“Everything moves too fast now. The world is run by computers. The world is run by robots. And sometimes they ask us if we’re robots. Just cause we’re trying to log on and look at our own stuff. You spend a lot of time telling robots you’re not a robot. Think about that for a second.” -John Mulaney, SNL, 2018
… <<<incoming message>>> …
Can you feel it?
That’s the world spinning faster than ever.
Are you keeping up?
Are you doing enough?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. This is the path to success.
If you’re distracted, uncertain, or uninspired, those are only temporary bugs. Just press this button, we’ll do the rest…
Soon, you’ll be the hyper-focused, hard-driving machine you’ve been working toward. No more idleness, no more aimlessness. Just pure, hot productivity.
What’s important right now is that you stick it out. Winners never quit and quitters never win. While you were sleeping the competition was working. You’re falling behind and your to-do list is getting longer. But, again, this is nothing to worry about.
This is just the new world. If you’re not stressed, you’re not doing enough.
It kind of makes you wonder though…
Will it ever be enough?
It was two years ago when I turned a slow-paced marathon toward mental and emotional burnout into a full-blown sprint. I can’t say I didn’t feel it coming. Those around me certainly did. But by the time I realized how far off the path I’d strayed, it was too late to turn around.
From the outside, things looked better than ever. I’d just landed a dream job with one of the world’s top marketing agencies. It was a remote team, which meant I could finally work from anywhere in the world. I’d spent the last few years learning how to write and was steadily growing an audience through my blog. And just a few months prior to breakdown—I asked the love of my life to marry me. I was working with great people, making more money than ever before, and my creative life was booming.
Between working full-time, planning a wedding, and stealing any extra moments to write, I was spread thin. Luckily, I had devoured plenty of productivity protocols and work/life balance hacks. I was well versed in the proverbs of “millionaire mindsets” and knew how important it was to hustle now so I could relax later.
My chronic state of busy left me anxious, but how could I complain? The pieces of the life I’d dreamed of were swirling around me. Money, success, security—the freedom I’d craved for so long was there for the taking. I wasn’t going to let it get away. I began making bargains with myself. “More money now will mean more time to write later. You can do it all. You just need better systems. It won’t always be this hectic, just keep going.”
It’s true that I could have managed everything with better systems, more intention, and a little more “balance.” But that wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that no matter what I did or didn’t do, I remained driven by an insidious feeling that I wasn’t doing enough.
Before I knew it, my underlying anxiety swelled into waves of overwhelm—crashing over my head each morning, prying my eyes awake. My work bled into all areas of my life until both could only be described as “frantic.” My writing became infrequent, despite the constant guilt I felt for not writing more. By this time, I was spending 80 hours a week in front of a computer or a smartphone—juggling the riptide of emails, commitments, and self-imposed deadlines. I’d peer over my screen with a bloodshot gaze and see my fiance’s worried face. My bosses, friends, and family all told me to slow down, but I just couldn’t stop.
I was obsessed with doing more. My creativity—now aching like a phantom limb—was thrown in the backseat while productivity rode shotgun. And yet, the more I focused on getting things done, the more things slipped through the cracks. The long hours, mental anguish, and physical tension wreaked havoc on my body. I developed tendonitis in my arms, knots in my neck, and a sour stomach from gallons of caffeinated stress.
Each day, I’d wake up and compete on the battlefield of productivity and go to sleep on what felt like a bed of hot knives—haunted by the things I didn’t get to, who I may have let down, and the countless ways I was letting myself down. The connection I once had to myself and the people around me had turned to static. My point of view was shrinking by the minute. I’d become a broken clock—constantly being wound yet always losing time.
There was a rare moment of clarity where I sat at my desk, head in hands, and thought about a job I’d had years before. There was a manager who would double my workload without warning. He’d say, “If you aren’t in over your head, you’ll never know how tall you are.” I thought back to that moment and realized that my head was now officially submerged and I was quietly drowning.
I could no longer deny what I’d done to myself. I’d become a burnt-out zombie with a Wi-Fi connection—sprinting through quicksand, repeating the mantra: If you’re not stressed, you’re just not doing enough.
Looking back, I see that the problem wasn’t in the amount of work, my growing list of goals, or the hours spent. It was in my approach. Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking about productivity as the vehicle and made it the goal. I’d lost sight of the purpose and meaning behind the work I was doing. And every hour blocked off on my calendar, every task added to my to-do list, only tightened the vise-grip of pressure on my heart and mind.
I was competing with robots.
And as I peeled my tired eyes away from the mechanical life I’d created, I realized I wasn’t alone…
Click Here To Confirm Your Humanity
As technology becomes more human in behavior, many people are terrified. They believe artificial intelligence will steal our jobs and rise up to enslave us. Other people watch in awe. They stand in line, ready to purchase the next model, the next breakthrough. They’re certain that technology is here to make our lives better and create more freedom.
This isn’t a science fiction story about robots. It’s not about questioning whether we should embrace or banish technology. It’s about something more urgent. A trend that—regardless of how you feel about technology or AI—has become undeniable. That for each step technology takes toward becoming more human, we take a step to meet it halfway.
Speed, efficiency, optimization—these aren’t just the traits we expect from our devices. These are now the qualities we demand from ourselves. Technology has given us incredible gifts. It’s allowed us to automate the repetitive, outsource the mundane, and child-proof the dangerous. We have calendars that sync, maps that guide, and access to all the wisdom the world has ever known.
And what do we do with it all?
