Personal Performance

Small wins, every day.

From Robin Sharma:

From James Clear

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Techniques: To fit everything in make sure you prioritize “rocks” over “pebbles” - the famous example by Dr. Stephen Covey

Steven Covey studied the habits of high performers and published his results in the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” In this video, he shows how important it is to choose to do the big, important things first.

To do this, he uses an analogy to make his point about avoiding “getting bogged down in the thick of thin things.”

In the analogy, he uses a jar to represent our available time. Our activity is represented by pebbles and most important projects are represented by rocks.

He then has an audience member come up to run an experiment. There are two examples here of how to get everything in the jar.  

In the first example, we start with pebbles and get them all in first. The pebbles are the small, easy, less important activities. The jar (time) is then filled up so that the pebbles get in the way of fitting on all of the rocks - the important things.

In the second example, if we take the opposite approach, starting with the big rocks first (the important things) and then trying to fit in all of the pebbles, everything fits.

The point this makes is that starting with small activities that are not important will prevent you fitting in all the big things that are important. On the other hand if you start with the big things that are important, you can fit even small, less important things in as well as all of your big important projects.

The metaphor has been used as one of the foundations of the popular Entrepreneurial Operating System and many personal productivity systems.

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, a short overview by John Spencer

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, a short overview by John Spencer

Researcher and professor Carol Dweck uses the term “mindset” to describe the way people think about ability and talent.

Dweck delineates between two different mindsets that exist on a continuum. The first is a fixed mindset, which suggests that your abilities are innate and unchangeable.

The second is a growth mindset, which views it as something you can improve through practice. In a fixed mindset, you view failure as permanent but with a growth mindset, you see failure as a chance to learn and pivot.

A definition of focus from Steve Jobs

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

— Steve Jobs

This quote was featured in Shane Parrish’s excellent article on speed versus velocity.

Techniques: stop screwing yourself over (from Mel Robbins)

In this now famous talk, Mel Robbins introduces her “5 second rule.” Use it to the activation energy necessary to get things done. It’s a solid talk and a solid technique. If you are pressed for time, set your YouTube preferences to 2x speed.

After the talk, try to use the rule at least once a day for 10 days.

For the transcript and similar content, check it out at TED.com

Use this as your personal mission statement 1.0 so you can discover your 2.0

If you don’t have a strong sense of personal mission, it’s no problem. Brendon Burchard outlines why that’s a healthy part of personal development. Set up your mission to live the best quality of life that you can through growth, self mastery and contribution in all of the areas of your life.

You can use this to drive your discovery and growth process- mission 2.0 will emerge from the process. Whether that process takes years or months, it’s all healthy.

Key take aways: Don’t get hung up on a perfect mission, instead, become intentional about growth and your mission will emerge over time as you follow your interests.

And if you feel lost, ask “How can I help? How can I serve?”

To develop into the best version of myself
— Brendon's sample mission

Improvisation: The Power of "Yes... and..."

Improvisation: The Power of "Yes... and..."

We're often at a disadvantage when it comes to problem-solving because we think too fast, and our analytic brains shut off new ideas before they have even emerged. Improvisation, on the other hand, creates "a set of experiences that allow you to fine-tune and hone all of the necessary skills needed to think on your feet and simply react and adapt." So says Bob Kulhan who has been studying, performing and teaching improv comedy for nearly two decades.

Kulhan introduces the two key tools of improv, which are captured by the two-word phrase "Yes, and." Kulhan says "Yes" means accepting a certain idea or situation at face value. The "and" part involves taking that idea and building onto it, whether that involves taking the idea apart or approaching it from a different angle. Kulhan says this approach creates both openness ("Yes") and a bridge to your thoughts ("and") that will foster creativity and fearlessness, eventually leading to innovation.

Kulhan, who teaches improv techniques to foster creativity in business settings, says it is important to take our critical hats off and not be afraid to take a chance, or be afraid to fail. Once that kind of environment has been established, then it is time for our analytical minds to kick in and focus on convergent thinking.

Divergent thinking has delivered "a great collection of ideas." Convergent thinking, on the other hand, involves "separating the sand from the gold and the good ideas from the bad ideas, and you start editing those out." The key to improv is simply to not allow yourself to start editing too quickly.

Use the principles of design thinking to design your life

Executive director of Stanford’s design program at the d.School, Bill Burnett uses design thinking, a career’s worth of starting companies and coaching students, and a childhood spent drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine to inform his work on how to design your life. In five eyebrow-raising findings, Burnett offers simple but life-changing advice on designing the life you want, whether you are contemplating college or retirement. After years of drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine, Bill Burnett went to college where he discovered that there were people in the world who did this kind of thing every day (without the sewing machine), and they were called designers. Thirty years, five companies, and a couple thousand students later, Burnett is still drawing and building things, teaching others how to do the same, and quietly enjoying the fact that no one has discovered that he is having too much fun. As Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford, he runs undergraduate and graduate programs in design, both interdepartmental programs between the mechanical engineering and art departments. Burnett worked on design of the award-winning Apple PowerBooks and the original Hasbro Star Wars action figures. He holds a number of mechanical and design patents. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx