There’s more to you than meets the eye. Whether you know it or not, you possess a wide range of skills, talents, and capabilities you can use to pump up your level of productivity and success. Since I don’t know you personally, I can’t tell you exactly what they may be. But I can give you a broad overview to help you identify them.
The four sides of your personality I’m talking about include aspects of the following:
Part of you loves to take action, make decisions, push toward a goal, and generally keep busy. This part of you responds well to deadlines, and feels comfortable with lists of specific tasks to accomplish.
Often, your action-oriented side is uncomfortable delegating or handing over responsibility to others. This part of you would rather do things yourself, and is at its best when working directly toward your immediate tasks, projects, and goals.
In fact, in many situations your action side is eager to take next steps quickly, shrugging off the possibility of problems or hoping to fix them as they come up. In this, it agrees with Captain Kirk of Star Trek, who once told Scotty, the ship’s engineer, as he begged for more time to get new equipment properly analyzed and assessed: “Test it in combat!”
While the action side of you is eager to burst out of the blocks and start working, there’s also a planning side of you that is willing to defer action, think things through, and wait until it understands the situation with clear ideas of the relevant obstacles, opportunities, requirements, and timelines.
This side of you generally likes to develop advance awareness, hoping the first time you do a task, you are able to do it well.
Faced with a chaotic situation, this side of you thinks first of sequencing the appropriate tasks, projects, and goals for maximum effectiveness and results. It’s also easy for this side of you to figure out the best path from Point A to Point B, and then on to Point C and beyond.
There’s a third side of you capable of seeing all the way to the horizon and beyond. This side of you is the most creative, able to come up with ideas for solving problems, establishing complete systems, developing new capabilities, and conceiving ambitious views of “what could be.”
Because rewards for action and planning are so abundant, too many people focus on those sides of themselves and neglect their visionary capability. But while it may atrophy, it never dies.
Faced with a dead end, or a set of unpleasant alternatives, this side of you is often capable of finding or forging a better way forward. It can also envision replacing what exists with entirely new “out of the box” ways of thinking, doing, building, and operating.
Not all of these visions may be practical or worth trying to implement. Some – like the internet, space flight, even the light bulb – are impossible to realize until technological or cultural advances offer sufficiently supportive concepts, capabilities, materials, or ways of thinking. Nevertheless, when you’re faced with difficult situations, your visionary side is worth tapping into and cultivating.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve mentioned in these spaces that your ability to work well with other people is central to productivity and success. This is where your connective side comes most directly into play.
People generally prefer to work with people they like, and there’s great value in your ability to persuade others to do what you want and aid you in realizing your tasks, projects, and goals.
All this is greatly enhanced by your ability to sense what others are feeling, their moods, motivations, values, and priorities, and to effectively convey yours to them.
Your connective side is also helpful in preventing conflict, building harmony, developing loyalty, and encouraging people to go an extra mile for you or for their team.
One interesting facet of having all four of these sides is this: they sometimes pull you in different directions. For example, your action side might want to start work right now while your planning side wants to hold off until the time is ripe. Your visionary side might want to build a whole new world while your connective side recognizes the distress this will cause people who have bought into the status quo.
There’s no easy formula for how to balance the demands and preferences of these four sides in your work and your life. There may be times when you simply won’t be able to.
Nevertheless, knowing you have these four sides and learning to recognize and use them as needed to deal with whatever challenges and opportunities you encounter will help you markedly increase your level of productivity and success.
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