Is Efficiency Killing You? It’s Time You Become Effective.

Intentionality is a double-edged sword.  Certainly a must have weapon on the road to awesome, however, you must not lose site of being effective.  Short sightedness can sometimes lead to a dream killing “efficiency overload”.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? Effectiveness is the completion of a project or task. The project or task may be small daily items such as cleaning the kitchen or bigger life achievements such as publishing a book or owning a business.  Efficiency adds the element of “smoothness” or “cost effectiveness” to the these projects, but often times at a cost.  I’m often so focused on getting things done in tight time windows in order to fit in more “stuff”, I stop enjoying the process. Writing and reading, two things I love to do, started to be “boxes” to check.  Since these things are not my income source, they are easily discarded if they take from my quality of life. For you these “boxes” may be yard work, cooking, or even watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

The thing about efficiency, is that it doesn’t stand on its own as a result.The ultimate goal is to be effective.

Certain projects have hard due dates.  To remain on a course toward awesome, you need to meet these timelines.  I don’t typically struggle with dates on projects, where I struggle are the “extra” things.

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume ...

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume this is for people on horseback. But then why have a gate here in the first place, I can only think it is here to keep cars off the dyke. It would be quite easy to lift a dirt bike over this wide gate, and any livestock you pass through. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are things that I believe will set each one of us apart on a road to success. Due dates are easy, they are given to us and hold us accountable.  Reading, writing, exercising, etc don’t hold us accountable.  These things need to become a way of life;  a part of who we are.  They need to fall in between “happening when they happen” and “utter obsession”. Here are a 3 important things to consider:
1.  Don’t compare yourself to people at different stages of the process.  A tenured blogger (Michael Hyatt or Chris Brogan), has the history, audience, and developed talent to manage high volumes of readers, topics, and consistency.  You’re 3 months in, don’t trap yourself into thinking you need to keep up with these guys.

2.  Regularly schedule a Check-in on yourself.  Observe your ambitious schedule for a check on priorities, results, and your happiness. As I did this, I realized my attempt at consistent blogging was taking all the fun out of it. I can afford ( as this is only a hobby), to chill out for a while and slowly jump back into the game.  You will find these opportunities to fine tune your effectiveness verses efficiency.  Backing off on writing is not efficient, but burning out and hating it isn’t very effective either.

3. Are you enjoying what you are doing?  If the answer is NO, then take a look at what it is you are doing.  Is the process stealing your joy, or is it the thing in and of itself?  Figure this out.
Remember to prioritize things in your life.  I suggest starting with a Family Mission Statement.  Read my article  on this topic and look through the resources.  The process really forces you to focus on what really matters.  Things that cause anxiety and frustration that do not lead you toward your mission…well…it’s a no brainer on what to do.
Share with me what you do when the work you do becomes a “box” to check.
Rocco

Self Honesty in the Intentional Life

One of my favorite things to do to unwind is walk through the local Barnes and Noble.  The combination of the smell of new books and starbucks brewing bring a creative calm to my heart.  I usually browse through history, current affairs, business and christian living.  I love to read books.  If I could read 10 hours a day, I would.  Perhaps I may even have an addiction to books. My typical “poison” is Non Fiction. I’ve learned from reading well over a thousand books, that every Non Fiction book sells you a perfect life, with steps to this, and steps to that.  All the success, effectiveness, and happiness you could ever dream of in 10 easy steps. Anxiety filled office overhaul day after anxiety filled office overhaul day, I have learned to manage expectations and be real.  There are circumstances in life that are not excuses, and certainly not roadblocks to success.  Managing our specific lives rather than comparing ourselves to others will vastly increase our happiness and drive further effort rather than stifle them in anxious self pity.  I’ve done them all.  Here are some key learnings from my anxiety filled attempt to become everyone but myself.

[ D ] Salvador Dali - Metamorphosis of Narciss...

[ D ] Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) (Photo credit: Cea.)

1. Don’t compare your work to people in different stages of life or career.  Comparing my blog to Michael Hyatt’s blog is ridiculous. He is the retired CEO of a major publisher, vastly more experienced (by 20 + years I’d guess), and has way more resources than I do.  Compare, instead to novices if that’s where you are.  How do you compare to people just starting out?
2. How much time do you have available? Trying to squeeze in another “thing” is difficult.  Some people can tightly schedule their time, some can’t.  Too rigid a schedule leads to anxiety and no room for life’s inevitable interruptions, especially if you have kids.  Rigidity leads to rushing, which kills creativity. Be realistic about how long things take.  Too many times I see people simply overplaying their hand when it comes to their ability to get things done. If, on average, it takes 30 minutes to mow the lawn, don’t think you can do it in 10.
3.  Live in reality.  You have obligations on your time and energy. Life has seasons.  What season are you in?   Prioritize not just your time, but your energy.  Being honest with your commitment to give effort to a project is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your happiness and success. You can over commit and fake it for a while with other people, but you know if you are out of your comfort zone and will be unhappy. One blog post per week and happiness is better than 5 posts and misery.  It’s not sustainable and is counterproductive.
4. Define your goals.  What are you trying to accomplish.  My goal with this blog is to write for the sake of writing and to get better.  I periodically check in with my motives and compare them with my goals.  If I’m unhappy with my follower count, or engagement, I remind myself that was never my purpose.  Your goals may be different.  Defining them gives you firm ground to stand on.  Self honesty is a must.  Changing goals with the weather doesn’t usually lead to success.
Understanding where you are in the development process and how much time and energy you have and are honestly willing to give toward a defined goal is key to intentional living.
What one thing have you lied to yourself about in the last week?

Rocco

My Failure to Act: A tale of doing nothing while asking for it all!

Digital Mission

Digital Mission (Photo credit: Benjamin Ellis)

Coincidences only happen by coincidence.  They have an unusual way of opening up windows in our hearts. I keep a growing list of books in my que to read.  I hear podcasts or interviews about books and I put them on paper.  Recently I was listening to Michael Hyatt talk about a book that made an impact on him.  A book called Chasing Daylight. A few weeks later, I went to order it and discovered that there were several books with the same title.  I could not remember for the life of me which book or why I had been drawn into it.  I noticed Erwin Macmanus’ version was published by Thomas Nelson.  Michael Hyatt was mentioned in the acknowledgements (as he was the CEO of Thomas Nelson). Voila, problem solved. I ordered the book and started reading it immediately after it showed up. The subtitle of the book is “Seize the Power of Every Moment”.  His purpose is to teach us all that we are given opportune moments by God to actively live our faith.  Some moments are larger than others.

The Sunday after I started reading the book, I was confronted by my hypocrisy (a recurring theme lately). Praying in the front pew after communion, I could see a little old lady struggle to walk back to her seat.  It was awkward as I was praying for humility and holiness, she was trying to lean against the front portion of the partition I was praying on.  Very distracted and unable to focus on my vast holiness, I got a little frustrated.  Someone from across the way walked over and helped her back to her seat.  This is where I should insert a sound file of a loud SLAP in the face, my face.  I missed a moment to let God answer my prayer that would also have provided a great example to my children and the poor woman who was struggling just to walk.

As Christians, prayer is a part of who we are.  I have written recently about intentions and the role they play.  If we intend on changing the world, we must act.  Christian or not, this speaks to you.

Whatever your change you must actively seek and seize opportunities.

This is a habit that we must work develop.  The more we “do” the easier it will be to “do” more.  If I had a habit of helping little old ladies, I would have jumped at that opportunity.  Today, I will go out, be intentional, and look for opportunities to hold more doors, say hello, and be helpful.  Tomorow, I will do it again. Perhaps next Sunday, I will help a little old lady to her seat.

Ironically, the version of Chasing Daylight Michael Hyatt was referring to was by Eugene O’kelly, not by Erwin Mcmanus.  Both books are well worth the read.
What will you do today to be intentional about becoming the person you want to be?
Rocco De Leo

Be Different, Sincere, and Succeed: A 10 step guide on how to be an all around nice guy…or gal

We are living in a crowded age.  Busy is normal, and attention is hard to capture and keep.  You want to be noticed and MEMORABLE.  Are you doing enough? Unless you’re satisfied with a “me too” existence, you probably aren’t doing enough but are eager to learn.  Afterall, That’s the reason you’re reading this post.  Don’t worry, you can get better. You will get better. I just finished reading Michael Hyatt‘s book, Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world.  In it, he gives a detailed “how-to” on building your social media  platform and how to utilize it appropriately, intentionally  and authentically. Platform is the BIG PICTURE, 30,000 foot approach to strategically building your personal brand.   You must read it. What about the SMALLER PICTURE, the 10,000 foot level, tactical approach to getting noticed and DIFFERENTIATING yourself?  This is a simple list of things you should already be doing.  They are so simple, you won’t believe everyone else isn’t doing them.

1. Hand written thank you cards are better than emails.
2. Pick up the phone and call (not all the time, have a voice, not just Facebook)
3. Proactive Networking: Birthdays are nice, in fact they are crucial, however saying high on a random day without asking for something is the icing on the cake. This used to be called Networking.  Today it’s called–well, Networking.
4.  Under promise and over deliver: Surprise people with fabulous results beyond there expectations. Don’t set that bar too low as to be insincere, but give yourself some room to excel.
5.  Names, names, names. Don’t forget names. Use  names early and often.
6.  Showing SINCERE interest in people’s kids is more important than their hobbies.
7. Follow up and follow through on your commitments to people. Unfortunately, people are used to empty promises. Surprise them with delivery.
8. Stay positive. Misery loves company but we still like to have happiness delivered our way. A smile will go a long way.
9. Make aggressive mistakes.  You are going to mess up.  Make sure you mess up because you tried to be kind rather because you tried to avoid trouble.
10.Give more than you ask.  In fact, give way more than you ask.
Bonus:  Pray for people when you tell them you will pray for them.  Offer to pray for people. This will bless you more than you can imagine.

Successful people do the BIG things very well.  They do the SMALL things even better and more often.  Don’t feel as though you must master this list.  Use it as a guideline and learn from it.  Change your mindset to focus on the little things while keeping your eye on the big picture.  The most important thing to remember is that sincerity goes a long way.  You may find yourself in situations where you can’t sincerely execute these steps.  A tough client may not seem appropriate to engage in a conversation regarding his daughters ballet recital.  Don’t go there if you aren’t sincere.  Make these steps a part of your mantra.
Share with me a time a sincere attempt at a nicety went wrong.  How did you resolve it?  Did it affect you in the future?
Rocco De Leo