Productive Paranoia and the Endless Grind
“I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death…” – Nas
If you’re a co-worker of mine or follow me on social media, you may have noticed my sleeping habits are a little off. I mean…
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t suffer from insomnia. Actually, if the book Great by Choice is to be believed, I don’t “suffer” from anything at all. My perceived self-imposed sleep deprivation is something that puts me on the same plane as Bill Gates.
Hear me out.
According to the book’s authors, my 24/7 mentality can actually be seen as a sought-after ability. Per Morten T. Hansen, “Productive paranoia is the ability to be hyper-vigilant about potentially bad events that can hit your company and then turn that fear into preparation and clearheaded action.”
So instead of me sitting around being worried about drowning in emails or Slack messages, or being able to address unforeseen challenges that arise during the workweek and in life, I do everything in my power to maximize my waking hours.
I may not run one of the world’s most successful companies like Gates, but as a father, husband, friend and regular dude that’s striving for greatness, I have plenty to balance in my life.
The entrepreneur's dilemma:
Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep.
— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) December 9, 2011
It’s impossible to regularly crush every focus Zuckerberg listed in her tweet, but that hasn’t deterred me from trying.
Because I want to be the best family man possible, stay relatively fit (my metabolism is the worst), build revenue streams outside my real job, and effectively navigate through my minefield of a work calendar (this is a distorted view of my real Outlook calendar this past week), my days often look like this:
5:00 AM – Get myself together before my son wakes up and my wife has to get ready
6:30 AM – Take my son to daycare
7:00 AM – 4:30 PM – Work
5:00 PM – Pick up son
5:15 PM – 7:00 PM – Family time
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM – Give son bath and put him to sleep
8:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Chill with wife
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM – Workout
11:00 PM – 2:00 AM – All things Hudl, NCB and other ventures
Believe it or not, I get even less sleep on weekends. *cough* Red Bull Vodka *cough* all night *cough* work sessions
Even though my personal contributions to Red Bull could keep them afloat for years, I do have days where I pass out as soon as my son does. I’m not a machine. However, even during those days where I’m totally exhausted, I often push myself to the limit because my mind doesn’t allow me to rest.
Maybe it’s because I started my career in the housing industry right in thick of the real estate and credit crisis. You think the market is volatile now, just imagine what job security looked like in the mid 2000s. To quote Bane, “You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”
The constant layoffs will spook even the best of them, I tell ya.
Maybe it’s because I take pride in being “self-made”. I’ve been extremely fortunate to navigate through my career without relying on connections to obtain jobs. There’s just something about seizing opportunities strictly through merit that motivates me to overdo it and keep it that way. #GDI4lyfe
Maybe it’s because my metabolism is so ridiculous that I can gain 50 pounds in three months (true story) and lose it just as fast (also a true story). I HAVE to find time to work out or I’d be the jolly guy at the office.
Maybe it’s because I’m trying to make a name for myself outside of my professional career. I have impression quotas to meet, writers to manage and ventures to launch…and close…and launch again. If you don’t make time, you’ll never see beyond your current situation.
Maybe it’s because I can’t woo my colleagues with the charm of a Don Draper. How do I compensate for that? By striving to outwork my peers in order to earn their respect.
Is this lifestyle sustainable? No, but that’s kind of the main driver of Productive Paranoia. The hope is to grind enough that you don’t have to grind as hard in the future.
Now where’s my Red Bull?