How to Be Intentional to Design an Authentic Life
In this interview excerpt, Brian Gardner shares great advice for people working at home and for those making the shift to building the personal enterprise.
Brian Gardner: Co-founder, CEO at Agent Engine. Minimalist designer at briangardner.com.Photo credit: Clover Street Studio
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How can we create a workplace where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Brian Gardner: First off, it depends on whether you’re referring to your own workplace at home—for those who are solo entrepreneurs like myself—or those who work in buildings and offices with other people.
For me, the best way to create a workplace that works is to surround myself with the things that make me feel comfortable.
As a creative, it’s very important for me to have a palette that allows me to paint the pictures I want to paint. If I have a busy atmosphere, then I cannot clear my mental clutter and create the things I want to create. I think a lot of it is just the general space you’re in. Whether it’s pictures, or furniture, or even music in the background. For me, those are all key elements to creating something that helps me thrive.
I just wrote a blog post on Authentik on creating more and consuming less. First, you need to give yourself the opportunity to step outside of the office if you will. I do a lot of my best creative thinking either on the trail or in the shower. The idea is to create enough of that time so you can come up with those things. But then follow it up with time where you’re back at the desk or back in front of the computer, so you can expand those thoughts you had into something that’s more meaningful.
What is the most important question we should ask ourselves?
Brian: The most important question we can ask ourselves is twofold:
(1) What is it I want to do, and
(2) What’s keeping me from doing it?
Really, the second question is the one I focus on because I think it’s easy for us to have wants, but am I willing to do it? Am I willing to sacrifice whatever it is to pursue that whether it’s a dream, a particular job, or even moving?
Identifying what you want to do and do you have the courage or tenacity to make that jump and a leap of faith?
Sitting here as somebody who loves the mountains, the easiest way for me to explain that is being at the bottom of a mountain and looking at the top of the summit and saying I want to be there. I want to ski down that hill. Am I willing to get on that lift? Am I willing to remove the barriers and go there? As you go down that hill, it’s a pretty good feeling. That’s what it really comes down to. Are you willing to take the step?
One lesson you talk about on your blog that I really liked is you said that the more you focus on how many people your work will reach, the less impact it has. Can you talk more about that?
Early in my career, I had the good fortune of being able to sell some products online that have taken off and enabled me to leave that situation to pursue a career on my own terms. I realize that not everyone gets that lucky and not everyone has that opportunity.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned over the years as a creative:
The more I focus on how many people it will reach, the less impact it has. The more I focus on how deep it will reach, the more impact it has.
During the 10 years, I’ve been doing online work, there have been seasons of where I was still living to work. This was still a job and still something I was trying to figure out. But over the last 4 or 5 years, as we’ve grown as a company and brought in mid-level management, I’ve been able to pursue outside projects and also more things I’m passionate about. I know it’s something people say all the time, and a lot of times people don’t believe it’s ever possible, but I get to wake up and do what I love every single day.
At some points and most times, I can’t even define the differences between living and working because as they say when you love what you do, it’s not work. For me, I get to create and that’s my job. That for sure is living a dream.
Note: This is a preview of the full interview. The complete interview was selected by Apress for publication and continues in The Future of the Workplace.