29. How to Start Finishing (feat Charlie Gilkey)





Show Notes

We welcome Charlie Glikey to talk about projects and productivity! We redefine what a project is to see how many projects we are actually handling, and to see if we need to drop projects to make room for what is already on our plate! We talk about how the importance of creating healthy habits and controlling how things like email impact your morning routine. Charlie talks about some of the bigger topics in his book “Start Finishing” and we get to discuss how to put ourselves in a place where we can succeed!



Related Links

Productive Flourishing

Start Finishing

Charlie’s LinkedIn

Digital Minimalism


Transcript


Tyler: Welcome to the Construction Brothers Podcast. I'm your host, Tyler Campbell, and with me like he is every week: my brother, Eddie Campbell.


Eddie: Hello, Tyler.


Tyler: Hello, Eddie. Well, we’ve got an awesome show for you today. We're going to be talking to Charlie Gilkey about how to start finishing. But first things first, I would like to bring something to your attention.


***

Interview: (12:25)


Tyler: Charlie, thanks for joining us today, man. Can you tell us who you are and what you do?


Charlie Gilkey: First of all, thanks for having me. I'm always loving these conversations, so hey, thanks for taking the time. So I am Charlie Gilkey. I am the Founder of Productive Flourishing, and Productive Flourishing is one of the top websites for planning and productivity and that convergence of personal development for creatives on the web. And what do I do? Well, broadly speaking, I help people start finishing what matters most. Now, how I do that is kinda up in the air. So I'm an executive coach, I'm a business coach, I have my own podcast, I'm an author, speaker, facilitator, trainer. So if there's a way to help someone do the stuff that matters most, I've tried to figure out a way to do it, and I do bits and pieces of those. Oh, and prior to starting this I was an Army Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator, which is a mouthful. And I was also— I'm completing my PhD in Philosophy. So I'm an ethicist and social philosopher by trade.


Eddie: I knew about your military background and, you know, obviously we've heard you on some other podcasts and been on your website and everything. The common theme to me is that you help people. So I mean, you have committed your life to helping people. Why did you do that? Like what made you want to?


Charlie Gilkey: Part of it is a rich tradition in my family. My mom's a teacher, and my dad was also in the military. And so, I come from a family that's got a very strong service ethic. And so that kind of gets one started that way. But it's, you know, later on as I started going deeper into different spiritual traditions and things like that, just a common theme is that one of the best ways to really use this one life that we have, at least that we know of, is in aligned service with other people. And I'm going to be careful here. Aligned services, that adjective is important. Because so many of us end up in sort of that position where we're helping, helping, helping, and we end up in that martyrdom position, and it's not really aligned with things that make us come alive and make us flourish. So just finding those ways where you can say, “I've got this thing that I enjoy doing that I'm good at, that seems to be a value to other people and other people want it,” and figuring out a way to do that. I think that's the sweet spot that creates for a really rich, vibrant, and exciting life that sort of puts you in this continual sort of thriving state.


Tyler: So we listened to this podcast that you are on—it was The Art of Manliness podcast, so shout out to them—but we heard you talk about doing fewer, more important things. How can we do that? ‘Cause in construction, we have a lot of things around us all the time and a lot of competing priorities as well. What should we do?


