Sometimes the fuel of ambition, greed, stress, embers from a deal on fire, passionate creativity or just simply way too much coffee wakes me in the night.

On such occasions, I end the struggle by getting up and finding my way to a new space.

Back in the day, that space would have been my office—hell bent on building and creating, I’d plow thru mountains of work and concur the things I thought would move things forward in a big way.

That effort yielded beautiful results that I continue to reap.  It was a worthy and important chapter, one I have ongoing gratitude for.  I’ve never met anyone who built anything amazing who didn’t get woken up in the night fueled with desire to do more.

Eventually I discovered that work creates more work and the cycle and effort no longer fulfills me in the way it once did.    I need more now.   Maybe to satisfy my manic ADD vibe, or maybe, because as I grow I want things deeper, simpler, more impactful.

I want to do more with less now….   I’ve found much of what I did, much of the effort I expended didn’t yield the results I was after.   Instead I began to recognize that a much smaller segment of my effort yielded nearly all the results.

This awareness has me focused now on the things that matter.

As straightforward and “productive” as making this change in behavior sounds, realizing what works and what yields the most results wasn’t enough for me.  Letting go of the things I did that weren’t getting me where I needed to go proved much harder than I thought.

It still does.

I had to let go of things that felt natural to me, things that are fun, even inspiring.  I had to do some things that felt scary, uncomfortable, unnatural.

In the early days of trying to make this shift, I didn’t have the evidence to rely on, I had to let go of things and feelings that I had, for decades, believed had great benefit to me.  I had to trust that I’d find a new way and it would work better.

Changing my thinking takes intense awareness.

Thankfully, awareness is what allows all change for a guy like me… if I become aware something’s not fruitful or it’s somehow incongruent with who I want to be, what I want to stand for, I can’t keep doing it for long.

It’s a much bigger shift than just business—every aspect of this life, for me, requires focus and practice to make the most out of it.   I sincerely want the most out of it—to do the most good I can, to help as many people as I can and to live as deeply and kindly as possible.

Probably a million things helped me work on this, to make this shift in my life—Lots of people have come before talking about the 80/20 rule, about how to focus in on what matters, how to change behavior and shift perspective and consciousness so that we live the most fulfilling and effective lives possible.  The resources are endless.

I’m grateful to them all because I’m obsessed with things that are effective.

These days, instead of finding my way to the office in the middle of the night, I do other things.  I might walk my driveway, loving the stars and feeling the ground under my feet holding me up in a way that I benefit from.  I might meditate and create headspace, dedicated time for me to observe my mind, to watch my thoughts and emotions and uncover the motivations, to really take the time to see and feel what’s actually going on.  This allows me to work on the root of stuff versus the outcome of stuff—that alone changes everything.  I write like crazy, using this tool as one of my most sacred creative expressions of who I really am.  I might work out like a mad dog, loving the expenditure of energy and the necessity to breath in a repetitious and demanding way… nothing clears my head better than breathing.

This all yields far more results than I ever realized.

I’m totally stunned at the inspiration that comes, the solutions that arrive, the renewed energy to tackle something.. it’s so much more productive than I would have ever given it credit for.  So often, solving a big problem comes when I do something else for a while.

Over time, I find kindness works best to figure out what yields the most.  When I’m kind to myself and kind to the world, everything works out.  I find the best way, I find the most effective path, where I need to spend my time, what I need to do in any given moment, how I need to act… —for me, when I pursue what’s kindest for all, it’s literally ALWAYS the most effective and most rewarding approach.

A mistake I made was I believed the reward was in how I felt in any given moment, but I’ve learned over time that how I feel in a given moment is untrustworthy at best….  In fact, I’ve become disenchanted with my more immediate feelings and thoughts, recognizing that what influences them isn’t always worthy of my energy or trust.

I’m learning to shift my thinking and behavior to yield more sustainable results, sustainable happiness.

Whew… just in time.

“Perceiving this, bhikkhus, the learned and noble disciple becomesdisenchanted with the mind, with mental objects, with mind-consciousness,with mind-contact; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral,which originates in dependence on mind-contact, with that also he becomes disenchanted.“And through this disenchantment, the noble disciple becomes dispassionate; and by the absence of passion, free; and when free, aware of that freedom; aware that rebirth is exhausted, that the holy life has been lived, that what was to be done has been done, and that there in nothing more to do in this body-mind existence.” ~ from the Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon