The Worst Kind of Hat
How to cast off the mental baggage that holds you back
I’m not a hat person.
I rarely wear them, as my head generally doesn’t suit them…and I’m afraid of the (possible) myth that wearing hats speeds up the thinning of one’s hair. I wear only one hat — a black baseball cap — that I wear from time to time (when I’m camping, for example) and it has the word “writer” emblazoned on it in Courier font. besides that, no other hats adorn my noggin. But I also am a hat person…of a different sort. I like to have a lot things on the go; I like to be busy. After some time to really dwell on this over the past week, I think it’s because being busy makes me feel important. Any downtime means I’m not busy, which means I’m no longer important.
Yeah, I know that’s stupid. But it is just how I’m wired. And after the events of the past little while of extreme busy-ness and consequent burnout, I think it’s time for a rewiring job.
I watched my daughter — my very young daughter — get on a plane by herself today and go away to her Nana’s place for a week. We spent the better part of today heading to Vancouver so she could catch her flight, and I spent all of that time just watching, talking and listening to her. She had a lot to say and a lot to share, and I realized that more often than not over the past few months (if not more), I’ve been less than enthusiastic to be shared with. It was as if she was trying to cram in everything she wanted to share with me in the span of a four-hour commute because it was going to be her only chance. No brother to split her time with, no other distractions to get in the way. And Daddy didn’t look too busy for once.
I watched her plane pull back from the gate and realized that I’ve been wearing too many hats for a long time. I’d been too busy deciding which hat to wear at which time, based on what suited me or what seemed right for the time. I was so busy changing hats that I wasn’t wearing one long enough to make any sort of impression with it — save for one hat: The Asshat.
The Asshat is the worst kind of hat. When you wear it, you think that you’ve got it all together. But you don’t. You think that you can take on anything with gusto because of how good the Asshat makes you look. But you can’t. You think that you can deliver time and time again because the Asshat is a hat for all seasons. But you won’t.
What the Asshat does do is make you look stupid when you put it on and it works against you with each occasion you decide to wear it.
How do you make sure that the Asshat stays off of your head and relieves you of a huge fashion faux-pas?
- Say no to things more often, even if they’re right for you. A full plate should be eaten and not tossed. Saying no more often will keep a lot more things out of the garbage — including your reputation.
- There is nothing more important than time with your family. Quality time. Unfettered time. Attentive time. Absorbed time. The Asshat enjoys wasting time, and your kids will let you know if you’re wearing it (or being it) through how they react around you. If you can’t see that, then the Asshat isn’t your only problem, friend.
- You can’t fake passion, and the Asshat can’t fake fashion. Even though the Asshat will try the latter and make you try the former, don’t fall prey to it. If you’re not doing what you love (even if you love the field you’re in), stop doing it. Now.
- Put the tools away every once in a while. The Asshat needs to have something to play with so that it can convince your mind to play with it as well. Being mindful and present is akin to you looking in the mirror — and one look in the mirror with the Asshat in full effect will get it off (and out) of your head in a real hurry.
As I write this, I’m on a boat headed home. The Asshat got tossed overboard in — appropriately enough — Active Pass. I encourage you to look at yourself in the mirror and see if you need to give the Asshat an active pass, too.
This post originally appeared at Productivityist in August 2011.