Charlie Gilkey: So there's the easy answer we go to, and so I'll start there, but there's really some deeper reasons why we leave a bunch of stuff unfinished. You mentioned it, that it's competing priorities, but one of the easier sort of top level things to do is to commit to fewer things. And I know that sounds pretty simple and straightforward, but most of us say “yes” way too quickly, and “no” way too slowly. And we end up like, “You know, it sounded like a good idea,” or “It seemed like it was going to be simple.” Look, here's the thing, scope creep is normal. It happens everywhere. Responsibility creep is normal. Like, those are the default. And somehow we think when we say “yes” to the new things, it's like, “Oh no, the creep that happens everywhere else, it ain't gonna happen on this one.” What if we just assumed that everything we said “yes” to is going to have scope and responsibility creep to it? The other piece about it, and this is still not the deepest level, but understanding that everything you decide to do displaces all sorts of other possibilities that you may have been able to do. So if you decide to take this construction gig that's going to take the next six months of your life to do, that’s six months of your life that you can't spend on something else. And that's where I think we end up in trouble is that we make that easy “yes” at the beginning, not thinking, “Oh crap, that's like three months of my life,” and then the next day we say “yes” to something that's another three months of our life, and we do this thing to where—I'm just as guilty of it as everyone else—where we get into this sort of place of delusion where we think that somehow we can square these two, three month commitments that we just made and do them both at the same time and end up sort of half doing it all in this trail of tools and lumber that's not going to get used. I know I'm poking in where it hurts, ‘cause my dad was in construction as well, right? All this sort of stuff that never gets used and we spend our life saying, “I'm fixing to get to that, I'm fixing to get over there, I'll finally use those bricks to build that shed,” and you know, all the things you do. So those are the top level things. I think underneath a lot of what's going on is this real fear and this real sort of tie-up in that our self-worth is tied up into work. Like if we're not doing something, we're not contributing, if we're not making, doing, building, earning, what are we? Who are we? I gotta be doing something because I can't not do that sort of stuff. And especially—this is very gendered in our society—so for men especially, it’s like if we're not building, if we're not doing, if we're not actively winning, who are we? And that's a deep discomfort that we have, which is why we get to— You know, it's kind of like, guys, like those rare weekends where there wasn't something planned, and then you look at the weekend coming up and there's that discomfort. ‘Cause you could do nothing, right? You could just chill. Or, you can do all the other things, and we’re more likely to fall to doing all the other things. And so, I think a lot of our overwork or overcommitment comes from that place of, “My worth is tied up to my work, and my work is tied up into making other people happy, and my worth is tied up to being busy.” ‘Cause think about how often we get together and we have sort of sparring matches about how busy we are. Like we're each trying to level each other up. Like, “I'm busy,” “I'm busier,” “I got this going on,” “I got that going on.” Who's that guy that's like, “You know what? I'm good. You know, I've got four hours open this evening just ‘cause I'm chilling.” Right? We don't get to say that. You're like, “What, aren't you— You lazy?”


Eddie: That should be the winner.


Charlie Gilkey: You'd be the winner, right? Yeah. “I got nothing going on this evening, and you know what? I'm alright with that.”


Eddie: I want to follow up. The displacement thing is something that's very intriguing to me. Just, like, I don't know the philosophy of that. Like, if I choose to do this, I'm not going to get to do this infinite number of other things, like I have chosen to do that thing right now. At what point is it okay to quit something?


Charlie Gilkey: I love this question, because when you think about it, projects are bridges. Right? They're trying to get to some new reality that you don't currently list in, that you don't currently live in. So one easy way to quit a project is when you really think about it and you say, “Wait a second, this is not taking me where I want to go. Just fundamentally not taking me and it’s not helping me be the type of person I want to be, it's not creating something in the world that really is going to make me better off, it's not creating something that I'm going to be proud of.” And you know, we have this idea of, like, you should do it because you said you were going to do it. That has a lot of weight and value in certain contexts, but again, finishing this project that's not going to make your life better, that's not going to produce something you're proud of, that you're not going to look back and say, man, that was a good three months of my time, displaces all sorts of other projects you can do in that period of time. Right? That you may be proud of. And so, I'm not a huge advocate of, like, once it gets hard, and once you no longer want to do it, to quit it, because that's different than what we're talking about here. But it's talking about that pile of bricks that you know you're not going to build into a shed. And this is where, in the behavioral economics, the principle is sunk cost, and it’s one of the hardest for people to grasp. Because it's like, “I bought the thing, I did all the work, I spent all the time doing it, so therefore I should use it.” And so we end up maintaining projects, giving our life energy to things that aren't really going to serve us. But we already bought it. We already spent the time doing it, we already said we were going to do it. So we're going to use it—at what cost?


