The Myth of Sisyphus

According to Greek legend, Sisyphus so angered the gods that they sentenced him to the worst torture they could imagine. He will spend eternity pushing a rock up a hill — as it reaches the pinnacle, it will roll back down again. After returning to the bottom, Sisyphus would then have to push it back up again.

The funny thing is that Sisyphus called in for a coaching session with me this week! He said it would be OK if I shared part of our conversation…

B: So, you’re pushing a rock up the same hill every day?
S: Yeah, it’s pretty depressing. I never seem to get ahead.
B: You must be getting pretty good at pushing rocks!
S: I am; actually, I’m pushing the rock up the hill in about one-third of the time it took me before; of course, that means that I make it three times further each day.
B: Do you ever pause at the top of the hill? What’s it like up there?
S: No. I head back down. But now that you mention it, the view is pretty epic!
B: Not many people get to see that view, especially as consistently as you get to see it.
S: True, but there’s still the rock!

As I talk to owners of expert firms, they will sometimes describe running their business in similar terms.

Each day they wake up early and work hard — wrangling clients, watching over team members, trying to make ends meet. Only to come in the next day and start all over again.

There may be some accomplishments, new client wins, campaigns that clients love, and new team members who are taking on challenges that used to be theirs; but it’s hard to celebrate with their to-do list screaming in the background.

The good news is, you haven’t been sentenced by “the gods” to an eternity of “rise and grind.” The bad news is that you are likely complicit in this situation!

We’ll talk about that on Saturday, but in the meantime, keep a list of the times in the next few days when you feel like Sisyphus and another list of when you feel like you’re making real progress like the rock is tiny, and the hill is gentle.

What do you notice about the things on each list?

By the way, you can get a 5 day plan to get rid of that overwhelmed feeling and get moving again. Learn more here.