The winner of the 100m in the Olympics might also win the 200m, but will never be competitive in the 10K… or marathon …or rowing, or judo…
Gold medal athletes focus on their strengths and work to amplify their strengths. Usain Bolt doesn’t spend training time trying to improve his long distance capacity. He works on his start, on acceleration, on sprinting and finishing. He works on his strengths.
Recently I’ve felt a lot of pressure to spend time on areas that for me are weaknesses. I am writing this blog post mainly as a reminder to myself to stay strong, and accept these weaknesses. As a leader, I am responsable for making sure there are people and systems around me so that our business doesn’t have weaknesses… but it is not me that should spend time in areas where I am weak.
Dan Sullivan on working on your strengths
If you work throughout your life on improving your weaknesses, what you get are a lot of really strong weaknesses.
In order to do well in school, you need to get good grades in all the subjects. If you are good at sports when you are 12 or 15, you are probably the best at most of the sports you try.
I did well in school. It became painful for me to not get good grades… in any subject… even the ones that I really didn’t care about.
In business (and professional sports), you do well by being really good in one subject. In order to be excellent, you need to deliberately choose to be bad in almost everything else.
I am good at some things, I am not good at lots of things. A lot of the people around me are great at letting me know what I’m not doing so well… I have to stay mindful in order to not get drawn into trying to spend effort improving my weaknesses.
Stephen King says “I was lucky. I was born only good at one thing. Imagine how hard it is for people who are good at 2 things… or what is truly difficult… being good at most things.”(I paraphrase as I can’t currently find the original quote)
On returning from the summer holidays, iPhone Screen Time showed that I had used my phone for over 4 hours a day.
I hated this idea. That 4 full hours each day in some way were glued to a small screen. There is plenty of facetime calls and zoom calls… but a large portion has become the mindless scrolling down through instagram in particular.
I immediately deleted instagram, facebook and twitter from my phone. I left some of the other apps that were getting a lot of use: WhatsApp, Chrome, Linkedin, Chess.com, YouTube.
It has been a week without Instagram, facebook and twitter. I have not noticed missing anything. I got a couple of emails from instagram saying “you have 3 new messages” – but I can still see instagram when I am at my laptop so it is not that I have left completely.
Screen time this week is down 27% from last week (and down over 45% from my peak distraction week!)
It is still pretty high.
…and it is such a powerful distraction.
I pick up my phone to do 1 thing – make a call, send a message… and then spend 10-20 minutes doing a cycle through a couple of apps… I am addicted to deliberate distraction.
I tell myself that I have discipline. I have spent a lot of the last decade working on using time intentionally and effectively… and I am not able to cope with an iphone.
I worry for humanity.
If this distraction were making us kinder, better, more informed, more worldly-wise then this would be a gift. These distractions are not making me kinder… if anything more impatient and rude to those around me.
I have decided that I have a problem. I am addicted. I do not have intentional control over my usage of this device.
It has so many useful features that make my life better – the camera and video in my pocket, google maps is brilliant, facetime with family has been wonderful during Covid times, whatsapp allows coordination of groups and meetings… I will not be getting rid of the iphone.
I will be honest with myself and say that I am not in conscious control of my usage and I need to set limits for myself.
I don’t like admitting it, but I guess this is an addiction.
I don’t like the idea of being controlled by a little device.
This is the recording of a session I did yesterday with IESE Business School on the topic of writing as a tool to help your career. In this context, writing is not so much about writing for magazines or in a blog… but writing to set goals, to stay focussed, to identify what is important, to gain clarity, to track progress, to plan…
Do you need Motivation? …or do you need Clarity?
Many people say they lack motivation, when what they really lack is clarity. They are not de-motivated, they just don’t have any clear sense of where and how to place their energy and their time.
If you don’t have a plan, you can’t procrastinate. If you didn’t have a plan, procrastination is your plan.
If your goals aren’t written down, it is hard to refocus on them when you get distracted.
PS My friend Christophe took this so seriously that he tattooed an intention on his arm. Tattoos are a big step… maybe start with a piece of paper.
I recently heard Sadhguru share 3 ways that people approach life and work:
Idiot – these people don’t enjoy what they do each day
Smart – these people have created a life where they do enjoy the activity and the people that they spend time with each day
Genius – these people have learnt to love what they have to do. They know how to connect all important activity to their personal purpose and make it feel meaningful.