Eddie: You have kind of a special definition of a project.


Charlie Gilkey: A special definition of a project, yeah, that frees some people and overwhelms others. And some people it does both at the same time. So, a project is anything that takes time, energy, and attention to do. This is not just a work project. This is not just an economic project. We normally think about projects and we think, “Oh, like career and work stuff.” But cleaning out that garage that you've been meaning to get to for the last two years? That's a project. Moving across the United States, that’s a project. Getting married is a project. If you've ever been divorced, that's a project, right? Having kids. Right now, we're recording this during the middle of the COVID-19 sort of social distancing thing. And I've been telling people, like, this is either one, two, or three projects for you, right? If it's just you and your work, it's one project. If it’s, your kids are at home and now you're a part-time, you know, homeschooler and sort of lunch maker and all those things you're not used to doing, that's two projects, right? That's another project. And if you've gotten sick and you're recovering from being sick—because being sick and recovering is a project—you've gotten three. So people are sitting around wondering, like, “Why am I not getting anything done?” Well, you are getting something done. You’ve just taken on these additional projects that no one wanted, no one planned for—and yet, here we are. So the reason that's liberating for some people is because of the shame they've been telling themselves about not being able to get stuff done. And this is really—I'm gonna veer here—this is really for women, because women end up doing a lot of the emotional labor, a lot of the kin raising in our society and they start doing that stuff that we don't typically count as projects. And they're overwhelmed, and they're wondering why. And it's like, well, you've got your job, and you've got this, and you’ve got that going on. Right? But it's, you know, different people have different responsibilities like that. So it can be liberating ‘cause you're like, “Oh, it's not just that I'm uniquely defective and can't get right. It's just, I'm carrying a lot.” Right? What am I going to do about that? And why it's overwhelming is, because once you really look at and think and look around your room and your house and your life of all the projects, you're like, “Oh wow, there are a lot of projects around.” And I just want to say, “Yes, this is nothing new. I've just given you the lens to see what you’ve been stumbling over for the last few years of your life.” I tend to want people to think in different perspectives of time. You've heard me say “three month projects” over and over again. I say three months projects because those, for most people, are the biggest types of projects that they can see before it becomes a sort of amorphous, like, “I don't know what to do with that.” It's also where a lot of people can get some momentum in their life when they're starting to make change, when they're starting to do things. So like, you know, I'll start with this construction or sort of working example: Most people never finish their backyard because it's at least a three month project to do it. You got to move all this stuff, you've got to plant this stuff, you've got to go to the store eight times, and then the additional time because you forgot to get the right nut. You've got to do all that stuff. So that's three months of your time right down that you're doing it. And because we don't think, “Oh, that's a three month project,” we start it and expect to get done in a half-day. Then we're frustrated because we didn't, or we haven't had a plan for “how am I going to pick this up next weekend? How am I going to continue to do this?” So in this conversation you see me keep time-bounding ideas, and you see me just keep talking about projects, ‘cause I want us to put all of these loose ideas in the jars that they go into, and then say, okay, now that I can see it and feel it, now I can do something with it and it's not just all over the ground driving me crazy.


Eddie: We plan nonstop in the construction world. I mean, it is one thing after another after another. One thing that just is close to my heart is when I sit down in the morning and I look at my email for the very first time. And I've kind of got a decision there. And I think that you probably know where I'm going, but how do we battle against the tyranny of the urgent?


