Scientists prefer theories that account for results using the simplest available assumptions. They look as hard as possible for a simple explanation for their findings.
This line of thinking led me to ask, “What is the simplest, most basic barrier to real individual productivity?” To answer this, I simply observed individuals’ behavior and one item caught my attention: the tendency for individuals to AVOID the work that they perceive as “not fun,” “hard” or “challenging,” while instead performing the “fun,” “easy” or “less” challenging tasks FIRST. This led me to develop my own self-proclaimed: Ultimate Personal Performance Tip (the Koby Principal). My principal recommends that individuals do the things or tasks that they are most likely to put off FIRST, and then do everything else.
At the most basic level, we all seek pleasure and wish to avoid pain. In terms of our daily tasks, it seems our default function might be to perform the easy, fun or less challenging tasks first, while putting off the work that is a greater challenge.
The point is to create an environment where we have to be honest with ourselves about what we are really accomplishing and where we are directing our work energy. I have not been able to prove an absolute correlation between doing challenging work and real productivity gains, but think of the major gains you’ve had in your personal or professional life. I doubt if they came easy. This concept is about personal accountability every second of the day; pushing yourself, and doing what you already know to do.
We all know people – not us – but other people that spend all day spinning their wheels on a million different things. They are the people that always look so “busy” and when the dust settles at the end of the day they really haven’t gotten anything done. In actuality they are doing all the things that don’t matter; they aren’t doing as Steven Covey puts it, “what matters most,” or “putting first things first.” Are they doing the easy work first while avoiding more productive and challenging work?
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (authors of Confronting Reality and Execution), experts on strategy planning and strategy execution, proclaim throughout their works that the executives’ role is to promote an environment that encourages individuals to recognize and embrace their current business realities. That same concept is critical at an individual level. So today, look at your own existing reality and what kind of progress you are making. Determine where you are really investing your energy and keep yourself accountable to do the work that is difficult or challenging – but ONLY when that work is a critical activity that will lead you towards your goals.
If you’re reading this you probably already know what to do. So often – again not you – we simply don’t do what we know we have to do. Using this concept to create personal accountability can help us be more honest with ourselves – about how we are really using our time on a daily basis, and if we are really progressing towards our goals.
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Copyright 2005 Koby Fleck. All rights reserved.
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