Tuesday May 25th, 2021

Doing the Right Things in the Right Way

“Success is 20 percent inspiration and 80 percent transpiration.”

When looking for “golden rules” leading to success, one almost inevitably comes across this coaching bon mot. It means that good ideas or concepts alone are not enough for success. Ideas must also be implemented, and mainly by getting things done.

And yes, I also believe that personal success is not so much for the dreaming and planning world champions of announcements, but rather for the hands-on doers. Doing is just really important, it’s about filling the 80 percent with action and results – to stay in the metaphor.

The Pareto Joke

…is nonetheless rather unsuitable as a self-management guide. That’s because it overemphasizes something that generally gets (too) much focus anyway, so much so that it’s even considered a virtue: diligence.

The actually good and correct statement of the 80/20 principle is thus easily misunderstood, which can lead quite on the wrong track – and that of all things those success seekers, i.e. success-oriented people, who want to move things, roll up their sleeves and get going, and thus also produce quick and usually also decent results.

So, above all, the doers

feel justified: Doesn’t good (self-) management mean doing things, and preferably doing them right? For example, by rolling up your sleeves, getting started, and producing results? Who could disagree with that?
At the same time, however, good (self-) management also involves always addressing the right things. So, are you really producing the right results in the right areas, day in and day out?

Good (self-) management

…always aims at real success. And that means being happy with yourself and your environment as much as possible (we talked about this, namely here and here).

So for us, literally every minute (yes, really!) is about making and executing choices that bring us into the most harmonic alignment possible with what we want to achieve with our personalities, our values, preferences and desires, our skills, strengths, and weaknesses (!) and also – this is important – what we can also achieve in our environment (both personal and professional).

(The little word ” harmonic ” is admittedly a little misleading here. For conflict is always part of that harmony as well.)

Doinganything, producing any results, perhaps under effort or stress, not only does not help us. It even hinders us, because firstly, it distracts us from the really important tasks and keeps us away, secondly, it makes us unhappy, as well as with continued stress – thirdly – also less efficient, less confident in decision-making, simply: less good.

Your current tasks may seem urgent

or may even be so. And the question of how you can handle them as well as possible, perhaps quickly or efficiently, may therefore push itself to the forefront.
Despite this – or perhaps because of it! – it makes sense to first pause and ask yourself whether completing these tasks will take you further in what you – and (for now) no one else – really and fundamentally want to achieve in the medium to long term (!), in order to next ask yourself what meaningful short-term measures will result for you.

Finding good answers to these questions

in the exhausting and stressful 80 percent while being busy trying to shovel away a mountain of tasks with tunnel vision might be rather difficult to impossible.

Most likely, you will succeed during more relaxed times, perhaps even in the more creative 20 percent, when you have the overview and are in possession of all your ideas, powers and strengths, which you then also use diligently, but in any case as flexible and targeted as possible.

Do the right things, and do them properly then!

Most of all, that means Make sure you’re in the best shape possible at literally every moment, even in the sweaty, busy 80 percent. If you manage to do that, you’ll seize your opportunity for real, personal success.