Charlie Gilkey: Part of what's going on is, you're not choosing to check email first thing in the morning. You've developed the default pattern that that's just what you do. And so, I think a lot of people are beating themselves up because they’re like, “I'm checking first thing in email, I know better.” It's like, well, when you got up this morning and went to the bathroom, you didn't beat yourself up about that. It's just a habit that you've developed, which means you can develop a different habit. So part of it is it's just a habit, and once you understand that, you can use environment design to your advantage. For instance, one of the reasons I don't check email first thing in the morning is because nowhere where I'm doing anything first thing in the morning has a phone, or has a computer, or has anything. I can't check email from my study when I'm reading because I don't have anything in there that can check email. So my decision to check email, or to not check emails, really go to that room. Do what you do in that room and you can't get interrupted. But the second, bro, the second that I take a phone in there with me, the second that I take a laptop in with me, guess what I'm doing in that room? Checking email. Right? And so, I want, like— I've done some coaching with clients on this, and people who listen to me, I'm like, “Imagine what it feels like to take a burrito in the bathroom.” It just doesn't feel right, does it? It's like, that's not what you do in there! Burritos don't go there. They might—well, they do—but you know what I mean.


Tyler: Dude, that made me cringe so much. I don't even know why.


Charlie Gilkey: And yet. And yet. We take our smartphones to our bedrooms. Is that what you do in there? And yet, we take our smartphones to the bathroom. Right? Is that really what you do in there? Because we know that taking burritos to the bathroom is not really good for us in a lot of different ways and just doesn't feel right. So you can use your environment in some ways to help you, like just designate certain rooms of the house where you're not allowed to take that thing in there, and get to that “burrito in the bathroom” feel. Second thing that I do is, like, when my wife and I walk into the house, we put our phones in a cubby, our smartphones in a cubby.  ‘Cause what we— Why I focus on smartphones right now, guys, is because in the work that I've done over the last decade, I've realized it's the gateway device that gets us on these bad habits. If you have to get up from the couch to walk upstairs and check your computer for something, you're far less likely to do that than if you're sitting there watching football and your phone's right there, right, and you get dinged or notified by something. So environment design is your friend. And I know all the folks that say stuff like what I say are going to say this, but you may not have heard it: Shut off the notifications. Like, by default, every app that you download on your phone or on your computer, shut notifications off. Because the second that you start fighting that battle of interruption, you've already lost. Whatever you were thinking about? Gone. Wherever you were, gone. All you gotta see right now is a headline, you don't have to read the rest of the article, gone. Right? And so you just have this sort of trickle of notifications coming in. You're always going to be behind on this, and every time you do that, it gets harder and harder and harder. So shut off notifications. Design areas in your house or in your place where you don't have some of these devices that make it easy. Third thing is, use time to your advantage. Like, just straight up create the habits such that you don't check email before breakfast. And if you don't eat breakfast, then figure out some other morning routine that, before that morning routine, you don't do it. So you guys, you know, you went for a run this morning—you could have a “no email before running.” And here's where I want to say, and again it goes back to why we do that, these are all just sort of top level behaviors that we're into. Why we do that is that fear of missing out, right? What's going on that I might miss out. That tyranny of the urgent of just, like, “What if someone's requesting something from me that I need to say ‘yes’ to?” Right? Realize it’s most of the time that I need to say “yes” to, it's very rarely, like, if I'm— If your default is “no” to a lot of things, it turns out that the urgent, the tyranny of the urgent, doesn't have nearly as much sway because what are you going to do? Check your email and say “no” to a bunch of stuff? You can wait to say “no” later. But it's when you are ready to say, “Oh, what am I going to say ‘yes’ to? What opportunities am I gonna miss out? What's going on?” The third thing is, I think there's that priming that, you know, most of the spiritual traditions have some version of “you find what you seek.” And alas, most of us are going to some of these devices because we don't really think about it, but it’s like, “What's the bad news that I need to be aware of?” And then what do we find wherever we look? The bad news that's out there. So yeah, and I'm just going to pause here—I know I've been on a bit of a rant, of a riff here—but interruptions and distractions are two different things. We normally lump them together, but they are two different things. An interruption is a child or a pet running into your room and grabbing on your leg and saying, “Feed me.” Right? That's an interruption. A distraction is something that you willingly allow yourself to do. Like, YouTube is not a distraction, right? The Times—not a distraction. Right? All of these types of things are not distractions, these are places that we willingly go, and because we have the power to choose to go there, we have the power to choose not to go there. Right? And so, much of what people count as interruptions are actually distractions. And when you start thinking about interruptions, that's having different boundaries and different conversations with the loved ones around you about what's working for all of y'all and what's not.


