Five Ways to be a Human Being Instead of a Human Doing

Posted 07.15.2013


I don’t remember where I first heard it, but one of the best questions I was ever asked was are you a human being or a human doing?  A big portion of my life has been spent as a human doing. Lately, though, I’ve spent more time and attention on being in the midst of all the doing.

So, here’s a true confession.  I’m writing most of this post from the United Club in Terminal 7 at LAX.  It’s not exactly a zen monastery. That kind of illustrates my point though.  You don’t have to spend four weeks meditating on a mountaintop to be more of a human being and less of a human doing. (TWEET THIS)

My schedule is usually pretty crazy and I’m guessing yours is too. It sort of comes with the territory when you’re a leader.

What are simple, practical things you can do in the midst of the swirl to reconnect with the idea that you’re not just a human doing, you’re also a human being? Here are five things I’ve been doing lately that have been working for me.

Visit Old Friends – My travel takes me to a lot of different places around the U.S.  It seems like I have old friends in most of them. This past week, I had a glass of wine with an old boss in DC, dinner with friends in NJ and dinner with my first coach and his wife in LA.  Taking the time to share good memories and catch up on what’s new brings human connection to a week full of to-do’s.

Bring Your Mat – Yogis know what I mean by this one.  When I’m on a longer trip, I pack a Yogi Toes towel to get 30 minutes of practice in in my hotel room or I’ll use the Om Finder app  to find a class close by.  The past few weeks I’ve had some great experiences and met some great people at yoga studios in New Orleans, Baltimore, DC and New York through that app.  It doesn’t have to be yoga.  Whatever your physical routine is, take some time during the week to practice it.  If you can do that with other people, even better.

Take the Morning Off – By the time I got to Thursday last week, I was cooked. Jet lag and three days in a row of early morning meetings had caught up with me.  The first appointment on my calendar on Thursday was at noon.  I slept until 8:45.  Scrounged up a pretty decent breakfast.  Took some quiet time to read and breathe.  Did some yoga.  Did three phone appointments in my work out clothes.  Got some lunch.  Showered at 2:30.  Went to my first appointment with a client at 4:00 pm.  The rest and recovery time earlier in the day was the key to a really good conversation.

Choose Quality Over Quantity – What I didn’t do Thursday morning was write a blog post to meet my usual publication schedule of Monday and Thursday.  I suppose I could have tried to grind one out but it would have been far from my best effort.  The routines we get into can sometimes become handcuffs. (TWEET THIS). By emphasizing quality over quantity, you give yourself an opportunity to be rather than do.

Kiss Them Like You Mean It – Not to get too personal here, but if you’re lucky enough to have a partner in your life that you love, kiss or hug them like you mean it.  The next time you kiss your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend good night, good morning or good bye, slow down and think about all that they mean to you. Based on personal experience, I’ll practically guarantee you a much better kiss along with a great reminder of why human being trumps human doing almost every time.

That’s some of what’s been working for me.  How about you?  What simple things are you doing to be more of a human being and less of a human doing?