I concur with this assessment.
Some people get more done than others — a lot more.
Sure, they work hard. And they work smart. (While “smarter, not harder” is fine, smarter and harder is way better.) But they also possess a few other qualities that make a major impact on their performance:
1. They do the work in spite of disapproval or ridicule.
Work too hard, strive too hard, appear to be too ambitious, try to stand out from the crowd… and the average person resents you. It’s a lot easier and much more comfortable to dial it back and fit in.
Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd is something highly productive people don’t worry about. (They may think about it, but then they keep pushing on.) They hear the criticism, they take the potshots, they endure the laughter or derision or even hostility… and they keep on measuring themselves and their efforts by their own standards.
And, in the process, they achieve what they want to achieve. (Which is really all that matters.)
2. They accept that fear is an expected element in the process.
One of my clients is an outstanding — and outstandingly successful — comic. Audiences love him. He’s crazy good.
Yet he still has panic attacks before he walks onstage. He knows he’ll melt down, sweat through his shirt, feel sick to his stomach. That’s just how he is.
So right before he goes onstage he takes a quick shower, drinks a bottle of water, jumps up and down, and does a little shadowboxing.
Sure, he’s still scared. He knows he’ll always be scared. But he accepts it as part of the process — and has developed a process to deal with it.
Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous. Anyone trying to achieve great things gets scared.
Productive people aren’t braver than others; they just find the strength to keep moving forward. They realize dwelling on fear is paralyzing, but action naturally generates confidence and self-assurance.
3. They can do their best even on their worst day.
Norman Mailer said, “Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”
Extremely successful people don’t make excuses. They forge ahead, because they know establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. They know how easy it is to instantly create a bad habit by giving in… even “just this one time.” (Because once you give in, it’s rarely just one time.)
4. They see creativity as the result of effort, not inspiration.
Most people wait for an idea. Most people think creativity somehow happens. They expect a divine muse will someday show them a new way, a new approach, a new concept.
And they wait, and wait, and wait.
Occasionally, great ideas do just come to people. Mostly, though, creativity is the result of effort: toiling, striving, refining, testing, experimenting… The work itself results in inspiration.
5. They view help as essential, not a weakness.
Pretend you travel to an unfamiliar country, you know only a few words of the language, and you’re lost and a little scared. Would you ask for help? Of course.
No one knows everything. No one is great at everything.
Productive people soldier on and hope effort will overcome a lack of knowledge or skill. And it does, but only to a point.
Highly productive people also ask for help. They know asking for help is a sign of strength — and the key to achieving more.
6. They start…
At times we all lack motivation and self-discipline. At times we’re easily distracted. At times we all fear failure — and success.
Procrastination is a part of what makes people human; it’s not possible to totally overcome any of those shortcomings. Wanting to put off a difficult task is normal. Avoiding a challenge is normal.
But think about a time you put off a task, finally got started, and then once into it, thought, “I don’t know why I kept putting this off — it’s going really well. And it didn’t turn out to be nearly as hard as I imagined.”
(That’s no surprise; it’s always easier than we think.)
Highly productive people try not to think about the pain they will feel in the beginning; they focus on how good they will feel once they’re engaged and involved.
So they get started…
7. …and they finish.
Unless there’s a really, really good reason not to finish — which, of course, there almost never is.
I promised you a story. Here it is my friend. It may be a little bit hoary, But if you get it, then... You'll be way ahead of the game.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY LIE-ING
A guy decides to go into business for himself. Not really knowing how to start he goes to a local “business start-up expert-consultant.” She tells him everything he’ll need to know about all of the technical aspects of getting started, what local offices to visit, bureaucracies to speak with, etc, etc.
So after taking copious and careful notes he goes the next day to the local government offices and begins his trek to start his new little enterprise. First he goes to get a business license but they tell him that he will need to make sure he’s zoned properly first. So he goes to the zoning office and they tell him that they cannot help him until he gets a business certificate. He goes to get a business certificate and they tell him that in order to get a certificate he will have to be approved for business by the local business council. He goes to the council who tell him they cannot approve of his business until he pays his business taxes in advance. He goes to the office of the tax assessor who tells him that before he can pay his taxes he must first have a business certificate.
Thoroughly bewildered, disgusted and angry he starts to go home thinking he’ll just give the whole thing up, so stupid, useless and illogical is the procedure for even getting started. On his way out he passes a little glass door which he had not noticed before, with a sign which read: Office of Doing Business. Curious and with nothing to lose he knocks to announce himself and then walks into the office. Behind a little desk sits an old man in a causal shirt with a desk clear of anything except a battery of telephones and a glass of water.
“What can I do for you?” asks the old man in a friendly and helpful tone.
The guy starts to unload about all of his problems, how he was passed from office to office and bureaucratic desk to bureaucratic desk and how no one would help him actually get started in his business. Then he tells the old man how he did everything right according to the consultant and how he had tried to follow every procedure of every official he encountered and how that only led to disaster. The old man listens patiently and with great sympathy and then bursts into laughter.
“Son, you might know a lot about how business is supposed to work but you haven’t learned anything yet about how it really works.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean business is not a game of rules kid, it’s a game of people who know what the rules really are. If you know the proper people and play them in the best way possible then even the wrongest of rules can be made right as rain. Because business is all about people, and those people are either standing in your way, or standing beside you going your way.”
With a sudden look of understanding spreading over his face the guy asks the old man, “So suppose you help me set up my new enterprise…?”
“Yes…” asks the old man.
“Then what can I do for you in return?”
To which the old man replies with a smile, “Son, pull up a chair, because now you’re talking real business.”