Tyler: I hear you talk about the notification part and I go back to that book, Digital Minimalism. I don't know if you've read it.


Charlie Gilkey: Great guy, great book.


Tyler: So, hearing him talk about how the notifications are specifically designed to draw you back in—like, there's a reason that your notifications on your phone are not blue, that they're red. You know, there are some very smart people out there working on this stuff, drawing you back in. I’m curious, ‘cause I wanted to move over and talk about thrashing. Do you feel like cell phone usage is a form of thrashing?


Charlie Gilkey: No. We use the smartphone to get away from thrashing, and so it ends up becoming a distraction in that way. Before I jump onto that—one, Digital Minimalism is a great book and that's one of the things that I think about when it comes to, especially, my relationship with technology and smartphones and things. I was like, I am competing with some of the smartest brains in the world for my attention. They are just sitting there designing how they're going to hack that. I know I have a military background so I'm like, I don't want to fight that battle all day, ‘cause I know most of the time I'm going to lose. So how do I take their weapons from them? Which also means taking some distractions from me. So I know it's very militaristic, but again, that's literally what you're going up against, are people that are sitting there and thinking of the best ways to co-opt your attention. So thrashing. Thrashing is the term that I have for that sort of emotional flailing. The meadow work, the naval gazing that we do around the things that truly matter to us. The reason I say that is, like, we don't thrash about taking out the trash or doing the dishes. We might not want to do it, but it doesn't evoke some existential crisis. Like who am I? Am I the right person? Is this the right time? Do I have what it takes? Is this really what I want to do with my life? But there are certain types of projects, like getting married, and getting engaged, or having kids, or buying a new house, moving across the country, starting your construction business, hiring a new construction manager to get you out of that—those will evoke thrashing. That's the thing: the more it matters to you, the more you'll thrash. That's counterintuitive for a lot of people because you think you really want to do these things, you really want to have this type of life, you really want to do this type of work. You would think that you’d just jump on it, but that's not at all what happens. Because for so much of what I call your best work projects—and your best work is just that work that you feel most aligned to do, only you can do, is just sort of that sweet spot. Everyone knows what their best work is, right? Those types of projects are the very ones that pull up the most thrashing in us. Because they're so tied to how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen in the world. So, you know, I'm looking outside and I see my recycle trash can, and it's half open, and it’s got boxes sort of floating away. I don't care. The trash can doesn't say anything about who I am as a person. If I see a typo in my book, that's like 30 minutes of getting over it. Because there's something in that work that I care about. It's a representation of who I am. A lot of our work is like that, and that's why there— Though, you know, I joke about the backyard shed sort of thing that is getting built, but for many of us, our home and our property says a lot about who we are. We want to do it to a certain way and we want it to be done right and we want it to look a way and we don't want to make a janky shed in the backyard. It just doesn't work. So we get so tied up in that and we go through so much thrashing that we never get started, and sort of the perfect becomes the enemy of good.


Eddie: What are some examples of thrashing?


