Earlier today I was on a plane, listening to music and writing a couple of blog posts. I was thoroughly enjoying the music and swayed back and forth a bit. Then, I thought about how I might look at first glance since I was essentially dancing around in my seat.
This made me think of one my basketball coaches, who once got really annoyed that we were all laughing during the warm-ups right before the big game. On one level, I understood what he wanted — us concentrating on what we were doing and not just horsing around. But in that moment, I think he mistook a lack of seriousness for a lack of sincerity.
We all say things like, “I take my work seriously” and “Let’s get serious.” But I think we miss the mark when we choose seriousness over sincerity.
Sincerity implies a commitment that comes from the head and the heart. When we experience sincerity, we also experience a greater level of openness as we navigate our way towards our goal or vision.
Seriousness, on the other hand, is very pointed and narrow. It is do-or-die; there is only one way out and no way through. When we are in a space of seriousness, our body is closed and our breathing remains shallow and stuck in our chest.
If you want to experience the difference between the two, just pay attention to your body when you are attempting to control something that is out of your control. You will feel the weight of it and notice the more restricted view.
We don’t need to take our work seriously to be focused, clear, and on-point. We get that from our sincerity, which comes from our heart – the same place that we find purpose and meaning in our work.
It is this that drives us get up every morning and take on that next challenge (which in theory would just be easier to avoid). And it is the same force that spurs us to learn something new and pushes us out of our comfort zone, even though we know we could just coast instead.
Take a breath and check your heart. Are you being serious or are you sincere?