Tag Archives: blogging

The six styles of procrastination

I recently resolved to blog more frequently on my leadership and positive psychology based blog, Flourish Mentoring (the one you are reading), and an internal goal I had set for myself was to blog each day if possible. Like all procrastinators, I typically end up blogging just before the day is ending (to meet my internal deadline/goal) and like all procrastinators I sometime miss the deadline too:-) / or end up doing a poor quality job!!

I keep a to-do list of topics/ ideas on which I would like to blog, so its not the case that I have run out of ideas; however one thing or the other pulls me from writing earlier in the day (for e.g. today was a weekend and I had enough opportunities to write something during the day).

The reasons are myriad and so today when I came across ‘It’s about time: The six style of procrastination and how to overcome them’ by Linda Sapadin and Jack Maguire, I could immediately see a connect. I could see each of the styles playing a role in my procrastination in one way or the other. But before we go there, lets recap what the six styles are (picked form this lovely resource for students [pdf] :

The Perfectionist : You’re overly concerned with not meeting high expectations; you work so hard you never finish (or, sometimes, never start).
The Dreamer: You’re great at planning and scheming but frustrated by the practical reality of sitting down to do hard work.
The Worrier: “What ifs” get in the way. You avoid making decisions, resist change, and are fearful about the unfamiliar.
The Crisis-Maker: You enjoy the last-minute adrenaline rush and tell yourself you work best under pressure.
The Defier: You rebel against external deadlines and expectations. You might be overt about this, or you might exhibit a more passive-aggressive kind of defiance.
The Overdoer : There’s too much on your plate because you can’t say no or set appropriate boundaries. As a result, there’s never enough time to do it all.
To elucidate the above let me apply to my daily blogging goal.
1. The perfectionist: The perfectionist in me delays starting the blog-post as I have uncompromisingly high standards as to what depth a blog post should have and that it should not be trivial or of little use to readers; as such I continue ruminating if my choice of topic is good enough and typically do a lot of reading and thinking before starting with the piece. Perhaps instead of being obsessed with getting each post loved by the readers, I can be more experimental and learn from which posts failed and couldn’t make an impact, and so be less choosy while putting my thoughts to paper.
2. The dreamer: Perhaps the dreamer in me dreams of writing great blog posts regularly and can conceptualize in abstract what the impact could be, but when it comes to the hard work of researching for the post or articulating in lucid words, that practical stuff involving putting your ass to the grind, seems to be a stumbling block. Perhaps I wait for inspiration to strike; while getting on with the mundane job of researching and writing is all that is required.
3. The worrier: The worrier in me worries what -if the readers reject my post and neither share nor comment, neither praise, nor criticize, but just ignore it? This fear of failure perhaps prevents me from writing as frequently as I would wish to! Perhaps I am dragged down by the fear of what-if  the blog post is not a success; perhaps the way out is to reassure oneself that even-if no one reads right now, I would have created original content that would be found useful by someone at some time or the other.
4. The crisis- maker: the crisis maker in me loves the opportunity to prove myself , yet again, at the 11th hour; writing close to midnight, under the tight deadline of an unforgiving and departing day, is much more fun than writing earlier in the day.  This is the typical ‘I enjoy working under pressure’ attitude; perhaps the antidote is to indeed try writing earlier in the day for some days and see how it goes.
5. The defier: I hate external authorities and controls and rebel against this self -imposed guideline of writing daily, which feels more like an external command. So I rebel and postpone writing a  post. Perhaps the way out is making peace with the fact that its my commitment earlier to write more frequently that got me here and that I need not battle my own earlier decisions but can negotiate the writing frequency if daily writing feels overwhelming.
6. The overdoer: Perhaps I have so many blogs (The Mouse Trap, at The Psychology Today etc ) and competing demands on my time that I can actually find no time to focus on Flourish Mentoring blog. Perhaps I need to cut down or prioritize on what is really important.
The above is just a sample; I could have, with ease, applied the same to my another long standing procrastination example: not writing my nonfiction book (listed in my CV (of failures) ).
You should also do the same; try to see which all procrastination styles you use, occasionally or regularly, and you may be surprised at what you discover. But then don’t get disheartened; there are tools and methods to overcome that procrastination and as coaches we are there to help!

