correspond with often, I got to the people who I emailed only once or twice.  So, I had to do something to get through it, so I just started cursing.

I think this is an opportune time to talk about resistance and the lizard brain, and why I turned cursing into a mantra to get stuff done.

Resistance and lizard brain, 2 of a kind

  • The “Resistance” – The “resistance“, developed by  Steven Pressfield, is a highway from fear to a state of avoiding work. The “resistance” is the mental gymnastics that we do to avoid hard emotional work.  It takes many forms, but excuses are its forte.  The most dangerous part of the resistance is its initial subtlety. We slip into it at a moments notice, and soon find that we ran through whatever time we had.

It’s late in the day, we are sitting at our desks, paralyzed with fear. It is nearing 3:30 — and you are currently fighting a war with yourself on moving forward with your work — the big picture stuff, the year-end goal, the thing that makes your eyes light up when you are in that state of flow.

A ping comes from your left and an email arrives – it becomes your salvation, because now you have “something to do” — and something that looks very busy, so the people around you know you are working.

While this is happening, you still can’t get rid of that sinking feeling you have, but, if only for a moment, it gets covered in the malaise of busy work.

Resistance has won — for another day.

  • The “Lizard Brain” – Popularized to me by Seth Godin, this is the concept of fight or flight.  We run to it the minute there is discomfort, because it instantly shifts the situation into something we know. Sometimes, there is nothing more comforting then blowing something up or ghosting. The most dangerous part of the lizard brain is its absolutism. We remove context and just jump into “action.”

Unfortunately, due to evolution, it is the strongest part of the brain. It makes sense – for most of our history, fight or flight meant everything.

If you are sitting in a meeting and you feel that uncomfortable “bleh” feeling,  Twitter is just one click away. (FYI: People with the business iPhone or Blackberry – email is the same escape)…Scariest part, it doesn’t get to make any decision of nuance, it has comfortable or this is it.

Why is this important to you writing emails?

Both act as alarms when I push through my anxiety. The emails that I wrote were end of the year emails, and what made me so anxious is that I had to fight through this idea that no one wanted to hear from me.  That factored in the resistance because we live in a world where distraction is simple. On my home PC there are computer games and on my phone there is Twitter and Facebook (my track record on getting lost with Facebook Video is embarrassing). The Lizard Brain worked its way in before i hit the send button, giving me the feeling to run away, and to push through I just started cursing.

It was my version of a mantra. “Send the ***** email.” It blocked it off long enough to get through to the world.

Sometimes you do what you have to do, no one said persistence is pretty. 

This post is a part of a series of posts based on my thoughts on “persistence.” This theme runs through March 2016 to merge my thinking. If you have any ideas or comments, please reach out to me on twitter @TheHonorableAT.