There are five key areas of productivity that must be mastered in order to build skills that are both effective and lasting. Mastery of these skills will enable you to take full control of your life. I call these The Five Fundamentals of Holistic Productivity.

  • WHAT are the five fundamentals?
  • WHY it is essential to master all five fundamentals?
  • HOW do the fundamentals work together to elevate your work, your goals, and your life?

The story begins here:

The Sherpa

The sun is high and the ice is melting. With the snow hanging precariously overhead and the threat of an avalanche, there is no choice. You have to turn back and lose a half day of climbing.

You are on a quest to reach the top of Everest — the highest mountain peak in the world. It is a 40-day journey and you cannot do it alone.

You were smart! You hired a sherpa to help guide you.

The sherpa knows that the current path is impassable. It is better to turn back and find another route. Luckily, there are many options.

Hiking. Climbing. Camping. It is not an easy journey, but it is worth it.

At this height, there are no flies. Those have been left behind you. Below you. The air is thin but clear. The view is spectacular and you can see great distances.

You may or may not reach the summit. The weather is out of your control and may force an early end to your quest. Whether you make it all the way or not does not matter. This experience is the most exhilarating of your life and nothing will change that.

The Fifth Fundamental of Holistic Productivity

The fifth fundamental of holistic productivity is your Inner Compass. You have heard it called:

  • Your Moral Compass
  • Your Values
  • Your Principles
  • Your Life’s Mission
  • Your Sherpa

It is your Inner Compass that guides you toward Right and away from Wrong.

It is your Inner Compass that defines what Right and Wrong are for you.

It is your Inner Compass that defines what is Important for you.

What is important enough that you would choose to change your entire life? Do you need to build better family relationships? Do you need to change your career in order to provide a better life for yourself and your loved ones? Do you feel compelled to move to a different part of the world?

It is not possible to answer these questions without an awareness of your Inner Compass. How else could you decide if a complete disruption of your current life is justified?

When your Inner Compass guides you to make a big change, it is not really choice. You know, deep down, that it is something that must happen. The difficult part is recognizing this and acting on it.

Is your career on the wrong path? Your Inner Compass — your Sherpa — knows that this path is impassable. It takes effort to first recognize this and then act on it. Changing careers can be risky. Changing careers can be scary.

Not changing when you know this, however, is worse.

You see the snow hanging overhead melting in the sun’s heat, yet you do not turn back. It is only a matter of time before the avalanche buries you.

It’s okay to change. As humans, we desire change. We desire movement in our lives. Just because the current path is not working does not mean failure. As long as you course-correct once you recognize the need, your quest is healthy.

Success is in your journey, not the completion of your journey. Success is having a quest. You may never see the spectacular view at the summit, but with your Sherpa guiding you through your life, it does not matter.

It is not an easy journey, but it is worth it.

Clear View

Even half way up the mountain, you can see beautiful things. The poetic intersection of mountains, valleys, and sky inspires you. You are not lost in the labrynth of paths. You plainly see the beginning and end of your journey and you see options for how to proceed.

With the flies left below you, you are free to view the landscape without distraction. It is not important which path to take, but you know which destination to aim for.

Your Inner Compass is a guide to where you direct your life. It is not distracted by the smaller details of your tasks or projects. It is your Inner Compass that has a clear view of the landscape and can see if the new career, new home, or new family is where you should aim.

Your Inner Compass will inform you when you should alter your path — if you are listening.

It’s All About Me

I wish I could tell you the perfect story…

My life was aimless and I was wasting my time in futureless jobs. I learned that I needed to formally define my purpose, define my values, and create a personal mission statement. Once I did this everything fell into place and now my life has meaning and my career has no bounds. My every action contributes directly to my greater goals.

I wish I could tell you all this, but it would be a lie.

I did discover my Inner Compass, but I did not discover it on my own. It’s true that a lot has changed since my discovery, but I cannot take credit for figuring this out.

The truth is, for the greater part of my life, I did not clarify my values, my purpose, or my mission. I was stuck in jobs with no future, but I thought I was at least okay.

I did not know then what I know now. It took a miracle for me to finally understand that I need an Inner Compass to help guide me toward a better life.

It took the birth of my daughter.

Suddenly, it was not all about me. Everything I would do from that point forward would be for the purpose of providing for this little, helpless, dependent and adorable baby.

  • I needed to provide a nourishing home where my wife and I could raise her.
  • I needed to provide food to keep her alive.
  • I needed to provide medical care to keep her healthy.
  • I needed to provide safe transportation so her world will be larger than just our home.

Some of my selfish choices in my life and my career now seemed more like petty whining. My purpose in life was thrust upon me from an external source. I was able to see things differently as soon as my daughter came into my world.

My daughter’s birth is what set me on my quest for personal growth and my newfound entrepreneurial aspirations.

Through my journey I have discovered my purpose, my values, and my life’s mission. Now that everything is so clear, it makes me wish I could go back to my younger self and explain how life can be simpler if you recognize your Inner Compass.

The good news for you is that it does not have to take a life-changing event such as the birth of a child to reap the benefits of your Inner Compass. You can discover your purpose if you seek it. You can create your personal mission statement if you simply try.

Be aware of your Inner Compass. Understand it. Hear it. Respect it.

Defining your values, principles, and your life’s mission will provide clarity. Your life will improve with a greater understanding of purpose and you will be more fulfilled.

Ignore your Inner Compass and you risk moving forward up the wrong path. The avalanche might not only fall on you but also on the people around you. The people you care about.

Be true to yourself. Be true to your Inner Compass.

The Five Fundamentals of Holistic Productivity — Part V