A couple of comments on youtube suggested that this was an “arrogant statement” and that not everybody has had access to education and opportunities. I don’t believe any of these 3 approaches are necessarily only accessed through formal education… in fact I see many well educated people from wealthy backgrounds who really struggle to get out of the “idiot” category.
Another comment on youtube suggested that we each operate at these 3 levels in different areas of our lives… it may be that you are a genius in health and exercise, but an idiot when it comes to personal finances… or a genius in your professional career and an idiot as a family member.
The route to genius involves having clarity on your purpose and a set of practices or rituals to connect necessary action to that sense of meaningful purpose.
What do you think? Where do you operate most of the time?
I first met Dandapani at an Entrepreneurs Organisation event in Istanbul in 2012, I have since met him in Boston and then helped bring him to Barcelona to spend a day with our Entrepreneurs’ Organisation chapter.
Dandapani teaches some simple but highly important lessons about awareness and our mind, and how to be intentional about your life… and in particular your energy.
Winning and social approval is not the motivation of the gold medal athlete. They do it to learn more about themselves. Winning or losing is not so important, it is about knowing who you are. Failure is like an enhanced moment to learn who you truly are.
Your life now is a manifestation of where you direct your energy or a sum total of where you have been investing your energy.
There’s people in your life that boost your energy. There are those who are energy neutral. Be kind and detached from your energy vampires. Give the work back to them.
How to Improve your Concentration
Dandapani tells us that there are 3 steps to practice that improve our concentration:
Finish that which you begin
Finish it well, beyond your expectations
Do a little more than you think that you are able to do
Use these 3 steps in every area of your life: from making the bed in the morning, to tidying the kitchen, to reading to your child, to writing emails, to writing blog posts…
Further Resources on Dandapani’s lessons
Check out my previous videos and blog posts that were inspired by Dandapani:
I’ve been reviewing my purpose statement. I rewrote it earlier this year. The year of Covid shook up my routines and threw me out of balance. It took some discipline with mentors, coaches and my journal to get re-connected to why I get up in the morning.
My purpose is “to inspire and challenge others to do the most important work of their lives”.
This video is a reflection on the context necessary for someone to do the most important work of their lives.
The 4 Ingredients necessary to do the most important work of your life:
They deserve a promotion because of past efforts? No.
What ideas do you have?
There is one characteristic without which you cannot be called a leader.
Followers? Yes… but what do you need to have as a leader so that others actually follow?
The Fundamental Characteristic of a Leader
You know where you are going.
…and then the power to Communicate
…and then you need to develop the ability to engage with people so that the destination becomes a shared destination.
If you can begin to paint the destination in the minds of others with stories you begin to engage not just their hands, not just their skills, but their whole self in the committed pursuit.
A Shared Vision of a Worthwhile Destination
How do you engage those around you to commit to the journey?
Don’t “motivate” people.
Figure out something that is worth doing. Figure out how it will make your life better, how it will make their lives better and how it will make society better.
Help others understand that being part of it will be better for them and their life.
How do you share this destination with others? How’s this as a script:
Let us move forward: This is a good use of our time…
Here is what is in it for me…
Here is what is in it for you…
Business as an Infinite game
Simon Sinek shares a powerful concept in his book “The Infinite Game”. He has popularised the distinction between Finite games and Infinite games.
Chess is a finite game. Soccer is a finite game. Tennis is a finite game. They each have a set of agreed rules, and a clear victory condition at which time the game ends. The objective in a finite game is to end the game as victor.
Business is not a finite game. Life is not a finite game. Leading human beings is not a finite game.
Success in life is keeping it engaging to play for all those involved (including yourself!).
A game everyone plays voluntarily is more successful than a game where some must be compelled to play.
If you are going to set up an organisation, you can compel people to perform with threats and fear. It is much more effective to engage them to play a game that is meaningful for them, and for you… and for society as a whole.
How to lead the whole Person
Imagine these two requests from a leader:
“Go home and take 4 hours to think about how you will contribute to this organisation over the next year” or
“Go home and take 4 hours to think about your life and formulate a plan for your life with this business being a part of the plan”
Which is the question of the bigger leader?
Jordan Peterson reports a 10% increase in contribution where leaders ask the 2nd question to their teams.
You want yourself and your team to see that working for you serves their higher order purpose.
If not, this is not the job for them. Help them find a place where they can serve their higher purpose.
This post was inspired by Jordan Peterson in this Bigthink video:
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