Charlie Gilkey: Research. Quote, unquote “research.” Like when you have an idea and you're like, “Oh, well I need to know more about it. I'll read four books on it.” Then you read those four books and you read another eight books and then you want to read all the Internet and, like, you didn't actually need most of that. So many of us in this digital age, research is a major sign of thrashing. I work with entrepreneurs, and especially when it comes to things like softwares and service, things like that, I'm like, “How much time did you spend trying to figure out what the right service was?” And they’re like, “Oh it's been, over the last month, maybe 15-20 hours of looking at this stuff.” I'm like, “It costs $12 a month, man. You just spent 20 hours divided by 12, or 12 divided by 20, that's what your working time was. That's where you spent it.” But for them it was like, “Oh, I can't make this decision, it seems really important, it seems like I should figure this out, so I'm just going to do more and more research.” The thing about it is, for those things that matter the most—think about getting married, having kids, a great job that you took—there's always going to be a gap between the information you have and the information you would like to have to make a decision. There's a leap there that most of us have to take, and some people don't take that leap. They fill that with research. Procrastination can be thrashing. Like you know kind of what you need to do, you know you've figured it all out, but you just don't want to get to it for some reason. Procrastination, just straight up procrastination, could be that. But notice this, guys: I don't do a lot of talk about procrastinations, or at least I didn't before this book and then people were like “Hey, maybe you should talk about procrastination,” and I was like “Oh yeah, that's a thing.” We don't procrastinate over eating ice cream. When's the last time you had your favorite drink or your favorite dessert and you're like, “I'm going to put that off. I'll get to it.”


Tyler: Have you seen my figure lately?


Charlie Gilkey: Hey man, I'm not judging. I'm not going to go there.


Tyler: There’s a reason why I'm running.


Eddie: For ice cream.


Tyler: Yeah, exactly.


Charlie Gilkey: Yeah, we don't procrastinate for things we really love to do. We only procrastinate when there's something that scares the crap out of us or something we don't want to do. Most of the time when people are asking me “How do I get over procrastination?” It's like, one, find something you really love to do. Understand there’s going to be a little bit of thrashing based upon what I just said, but do more of that. The second is, get really clear about what has you scared. What I'll say on this one real quick is, a lot of times they're like, “Well, it's just fear. I'm afraid.” Never give fear a blank check just to be like, “Oh, I'm just afraid.” Afraid of what? Afraid that you're going to fail, afraid that you're going to look stupid, afraid that this is the wrong thing. But when you put afraid of something, then you can have some grip on how to overcome that. But if it's just fear, you're going to lose that one time and time again. You asked what thrashing looks like. Those are the two that come up the most for me. The other thing that comes up a lot is: When you're thrashing, one thing that we'll do is when we go and become to-do list ninjas. You're like, “I just can't do this other thing. I don't want to do it. It scares me. I'm not aligned with it. Ain't nobody got time to spend days rummaging and doing that, I'm going to go check email. I'm going to go in a sauna, I'm going to go get something done.” We can spend years of our life, unfortunately, in what essentially amounts to checking the box, because we were too busy thrashing about or too scared to do the thing that we most wanted to do. There’s two simple questions that I have about this for people that kinda can help them get over some of this mental sort of thrashing that we're doing. So one question is, for everyone listening and you guys here, imagine one or two of those projects that you've tucked away in the closet of your soul. You say, “Yeah, I'm going to get to it. I really want to do it, but I'm gonna get to it.” Everyone has at least one. Alright, two questions. First question is, what's the smartest next step to take for that project? That's question one. A lot of people might be able to come up with a few things, or “I'm not sure,” that's why it's in there. Here's the second question though. What's the most courageous next step that you could take with that project? Most people know pretty quickly what the most courageous next step is. And it turns out that the most courageous next step is usually the smartest next step. Now, whether you take that step or not is a whole nother matter, but it at least lets us get rid of that story of “I don't know what to do next. I don't know what my next smartest move is.” Screw being smart, man. Be courageous. Because there are a lot of things that you will only be able to see in its final beauty when you get into the world and you fix something and break something, and you kind of gotta make a mess before you can make a masterpiece. But too many people won’t allow themselves to make a mess, so therefore don't get their masterpiece.


Eddie: That's gathering intelligence through action, right?


Charlie Gilkey: Gathering intelligence—my man knows about these Army’s principles—gathering intelligence through action, yeah. Which is essentially do stuff and figure out what— Do stuff and see what happens.


Eddie: I love it.


Charlie Gilkey: That's it. Do stuff. See what happens. And it's not rocket science, but so much of doing your best work isn't rocket science, right? Unless you're an aeronautics engineer or you are a rocket scientist and then like, yeah, it is rocket science. But for the rest of us, that ain't the case.


