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Which Gang do you Belong To?

Which Gang do you Belong To?

    Lessons on the Freeway

    So there I was, cruising along the freeway at 110 kph (70mph) on my big, comfortable Suzuki, complete with the electric (up/down) screen to deflect wind and rain, full-face helmet (which covers the entire head, including face), waterproof jacket (with body-armour inserts) and waterproof gloves, when a guy on a Harley passes me doing around 120 kph (75 mph). Gotta say, he looked much cooler than me. Complete with open-face helmet (no face protection), a pair of teeny tiny sunglasses, no gloves, no screen (to deflect wind), some ripped jeans and an old leather jacket (not waterproof) with his gang symbol on the back. He probably thought I was just another big tosser on a Japanese bike. He may have been right.

    Commitment to the Cause

    With the wind nearly blasting his head off (courtesy of his open-face helmet) , the cold giving him frostbite on his fingers, face and knees and the combined noise of a Harley with shotgun exhaust pipes (that means loud!!) and an open-face helmet at 120 kph deafening him, I had to respect his commitment to his gang, the uniform and the code.

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    The code that says: no synthetic blue jackets with body armour (they are for sissies like me), no full-face helmets (also for girly-men) and gloves are only to be worn in snowstorms. The code that says, ‘this is our uniform’. Looking at his contorted face (courtesy of the wind) as he flew by, I began to think about the way we humans love to belong and the price we’re prepared to pay for that membership. To our gang. Our group. Our church. Our click. Our team. To something bigger than us.

    The Cost of Membership

    But what I really pondered as I cruised along (it was a long ride) was whether belonging was more likely to be a positive or a negative in our lives over the long term. Is it always good to belong? When isn’t it? What compels so many of us to ‘join’?

    Part of it is that we’re social creatures, and on a level, we love being in a ‘family’. However, sometimes in our efforts to belong, we compromise our values and beliefs, we lie to ourselves and we do anything we can to be accepted. Belonging (to something) can make us feel better about ourselves. If only for a while. It can also make us feel trapped.

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    Sometimes being a member of a group means security. Sometimes it means pressure. Sometimes it means ‘keeping up’, conforming and ticking the boxes. Sometimes belonging to a group can define us. It can also be where we lose ourselves. Sometimes in an effort to find ourselves we actually become a clone of others.

    Many people want to belong to something, no matter what. The thought of not belonging terrifies them. Somewhere and somehow they have learned that they’re not good enough, worthy enough or valuable enough on their own. They’re deficient unless they’re part of a collective.

    I’m not against belonging to a group (I’ve been involved in many) but I think once we all start to look, sound, walk and talk the same, alarm bells should ring. I don’t think my purpose is to be a replica, cyborg or mouthpiece for someone else’s ideas, message or mission. I think my purpose is to live a life in alignment with my core values. Whatever that means and whatever that requires.

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    If you belong to a group and you can honestly say that your life is better for the ‘membership’, then my advice would be to stay. If your membership (involvement in, or obligation to, the group) means something not quite so positive, then maybe it’s time for you to discover who you are beyond the group identity, the collective mindset, the gang rules and the weight of expectation.

    It might just be the most liberating and empowering thing you ever do.

    You’re welcome. =)

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    Some Discussion Questions:

    1. Have you ever ‘lost yourself’ in a gang?
    2. Have you ever lost a friend or family member? (no naming of specific groups please)
    3. Are you a member of a gang that makes your world a better place?
    4. What should we consider when we’re thinking of joining a gang?
    5. What advice do you have for people who feel stuck (trapped) in a gang (situation, group, organisation)?

    * Feel free to answer as many or as few as you like. Or… just add your general thoughts on the post.  :)

    Image: f650biker

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    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on July 27, 2020

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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