The amazing fact is that all teams can become more productive. Why is it, then, that most teams stay at their current levels, even if productivity gains could be relatively easy to achieve?
The simple answer: most people feel comfortable and safe in their current state.
This includes business leaders, teams, and entire organizations. Change is hard, even if this change means improvement. That’s why most obese people stay obese, smokers continue smoking, and people don’t become better leaders.
Your morning sets the tone for your day. This is an old adage. If you create your morning by yourself and consciously, you dramatically increase your chances of ending the entire day successful and fulfilled.
A very important correlation is this: if you already start your morning reactively, you will most likely continue to do so.
"Reactive" means activities like checking emails, social media, news channels, newspaper, and so on.
My point is this: You can do all of that. But please don't do it as your first thing. Make the first hour of each day completely self-directed.
That always works. You may have to get up earlier to do it (and go to bed earlier accordingly). That's what most top performers do.
We've all been there (and I certainly have): we put off things that "should" be important and do less important stuff instead.
And please don't pretend that this hasn't happened to you. It really does affect everyone!
Why is it like that? Why do we sabotage ourselves? Why do we leave things undone when we know perfectly well that it needs to be done anyway?
Well, the answers to these questions fill entire bookshelves and video platforms. So it seems relevant.
The problem: most advice focuses on techniques to stop procrastination. That's all well and good, but there are root causes underlying the phenomenon that hardly anyone addresses.
Do you ever catch yourself saying, "I don't have time for that"? Well, you are not alone.
But unfortunately, the statement is simply wrong. Because: You always have enough time. You always find time for the really important things.
You notice this when something unpredictable happens: be it an emergency at home, sick children or a significant problem with a customer.
All of a sudden, we have the time to take care of it. What happened? You reprioritized.
The problem: that prioritization comes from the outside. You are being reactive at this moment.
The best leaders, on the other hand, prioritize proactively. For the most part, they set their own agenda. They determine what is important. And they spend their time accordingly.
One of the most accomplished management gurus of recent times, Peter Drucker, used to say “First things first. Last things never.” This brings us to the point: don’t prioritize. Instead, simply decide what’s most important and then do it. If you constantly apply this principle in your life, you’ll never have time to do anything of low priority anyway.
I like this observation in any kind of corporate or country culture. I’m writing this memo while on the train from Switzerland to Venice, and for sure, it is clear that many things in Italy are not as clean and well maintained as they are in Switzerland. Instead, people take, on average, more time for personal conversations and other things. This is not about stereotypes, but about different priorities – without forcing any judgment.
Admittedly, the question in the headline may seem strange to you. Very few people associate "happiness" with leadership.
And wrongly so. After all, if you're going to put in all the hard work and overtime that usually comes with leadership positions, you don't want to be unhappy in the process, do you?
Quite a few don't let this consideration get to them. I love to ask my clients at the outset of our work relationship, "Are you happy doing what you do?"
Here's another hint: If you ask parents what they want most for their children, the number one answer you'll hear is, "That they're happy!"
So if it's most important to us for our loved ones to be happy, why not in leadership? And especially at this time of year, I think it's an obvious thought.
So, are you happy in what you do at work? And are the people on your team?
Because if you and your people are, everyone will enjoy performing at a higher level and have more fun doing it.
Most of my clients are constantly short on time. That's why one of the things we work on in coaching is to change this situation for the better.
And even those who have enough time often feel that they are not making the most of it.
For many, the solution seems to be better time management. And that's where the problems really begin.
Because if you're trying to manage time, you're sitting on a misconception and wasting your... well, yes: time.
Why is that? Here are three reasons why time management doesn't work (then, in point 3 is the way out):
It's simple: you'll fall far short of your potential in life and in your career if you don't have a handle on your productivity.
Most leaders I know - and people in general - either feel overwhelmed all the time, or they're not sure they're investing their time in the most important activities. Or both.
What's the key to massively increased productivity? It's what I call "time mastery": you decide what you invest in every minute of your life.
Maybe that sounds idealistic, but think about people you see as exemplary on the topic of productivity and success. Do they give you the impression that they are constantly controlled by others? Quite the opposite: they determine their priorities themselves - at least significantly more than the average person.
When you ask sales managers and salespeople how they can get better at selling, you usually get answers that relate to methods:
"We need to get better at phone prospecting." Or, "We need to contact more prospects." Or, "We need to get stronger at closing." And so on.
That's all well and good. Except that, in my experience and observation, there are two other factors that are even more important for sustainable success in sales: Mindset and personal productivity.
We'll cover the former elsewhere. Today, we're talking about productivity.
Imagine a salesperson creating 20, 30, or even 50% more in the same amount of time: how much more could they create and sell? What I'm saying is: the leverage of productivity in sales is enormous.
The question "Do you want to get better?" is, of course, a rhetorical one. After all, who doesn't want to? But what most overlook is that to get better in a sustainable way, you need a system.
That's exactly why, when it comes to certain things, after a short learning curve at the beginning, our skills keep us on a plateau from which we hardly improve.
What we need to improve continuously and significantly is what psychology professor Anders Ericsson describes in his book Peak as "deliberate practice."
Here, however, I am concerned with something that lies even before that. Because the reason why we don't really peak, even if it would be absolutely beneficial for us, lies elsewhere. If you are aware of that, you can deal with it accordingly.
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