One of the underlying truths about productivity and success is this: they require a special effort. In most situations, it’s simply far easier to remain average rather than excel.
In fact, functioning at a higher level of productivity and success not only requires you to do more than the average person, it usually requires you to attempt some of what you find particularly difficult, often including:
- Tasks and projects at which you’re not yet expert, or even confident.
- Efforts you’d rather not make, at least not at the moment.
- Risky and/or courageous decisions, efforts, or choices.
- Goals you haven’t – perhaps no one has – previously attempted to reach.
Granted, some productive and successful people are born with a higher-than-normal motivational level, and many others grow up to acquire an extra-special drive to succeed.
But even these people, and almost anyone else, can experience a slow-down – for a day, a week, a month, a year, or even longer – in their resolve to do more of what’s difficult for them.
That’s why it’s important to steadily maintain and strengthen your drive to accomplish more than average. An important part of this process is to charge your emotional and psychological batteries to help you feel as strong, courageous, and determined as you can.
Here, then, are some powerful sources of emotional and psychological nourishment that can help you produce and succeed at high levels over the long-term:
Spending time with the people – and doing the activities – that nourish you is a great way to keep your determination and capabilities pumped up to a high level. This involves making time in your schedule for people and activities you enjoy.
You can do this episodically, of course. But it’s even better if you make gathering support an everyday strategy, no matter how much or how little is on your plate for today.
When you prioritize and open yourself to people and activities that nourish you, particularly as a part of your daily routine, you help ensure that you’ll feel ready and willing to perform at your best much more often.
Engage Your Curiosity
When you make attempts at difficult tasks, projects, and goals, it’s natural to focus on the risks and potential downsides if you fail. You can short-circuit these energy-sapping thoughts and feelings, however, by engaging your curiosity and willingness to explore. These feelings are more likely to unleash your best efforts.
Curiosity makes sense here because attempting to accomplish something difficult is fraught with uncertainty: you can’t really know what will happen, including:
- What specific challenges you will face,
- The best way to overcome each of those challenges,
- How you will respond and react as the situations develop,
- How well or poorly your attempts will turn out.
Difficult situations are likely to give rise to interesting experiences, worthy of your curiosity and fruitful to explore.
A special category of difficult situations involves dealing with other people: having a difficult conversation, offering corrections or criticism, encouraging, motivating, and so forth.
All the same ideas apply, of course, but here you also have to be concerned about listening to what the other person says, and making sure your responses are sensitive, relevant, and accurately heard.
To begin with, tune your listening toward understanding, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak. Pay attention not only to the other person’s words, but also their body language and tone of voice. Try to understand in depth not only what they are saying, but their feelings and their agenda. This effort is less dependent on technique and more on your readiness to hear what the other person is telling you.
Listening in this way helps to build trust, and defuses some of the emotional difficulties that may exist in the conversation.
When it’s your turn to speak, remember to:
- Respect the other person’s emotional state, needs, and values.
- Use language and concepts the other person is most likely to understand.
- Go slow, step by step, and ask for feedback often, so you can verify the other person is accurately getting the message you intend to convey.
Learn Something from the Experience
Whatever happens when you attempt something difficult, there’s a good chance you will discover something new about:
- The intricacies of the situation,
- What worked well and what could have worked better,
- How others respond in this kind of situation,
- Your own capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and character.
Learning anything along these lines is not only valuable in the moment, it will tend to make you more capable when choosing and tackling your next challenge.
That’s a clear win.
Here’s the bottom line: by keeping yourself emotionally and psychologically nourished, you guarantee that you’ll feel more willing to tackle some difficult tasks, projects, and goals. And by going into these attempts with your curiosity engaged, and thereby coming out of them with some new knowledge, you are guaranteed at least some level of success from the endeavor.
This is a formula that will powerfully support those special efforts you need to make to be more productive and successful in your work and your life.
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