What is – ACT 1

I was laying in bed on a Saturday night back in 2018. This was during a time when I was deep in hole of emotional and mental burnout. And I was laying there, haunted by my never-ending to-do list. Driven by an insidious feeling that, no matter what I did or didn’t do, I was never doing enough.

I turned on Saturday Night Live and the comedian John Mulaney was hosting. And in his opening monologue, he said something that shook me. He said:

“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.”

It was at that moment that I made an important realization: That for every step technology takes toward becoming more human-like in behavior, we seem to take a step to meet it halfway.

If the entrepreneur is the modern-day rock-star, then Optimization, efficiency, and scale is the new sex, drugs, and rock n roll. We want the Productivity HACKS, the SMART PILLS. Anything to squeeze out that last drop of focus. 

Technology was supposed to set us free, and yet, many of us have chosen to imitate it. 

Each day we get online and confirm: I’m not a robot. Yet each day, we get out onto the battle-field and compete in a never-ending game of output.

The problem is that in this blind march toward “getting things done”, we’ve lost sight of the things worth doing. Humans are experiencing more burnout and stress-related illness than ever before. Eventually we have to ask ourselves: Why does it always feel like the more we get done, the more there is to do? 

And is feeling this way really the reward for all this hard work? 

 

What could be – ACT 1 

Of course, it isn’t like this for everyone. Throughout history and today, they are those who seem to have it all—careers, families, hobbies, exciting social lives. There are those who accomplish more than anyone else, yet they never seem stressed or overwhelmed.

I used to watch these people afar and wonder. How do they do it? What do they know that I don’t know? What is it that I’m missing?

And what I realized after a few years of research and lots of trial and error, is that what these seemingly superhumans figured out is that you don’t need to be superhuman at all. And that the key to living the productive and meaningful lives we want, is hidden in the same traits that separate us from the technology we’re trying to imitate.

That’s when I started to ask myself: What if the same traits that make us so flawed at efficiency, could be turned into strengths in effectiveness?

What if the true path of productivity wasn’t in endless hours of hustle and grind, but in embracing the tools and mindsets only humans can access?

 

What is – ACT 2

As humans, we’ve had some 200,000 years and a million reasons to evolve into industrious and useful beings. Being productive members of the tribe is in our DNA. So, it’s no surprise that when we put our ingenuity to use our minds race with a primal reassurance that we’ve earned our place in the world.

There was a time where society needed humans to be machines. The industrial revolution rewarded those who could work harder, faster, and longer than others.

But that’s no longer the world we live in. And I believe that one of the reasons so many humans are burned out and disconnected is because we’re still trapped in this old world definition of what it means to be productive and useful.

 

What could be – ACT 2 Hemingway

There is an Ernest Hemingway quote that comes to mind, which goes: “Never confuse movement with action.”

Which, updated for the new world would be, “never confuse movement with meaning.”

As human beings, we must have meaning in the work we do to feel truly satisfied. But the problem with searching for meaning through output is that we already have robots that can work 100 hours a week. We already have machines that can weigh the odds and see the probabilities.

What the new world needs for us more humans to get back to that which separates us from technology.

Creativity: That round-trip ticket to elsewhere and back again. Must be human to ride. Only humans can leave the material world through a secret hatch in the mind. To leave with real-world problems and return with other-world solutions.

Technology will never replace human creativity because codes and algorithms are built on predictions of what’s expected to happen…

Creativity is the unexpected.

What humans have is the power of curiosity. The power of empathy. The power of imagination.

We can imagine a new future, one that doesn’t exist yet, just by closing our eyes. Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, you can always count on a human to look at what’s available and imagine something better.

And finally, humans have the capacity for courage. We can identify and overcome our fear and turn empathy and imagination into tangible changes in the world.

 

What is – ACT 3

We are living in a time where old world skills are becoming obsolete. For those who are left to compete with artificial intelligence and automation, opportunities are diminishing. And the future no longer belongs to those who can “outwork” the others. 

The future belongs to those who are the most creative, empathetic, and courageous. It belongs to those who can stay human.

Because when technology does finally steal away the last chore or 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?  

 

What could be – NEW BLISS – ACT 3

It’s by re-aligning ourselves with what it means to be human that we can reclaim meaning and purpose in the work we do. We can escape the black and white world of robotic thinking and stagnant output.

When productivity is aligned with purpose, it doesn’t lead to overwhelm and burnout. It leads to more joy, pride, and connection. It leads to a greater excitement for life. And it’s by sharpening the skills of our human nature that we can create lives that we don’t need to take a vacation from.

It’s time to leave the hustle and grind to the machines.

It’s time to confirm once and for all: I am not a robot.

 

Thank you.