The Compass and the Clock

For many of us, there’s a gap between the compass and the clock — between what’s important to us and the way we spend our time.      Stephen Covey

Everyone has good days and bad days. That’s pretty much a given. What is not a given is what you mean when you call a day good or bad. The cult of productivity defines a good day as one filled with accomplishment, a clock-driven assumption. A bad day is one you “waste.”

But some part of you needs time to drift and dream. What looks like procrastination may be incubation. Drifting and dreaming can strengthen your resolve. Make you a better lover or leader or problem-solver. The urge to “do nothing” may be your compass talking — possibly in a language you’re just learning to speak.


Practice: You’ve completed a task or ended a conversation and you’re feeling good. Is what you feel clock-satisfaction (no small thing) or compass-satisfaction? When you can’t tell, sit with not knowing. At the beginning, most people find compass-satisfaction harder to discern.