Pillar 4: Inspired Action

What is Inspired Action?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

— Goethe

The fourth pillar, inspired action, is all about stepping into action with enthusiasm and having this spirit carry you through even the most mundane or challenging activities.

There’s a tendency to put a great deal of emphasis on doing, with a goal of having things so that we can be a certain way. For example, if we complete a contract we will have money to buy a fancy sports car so that we can be happy. The fulfillment that comes from this approach is limited and short lived.

An alternate approach revolves around tuning into the being that is present when you get in touch with the positive results that you’re motivated to produce.

Adopting an inspired way of being, regardless of what you have or don’t have in the present, inspires actions that ultimately lead you to having what you want.

Doing from a place of possibility and inspiration creates an experience of life that tends to uplift you and the people around you. Even the most challenging and mundane actions can become manageable and motivating if they’re approached from an inspired place.

Practicing Inspired Action

Simply knowing that inspired action is important doesn’t make any difference. It’s important to treat it as a practice that is cultivated over time. Start small and gradually develop habits that become ingrained within your daily life.

Travelling Into the Future

When you have an aspiration, whether it’s getting back into shape or a dream to take your company to new heights, it can be very useful to step forward in time and imagine yourself in a time and place where your dreams have become reality. Notice how it feels to have reached that place and what obstacles you overcame to reach this future reality. This uplifting experience of a positive future naturally motivates inspired action in the present. Repeat this exercise if your enthusiasm starts to wane. You can be back in the driver’s seat within minutes.

Involving Others in Your Pursuits

Sharing your vision with people who are naturally enthusiastic and genuinely interested in seeing your aspirations take form can be very beneficial. In addition to helping to clarifying your destination and creating accountability, bringing other people along for the ride means that you’ll have someone to help lift your spirits if discouragement and procrastination start to rear their heads. You may encounter some naysayers along the way. Accept any useful advice they share, including potential pitfalls, but don’t let them quash your spirit.

“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. By why I mean your purpose, cause or belief—why does your company exist? why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?”

—Simon Sinek (Start with Why)

Timeless Wisdom

The Yogic Practice of Pranayama

The word inspired can be translated as “infused with spirit”. It’s a natural state of being that is rich with possibility.

One way to tap into inspiration is through the yogic practice of pranayama (breathwork). As we inhale (inspire) we draw in prana or chi, and through the exhale we can consciously release (expire) those things are no longer useful, letting go of what holds us back. Through this practice we tap into our vitality and establish a natural sense of flow.

The Age of Instant Gratification

Our modern times have afforded us vast amounts of information and a multitude of ways to interact. Our default tendency is to overindulge on these riches and favour short-term gratification over deeper, more fulfilling pursuits.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

— Robert Louis Stevenson

Pillar 3: Focus

Focus Brings Clarity

The third pillar of Holistic Productivity involves creating a positive shift in a few specific areas of life rather than trying to impact numerous areas of life at the same time. Since all areas of life are connected, a positive shift created in one area will positively impact all other areas to a large or small degree. 

Applying focus includes re-evaluating the busyness of life in favour of practices that encourage making good use of time and energy.

Focus is a practice of limiting the number of projects that you take on simultaneously. Additionally, focused action on tasks and projects is performed in environments that are conducive to bringing them to a state of completion with a high-level of quality.

The Myth of Multitasking

In reality, we can only focus on one thing at a time and there’s a loss of time and energy each time we switch contexts; for example, switching from writing an essay to checking email. If task switches are frequent, our overall productivity drops.

Tangible impacts of attempts to multitask include tasks and projects taking much longer than necessary to complete and feelings of frustration, that can lead to procrastination.

A key aspect of the third pillar of Holistic Productivity is clarifying the outcome that you want to produce. This is very much a creative process; you’re using language to create something that doesn’t exist.

By clearly articulating the destination in a way that you can express it to other people, the possibility that you’ll reach this destination is greatly enhanced. For goals that are not clear, choose something to move towards and make course corrections as needed.

Practicing Focus

Simply knowing that focus is important doesn’t make any difference. It’s important to treat it as a practice that is cultivated over time. Start small and gradually develop habits that become ingrained within your daily life.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

A common practice (especially in the Western Hemisphere) is to use the New Year as an opportunity to usher in positive changes and habits. Popular resolutions centre around getting back into shape, giving up junk food and getting email inboxes under control. Despite positive intentions, these resolutions often lose their gusto within a matter of weeks. Especially after going through the holiday season, and any stresses that come with it, trying to bring major change across numerous areas of life doesn’t tend to work so well. Continue to record your resolutions, just don’t attempt to implement them all at once.

