I'm often asked who my productivity heroes are. I've got plenty of obvious choices, but to be honest, long-term, I've gotten the most usable insights from icon RuPaul Charles, best known as RuPaul.
I am a child of the 90s, so I first learned about RuPaul during her "Supermodel (You Better Work)" era.
But it's while watching the competition reality show "RuPaul's Drag Race," and the drag queens competing for the crown, that I've gotten the best productivity insights and motivation.
1. Everything is your choice.
RuPaul has always encouraged agency, autonomy and exercising independent control over our emotions.
We as a culture believe that if other people change their behavior, then my life will be so much better. When the truth is, why would you give that power to someone else outside of yourself? It's up to you to do what you need to do to make yourself happy. But don't depend on other people changing what they do or how they present themselves to you, or how they address you to dictate how happy you're going to be. Read the full interview
When you free yourself from this pressure -- that your happiness hinges on others' behavior -- you're free to choose only that which actually makes you happy.
Over time, this approach also gives you the courage to make all sorts of choices that make you happy, even if they're non-traditional.
Hate office drama? Work from home. Don't like the pomp and circumstance of traditional weddings? Elope, or don't get married at all. Want more control over how much you earn? Screw the standard job and start your own business. It's always your choice.
And if you get offended by others' opinions along the way? For RuPaul, and for me too, the onus is on you to choose how you feel about any given situation.
It’s just words! Like, 'Yeah, words hurt me!' Bitch, you need to get stronger. If you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think. Via queerty.com
This distinction is essential for people who are taking big risks and diverting from the norm. I've gotten so much criticism from people who didn't understand some of the nontraditional lifestyle choices I've made: eloping, refusing to work in a traditional office, taking monthly working vacations, outsourcing much of my shopping to Amazon and delivery services.
Had I listened to these critics, or wasted emotional energy processing their "helpful advice," I wouldn't be me, and Ridiculously Efficient sure as hell wouldn't be here.
2. Nobody's perfect, and that's okay.
We all want to be the best -- to find the best workflows, or the best work-life alignment, or to be seen as the best among our peers.
That relentless pursuit can sometimes trap us into discontent when we inevitably discover we aren't perfect.
RuPaul always looks flawless from head to toe, and exudes confidence and self-assurance. So it was surprising to hear his take on perfection.
I’m not perfect, and part of the brilliance of drag is that the whole premise is a joke. That’s what makes it so profound. That’s why throughout the ages -- witch doctors, shamans, court jesters -- are there to remind people to not take themselves so seriously. So the perfection you see is really, really not. Read the full interview
This healthy dose of perspective and humor are exactly what high achievers need so we don't drive ourselves insane.
3. Adaptability and resourcefulness are essential to success.
Like a chameleon, RuPaul's career has continually evolved: model, pop star, television producer, author, actor. On "RuPaul's Drag Race," you never know what RuPaul will wear, what persona he'll portray.
This constant state of flux has given him staying power, even as trends and pop culture change.
My ability to adjust to what the situation calls for has been my secret weapon. Via papermag.com
Resourcefulness is essential in my world, too. New apps, workflows and strategies are constantly emerging. Researchers are uncovering all sorts of data on how and where we should work, how our brains process stress and interruptions, and the optimal conditions for happiness at work.
Because of all this change, our competitive advantage at work is our ability to adapt and find a way to make things work.
But what challenges emerge when your career is built on pushing boundaries and breaking new ground? For RuPaul, and for all of us, it's the same: engagement.
The biggest success in my career so far is staying engaged in my work. I'm a powerful witch, we all are, and depending on how I choose to see a situation that's the experience I will have. Via papermag.com
How do you push yourself forward when you're competing against yourself? This drive has to come from within. There simply isn't enough external energy to keep my internal fires stoked. So I am my own power plant.
I'm constantly reinventing my own work processes and how I approach tasks. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Because I still feel like there's a better way -- I just haven't discovered it yet.
For all these reasons and more, RuPaul has been a source of personal and professional inspiration on how to excel at being unparalleled. In the days to come, I'll be sharing more icons who've shaped who I am and how I got to be ridiculously efficient.