2021 Book of the Year

It might seem odd that a company with a core value of “productivity” would choose a book of the year titled Do Nothing. But in a year of seeing people’s mental and physical health deteriorate due not just to issues a global pandemic continues to cause, but also because of the phenomenon of overworking and under living, we found the book captured the essence of putting productivity, and work, in perspective.   

As the author, Celeste Headlee states, “The question is not about whether you are productive but what you are producing.” And we would go on to say that the question also expands to examine the method in which you structure your production and whether or not it leads to healthier, more joyful lives and more meaningful output. 

Over the course of the year, we watched ourselves and our clients attempt to be on two to three virtual meetings at a time, catch up on work emails over the weekend because the work week demanded forty hours of meetings alone, and watched as story after story was brought up about people’s mental health crashing and therefore causing a complete meltdown of physical health.  Emergency surgeries were needed, trips to the ER for chest pains took place, and people cried at lunch with us because they were so exhausted and did not see a way out of their current state of life revolving around the need to meet “productivity” demands at work and at home. 

But as our core value of productivity intertwines with the value to put people first and to foster passion with an end goal of innovating the workplace, we found that many of us don’t have the bandwidth or the energy to innovate anything as we constantly chase the next goal or metric, all while trying to multitask as we are chained to our phones and computers. 

We’ve lost sight of the goal of work with purpose and replaced it with work towards some endless pursuit that creates exhaustion and insanity. This narrative may not be something you’ve personally experienced, but we’d venture to guess you know and love at least one person that has been impacted by this conundrum. 

So, we all took or are taking sabbaticals in 2021 and 2022 to think deeply about what this means and to develop training and insights to shift the paradigm for ourselves and our clients on what it means to work, to be productive, and to think deeply about just how we got to this point where enough is never enough. 

Do Nothing provides a history and research lesson about how, over the past 200 years since the industrial revolution, we’ve gotten here and gives us six “life-back strategies” on “how to break away from overworking, overdoing, and under living.”  

And although we as a team may not agree with everything Headlee postulates in her narrative which may be more based on how she defines work (something for pay) versus how we do (something for pursuing purpose), we agree with its method of the scientific practitioner approach by taking sound research and applying the learnings of that research in our own lives and workplaces to experiment and learn.  Then, we can follow the information and data our learning provides to make better decisions. 

And as Headlee suggests, in our metric obsessed world, sometimes the information provided doesn’t come in the form of numbers but in the way we feel.  We need to be paying more attention to how we feel and what that means for us to be productive in a way that leads to creativity and innovation. This book provides us with the opportunity to think about how to do that.   

In fact, one method of feeling should be tied to our ability to have time to think, not just do.  Our ability to think, apply, and learn is what separates us as human beings.  It’s what makes us human and it’s what produces great work.  It’s what produces innovation. 

Given the thinking and learning we’ve done over the course of 2021 and into 2022 on the topic of workplace wellness and wellbeing and in an effort to innovate the workplace through people practices, we are excited to be offering workshops- one on a cruise ship, yes on a cruise ship!- to help you come to understand the research, design experiments at your workplace, and help follow the data and the feelings to help not only yourself but also to help your workplace build a culture where people thrive.  To not just create change at the individual level, but to create it through organizational systems and structures.  These workshops will also provide an opportunity for relationship building and fun.

The premise of our book of the year and our workshops is not to literally “do nothing” but to realize we’ve gone so far to the opposite extreme that we need to find a way to focus on doing nothing so that we can center ourselves so that we can find balance and pleasure not only in leisure but also in work, and to realize that sometimes they are both so integrated that you cannot have one without the other. 

We are so appreciative of the opportunity to pursue purpose with you this year.  Thank you for your business and your friendship.  Blessings to you and your organization as we all strive to build workplaces where people thrive and enjoy doing work worth producing and have the health and mindset and permission to enjoy leisure.  Both are noble goals, and both require one another to happen.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create organizations where people thrive, please visit our Illuminate website at: https://horizonpointconsulting.com/illuminate/


Mary Ila Ward