Doing & Being

By Mandeep Singh, PCC

So many people today seem to be so busy “doing” stuff all the time that I got to thinking … what, exactly, is “Doing?”


Ten generations ago, I’m guessing it might have had to do with hard, physical labor.

Today, more than 80% of “doing” really consists of:


  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing, and
  • Thinking.

This is a pretty radical thought, and I can see that for many of you, your minds are spinning.  “Wait a minute!” you’re thinking, “I do a lot more than that!  What about cooking, cleaning, and laundry? And running any number of errands?”

Okay, let’s grant us that.  There are a number of things we “do” which do have a physical component to them – pretty easy, though, in the demands it makes on us physically.  When running errands we drive, say, which involves sitting and turning a wheel; and laundry consists of gathering clothes, carrying light loads, and pushing buttons.  You get the picture.  And, at work?  Yup – mainly the five activities mentioned above, along with that absolutely horrible non-activity … “Waiting!!”

This is what we “do.”  And, we’re super busy doing it, and frequently quite exhausted. In fact, many of us undertake strenuous physical activity in our spare time just to get away from “doing” and relax some!

I look at the list, and I’m puzzled.  These activities seem so normal, so easy, so run of the mill.  So … everyday.   So natural.  Of their own accord, there’s nothing strenuous about any of them.  So … what is the issue?  Why is everyone so busy, so stressed, so hijacked by … “Doing?”

Two thoughts come to mind (I’m sure there are a thousand more – I just began this thought exercise! So, please do add your thoughts to the comments section below, and let’s expand this exploration):

ONE:  And this is especially true of America – we pride ourselves on how hard we work, and how much we DO.  It’s part of the national DNA.  There’s this DRIVE we have – and it’s really hard to wrap our head around the fact that all we really “do” is listen, speak, read, write and think.  It feels like a stair that’s not there – the settlers, on the one hand, and marketing folks?  John Wayne, and computer programmers?  Maybe the hunter-gatherer drive has not yet reconciled to cubicle dwelling.  “Another meeting?  When am I supposed to get my work done?”

TWOEXPECTATIONS… and these may well have their roots in the above.  If I’m stressed, chances are I’m expecting to crowd a lot more listening, speaking, reading, writing and thinking into a period of time than the period of time will contain.  Maybe you can speak and write faster, and “skim” instead of read.  But, you can’t really listen or think faster. In fact, if you will yourself to do so, you get in your own way, and it actually takes longer.  Basically, in all five realms, for each of us at any given time, there are fairly easily identifiable limits – and when we don’t honor them, they directly and negatively impact how much we get done.

I am at the mercy of my own expectations.

My expectations?!!  How about my Boss’s, my spouse’s and my kids’ expectations?” you say.  Well, clearly when you try to meet all of their expectations, those are your expectations.

“If I don’t meet their expectations, I’ll be fired / divorced / a terrible parent.”  Sure; I guess that is a distinct possibility.  Doesn’t change the fact, though, that you’re choosing to achieve the impossible – you can only listen, speak, read, write and think as much as you can.   Your bandwidth, at any given time, is pretty identifiable.

I guess the question becomes more who you will BE, rather than what you will DO.  Three rough categories suggest themselves.  I’m sure there are more.  (Comments please!!)

ONE:  Victim.  Thanks, Mandeep, for your fancy thoughts – it doesn’t change a thing.  The world sucks.  If only they would change.  I will continue to do what I do and suffer.

TWO:  Game Player.  Thanks, Mandeep, for your thoughts – but the world is the way it is.  They know it can’t be done, they have to make the appropriate noises.  I will say “Yes,” and go along with their game.  When things don’t get done, I’ll make the appropriate noises.  There will be the usual hand wringing; and probably the declaration of some kind of victory.  I will continue to do what I do, there will be spells of unpleasant tensions, but life will go on.

THREE:  Humble Creator.  Thanks, Mandeep, for your insights on the five realms – illuminating! I have always known that if I want things to change, I’ll have to be the one to make that happen. Even as I continue to listen, speak, read, write and think, I’m going to change some of the tasks I engage – many of which I do mindlessly today. I know that I’ll be adding more to my plate in the short term, getting even less done on business as usual, and dealing with all the emotional trauma that serves up, before dividends begin to show up.  I know it takes work to decide what I’ll delegate, and time and extra effort before my workload decreases.  I know that dialing back on my need for perfection is emotionally excruciating. I know that I’ll have to have powerful conversations with people, and factor in my own fears. I know that risks exist, and it is likely I will fail multiple times, while I learn, and before success begins to show up.  Yet, why not?  Life’s a gift – let’s live it!

Wishing all of you a wonderful 2019!  Go out there and be proudly Human!




If you’d like to discuss more with Mandeep, contact him for a consultation and discuss your own brand of humanity.