I started out selling air conditioning systems to homeowners at 19. That was my first “professional” job. Over the last 21 years, I’ve worked over 94,487 hours. Maybe more. At some point, the numbers get blurry.
So I know a little something about work.
Most jobs require 40 hours of work per week. If you work hard you might put in 50-60 hours that week. I’ve consistently worked “doubles” for more than 2 decades.
I’m not saying that to brag. I just want you to know that I’ve spent a lifetime maximizing how much I work — at the expense of being effective.
That’s tough to admi. I have finally come to the realization that it’s not about how much you do in a day. It’s about how much you do that matters.
Here’s the thing, you won’t know what matters until you’ve tried and failed.
By the way, that’s another thing I’ve spent a lifetime trying to avoid. I don’t like failing or the thought of failure. Heck, I don’t even like thinking about failure.
But you can’t be effective until you realize what being ineffective looks like.
You can’t win big until you have failed big.
That’s the hard truth that you won’t find in a lot of success books.
Your path to greatness isn’t about you mimicking the activities of other successful people so perfectly that you wind up automatically creating a magical future for yourself. It’s about being effective.
It’s really that simple. The concept at least.
Being effective is painful. It means you have to learn and grow continually.
See — learning is what comes “after” failure.
It’s okay to read what others have done and work to replicate their success. But if it’s not working for you, it makes no sense to mimic blindly. You’re just going to multiply your failure.
At some point it just becomes insanity. And you burn out.
It also makes no sense to let your ego blind you to opportunities that you hadn’t considered previously.
Most of the time, success happens in all the ways you least expect it.
When you allow your pride stop you from changing your actions, you lock yourself into a cycle of underperformance that will cripple everything you do.
About a year ago one of my close friends Bill Cortright, who is a master of personal effectiveness, called me one day with a simple idea: “Have you read Michael Singers book, The Surrender Experiment?” he asked me.
I had not read it so I grabbed the audiobook from Google Play to listen to while I ran. The story Michael told had a profound impact on framing my mindset around effectiveness.
Reading the book wasn’t the end of my journey, it was the beginning.
Michael’s simple thesis for his book — and his life as a whole — is that success requires that you surrender yourself to whatever life brings you.
You should take it as a sign that what is happening is supposed to happen.
That you are, right now, exactly where you should be. That nothing is out of order. That you are meant to learn something from what is going on.
I won’t tell you how his story ends. But I will share that his premise is one for which I have seen evidence in my own life.
Looking back I can see a clear pattern. When I learn and grow, I spiral upward mightily.
When I try to force success to happen, on my timeline and with my requirements, I find myself burning out, with more failure soon to follow.
When I let life teach me, I learn, grow, and evolve into the person that success wants to reward.
Sometimes the best way to be effective is to just stop trying to be efficient.
- Stop trying to use every moment you have to get one more thing done.
- Stop being so bullish that you aren’t willing to adapt and evolve.
- Stop being so stubborn but you failed to notice unexpected opportunities.
Surrender to your greatness.
Make no mistake, you still have to do the work. You can’t avoid putting in the effort.
Progress always requires massive amounts of activity.
Being effective starts as a mindset. You have to make the decision to be a better you a little bit more each day.
The things you’re already good at, you make them better. The times you fail, you shrug it off and do it better the next time around.
There’s no limit to how good you can be, because there’s no limit on how long you can keep growing.
It’s up to you to make that decision. You control how effective you are.
Don’t let it take you 94,487 hours to figure this out for yourself.