One of the defining moments of my life happened when I was about 15-16.
I had just challenged a neighbor boy to a bike race.
He had a fancy bike with multiple gears, which I thought were quite superfluous (I didn’t know any better).
So, off I went, feeling very energetic, peddling like crazy, gaining quite a bit of a lead from the start. When I looked over my shoulder, he was far behind and not in any hurry at all.
I smirked and put in another burst of power, to increase my lead and ensure the victory.
Five minutes later, pushing up the hill, all puffed out and dripping sweat, I watched him leisurely pass me by, breathing normally, and with a bored expression on his face.
I still remember that incident, not because I lost and was humiliated, but because of the profound ‘aha’ moment that it was for me.
So often in life we mistake being busy for actual progress!
Just because we bury ourselves in activities, doesn’t mean we’re getting the bang for our buck, or even moving in the right direction.
Stephen Covey has a great anecdote about a jungle clearing crew who are very organized and very efficient. The foreman climbs a tree, looks around and yells ‘wrong jungle!!!’. They yell back ‘shut up, we’re making progress!’.
It sounds ridiculous, but I see it all the time in people’s personal and professional lives and in many organizations, sometimes at very high levels.
On the surface, everyone’s running around doing stuff, but the overall CoP (coefficient of performance) is miserably low.
The problem is that people don’t take the time to think through and plan out how they are going to achieve their objectives.
Often, the objectives themselves are so vague that it is impossible to determine whether their activities are of any use at all.
Clarity, planning and focus are the difference between activities and achievement.
The difference is the same as between shooting in the general direction of an indeterminate target, versus clearly defining the target, aiming and shooting with control.
It takes patience to clearly define your objectives, break them down into measurable outcomes, plan out the steps towards achieving them.
It takes discipline to keep taking these steps, day in day out, even if you’re bored and the progress is slow.
It takes self-control to keep yourself focused and not get sidetracked or distracted.
Patience, discipline and self-control are the gears in your bike. They are the key to achieving anything in life, and the more you develop them, the faster you achieve your goals.
The way to develop them is to approach everything in life methodically – understand clearly what you want to achieve, plan out the steps, implement a feedback loop to track you progress.
If you want help and support in developing these traits, we offer it through our online workshops