If there is one single thing has the highest negative impact both on your professional and personal life, it is Drama.
When I wrote my first book a couple of years ago, the book had an entire Chapter dedicated to drama and why most people love it:
This movie starts with the camera giving a wide angle shot of the hero who shows up to work every day early morning before anyone else has arrived and with focused eyes stares at his computer screen, his fingers flipping keys on his keyboard for the next four hours; then he gets up for a cup of coffee when others arrive. He spends about 20 minutes of casual conversations with colleagues where he discusses a few technical problems, the weather, a particular book that he has been reading and what his kids have been up to.
Sometime during the day this hero of ours also attends a daily status call for about 20 minutes. During the afternoon he takes a break, eats lunch, returns to his desk and works for countless hours staring at the screen, his fingers dancing on the keyboard once again. He even works late night after his wife has slept.
The hero does this for 15 years of his life before he gets really successful and financially independent.
What would you tell me if I told you we are planning a next big budget movie with this hero of ours as a central character. The entire script of the movie is going to revolve around this hero's life.
"But that's a boring story! That'll never be a big hit! “– you respond.
You know why? Because it's hard to make the average middle class spend their money on movie tickets (and overpriced popcorn) without an overdose of drama.
My contention here was simple. Drama is tantalizing, Drama makes you feel like a victim who is suffering... like a hero or heroine of your own story who is going through a horrible time in a horrible universe but will ultimately emerge successful.
To make things worse, drama is spicy, it keeps you on your feet, gives you a strange combination of adrenaline rush for your brain and an excuse for your learned helplessness.
The worst thing about Drama though, is that it’s incredibly easy to create in your life. All you have to do is get depressed, annoyed, angry or take offence to something… anything… no matter how ridiculously small that thing is.
Now repeat. Keep taking offence to small things, keep getting annoyed, angry and depressed about small things in life and very soon you will have a drama packed life sitting on an emotional rollercoaster with it’s constant ups and downs.
Drama might create the spice your brain subconsciously craves, but it is dangerous, self sabotaging and it almost never leads to long term success. It’s usually the guys who are silently living a drama free life who are eventually shaping their own lives, the life of loved ones around them and eventually making dents in their own little universes. I still stand by what I wrote in my own book two years ago:
The story of silent people staring at computer screen for hours and typing away quietly day after day for weeks, months or years, doesn't make a best-selling novel or a movie that tops the charts or good television.
But it does make successful businesses, successful careers and sometimes – history.
So the sooner you resolve to a drama free life with hard work the better off you will be in your career.
Getting rid of drama from your life is easier said than done though. Learning how to lead a drama free life is life long process; particularly since Drama tends to manifest itself in multiple forms in our lives and sometimes even shows up uninvited. Which is probably why there have been entire books written on the topic of living a drama free life!
When the organization we work in is going through a difficult time and firing folks, we indulge in drama by gossiping around and discussing the firings with other colleagues rather than focusing on and silently preparing for our next interview. When a close friend of ours is going through a difficult time, we make his drama ours rather than calmly telling him to snap out of it.
2017 was a drama filled year for me. It was a year when I saw close a friend struggle with bad health issues. A year when a relative was diagnosed with a terrible disease and had to go through surgery. It was also the year when I changed my job after four years of being happily settled in one organization. And it was a year when I was prescribed medication for high cholesterol and told I would ‘have to’ take them. That and there there were a few more things that, for lack of a better word, were let’s just say… ‘eventful’.
So, 2017 does seem like a drama packed year when I look back.
But then, 2017 was also a year when I turned to a no-oil, no-sugar, vegan diet and hopped on to Headspace for my daily meditation. 2017 was also a year when I started running and working out again very actively. And 2017 was also a year when my cholesterol dropped by over sixty points in a couple of months using just diet and workout, without taking any medication which I had been initially told I would ‘have to’ take and continue taking them for the rest of my life.
It was a year when I tried to rebuild a few old broken friendships and I was able to get more work and learning done than I had done in the last two years combined. A Year when I finally came back to technical blogging and started devoting time on open source development again.
2017 taught me that there will always be drama that surrounds us and sometimes we don’t have control over just how much drama we find around us. But it’s ok to shrug our shoulders, calm our minds and continue living a drama free life. I’m not saying that the Drama that surrounds us does not impact us; of course it does. This year for example did take its toll on me, but the biggest take away I had from 2017 was that we might have a lot of drama surrounding us, but we get to choose how much of that drama we welcome into our lives and our brains. Sometimes, it’s just best to either focus your energies towards Drama free action that can change things, or if there is nothing you can do to change things, let go and direct your energies on things which keep you happy, focused and in flow.
I’m not a big believer of new year’s resolutions and I see time as an ongoing phenomenon with no milestones. But then, the end of a year and the beginning of new one is always a nice time to be mindful about your own life, and take stock.
2017 started as a drama filled year but by the time it ended it had made me that much stronger at keeping drama out of my life. If there is one thing that I can wish for each one of us (me included) this year it would be a drama free 2018.
This year let’s try to be a little bit more mindful about the drama that surrounds us, the drama that we welcome into our own lives and the drama we create in other people’s life and let’s make a conscious effort to make 2018 a drama free year. Happy new year everyone!