Eddie: Fair enough.


Tyler: Well, I wanted to kind of shift it over to “head trash.” I love this concept of head trash. So can you tell us a little bit about it and what it is?


Charlie Gilkey: Yeah. Head trash is just the collection of self-defeating stories, sort of cultural BS that you picked up and limiting beliefs that oftentimes are really, really subconscious. You don't think, “This is what I believe,” because it always sounds absurd when someone [who] reflects is like, “You're just doing that because you think that.” You're like, “No, that's not what I believe.” But when you look at all of your actions, in fact, that is what you believe, right? And so it turns out that so much of what's keeping us stuck in life is actually head trash. You know, in the book I talk in chapter two about the sort of five core challenges that we all face. And so there are competing priorities, head trash, no realistic plan, too few resources, and poor team alignment. Hence my go-to, or my go-tos, are always competing priorities and head trash. Because within those two it's like 80% of where most people's challenges lay. Sometimes we have terrible competing priorities because we have head trash that's saying we need to be, we can't do certain things or we have to be certain ways. And sometimes, you know, we have head trash because we have competing priorities that are pulling us in different directions. So those two can be linked or they can be separate. Head trash does not have to be true for it to work on you. I know so many writers who are really fantastic writers, but when they sit down, the head trash comes up and like, “You suck. Why are you writing? You're terrible at this.” No matter how many bestselling books they've written, no matter how many awards, it's always there. They've learned to override it, but there are a lot of novice writers who sit down and those same voices, that same head trash comes up and they think it's true. They think it's true, and then all of a sudden they can't write and they’re on Facebook seeing what's going on. I think in what we're talking about here, there are plenty of great carpenters, there are plenty of great roofers, there are plenty of great masons whose just head trash is what's keeping them from being great. They can't look at their work, who they are, and say, “You know what? That's great. That's great. Maybe it's time for me to charge more,” or, “That's great. Maybe I can let that be good enough and done and I don't have to do this two hours of extra work to make someone else happy.”


Eddie: In your book— I listened to The Art of Manliness podcast that you were on and you described kind of your purpose as helping people to be more compassionate with themselves and wanting people to have more peace. Kind of fill that out for me around it. Start Finishing is the book and I want you to have a chance at this thing, like tell us about that thing. Tell us about the book and tell us about where you're coming from with it.


