It’s surprising that our education system doesn’t stress effective ways to collaborate and verbally communicate with other humans, given that whatever careers we choose or lives we have will require these skills.
One simple but important “recipe” I often refer back to is the three steps to an effective apology:
- Say you’re sorry
- Acknowledge how your action affected someone else
- Identify what you’ll do to right the wrong, and ensure it won’t happen again
The American education system trains us to make decisions based on knowing “all” the information. No one consistently gets A’s on tests after internalizing 70% of the material. You want to be 95%+ sure before committing to an answer.
In real life very few decisions are irreversible. It’s rare that you can’t move forward with 70% confidence, course-correcting on the way.
Most post-game analysis reveals the importance of gathering 40-70% of the insight needed before making a decision, but that there is little reason – and even adverse affects – for trying to acquire more than 70% certainty.
Paralysis by analysis can hold you back. You don’t have to be an A student in everything. Life isn’t pass/fail.
Effectiveness is doing things that move you closer to your goals. Efficiency is doing things (whether effective or not) economically.
Efficiency without regard for effectiveness is the default mode of humans, which is why we park our cars close to the gym, only to go inside and walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes.
Technology and automation make it possible to easily apply efficiency to tasks that don’t matter. To counter this, focus on processes and tasks that are worth doing because they move you towards your goals, and only then work to make them more efficient.
An Olympic gold medal winning crew team had a coach that challenged the athletes to a simple but powerful litmus test for every decision they made during training season.
Ask the question: Will this make the boat go faster? Should I stay out late tonight? Eat this doughnut? Skip my next workout? It doesn’t take a high IQ to derive the answer to a question that precise.
What life goal is meaningful enough to you that you can create your own version of this question?
Being an intellectually curious obsessive nutcase when it comes to human performance, I consume a lot of new information. The high cost of task-switching between deep work and consumption makes it a bad idea to consume info haphazardly. Here’s what I do instead:
– Automatically or manually move content to the pocket app
– Consume blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. during a scheduled “reading list” appointments I make throughout the week
Without rules and systems for important things, bad habits form – or at the very least, good ones don’t. Batching and scheduling tasks rather than waiting until I “have time” has proven useful.