We fill our calendars with more. We stay on the fast track. And we hold our opinions tighter and with more fervor—as if they were programmed into us. In our ongoing quest to become limitless beings, we’ve shifted our envious eyes away from the gods and toward something more quantifiable: output.
If the entrepreneur is the modern-day rock star, then optimization, scale, and efficiency are the new sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. We want the hacks. The SMART pills. Anything to squeeze out that last drop of focus. Where there was once time to savor, now there is no time to waste. The mental wanderings, afternoons spent without agenda, hobbies that have yet to become “side-hustles,” where have they gone?
Technology was meant to set us free. Instead, we’ve chosen to imitate it.
Click here to confirm your humanity: I’m not a robot.
Each day we confirm, yet each day, so many of us walk out onto the battlefield of cold, quantifiable output and compete.
The problem is not our ambition. On the contrary, to feel ambition and take action is a cornerstone of what it means to be human. The primal urge to be productive and add value to the world is a key ingredient to living a meaningful life.
The problem is that in our blind march toward productivity, we’ve lost our way. More humans are experiencing burnout and dealing with stress-related illnesses than ever before. Our society places a premium on hard work and chasing our dreams, making it acceptable to forsake time with friends and family in order to work. And when we do carve out time for others, we often feel guilty for not being more productive.
Through our insatiable appetite for getting things done, we’ve lost sight of the things worth doing. We’ve become so convinced that the key to success lies in an arms race of output, that it’s where we place all our focus. And when we fall short of reaching that success? We blame our human nature. Distraction, procrastination, the need to escape—these are bugs standing in our way.
It’s no wonder so many of us live in a state of chronic overwhelm. Humans make terrible robots!
Eventually, we have to ask ourselves: Why is it that the more we get done, the more it feels like there is to do? And is feeling this way really the reward for all this hard work? Because it isn’t like this for everyone. Throughout history and today, there are those who seem to have it all—hobbies, family time, successful businesses, creative endeavors, lighthearted attitudes. As I unraveled while chasing these things, I’d watch from afar and wonder, “How do they do it?”
These were people who accomplished more than anyone else, yet they never seemed rushed, overwhelmed, or burnt out. What did they know that I didn’t? What was I missing?
The answer wasn’t a complicated algorithm. It wasn’t a better scheduling app. What these seemingly superhumans had figured out was that you don’t need to be superhuman at all. That in fact, the same traits that run against what we think we know about being productive can be turned into secret weapons. That the same habits which make us flawed at efficiency can be turned into strengths in effectiveness. And that hidden inside our human nature are the keys to becoming the high-functioning, fully-realized, and yes—extremely productive humans we’ve been striving for.
This book, however, isn’t about getting things done. It isn’t a guide to help you, “work smarter, not harder” or find more “life-balance.” There won’t be any new productivity protocols to take back to the robotic battlefield. This is about creating a new path. It’s about creating a life you don’t need to constantly balance or take a vacation from. A life where all endeavors flow into a united stream of connection, creativity, and purpose.
This book is dedicated to the delicate art—and urgent goal—of staying human.
I wish I could say that I learned the lessons in this book long before writing it. There are some people who naturally know how to live a better life, run a billion-dollar company, or have mind-blowing sex eight-days-a-week. They’re told, “You have to write a book! People deserve to know what you know.”
This was not the path for this book. There was no one prodding me to share my secret recipe for success. I wrote this because it’s the book I needed to read. I researched and internalized these lessons in real time. Not only to “walk the walk,” but to try and get back to a place where I could wake up in the morning and not wish the day was already over.
The lessons in the book are built off the backs of those who came before me. It is a book of stories, filled with many famous names you’ll recognize. You’ll read how leaders, artists, scientists, and visionaries overcame the odds and accomplished great things—not by being robotic in work ethic, but by embracing their natural programming.
Through three sections—(re)Connect, Create, and Flow—we’ll re-examine what it means to be human and how to get the most out of our nature. We’ll (re)Connect with ourselves, the world around us, and what it means to live with purpose. Through Create, we’ll escape the black and white world of robotic thinking and bring our visions to life. And finally, with Flow, we’ll tap into our human hardwiring to do the work and find meaningful accomplishment. Not through endless hours of hustle and grind, but by embracing the tools and mindsets only humans can access.
This is not a rally against productivity. It’s a plea to clear the static from your line, answer the call, and do the things worth doing. The things that are in alignment with your purpose. Because without purpose, what good is productivity?
When productivity is aligned with purpose, it doesn’t lead to overwhelm and burnout. It leads to more joy, courage, and pride. It leads to more quality time with ourselves and others. It leads to a greater excitement for life. Anytime we accomplish these things, we are being productive.
Whether you’re in a creative rut, burnt out from endless chasing, or stuck in a Groundhog Day of mediocrity—know that there is another way. If you’re running a business, raising a family, or trying to make your mark on the world, the principals in this book will help you thrive. No matter who we are or where we’re at in life, we can all benefit from re-aligning ourselves with what it means to be human in an ever-changing world.
Because when technology does finally steal away the last chore, to-do, and mindless task; when robotic arms descend to cook our meals, drive our cars, and do our jobs, will we remember what to do with ourselves? Will our sense of connection and creativity have rusted over? Will we have forsaken our human nature for the hot breath of productivity on our necks?
It’s time to double down on what sets us apart from technology. It’s time to leave the hustle and grind to the machines and remember what it means to be human.
It’s time to confirm once and for all: I am not a robot.
“Productivity is for robots. What we’re really good at is wasting time. Innovation isn’t efficient. Art is not efficient. Relationships are not efficient. Efficiency is for robots.” -Kevin Kelly