Using a Productivity System

It’s important to systematically track your active tasks and projects. This will give you a tangible way of monitoring your current commitment level, so that you can be careful about not trying to focus on too many areas, projects and tasks at once. Additionally, when you have a block of time to do some focused work, this system facilitates choosing the task you’re going to focus on next. In the absence of such a system, the tendency is to focus on what has your attention in the moment (e.g. the email that just arrived in your inbox). In an age where there’s so much competing for our attention, this doesn’t tend to go very well.

Practicing the Pomodoro Technique®

“Pomodoro” is the Italian word for tomato and the technique gets its name from the tomato shaped kitchen timer that the developer, Francesco Cirillo, used back in the late 1980’s. The practice consists of choosing a task and then doing focused work for a set amount of time (typically 25 minutes) and then taking a break (typically 3-5 minutes). A longer break (typically 15-30 minutes) is a reward for completing four work sessions. The act of choosing a task encourages decisive behaviour and you may be surprised to discover how much can be accomplished in 25 minutes of focused time. This technique also encourages regular breaks. Spending time not doing helps to reinforce us to be more effective when we are working.

“That's been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”

—Steve Jobs

Timeless Wisdom

The Yogic Practice of Focus

A regular practice of yoga and meditation naturally enhances our ability to focus in our day-to-day lives.

The ancient yogis discovered that our attention naturally flows towards that where we place our focus. There are specific eye focuses, called Drishti, that draw our attention inward and focus the mind. These techniques, combined with yoga postures and meditation, can help develop our ability to focus in our day-to-day lives.

The Information Age

For better or worse, we have an unprecedented amount of information at our fingertips and a seemingly endless ways to spend our time and energy. Going beyond the noise and distractions and honing in on what’s most important in each moment is an essential skill in this day and age.

“Really, most of us just focus on what’s in front of us. We’re too busy putting out the fires of everyday life. ”

— Aidan Quinn

Explore Pillar Four

Pillar 2: Acceptance

Why Acceptance?

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

— Lao Tzu

The practice of Pillar 2 (acceptance) centres around accepting life as it is in this moment. The reality is that things are the way that they are.

In Pillar 1 (inner reflection) the emphasis is put on noticing your inner state, including what thoughts are going through your mind and how you’re feeling. As you engage in practice such as meditation and journalling you’ll inevitably unearth thoughts and emotions that are uncomfortable and undesirable.

Resisting the way things are, for example by worrying and complaining, brings attention to the resistance itself, diverting attention from the productive path forward. This creates a feeling of feeling stuck and compromises motivation.

Practicing Acceptance

It’s important to understand that acceptance is very much a practice. It’s very natural for resistance to arise as we’re triggered internally. The practice of acceptance centres around observing what’s so and noticing what you’re resisting, and of letting go of some or all of the resistance.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Especially if you have perfectionist tendencies, keep in mind that this isn’t about letting go of all resistance and being accepting of everything in your life. In fact, sometimes all there is to do is to accept that you’re experiencing resistance in the moment.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Resistance comes from a place of lack and taps into stories of not having enough. For example, not having enough time, money, energy, confidence. The list goes on. Simply acknowledging what you’re grateful for in the moment can tangibly help you step out of this victim mode. This practice includes being grateful for challenges, as it’s these challenges that give us the opportunity to learn and grow.

Yoga and Meditation

In addition to helping us connect with our inner world, yoga and meditation can help develop acceptance and tolerance, both of ourselves and others. Practically speaking, this practice can consist of physical yoga postures and dynamic movement that develop our sense of self and regulate hormone levels, breathwork that supports us in mastering our relationship to our thoughts and meditations that create new neural pathways and balance our brain chemistry.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

—Lao Tzu

Timeless Wisdom

The Yogic Practice of Acceptance

Many yoga and meditation practices that are taught today are based on the eight limbs of yoga that were documented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali around 400 CE.

The second limb (niyama) includes the practice of Santoṣa, a sanskrit word that means contentment or acceptance of one’s circumstances. Lack of acceptance inhibits further development. For example, someone who doesn’t accept their body might shy away from participating in physical yoga and someone whose mind is very active may decide not to meditate. The result is that they don’t give themselves the opportunity to benefit from what these practices have to offer.

The Age of Consumerism

Much of modern marketing is designed to convince us that there’s something we’re lacking; that we won’t truly be happy until we possess the object of our desire. The satisfaction that comes from acquiring that object is often short-lived and shallow.

“Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”

— Eckhart Tolle

Explore Pillar Three

Pillar 1: Inner Reflection

What Is Inner Reflection?

“There is no road to reflection; reflection is the road.”

—Theo Compernolle (author of BrainChains)

Inner reflection includes everything from noticing your physical body and where you’re holding tension, to staying present to what’s most important in your life. Making inner reflection a regular practice is essential to living a life that is balanced and purposeful.

Practicing Inner Reflection

Simply knowing that inner reflection is important doesn’t make any difference. It’s important to treat it as a practice that is cultivated over time. Start small and gradually develop habits that become ingrained within your daily life.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a practice that supports you in developing a relationship with your thoughts. It cultivates the “neutral mind”, giving you an enhanced ability to see things as they are, free from judgment, while establishing a deeper connection to purpose. Meditation can take many forms and can be as simple as sitting still with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath. Practicing mindfulness as you go through the day will help maintain your relationship to your thoughts and help keep you on a purposeful path.


Journalling consists of capturing the present moment in a written form. Seeing thoughts as words can help bring objectivity to the thoughts that are swimming around in your mind, supporting you in discerning between those that are useful and those that are best discarded. Journalling can draw from a completely unstructured stream of consciousness or can be more systematic (e.g. listing the three most important things to focus on today or reflecting on things in your life that you’re grateful for).

Performing a Mind Sweep

The Mind Sweep is a practice that was popularized by Getting Things Done author David Allen. It consists of writing down thoughts as they occur, without any analysis or judgment getting in the way. Once you’ve captured the thoughts, you can apply the principles outlined in the Getting Things Done book to determine what, if anything, to do with each of the items you captured. Some thoughts will lead to actions or even entire projects, some will be parked for future review and the rest are discarded.

“If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention that it deserves.”

—David Allen (author of Getting Things Done)

Timeless Wisdom

Yin & Yang

The Taoist principles of Yin and Yang emphasize the importance of balance in life.

As a culture, we tend to be very Yang — there’s a lot of emphasis placed on doing and relatively little attention paid to the Yin elements of life, which include being and allowing.

The imbalance that this creates can lead to having less energy, increased levels of stress and ultimately to burnout or disease.




The Age of Distraction

There’s so much competing for your attention in these modern times that it’s easy to get into the habit of focusing most of your attention externally and, as a result, getting disconnected from your own internal world.

“We’re Already the Most Over-Informed, Under-Reflective People in the History of Civilization.”

— Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
(Harvard University Psychologists)

Explore Pillar Two


A Holistic Approach to Productivity

Humans and organizations are multi-faceted by nature. We’ve found that the most effective approach to productivity involves looking at a person or organization as a whole.

This is true, even if the ultimate goal is to focus on a specific area. For example, if you want to increase your productivity at work, it’s important to note that your effectiveness at work will be influenced in a positive or negative way by, for example, your health and your home environment.

What is Productivity?

Simply put, productivity is all about producing the results that you want, either as an individual or as an organization.

To be productive we believe that it’s important to look at the big picture, while also developing structure to support the day-to-day tasks and projects that ultimately bridge the gap between dreams and reality.

The Wheel of Life is a tool we use in coaching to evaluate your current level of satisfaction in various areas of life.

When you impact one area of your life in a positive way, this positive impact will also be felt in other areas of your life.

For example, if you’re happy at work you’re more likely to be healthy and happy in your family life. The same philosophy can be applied to organizations.

Even if the goal is to transform a particular department within the organization, it’s important to remember that the people that make up that group exist as part of a larger team.

Any improvements within this department are felt throughout the entire company and the success of this department is influenced by the performance and morale in other areas of the company.

Four Pillars of Holistic Productivity

 These Four Core Practices Support the Holistic Productivity Approach to Life & Work.

Our Approach

In a World Where There is So Much Competing for Our Attention, Holistic Productivity Creates an Opportunity to Feel Both Calm & Empowered.

It’s a reminder for us all to be more present and to make decisions in a more mindful way. Our approach awakens something that is already inside of you; it’s not about changing who you are, but rather changing how you see the world and how you show up. In order to deliver on our promise, we are building a network of people just like you who want to transform their life and the role that technology plays in it.

At Holistic Productivity, we do so much more than impart information – we create human connections. Having a group of likeminded people that you communicate with regularly is an essential ingredient for growth. It’s important to surround yourself with people you believe in and who believe in you. Holistic Productivity breathes new life into productivity by building communities based on trust and support.

Explore Pillar One