Have you ever looked at someone who’s really good at doing an activity that it just seems so effortless and wondered if only you were as good as them?
On face value we probably assume that they’re just good but in reality they’ve probably worked tirelessly to get to the level they’re at because there’s usually no such thing as an overnight success. The music industry (maybe more so before reality TV music shows) is a great example where an unknown act suddenly bursts onto the charts. The immediate thought is where did the artist or group come from, then we learn how they’ve been honing their craft for years until it just clicks where there is alignment between their capability (technique) and all the work they have put in (effort).
It’s fair say that some people can be more naturally gifted than others, however natural talent alone usually only gets us so far. For instance, anyone can pick up the golf club swing it and hit a ball, but not everyone can do it exceptionally well.
This reminds me of the story when Tiger Woods was the Number 1 golfer in the world and known to be obsessive about being the best he could be. At the end of a day at a tournament Tiger was apparently walking past the bar on his way to the gym. John Daly who was a highly talented golfer but with a work ethic that was possibly the exact opposite to Tiger’s, allegedly yells out to Tiger “Hey why don’t you join us for a drink” to which Tiger responds with “if I had your talent I wouldn’t need to exercise.” How do their playing records stack up? Well Tiger Woods has won 79 PGA Tours and 14 Majors compared to John Daly’s 5 PGA Tours and 2 Majors.
While I’ve referenced music and sport, the application of technique and effort to underpin success can be applied to almost everything we do. To an extent I think that’s what drew me towards wanting to continually improve productivity.
Given that we spend a large portion of our lives at work I believe this is where the greatest opportunity is to positively impact our productivity. Let’s face it, those who deliver outcomes tend to get promoted, work on more interesting projects, earn more money etc.
The question I’m asking is what can you do to improve your technique at work? It could be getting a deeper understanding of your industry or company’s products or competitors strengths and weaknesses. But your probably too busy to be able to do this. That’s why I think is critical to have the best working technique possible - in other words be really efficient. Think about what consumes your time at work? Because that’s where the opportunity is to make the greatest impact. Is it attending meetings, reading and responding to emails, dealing with constant interruptions, reacting to urgent demands etc
Once technique is sorted the next question is where do you apply most of your effort. If it’s not on activities to deliver outcomes, then there’s a problem. There’s ways around the problem but they’re not ideal ie. don’t deliver the expected outcomes, work longer hours to make the deadline etc.
Despite the best intentions, I find a large percentage of the workforce unintentionally undermines their ability to succeed because their work techniques aren’t effective and their effort is focused on the wrong activities. This isn’t due to staff not being prepared to work hard, instead not having the behaviours embedded into their everyday working rhythm enabling them to work more effectively.
Maybe it’s time to improve your technique and effort at work and in no time others will be saying “I wish I was that good.”