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What Would You Do on a Desert Island?

What Would You Do on a Desert Island?


    Lost

    has been off the air for a while now, but getting stranded on a desert island still looms large in most people’s imaginations. If your woebegone plane happened upon some sun-kissed atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, would you live or would you die? Who do you hope would be with you? What belongings would be most useful?

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    As a career and workplace writer, my thoughts naturally stray to what one would have to offer in terms of skills or traits that would aid survival and assist in the group’s society-building efforts. And because being on a desert island does bear some metaphorical resemblance to life in a modern office, let’s reflect on the characteristics that would make one successful and why.

    Essential #1:  Adaptability

    The circumstances of life on a desert island can be different from one moment to the next. Whether you need shelter from a violent rainstorm or a first-aid remedy for a cut foot, you have to be able to role with the punches and do what you need to do to manage whatever crisis is paramount. You have to be able to sleep on the ground and eat raw fish. To a less dramatic degree, life in a rapidly evolving business world is similar.

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    Essential #2: Ability to Assimilate

    You might not get to choose your desert compatriots, but you’ll want to do your best to fit in with the group and be one of the most likeable castaways. It’s important that you have a good sense of the civilization that’s developing on the island and support it rather than railing against it. Likewise, in today’s companies, those who are able to effectively assimilate into an already-established culture are much more successful than those who aren’t.

    Essential #3: Positive Attitude

    Inevitably, you will be faced with unpleasant situations while stranded, but complaining won’t get you anywhere. An optimistic and empowered voice will help the group stay on the right track and in the right frame of mind to withstand environmental stressors. Plus, it will make you – and everyone else around you – feel better.  In the business world, too, negativity will kill your career even if you’re smart and competent, but a smile will go far in terms of gaining cooperation.

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    Essential #4:  Focus on the Big Picture

    Details like how many pieces of kindling you need to collect or what to do with the plane’s debris are important, but these minutiae should not be allowed to overshadow the group’s primary objectives, which are to eat, drink, and stay out of the elements. Castaways – and employees – who stay focused on what really matters and concentrate on acquiring skills that will allow them to meet their goals will be rewarded for their efforts.

    Essential #5:  Leadership

    The effective leader who emerges among the castaways will not just jump in and seize power with no context or credibility. Rather, he/she will first strive to develop meaningful relationships and will make suggestions designed to leverage every person’s skillset and experience in a way that will benefit the group as a whole. In the corporate world, great leaders also forget strong bonds and draw on the collective wisdom of the group.

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    What other traits are most prized in the literal or figurative jungle?

    (Photo credit: Maldivian Desert Island via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2018

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

      The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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      The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

      Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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      Review Your Past Flow

      Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

      Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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      Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

      Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

      Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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      Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

      Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

      We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

      Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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