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The Secret to Effectiveness

"When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course." - Peter Drucker. Things have changed, as Peter Drucker stated: "we are becoming knowledge workers." Organizations are morphing and work positions are changing perpetually. The old habits: "our schools" are no longer effective, they no longer help or prepare students for work life. Originally created by the Germans, right after the beginning of the industrial age, our schools were there to shape people in to good factory workers. This seems very counter-productive for today, but at the same time the big corporations we have exist based on this paradigm.

So a big change in the way we school, will not happen by itself and it will not be frictionless. Teachers are forced to follow dead curricula and this force ends up in the students head, who later are to take standardized tests. This is a total "car crash", not to be overly dramatic but this is the opposite of innovation and creativity. We need to let teachers guide their students through their ingenuity. Lets give our teachers the benefit of the doubt and trust their intelligence.

People are unique, people have their own strengths

What we need to do is to learn how to concentrate on our specific strengths. Effective people do one thing at a time, till completion. It takes time to master a skill, some say 10 000 hours (Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers). To actually stay with something that long with passion can't be forced, it must be something we choose ourselves, or we might need some guidance to find whatever it is we might enjoy.

Most often we miss-judge how much time we need to find whatever it is we really enjoy. Give it time and ask yourself When you get in a hyper-focus state? and When you forget about everything else around you?. These moments can really have insight in to what it is you are effective at. Give it time, finding your strength is much to important to be ignored.

We also miss-judge how much time we need for some action or objective. Therefore people who get nothing done often work a great deal harder than those who understand how to concentrate. The zone, flow and "mind like water" is different concepts for the same alpha state of concentration. You need big continuous chunks of time for this. Drucker puts it: "The more you switch from being busy to achieving results, the more will you shift to sustained efforts—efforts which require a fairly big quantum of time to bear fruit."

Here are things to consider before you set your time and objectives:

  • Don't underestimate the time for any task. Allow a fair margin of time beyond what is actually needed.
  • Don't expect that everything will go right.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Don't hurry or race, this puts you further behind. Set an easy pace but keep going steadily.
  • Don't multi-task, do one thing at a time, and do first things first.

One of most insightful concepts or understandings I have gotten from Peter Drucker is about priorities and list of objectives. We seem to have some unwillingness to prioritize well. Instead of focusing on one thing, we multi-task. This is a problem!

I will end here with this excerpt from the Effective Executive:

"A good many studies of research scientists have shown that achievement (at least below the genius level of an Einstein, a Niels Bohr, or a Max Planck) depends less on ability in doing research than on the courage to go after opportunity. Courage rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities:

• Pick the future as against the past;
• Focus on opportunity rather than on problem;
• Choose your own direction—rather than climb on the bandwagon; and
• Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is “safe” and easy to do.

Achievement goes to the people who pick their research priorities by the opportunity and who consider other criteria only as qualifiers rather than as determinants. Similarly, in business the successful companies are not those that work at developing new products for their existing line but those that aim at innovating new technologies or new businesses. As a rule it is just as risky, just as arduous, and just as uncertain to do something small that is new as it is to do something big that is new. It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem—which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.

Concentration—that is, the courage to impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters and comes first—is the executive’s only hope of becoming the master of time... "


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    1. [...] on you and not take the job too lightly. However keep in mind to maintain your creativity and effectiveness, too much rush at all times will leave you confused. Set an easy pace, though keep going [...]

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