Factors underlying exceptional expertise and creativity

I am a Strengths Coach and I firmly believe that exceptional creativity and expertise is demonstrated only when you are working in your strengths zone.

What do we mean by strengths? Gallup defines  Strength as “the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity”.  This is distinguished from Talent, Knowledge or Skills required to perform well that activity or in that domain, and even from Investment or Commitment to that particular activity or domain.

To make it simple, lets take a (self-reflective) example ; assume the activity is niche blogging in the domain of leadership development. What would exceptional creativity and expertise look like: would a blogger be able to cement his / her reputation by a just one blog post that went viral; or to be acknowledged as an expert blogger he needs to consistently churn out viral posts on a day -to -day basis? Also the blogging ‘strength’ or muscle is developed over the years due to following factors:

  1. Talent: The blogger simply has a way with words or is naturally gifted in simplifying and communicating lucidly complex concepts . Perhaps he has the ‘communication’ theme as one of his signature themes as per Gallup CSF assessment.  Also, maybe growing others and developing them comes naturally to him, aka he has ‘developer’ as one of his Gallup CSF themes, which provides him an undue advantage when developing leaders .
  2. Skills: Perhaps he has practiced writing on a daily basis and words come easily to him when he sees a blank page/ screen; he need not suffer from writers’ block because he has made writing daily a part of his routine and has practiced the craft of writing beautifully and eloquently well.  Maybe he has attended multiple creative writing workshops that have enabled him to acquire the writing skill. Equally important he may have spent time facilitating leadership development (his niche topic) and has some practical skills and experience related to that domain.
  3. Knowledge: The blogger perhaps has a lot of knowledge about how to blog, how frequently to blog, when to blog to drive traffic etc (this is knowledge related to blogging) ; he has perhaps a lot of knowledge related to his domain of leadership development too that gives him material for his posts on a constant basis.
  4. Investment/ Commitment / Diligence : Perhaps the blogger is doggedly determined to make best use of his writing/ leadership development talent by investing systematically in learning and acquiring skills related to the same .

Only if all the four factors come together in the same blogger, will he have a chance of him consistently producing almost-always-viral posts.

The above can apply to performance in any domain, be it dance or music or academics or sports.

Elucidating the process further, what we note is that instead of falling in the trap of whether expertise and creativity is elicited from Nature (Talent) or Nurture ( acquired Skill/ Knowledge) or Effort (Investment/ Diligence);  we need to take a holistic approach where innate factors (about which we can’t do much)  like Talent may also be important and  agentic factors (which are more or less in our control)  like Commitment and Diligence may also be important.  Similarity, expertise will typically constitute of some ratio of  learned knowledge and some practiced and acquired skills.

I consider Talent as an Aptitude to Learn and Practice in a domain; Skill as the sum total of (experiential) Practice in the domain; Knowledge as the sum total of (at times theoretical/ cerebral) Learning in a domain; and Diligence/ Commitment as an attitude to Learn and Practice in a domain no matter what the odds.

So real Strength consist of having the right aptitude and the right attitude towards learning and practicing in a domain to provide consistent near-perfect performance.

We can summarize it with two equation:

Expertise/ Creativity = Developing Strengths and being in the Strength zone

Strength= Talent x Skills x Knowledge x Diligence.

The above also correlates with my ABCD model whereby Talent is innate like Affect; Skills is more Behavioral in nature; Knowledge is Cognitive while Diligence relates to Motivation/ Drive.

So if you want to develop your strengths muscle don’t stop at just identifying your talent; after identifying your talent, acquire skills and knowledge related to the domain and become passionate/ committed about mastering that domain.

As as Strengths Coach, helping the client discover his talents is just the first step: then comes the long path to encouraging the client to become passionate, skilled and knowledgeable about his chosen domain of excellence.