5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time lay on my kitchen table, watching and waiting. I'd glance over at it while I read fiction and non-fiction and who knows which is which when you read the news from any source these days. But the book with its, what I've come to recognize as a standard Wiley cover: simple, clear, bold and contrasting colors and a clever title, sat and watched me through two weeks of dinner, lunch, breakfast.
Ah, but strong was the force to ignore it, to dismiss it as Yeah, yeah, another book about being present, work-life balance (what a concept) and all wrapped up in a pretty cover and a title with a snappy metaphor. Gears. 5 of 'em. Yawn. Good for them.
Strong is the force and even stronger was the cynicism.
When my friend pitched it to me I told her: I can't commit to it at this time. That's a book reviewer's version of It's not you, it's me. I can't commit. ( Jeezus, I can be lame. But I'm less lame these days, so that's progress.)
Anyway. Somehow the gods organized the book to be sent anyway.
After a few weeks of my dutifully ignoring it, she asked if I'd written it and she just hadn't seen the link. She was sure it was up, would I send the link.
So, the next day I started reading it.
Now, I'm so glad she did - send the book and follow up - and I did: read it.
The author's story, the catalyst for the book, made me wince, shake me head. All the time I thought Ow, ow, ow. Every other sentence reminded me of things said and not said. Oh but why stop there. I saw opportunities overlooked, possibilities never made possible and probably never will, either. Who knows. I had to put the book down while all that rose over me like a small tidal wave of ... learning.
So, yeah, thanks for that ...
And, if that was the entire book it would still have been worth the read. A life unexamined is not worth living. And those painful moments helped me understand more. Maybe the future will offer a chance for me to apply those first learnings from the book.
But that wasn't the entire book.
The authors walk you through the different gears of your day and how and when to use them and how and when to avoid them. They show you how to avoid burning out your transmission, your ability to engage with the sources of inspiration and motivation and ideas and passion and meaning. Your family and friends and community.
But unlike my excuse it's not all about you. It's about them. See? The authors show you how to avoid burning out your connections with those you love, with those you depend on and with those who depend on you, need you, want you to be present in their lives. Same people. Running this metaphor to death, you continue to engage with them and now you're their inspiration, motivation, passion, source of ideas and meaning. See?
There's no promise in the book to live the life of your dreams. There's no happy-crappy talk about being positive or affirmations or just say no - just deny it. Hope is not a strategy and they don't suggest it. Instead, they offer practical, doable (hell, even for me) steps to do all that they promise: be present and be productive when there is never enough time.
If an unexamined life is not worth living, then an unmanaged life, where you run in 5th gear, all-out all the time racing through the next curve hoping to reach the straightaway so you can race home ... See, but you never get home because home is always around the next email or phone call or text or like or comment. So we have a bias towards lives unexamined and lives unmanaged.
Wanna know why? Sometimes it's safer or we think it's too late. But it's not. You can gear down. The book steps you through how to gear down and be present and find the time to "be productive" is a little utilitarian and "be present" is a little trendy. How about "live?"
(What if the title was 5 Gears: How to Just Live and Breathe with Those You Love. Yeah, but it's a work book. Anyway.)
And you should buy it. And be present and be productive ... and breathe and wonder and wander and make eye contact and listen, breathe some more. And live. One gear at a time, the right gear at the right time. Your family will thank you. So will your friends and partners and co-workers. That will allow them room to be present and be productive ... and breathe and wonder and wander and make eye contact and listen, breathe some more. Now, we're talking a small group of people ... a movement, kinda like Alice's Restaurant.
And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . Walkin' in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and reading a copy of 5 Gears? Friends,they may think it's a MOVEMENT.
Who knows what can happen when you start to, not slow down, but stop spinning in place, start using the right gear ... with those you care about. You might create a tiny movement of what? People who can be present and be productive ... and breathe and wonder and wander and make eye contact and listen, breathe some more. And live. Your family will thank you. So will your friends and partners and co-workers. Then they can do the same thing: be present and be productive ... and breathe and wonder and wander and make eye contact and listen, breathe some more. Then their families and friends can repeat the process.
You got something more important? A text message, an email...?
Go read the book, use the right gear. Make somebody happy. Make yourself happy.
****MORE ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Jeremie Kubicek is co-founder of GiANT Worldwide. He is also the bestselling author of Making Your Leadership Come Alive: 7 Actions to Increase Your Influence and speaks to organizations around the world about transformational leadership, emotional intelligence, and personal growth. He currently resides in Oklahoma City with his wife and three children.
Steve Cockram is co-founder of GiANT Worldwide. He is a recognized around the world as an expert and sought-after speaker on the topics of personality development, applied leadership learning and culture change with executive teams and organizations. He resides in London with his wife and three children.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR 5 GEARS:
“5 Gears will profoundly change the way you see yourself and your interaction with others in every area of your life. How many books do that?”
– Patrick Lencioni, President of The Table Group and author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage