What supports you doing what matters most each day?
Last week, I went to see Wendell. Riding the elevator to the 7th floor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. His wife Bonnie, his son Kent, and other family members were there, too. Wendell is one of those great individuals who loves life, loves people, and everyone loves…for the 92 years of his life.
A little over a year ago his battle with cancer intensified; it is apparent he is living his last weeks while at St. Francis Hospital. Each of doctors and nurses love Wendell, you can tell. In March, he would turn 93…no, he will not make it he is going home.
When I was leaving the hospital, a nurse entered the Main Entrance. Her patient’s mandatory wheel chair ride to the car completed. The young woman gets into the back seat. Immediately I knew her life would be different. Her husband smiles and waves as he pulls away from the curb…yes, he is the chauffeur for his wife and their newborn they are going home.
One life ends and another begins; this week extends our conversation from last week’s The Secret of Personal Productivity.
How to maximize these brief years of life takes me back to my conversation with Jim Stovall. His book, Ultimate Productivity fuels my commitment to pursue and enjoy productivity; it stimulates my thinking and sense of responsibility.
This is a foundation of personal success.
With this age of information overload, technology-based connectivity, expectations to do more with less, and basic time poverty comes an environment of distractions. How is this affecting your ability to get things done?
Productivity affects personal success as an individual and leader and your business success. Steve Forbes writes in the Foreword of Stovall’s book:
“… Jim strikes at the heart of success and failure for all of us individually and as a society. Natural and human resources abound, but how we harness them to create our own personal success is determined by our ingenuity and productivity.”
To be productive, it is critical to distinguish the internal messages; each voice seeks to guide your decision making process regarding how you spend your life.
The Voice of Illusion says, “You’ll have time for that, later…”
The Voice of Deception repeats, “You are very busy…good job!”
The Voice of Reality clarifies truth: “You will succeed when you choose, right now to engage in what will produce results.”
Productivity is the result of choosing reality over an illusion regarding the use of time.
What is required to maintain your focus on doing what matters most?
1. Respecting Life’s Fleeting Nature
The pace of life seeks to control your life; when successful, it accelerates the fleeting nature of time. When was the last time you considered your life’s story line? Where you started, where you are, and where you want to be. Mid-course corrections are essential.
Being mindful of how limited time is can serve you well and lead to increased productivity. It is the classic “week before vacation” story. What drives high productivity in that week prior to an extended out of office time? The voice of truth pushes you to get the important stuff done now.
Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.
2. Re-framing Work as Creative Opportunity
Productivity is about having the power to produce, delivering results, benefits, or profits; it is being effective in bringing something into existence. Your contribution adds value.
What happens when you view your work as creative activity? Being productive speaks to the artist in you. Your performance makes something that would not be otherwise. Your “work” is fun!
Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.
-Rita Mae Brown
3. Recognizing the Power of Making Progress
What happens on a great workday? What makes you enthusiastic about your work? The list can include the common responses of recognition, incentives, purpose, passion, being valued, clear goals. How about progress?
Independent researchers, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer completed a multi-year study tracking the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivational levels of workers. Their article, “What Really Motivates Workers” suggests the answer…
It’s progress. On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak. On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.
…making progress in one’s work – even incremental progress – is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.”
–Harvard Business Review, January-February 2010, P. 44
When you remove barriers that hinder a sense of “making progress”, your reward is increased motivation and productivity.
4. Retaining Personal Responsibility for Results
When your “why” is big, the desired outcome fuels a sense of responsibility which supports your decision to do what matters most, right now. The narrow focus on results can lead to the “end justifies the means” mentality…get it done, no matter what.
Connecting a moment of decision to your future success supports this commitment to do what matters most. Accepting authority to make such decisions is critical to productivity. When you attach personal responsibility for results to your vision, mission, and purpose your decisions will lead to personal success.
How do you rate yourself on these four supports of productivity?
1 = “Huh?”
2 = “That makes sense”
3 = “That makes a lot sense”
4 = “I get it”
_____ Respecting Life’s Fleeting Nature
_____ Re-framing Work as “Creative Opportunity”
_____ Recognizing the Power of Making Progress
_____ Retaining Personal Responsibility for Results
For additional personal reflection:
- When did you last reflect on the brevity of life?
- What would you accomplish today, if you were leaving for vacation tomorrow?
- What will come into existence because of your creative work today?
- Where would you benefit from seeing your work as “creation activity”?
- How can you associate that “procrastinated task” to your personal success?
- Where do you want to make progress today?
- What is hindering your progress today?
- How does your organization block progress?
- How does your “Why” influence your decisions to do what matters most?
The Productivity Battle begins with what you think and accept as true. The Illusion: “You’ll have time for that…later.” The Deception: “You’re so very busy…good job!” The Reality: “You will succeed because right now, you are engaged in what matters.”
Wendell’s journey will end shy of 93 years on earth.
The path toward success begins for a newborn person.
Your personal success increases when you decide to do what matters most, right now.
Your personal success and mission fulfillment are at stake; choose wisely.
Here’s to your Next Level –