Unfortunately, many of us need to be motivated by another person, to be inspired, to be driven, to be pushed. Only 2% of people really motivate themselves and serve as their own cheerleaders. These individuals are known as leaders. I believe that many of you who read these blogs do so out of your own volition for self improvement so you qualify as these self-motivated individuals.
When we stop growing we die. I like the saying, “When you are green you are growing, when you are ripe you are rotting.” Or as Tracy quotes Pat Riley, “Anytime you stop striving to get better, you are bound to get worse.” If we stop growing personally and/or professionally, we stagnate and start to rot. These blogs are intended for all of us to grow (including and especially me) so that we can become better human beings and pertaining to this blog series more efficient, motivated, productive, and contributing human beings.
Procrastinators work by having someone impose deadlines for them. Leaders impose their own imaginary deadlines to get things done. They have internal clocks that pressure them to perform. They must accomplish something by a certain date not because they were told that it was due on that date but because they feel they need it done by that date. How do you work? Do you work until the last second something is due or do you create your own internal due dates that follow a consistent rhythm? When people say, “Oh, I work well with deadlines,” they are in fact declaring themselves procrastinators.
When the pessimist encounters a problem, he sees a roadblock. An optimist sees an opportunity for learning from his/her mistake. I like the saying that I heard from a friend of mine, “We can only grow from our trials and tribulations. Without them, we don’t grow.” That is a truism. It is how I live my life. Of course, I am not always perfectly optimistic about every downturn but I am certainly improving by seeing negative experiences as actually being quite fruitful. As Viktor Frankl said, when all freedoms are taken from you your last freedom is attitude. Our attitude truly defines our core. When we have a good self image, self esteem, positive outlook, then almost nothing is impossible.
If we are not in the best physical shape, lack sleep, drink too much alcohol, work late, etc., we are not going to be our best and we simply can’t perform. Picture yourself as a professional athlete training to be at the top of your game. We all can work to make sure that we meet these rigid goals so that we can perform in our personal and professional lives so much better.
I hope you will continue this journey with me of self improvement and ongoing maturation so that we can become better people to serve ourselves and others that much better. I hope you can incorporate the many wonderful things Brian Tracy has taught in Eat That Frog! as I have.
Working at work rather than playing at work can help you get your work done so that you go home and have none to do. The more we are efficient at our work the less time we have to spend there. Even though I myself enjoy my work, I do not want to sit mindlessly at work for the sake of being there. In fact, my 5:30 pm yoga class compels me on most days to get out of the office on a timely basis. That habit has taught me the discipline of being more efficient at work so that I do not have to occupy my personal time at night with work activities. For example, if a patient does not show up or I have a few minutes at lunch hour, I will shoot a video on a topic that comes to my mind. I typically have the video shot, captured, edited, labeled, and uploaded by the time I am leaving my office. If not, I have 80 to 90% of that done so that all I have to do when I get home is hit a single button and leave my computer. Radical efficiency is everything.
How do we accomplish that? Well, first we need to clear the space in front of us and make sure everything is well organized for us to start work. Too often we have a cluttered work space or no work space at all. We are sitting right in the middle of office traffic so that we are prone to mindless conversations at work that only serve to undermine our productivity. Even a few interruptions can be enough to create a stoppage of work flow that can significantly undermine work efficiency. As we discussed, planning is everything. Having the right work space is one of the first steps in planning. However, if planning stalls progress, the other admonition of just starting should be recalled: a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take that step.
Tracy helps you prioritize your life by focusing on your strengths and your contributions to your work life. He asks what 3 things do you do that make the most contribution to your work and then to drill that down further what single thing do you do that makes the most contribution. For me, I know the top three things that I do for my business are 1. Continue to refine and develop plastic surgery techniques, 2. Focus on expanding Internet marketing, 3. Leadership of staff and building. I therefore focus on my core strengths and delegate most of everything else out. Find out what your strengths are and what you can do to focus your work life on them. Oftentimes we can determine what 3 things we do the best in seconds…
The next Law of Three is to have you find your three life goals. You should be able to define those goals and write them down in less than 30 seconds. Tracy argues that individuals who are given several hours to think of an answer tend to score the same as those who wrote their answers down in seconds. That is due to the fact that our subconscious mind drives us to what we really want and peels away all the layers that cover the truth of what we really want. Most individuals define their three goals based on professional, personal, and health. Interestingly, those are the three types of goals that I set out for myself for my EO forum group in which I have monthly action steps for a larger goal that occupies my 2009 calendar year.
What are your three work strengths? What are your three life goals?
As the previous blogs have set forth, we only have a limited amount of time in our day and in our lives to do the things that really matter. Per force, we will have to procrastinate on some matters, but that involves procrastinating on the things that are unimportant compared with procrastinating as we typically do on the things that truly matter. Tracy calls this creative procrastination in which we eliminate, postpone, delegate, or simply say no to the things that we should not engage in.
He outlines a method that we can use as we “think on paper” called the ABCDE method of power priority. It is as follows:
A- The most important things that you must do belong in this category. After putting these items in this box, subdivide them into A-1, A-2, A-3, etc. based on the most to the least important of the very important things you need to do.
B- Things that you should do but are not as important as A tasks. These B tasks are still important but they do not hold a candle to the A tasks. Your job is to figure out what is an A and what is a B and ensure that you complete the A task before starting the B task.
C- Things that are nice to do like have coffee with your friend, etc., that would not have serious future consequences but that you enjoy doing. C tasks naturally should follow the completion of A and B tasks.
D- The mnemonic is Delegate. These are things that you do every day but if you are in a position of authority can in turn delegate to someone else so that you can focus in your strength zone on the A tasks.
E- Again, a good mnemonic is Eliminate. These are things that you are doing that you really should remove from your life because they are non-productive and interfere with your life’s goals. An example given was a person was playing 3 to 4 rounds of golf every week to the point that his family and work life were entirely suffering. He did not have to eliminate golf but he had to seriously control the amount of time he was spending that led to a disastrous personal and professional life.
Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University found that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people fell on one simple predictor: ”long-term perspective”. More than race, gender, family background, intelligence, etc., how an individual viewed a given day or a given task defined how successful that person would be in society. Those who were focused on where they would be in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years would be the ones who would be successful. Those who were just focused on present day activities would not. Denis Waitley, the motivational speaker, says, “Losers try to escape their fears and drudgery with activities that are tension-relieving. Winners are motivated by their desires toward activities that are goal-achieving.”
We must focus on what priority tasks we can accomplish that will permit future success for us. The simple question that we can ask is “What consequence will the task that I am working on hold for me in the future?” If the answer is none, then perhaps we must reconsider how important it is for us to be working on it. Tracy talks about the “Law of Forced Efficiency”, which says that there is only a limited time that we have to accomplish anything. We can’t eat every tadpole so we must focus on what we can accomplish that has priority value based on “future orientation” (what impact that action would have for us in the future) and “priority focus” (what value that action would have so that we can prioritize it appropriately).
He says that those who say that they work well with deadlines are not actually telling themselves the truth. Studies have shown that people who work under pressure to deliver with a deadline are only procrastinators. It is always much better to plan forward than to be a victim of external constraints like deadlines.
Tracy says that we should ask three important questions for maximum productivity:
1. What are my highest value activities?
2. What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference?
3. What is the most valuable use of time right now?
By focusing on “future orientation”,we can help prioritize our biggest frogs and accomplish only what we need to accomplish and delegate or ignore the rest.