Some Game Changers

A lot of the information I put forward in this space is all about doing more, accomplishing more, producing more, and so forth. It’s as if I’m driving at 30 miles per hour, and suddenly I discover and share with you how to kick it up to 60.

But that’s not the only way to increase productivity and success.

Sometimes, a smarter approach is to veer off and take a better route. Changing from one path to another creates the opportunity not just to reach your current destination sooner, but allows for the possibility of arriving somewhere much better: a university instead of a community college, a shopping center instead of a corner store, a major-league baseball stadium instead of a local sandlot.

I call ideas like these “game changers.” When you feel stuck, dissatisfied, or frustrated, a well-chosen game changer can help you discover a markedly better strategy and/or life path.

Here are some game changers to consider:

Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

There’s a lot of advice given about the value of empathy for communication, persuasion, and relationships. But here I’m not talking about any of that.

I’m talking about temporarily abandoning your way of doing things and trying someone else’s.

For example, suppose you’re very dissatisfied with your progress on a task, project, or goal that’s dear to you. Normally, you’d stop and think, trying to develop some ideas about how to change what you’re doing to break the logjam and move faster in the direction you want to go.

Don’t do that.

Instead, try to step into the mind and heart of someone else: your mentor, your hero, a family member, or anyone you admire and respect for their ability to handle difficult situations. Imagine them facing the same situation you’re in.

Now think of what they might do to make more satisfying progress.

They’d most likely start from a different perspective, draw on different strengths, take a different approach, and come up with their own strategies and tactics – different from yours – that might get them moving in whatever direction they’d choose to pursue.

Explore all of these possibilities, because some of what they’d think and do might help you navigate more effectively through your difficult situation.

Shift Into Experimentation

Most of the time, we operate in “production mode,” trying to complete a particular task, project, or goal as quickly, easily, and directly as we can. When we run into a difficult situation, we feel frustrated, perhaps even frantic, and redouble what we’re doing to get where we’re trying to go.

A game changer, however, is to temporarily put the task, project, or goal on “hold,” and shift from “production mode” into “experimental mode.” Now you’re purposely trying new things, not necessarily to make progress, but just to see what will happen.

When you’re no longer trying to accomplish a particular task, project, or goal, you can’t really label any results you achieve as a “failure.” Instead, whatever happens becomes a learning opportunity. You are resetting the situation, which creates an entirely different state of affairs from which to launch new efforts to succeed.

Ask A Winner for Help

They don’t always have the best advice and they don’t always know how they got there, but people who have already accomplished tasks, projects, or goals like the ones you’re having difficulty completing may be able to provide you with useful insights and information.

There’s a story about a young racing car driver trying to keep up with a more experienced teammate through a complex series of race track curves. After many tries with varying gear changes and different braking points, none of which yielded enough speed, the younger driver got up the nerve to ask for advice. The older driver told him simply: “Take the whole sector in third gear.”

The point? In a wide range of endeavors, experienced winners have often mastered complex situations well enough to recognize and use a simpler, more effective approach.

Of course, you could put in enough time and practice to discover these simplifications for yourself. But it’s often a game changer to directly ask for the helpful insights that proven winners have already accumulated.

Home In on Your Exciters

Another important game changer is the simple dictum to sniff out and home in on whatever most stimulates your personal excitement. If you start giving more of your time and effort to the tasks, projects, and goals you find most exciting, you’ll automatically:

  • Avoid the boredom and burnout that plague so many people,
  • Feel strongly motivated to learn more and work hard at whatever you’re doing,
  • Eagerly start every day,
  • Joyously attack new opportunities, and
  • Find a great deal of meaning and purpose in your work and your life.

The corollary is true, too: You’ll feel better about yourself and more energetic when you stop giving time and effort to tasks, projects, and goals that sap your energy and disappoint you, even when successfully completed.

Next time your usual approaches and methods aren’t producing the level of progress and results you want, try one or more of these game changers. They will often help you discover new and better ways to advance toward greater productivity and success.

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