For 14 years of my life, I ran the top rated Kickboxing studio in Northern Ontario, and for 14 years I used the exact same line with every one of my athletes: “It’s better to give it your all and lose because they’re better than you than lose to someone inferior because you got gassed/ran out of breath/didn’t do enough cardio!”
Although I’ve known its correlation to business life for ages, I’ve only recently found a sentence that puts it perfectly.
“In business, you can lose for many reasons, but you only truly fail if you lost because you didn’t put in the necessary effort.”
Effort is the key to success that requires zero skill, money, brains, etc. It’s the equalizer. Yes, someone is going to have more resources, more cash, more support, more knowledge, etc. But like a natural athlete that doesn’t try, the underdog who puts in the hours can always rise to the top. It’s the classic tortoise and the hare.
Now here’s the thing—and I’m being truly honest here—most of us, me included, are really only ever putting a fraction of our max effort into our businesses.
WHAT? No way! I work sunup to sundown. I burn the midnight oil. I can’t possibly work more hours. My kids barely see me. How dare you accuse me of putting in half effort!
Hold your horses. Before getting your undies in a bunch, do this exercise, and then let’s talk…
1 – Get yourself a little stopwatch you can hang from your neck.
2 – Every moment you’re actually doing real work, start it. The moment you stop, stop it.
Now, this means you can’t have it running when you’re going to the bathroom. You can’t have it running when you’re answering emails or listening to voicemails or on the phone. You can’t have it running when you’re traveling from meeting to meeting. You can’t have it running while you’re sipping coffee. You can’t have it running when you’re…
You get the idea.
If you really want to get serious about your success, we then need to list out every activity you do on any given day, and pick out the top THREE that are the most results-producing things you can possibly do.
I know… everything you do is needed. That debate is for another time, but for now let’s just assume that Richard Branson, Anthony Robbins, Steve Jobs, myself, and just about every other high performer is correct and there are only 3 top priorities that truly affect business.
So, once you’ve picked the top 3. Add up only the time put into THOSE activities, and remove all the other “busy work stuff.”
If you did this properly and were absolutely honest with yourself, you might be shocked to discover that most of your day is made up with “busy work” that has very little (if any) effect on moving the business needle forward.
It doesn’t end there…
Once you’ve got your top 3 priorities, reorganize your schedule so that you have three 90 minute blocks of time set aside where you can have ZERO distractions. No phone, no email, no “got a minute?” Nothing. Absolutely no one is allowed to bother you during these 90 minute sessions.
Let’s call these Jam Sessions.
Now take your three priorities and plan them into those jam sessions. 1 session = 1 priority. And work on ONLY that one priority for the entire uninterrupted 90 minutes.
Then take a break or do other non-priority work until your next scheduled jam session. Then, get ready to rock out your second session, and third, etc.
A few quick tips…
- Plan your sessions out in ADVANCE. The entire 90 is for priority work. Spending the first 15 minutes finding the appropriate emails, files, paper, etc. needed to accomplish your prioritized work is NOT doing the priority, it’s getting ready to do the priority, and doesn’t belong in the Jam Session!
- Don’t kid yourself about your priorities. If you’re the business owner, you might be responsible for prospecting for new leads, presenting to those leads, closing sales, negotiating, etc. If you own a clothing store, hanging the clothing is NOT a priority because it has ZERO correlation to profit. Don’t believe me? There’s a store in LA that piles their clothing on wooden crates and has zero racks and they’re a fortune 1000 company. They’re huge because they focus on what matters and forget the rest.
- Enforce boundaries. No one, not even your spouse, is to interrupt you during a Jam Session (barring a TRUE emergency, which I’ve found rarely happen). My wife knows, if my calendar says, “jam session focusing on_____,” she won’t get through to me Everything is off, volume turned off, vibrate off, and often the internet is turned off as well.
- Keep at it. The first couple Jam Sessions may feel like forever, but don’t sell yourself short. If you’re going to make it big in business, you need to develop the ability to push through your “feelings”. Business—priorities—don’t care how you feel.
Just so we’re clear… This isn’t easy. It takes incredible focus, discipline, and effort just to get it done—but it’s worth it.
If it were easy, everyone would do it. Most don’t, but the few who do rule their industries. The choice is yours.
One last thing…
If you truly want to be focused and on point, you need to learn to say NO. If you’re not saying no to a bunch of stuff, you are NOT focused. Focus means saying no to anything that pulls you from your sole task. Learn to say no now, so you can say yes to whatever you want later.
To your success,