Why do some people with talent achieve mediocre results while other less talented people are remarkable achievers?
People that achieve their potential use their heads and they measure success by the difference they make!
Yikes…aren’t we brain washed into thinking that success is defined by the money we make. This is true for some people, but it is not a ‘one size fits all’ panacea for everyone. Some people are ‘turned on’ by significance.
Broaden your thinking. What is really important to you? Is it making money, having a name, or making a difference? This is an important distinction to make. To do so requires deep thought and contemplation.
Whether you seek success or significance you still have to do something!
Here are three critical areas to consider when you apply your ‘do something’ mentality.
First, working smart means surrounding ourselves with people that know more than we do in areas where we lack skill or experience while building on things we do well and enjoy.
When you’ve been around as long as I have and been blessed to work with so many great mentors, you really appreciate the importance of thinking first and acting on purpose. Today’s fast paced business environment requires us to do things right the first time and punishes us for do-overs. We can’t learn everything the hard way by ‘doing’ when we should be ‘thinking’… but what do we need to think about?
My very first boss observed that I had a tendency to start things from scratch. Being fresh out of school my first instinct was that the ideas that I was having were original ideas. My boss had been around the block a time or two and was very experienced. His coaching was that most of the ideas we come up with have been done by someone else before. So rather than start at the beginning (taking extra time and running the risk of making mistakes) his coaching was to build on what other people have already done well but do it better than them. These were wise words and a philosophy that I have practiced for over 40 years.
One of my most significant mentors (I can count at least six) told me that I was trying to do everything too well. This seemed counter intuitive to me at first. After embracing this philosophy over a lifetime, much of my success can be attributed to changing my paradigm about quality. High achievers have a tendency to focus on doing everything to perfection. My greatest successes have come when I focus on progress (not perfection).
Looking back, this coaching was a turning point in my career.
What have I learned about the best way to get things done… making good choices trumps the degree of perfection required of a particular action or activity. Discerning what to do, determining how well each activity has to be completed, and prioritizing based upon urgency and importance is way more important than attempting to complete everything with the same level of quality. The degree of perfection necessary varies …100% — 80% –60% –20%–10% — 5% changes depending on the circumstances. One of the most important decisions that we often overlook is to do nothing at all.
A second smart do something technique that leads to success is to boil complex issues down to their simplest form.
This process known as ‘chunking’ takes a big issue and breaks an issue down into manageable parts or components.
Let’s look at an example. On the surface, business relationships can seem complicated. By focusing on one factor, consistency, we build strong and lasting relationships that will serve us well during the life of our business. There is no substitute for having relationships built on mutual respect and trust. The simple formula we can use to be successful with our relationships is TRUST = CONSISTENCY OVER A PERIOD OF TIME.
Paradoxically, building trust through consistency over time requires us to give up the illusion of being in control. When we are able to get to this point in our lives, we also free ourselves up to be better quality thinkers because we aren’t wasting time on frivolous matters of control.
A third management technique to do something when thinking things through is to determine if the issue or desired improvement is a matter of changes to efficiency or effectiveness.
Efficiency and effectiveness need to be in synch and balanced. Working really hard on the wrong things or doing the right things but doing them poorly leads to chaos and an unproductive situation.
The roadblock that holds us back from balancing efficiency and effectiveness is the ‘tyranny of the urgent’. Fighting fires and constantly being distracted by pop-ups is a sure sign that our balancing act is out of whack.
The first step toward efficiency and effectiveness balance is to get out in front of what should and could be possible and stop trying to keep up. Developing processes, best practices, standards, and standardization are the foundation of improving our efficiency and effectiveness.
We can distinguish between efficiency and effectiveness by following these guidelines.
Simple matters are a function of speed and quickness. Efficiency is activity based. It focuses on getting things completed… doing things fast. The mindset is that I can obtain my goals simply by working harder and speeding things up
Effectiveness is results based. We develop a systematic method of setting expectations, inspecting what we expect, and providing for consequences for our own behavior and the behavior of others. It focuses on getting the right things done, on time in the correct condition. Complex issues require us to think things through better and to manage with the end in mind before we get too deep into problem solving.
This speed vs. quality issue is an on-going ever-changing dynamic that needs to be constantly reviewed and scrutinized.