Did acedia get me last week?
Some of you may wonder: “Did Jon get so bored by acedia that he wrote about why I need a Client Happiness Specialist? Or was he truly inspired?” I like to think that it was the latter, of course! But, let’s explore if it may not be acedia.
Let’s return to our analogy of acedia as a pet we may unconsciously host. I grew up in Hawaii where geckos—little two inch-long lizards—get into houses and become our insect-eating “pets.” They are harmless but, at times, unnerving to see scurrying across the walls or ceilings. Acedia is like that—it seems like a harmless gecko. Pretty soon you begin to forget it’s in the room with you. Then, you get a surprise when one drops from the ceiling onto the desk where you’re studying!
Acedia is referred to as the “noonday demon” because it’s brash and fearless. Like the gecko, it blends into the home of our lives and businesses and lulls us into complacency. We think it inconsequential—until it falls onto our desk.
When asked how things are going, how often do you respond with, “Great! I’m so busy. It sure beats the alternative!”
Even as you’re busy do you
- Struggle to stay on top of all the necessary details of your life?
- Find yourself doing “good enough” preparation for meetings?
- Pay too little (or too much) attention to firm financials?
- Treat employee departures as a regular part of “doing business” and mindlessly replace them?
- Spin your wheels on lost opportunities or wallow as you face the difficulties moving forward?
If so, you’re likely suffering from the great American affliction—not “busyness” but acedia. Learning to cope with acedia recalls to me a scene from “A Beautiful Mind:”
When Nash is walking with a member of the Nobel Prize committee, he knows he’s being screened to see if he’s still “crazy.” While still suffering from schizophrenia, he tells the committee member, “Everyone has a past that still haunts them.” Later in this scene he also says,” I still hear the voices. But I’ve learned to not pay them any mind.”
You can pay too much attention to the geckos of acedia until they seem to transmogrify into Komodo dragons that can eat you alive. Or you can pay too little attention to the geckos of acedia, and they will startle you in broad daylight.
But if, like Nash, you maintain awareness of them but choose to not engage them, you can most likely keep them at bay.
What happened to me last week:
The gecko of acedia was definitely scurrying about. I could have focused on a very real loss—the imminent departure of my CEOS, as I did a few weeks earlier. After a couple weeks of letting the gecko grow to Komodo dragon-like dimensions, I took action. Weeks before her departure, I focused energy on finding her replacement. Then, as the transition occurred I focused on gratitude—rather than losing a CEOS I gained a Client Happiness Specialist.
Even so, I know that next week the gecko is scurrying off toward another corner of my life and business! It will beckon me to fall into mindless busyness.
What are the geckos in your life and your business that you need to pay attention to? Or ignore?
Who’s a friend or colleague you can trust to know you’re not crazy but paying just enough attention to your geckos?
When might your geckos be flying below your radar? Ask yourself if any of these “symptoms” might also be true for you.
- Getting busier—NOT the root cause;
- Disconnecting from friends/family—“too busy;”
- Hiding in what you love—spending too much time on a single client’s case.