A New Performance Paradigm: Part 2

You’re a Seeker living in a Zombie’s world.

There are systems and structures in place, engineered to keep us in a state of distraction, addiction, and reactivity (sensationalistic headlines, social media feeds, marketing and political campaigns, food additives, porn sites…).

The economy depends on the masses needing to:

  • Stay busy
  • Be distracted
  • Feel better

We’re inundated with messages that beckon us toward these pursuits, and no one is immune.

Remember the Cultural Trance?

I know doctors, motorcycle mechanics, bankers, techies, and factory workers that have gone “all in” on the Zombie way of life. It’s all they know.

It begins in boyhood.

We’re downloaded with bad ideas that shut down our connection with a vital dimension of our masculine depth. Then we’re relentlessly conditioned to feel a sense of lack and emptiness—something we’re taught to fill with all manner of pursuits and things outside of ourselves.

A second-order effect emerges—a kind of drought of the soul is created, and our inner-world becomes a wasteland of shadows and ghosts. A place most men are not familiar with, nor comfortable navigating.

This leaves us untethered, like a tree with no roots.

Dark, I know. But it’s true.

Don’t worry though, the rest of our time together will be more upbeat (promise).

The good news is, as a Seeker you’re much better off than the mindless herd. You’ve managed to gain some perspective and are better at thinking for yourself. You’re not a “sheeple” (most of the time).

But these forces are ubiquitous and have shaped your perceptions from the time you were born. So don’t be too hard on yourself for occasionally falling into the current that most of the world is being swept along by.

As you internalize this framework, it will serve as a lens to view your attitudes and behaviors through, one that should make it easier to see when you’re straying too far into Zombie territory (and help you extricate yourself back to the land of the living).

The farther you can shift away from the realm of the undead (the shallow end of life), the better off you’ll be.

So, then, what does it mean to be a Seeker?

What does the Seeker seek?

Zombies seek comfort, safety, acceptance, distraction, escape, and relief.

And even though Seekers sometime chase those things (it’s only human), what drives them is different.

The Seeker’s quest is for growth and expansion

Earlier we noted that the Seeker loathes mediocrity and can’t stand the status quo. That’s why you’re always gathering more knowledge, frameworks, mental models, systems, apps, practices, and tools to increase your productivity and performance.

You want to know more, do more, and become more.

This way of life has served you well, helping you get where you are today.

Do you remember when you first stepped onto this path?

I’d like to share a quick story with you.

I vividly recall when I started to wake up and take control of my life. It was 1998 (I was 19), and a series of “fortuitous” events jarred me from my Zombie stupor.

The “Giant Hand of Destiny” came down from the sky and slapped me hard (and repeatedly). I lost my job, was in a bad car accident, went through a rough breakup, and developed some health challenges (good times).

My social circle evaporated too (probably for the best).

While in the hospital from the car accident, a CT scan revealed that I was born with one kidney.

Well, shit!

There was no going back for me. My life did a 180.

Isn’t it cool how when we’re ready, helpful people and resources appear like magic to aid us on our quest? (of course, many were there all along)

My grandmother had these creaky old bookshelves full of dusty books in the back room of her art studio (our family lived in the apartment upstairs). Hungry for change, I devoured texts on meditation, yoga, Chinese Medicine, nutrition, art, philosophy, history, tigers, and tea.

Grandma Bettie was a kind of Renaissance woman, and touched a lot of people’s lives with her wit, wisdom, and art. 

Man, what I would give to have tea with her one more time…

James-Grandma-Bettie
me and Grandma Bettie in 2006

Those early years of growth were magic.

When we first start down the path, the possibilities seem endless. Always something new to learn. A new system, lifehack, or philosophy to follow. 

Growth feels exponential and your potential seems limitless.

But those are the easy, beginner gains.

At some point growth levels-off, becoming slow, subtle, and incremental. And sometimes it feels like you’re not changing much at all. Especially when you find yourself struggling with your energy, clarity, focus, and productivity.

What happens then? 

You double down on what worked in the past, trying to become an even better Seeker. Leveraging productivity hacks. Managing your time. Doing 12-week years and GTD and pomodoro apps. Learning how to read faster. Working on your sleep, diet, and exercise.

Anything to give you an edge.

Don’t you wish it were like The Matrix, and we could download massive programs directly into our brains?

What you eventually come to realize is that the Seeker’s path has its limits.

And the reason you’re finding it hard to level-up (even though we both know you’re capable of so much more), is that you’re operating within a limited bandwidth of your mind’s full capabilities.

This brings us to our third archetype, the Surfer.