Charlie Gilkey: Great. Thanks for that. Well, Start Finishing—yes, it's about productivity. It's about finishing projects and pushing to done, but as I mentioned earlier, it's really about changing your life. Because finished projects are the bridge between your current reality and the reality you want to live in. And if you've been stuck, if you haven't gotten there, most people just haven't done the projects. They haven't done that work to get to where they need to go. But they're beating themselves up and telling, “Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I don't have the character. Maybe I'm not smart enough, maybe I'm not.” Right? And so, first thing out of the gate is, when it comes to the compassion side of it is, like, really recognize how much you're already carrying and how much you're already doing and what you can do when you set your mind to it. It's not so much about being somehow, like— What I've learned in the work that I've done and with creative people, but I know it's in, you know, I know it's in the bros wielding the hammers and the deals with the tools on the roof, right. I know all of us have this, ‘cause I've been there, is we all have the story of we’re somehow being, we’re uniquely defective somehow. Like we see people doing something and we're like, that can't work because I got a thing. Whatever that thing is, “I'm this, I'm that, this happened when I was in third grade.” Whatever it is. I think most of us have that story of being uniquely defective. So part of it, the compassion is coming from, like, either you are and we all are, or you're not and none of us are. Because we all carry that. That's what it means to be human. And so where more of the compassion comes from is just, I think so many people are carrying way too much. Let me tell you about Jack the Mule. I used to work at a boy scout camp when I was a teenager and we had this mule and his name was Jack. The only real way to get Jack to move sometimes was to take a stick and hit him in the, in between the back legs. And none of us wanted to do it ‘cause we're all teenage boys, right, we realize what's going on there. But the fact of matter is, Jack had just done all that Jack was going to do for that day until we came with the stick. So many of us treat ourselves like Jack. We're hitting ourselves to make ourselves do a little bit more and we're tired. This is why, guys, like, the thing that most people do on the first or second day of a vacation—when they actually give themselves one—what do they want to do? Sleep. Why? Because in their normal life, they've been driven so hard, they're hitting themselves so hard, that the second that they get a chance to not do that, the body's like, okay, now we can sleep. And so, so many of us are treating ourselves and unfortunately treating other people like Jack. And it's just not the way that I think we should live when we're doing the best we can. Especially— I mean we're, again, we're recording this around COVID and many people think that they should be able to have their level of performance and output and sort of composure as they would in normal times and deal with this stuff, right? And I'm like, “Yo, we're going through a global pandemic right now.” That's a project or three, as I mentioned earlier. So, so much of the book is about having people see the load they're carrying and saying, okay, this load that you're carrying is weighing you down from where you most want to be. You have a choice at this point. Are you going to change what's in that load? Are you going to change what you're going to do or not? And if you decide not to because of other priorities, that's fantastic. Stop beating yourself up about this trajectory that you won't allow yourself to be on. That's a foregone conclusion. But if you're going to be on that trajectory, stop trying to hold onto this other trajectory. And so that's where people, once they get through sort of the ideas of displacement and things like the five projects rule and some of those things like that that really are helping them get aware of what all they're carrying—that's where they start finding some peace ‘cause they can wake up in the morning, to your point, instead of looking at email and being already overwhelmed, they can look at it and say, “You know what? I'm going to be on the job site for six hours today. I want to go over to Job Site A. I want to go and check out this other job site and I'm wanting to go and do all these other things but I'm just not going to be able to do that. I'm not going to have that time.” So from the get, from the jump, I can decide, you know what, I'm going to be fully at Job Site A, fully there with my team, fully there with the work, and just accept that that's going to be a good day's work versus trying to cram in Job Site B and Job Site C and you know, making a mess of my work, making a mess of my communications with my team, making a mess just because I wanted to get to Job Site B and Job Site C and fiddled around there.”


Eddie: I want to go ahead and kind of put a wrap on this thing by asking you our—I don't know if it's our favorite question—this question everybody gets. So, we like to ask the megaphone question. That's just, if we gave you a megaphone that everybody could hear and you had one thing you could say—you know, 60 seconds and you just say a thing—what would you tell everybody? Like what would be your message?


Charlie Gilkey: I don't know that I need 60 seconds for this, as much as I've been talking throughout this. You matter and your work matters. I think for folks in construction, a lot of times—again, I grew up in that—you're overlooked. All the sort of cultural praise goes to the doctors and the lawyers and all this sort of whatnot. But you know what? Guys, you make homes. You make the buildings where we do the work. You make the hospitals, you make the schools, you make the fire stations, you build the roads. Without that, none of the rest of this matters. And we're really experiencing that right now as sort of our infrastructure crumbles. So if you're ever out there and getting some of the head trash from society that, like, you're just a guy wielding a hammer, it's bullsh— Bullshirt. You matter and your work matters and I appreciate you for doing it.


Eddie: That's great man. Charlie, thanks so much for being with us today, man.


Charlie Gilkey: Thanks for having me.


***

Tyler: Hey guys, Tyler here. Thanks for joining us today. I just wanted to take a second and point you at a couple of things. First things first, leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Be transparent. Tell us what you think. If you want to write a small review, that would be awesome. Go check out our new website! We're really excited about it. We've got a couple of cool lists on there for you guys to check out as well to show you some of our favorite things. Also, take a second, go like us on social media. We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can find us at Construction Brother’s Podcast. You can find links to any of our guests and any other things that we discussed in the show notes. I really appreciate you listening. Thank you so much. Have great day.







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