Effectiveness is more important than efficiency. In Tim Ferriss’ words, “What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.” Last week I wrote about what I believe is the single most important ingredient of effectiveness (which is clarity). Now in this post, I’d like to expand the idea to give you a map of personal effectiveness. You will see the two components of effectiveness, and the required abilities you should hone for each of them.
First of all, there is a question we need to answer: how do you know that you are effective? Here is my simple answer to this question:
You are effective if you are doing what is right to do.
Simple, isn’t it? From this answer, you can see that there are actually two components of personal effectiveness:
- Knowing what is right to do, and
- Actually doing it
Now let’s look at them in more details:
- Knowing what is right to do
How do you know what is right to do? This is where the idea in The Single Most Important Ingredient of Effectiveness comes into play: to know what is right to do, you need clarity. It is clarity that allows you to figure out what is truly important to you. The biggest enemy of clarity is noise, so the action you need to take is minimizing noise. You can read my article about it for more details.
- Actually doing it
Knowing what is right to do is just half the equation. It is useless to know what you are supposed to do if you don’t actually do them. To actually do what is right, you need to overcome distractions to do otherwise. All distractions can actually be summarized into one: short-term pleasures. So, the action you need to take is ignoring short-term pleasures. Since the things you are supposed to do are often uncomfortable, only by being able to ignore short-term pleasures can you actually do them.
As you can see, there are two abilities which are crucial to effectiveness:
- The ability to minimize noise
- The ability to ignore short-term pleasures
All your effort to increase personal effectiveness should be focused on honing these two abilities. Having only one of them is not enough. You may end up knowing what to do but don’t actually do them because of the distractions (#1 without #2), or you may be willing to do anything but end up doing the wrong things due to the lack of clarity (#2 without #1).
All these can be summarized in this map of personal effectiveness:
By minimizing noise you will know what is right to do. By ignoring short-term pleasures you will actually do it.