Monday, September 8, 2014

All The Things That Remain To Be Done

Motivation is meaningless without methods

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

If you want to get things done, make it about actions not innate abilities. Make it less about the person and more about the deeds. It is when we do that, that we give ourselves a way to improve methods. Deeds are actionable and within our control, the way we were born is not.

When I started martial arts, I thought it was all about toughness. I thought a small man could beat a bigger man because he had trained himself to be tougher. Later on I evolved this thought: for a small man to beat a big man, he must rely on an efficient system. Martial arts is the honing of efficient systems for a person to defeat another person who may have more advantages. Toughness is still mandatory.

Motivation alone does not lead to productivity, without methods it can lead to arguments, delays, procrastination, and worst of all, nothing...

Evaluate actions

Are you the type who constantly needs to check themselves out in the proverbial mirror, pat yourself on the back, look for constant validation? As a rule you take off your shoes before you enter a martial arts dojo, it implies leaving all your ego, vanity, and history at the door. Are you ego driven or purpose driven? It makes the difference between thoughts and deeds.

Focusing on yourself and becoming self indulgent gives us no application. We evaluate ourselves and others, when we should evaluate their actions. Everyone has capacity to be great or terrible, everyone is smart in their own way, they are the actors, what matters are the actions. In a fight, only actions count. It doesn't matter if you are good, or you are brilliant, or you are effective, or helpful. What matters is whether or not your actions are effective, whether what you did was helpful, if that idea is clever. It's the difference between busy and productive, intent and significance. If we make it about the person, then it's the eternal question of, can you change someone, should you change someone, can someone ever be good enough? If we make it about actions and plans, it's easier then to make improvements and a better overall system.

Actions are a better way to even evaluate the individual. There have been countless people with higher IQs than Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. We consider Einstein and Edison geniuses prior to ever knowing their IQs because their actions, the things they have produced makes it self evident. Evaluating a person not based on their actions only leads to ego, narcissism, doubt, criticism, nepotism, fatalism, unhappiness, fear of failure, and an extreme anxiety that they will never live up to expectations. That their worth and value are innate, they cannot be altered. It's easy to get lost when you believe your actions don't count, that you have no control over who you are. Meaning and significance happens easier when you know your actions mean something, that things you do matters and you have an ability to alter your life.

Focus on efficient systems

Make the methods better. If you need to get things done more than once and in an efficient amount of time, you need reliable methods. The efficient connection of all these elements creates an efficient system.

  • You need advisors - Mentor, coaches, or masters. Have multiple, they are an element that cannot be replicated or replaced.
  • Vertically integrate - Focus on improvements from top to bottom and bottom to top. Whether you're trying to get more things done, produce more, or increase profits, the connection of elements in your system needs to be strong, lean, relatively short, and be without leaks.
  • Don't rely on value judgments - You need data driven feedback not uneducated guesses or emotional justifications. Being fair does not mean perceiving ignorance as an equal to knowledge.
  • Success is a process not a destination - Do you want a black belt or do you want to get better in your art every day? If you focus on destination, you will only see how far you are from your target. If you focus on process, the destination will become just another milestone among many other milestones, an effect of the process.
  • High volume - Create a high volume of work. Remove judgment until you have to make revisions. In the example of writing, write every day no matter how good or bad, or poor speeling.
  • Purpose not goals - Goals and tasks are subjective and can change over time. They are responsive expressions of your purpose. Don't fixate, remain adaptable.
  • Improve the process - Instead of focusing on improving yourself, focus on improving the process. Like a computer programmer, the better the program, the easier your job.
  • Fix the pencil sharpener - Let's say there's a pencil sharpener. It isn't very effective at sharpening pencils but it still gets the job done eventually. Do you focus on trying to sharpen the pencil? Where only you can do it and it's time consuming and it's hard to replicate and hard to make a lot of sharp pencils? Or do you focus on fixing the pencil sharpener? So it becomes easy to replicate, efficient, and frees you up to improve other things?
  • Create a better system - Instead of trying to focus on becoming a better artist, writer, athlete, entrepreneur, person: focus on improving your writing schedule, your creative environment, analyzing when times are most productive, and finding leakages in your system where time and money is being wasted. This will allow for higher quality and quantity of work. The flip side is constantly taking a long time to produce mediocre work.

Things to consider for growth

In a lot of ways, you are you're own business. You want to make yourself better, you want to define your mission, you want to become successful. You need an environment to support successful development. You need grooming to think like a winner. It's not innate. You're the multiplier effect, get guidance and run with it, or don't.

Ask yourself:

Accelerating Growth

You don't always have to be the first one done, but speed and quality matters. Often, delays becomes habit, and important people won't give second chances. Competition is much too high. Reliability is crucial; without an efficient system, delivering anything on time, in good quality, and lean costs more than once becomes nearly impossible.

  • Accelerating does not mean rushing - Don't go at a pace that isn't sustainable, or make changes that are short term. One of the killers of progress is going at a rate faster than one can handle. Being able to control and sustain pace is a sign of mastery.
  • Are there leaks - Ask yourself: is this effective? How is this working for me? Life is a value proposition. For my investment, do I gain enough value? If not, stop and change something,
  • Account for your bias - You need to be able to call yourself out on your bias. Don't give yourself an exemption from your critical eye. You also need others to be able to call you out on your bias. There's a myth that we should surround ourselves with "positive" people, people who agree with us, who always validate us. It might become seductive because it's so pleasurable but it comes with absolutely no meaning because you don't have to earn it.
  • Quality of argument - You need people who are objective, who don't have bias. Who'll sometimes disagree with you. Otherwise you become insulated, and you end up drinking the Kool-aid. Surround yourself with people based on the quality of their argument, not on whether they agree with you or not.
  • Beta testing - Create an open learning mindset, change your stance when new information is presented, and look for data not validation. There is no failure, just testing and learning.
  • You have the resources, now what - Rather than thinking about how much value you can squeeze out of your resources, consider instead if given all the resources and guidance, how much value can you produce? You're the lumberjack, someone can hand you an axe, but once that happens only you can swing it. If given the right opportunity, what do you plan to do with it?
  • The Big Why - Let's say you have a company you need to raise money for and your meeting investors: if you don't tell them why you're doing this, why they need your product, why the world needs another company -- why would the investors give you any money? What you want only applies to you, why you want it applies to everyone.
  • Use models from any category - Model yourself after anything that has been sustainably successful, from a cause, a person, or a business. Don't limit yourself, even learn from other people's failures. Cautionary tales are all about lessons.
  • Get rid of bottlenecks - What's slowing the process down. Look in all areas, and most of all, consider if you are your own bottleneck. If so, give up some of the reigns and delegate. If not change objectives and re-evaluate. Just because you came up with an idea doesn't mean you're the best one to execute it.
  • Can you handle it - Even good problems can mount. Eliminate things and find balance between meaningful work and peace of mind.

Social Grooming

When I first started martial arts, I thought it was all about who was the best fighter. Later on I thought it was about competition and winning. Then later about self defense and what's most practical. Those are all analogies but the lesson has remained the same, martial arts is about grooming better human beings.

In the process of getting things done and creating more efficient models, you are learning to become a leader. Here are things to keep in mind:

Earn it - Earn friendships and connections. Be someone people want to help. You may want this and that in a soul mate, but what do you bring to the table? If you're a flaky friend, why would your friend believe you to be otherwise in a work situation or when something important is on the line?

Be cautious of any job that will hire anyone - I personally don't take just anyone as a client. Neither do most good programs. Make meaningful collaborations, they should be picky and so should you. You may believe you are special, good opportunities want proof.

Discipline more important than want - Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you also have the adherence to actually do it. Everyone has wants, discipline is what is rare. Fortunately discipline is a skill, you can make it better, always practice it.

Don't look for easy entries - Expect barriers. The tough selection process isn't what eliminates the majority of candidates from the Navy Seals. It's the idea of it. Same with the best colleges. People self eliminate to avoid failure. The ones who'll try already show a certain level of resilience, and ability to deal with possible failure, rejection, and intimidation.

In the same boat - Is everyone in the boat paddling the same direction? People can change over time but if they're headed the same direction, it allows for more flexibility and productivity and meaning. Do you and the people you deal with have the same vision?

Don't treat people like they work for you - How would your servant be in a position to change you? How can they help you change the world? Why would they care if they're only your servant? "I don't care, I only work here." Put people in a position to create change. This isn't a monarchy (the innate "I'm better than you" system), we need to get things done.

No way around it, you need toughness and grit

It's about efficient systems but I have found that one can never eliminate toughness and grit from the equation. No matter what hacks, motivations, psychological ploys, philosophies one adopts: you need to be mentally tough. That's it. You need staying power and consistency, that requires a tremendous amount of fortitude and grit. Wherever your expectations are, your grit and resilience must be higher. What many have are high expectations, low resilience.

Instead of giving up, look for ways to develop grit. Encouragement doesn't mean being flattered, by definition it means to be pushed. That breaks some people. It's not meant for everyone.

It's a skill set that needs time and practice to be developed and is integral to your productivity model. Get small things done, then bigger things. Take small risks and learn to sleep at night with bigger risks. Live.

"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."

— Kurt Vonnegut

Source: Must Triumph

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