Josh Monen

Sharing my journey through life.

Month: February 2017 (page 2 of 6)

I’m Sick of My Stupid Smartphone

It was a beautiful day yesterday on Mt. Hood.

I was sitting on the chair lift, enjoying the the view of the snow covered mountain in front of me when I suddenly felt the urge to check my email!

So I reached into my coat pocket, unlocked my phone and clicked the little email icon.

Nothing interesting came in so I switched the song on my soundtrack and put it away. 

That wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the fact that I checked my email at least 6–7 more times during the six hours I was snowboarding.

Sure, I had “good reasons” why I needed to. I sent two important emails out that morning to prospects who were considering hiring me on a monthly retainer. And I was curious if they responded.

Eventually one of them did. But after I read his email I realized there was no reason why I couldn’t wait until the next day to reply.

So really, I would have been just fine if I would have left my smartphone in the car and not checked it the whole time.

But instead I gave into my smartphone addiction again, refusing to unplug entirely.

And it’s sad because the mountain used to be a sacred place for me.

It was a special place I could escape to and leave the cares and concerns of work behind. I used to feel lighter on the mountain and enjoy the silence of the snow covered hills. I felt like the mountain was a place where I could clear my head and just breathe. 

Not anymore. 

Now I take my work with me. My sacred place has been violated by this stupid little device I carry around in my pocket!

It’s crazy really. And I don’t like it. I still had a good time yesterday but I never felt like I was really able to relax. My mind never got the chance to really recharge.

Being aware of this behavior makes me want to take a sledgehammer to my phone. I feel like this stupid device does not make me smart, it makes me stressed.

So yes, I’m considering ditching my smartphone for an old school flip phone.

I told my wife about this before and she thinks I’m crazy.

She always brings up a good point about needing to use Google Maps, which I do use a lot since I don’t have the best sense of direction.

But the more I think about it the more I want to break my smartphone addiction.

It’s just too much. I feel less human and less alive when my face is constantly stuck in this little screen for 3–4 hours a day.

I have to think about this some more before I decide what to do. But I know I don’t want to continue down this path.

Life is too short to spend 20+ hours a week on a smartphone. And if that means I have to carry a map around with me in the car, then so be it!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown (Notes)


Like most entrepreneurs I struggle with distractions. I’m great at starting new things but it’s hard for me to identify the most important things in my business/life and focus on those. So when I start to feel like I’m getting spread too thin I pull up these notes and read them. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to embrace the philosophy of, “Less but better.”

Click here to buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

My Notes

The basic value proposition of Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

Dieter’s design criteria can be summarized by a characteristically succinct principle, captured in just three German words: Weniger aber besser. The English translation is: Less but better. A more fitting definition of Essentialism would be hard to come by.

In many cases we can learn to make one-time decisions that make a thousand future decisions so we don’t exhaust ourselves asking the same questions again and again. The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default.

“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time—literally—substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.” – Peter Drucker

“Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?”

What if schools eliminated busywork and replaced it with important projects that made a difference to the whole community? What if all students had time to think about their highest contribution to their future so that when they left high school they were not just starting on the race to nowhere?

It was a classic “straddled strategy” of attempting to invest in everything at once. The result was that while I was not entirely failing in any pursuit I was not entirely succeeding at any either.

William James once wrote, “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”

Is there a point at which doing more does not produce more? Is there a point at which doing less (but thinking more) will actually produce better outcomes?

Think of Warren Buffett, who has famously said, “Our investment philosophy borders on lethargy.” He and his firm make relatively few investments and keep them for a long time. In The Tao of Warren Buffett: “Warren decided early in his career it would be impossible for him to make hundreds of right investment decisions, so he decided that he would invest only in the businesses that he was absolutely sure of, and then bet heavily on them. He owes 90% of his wealth to just ten investments. Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.” In short, he makes big bets on the essential few investment opportunities and says no to the many merely good ones.

In an insightful op-ed for the New York Times, Erin Callan, the former CFO of Lehman Brothers, shared what she had sacrificed in making trade-offs by default. She wrote: “I didn’t start out with the goal of devoting all of myself to my job. It crept in over time. Each year that went by, slight modifications became the new normal. First I spent a half-hour on Sunday organizing my e-mail, to-do list, and calendar to make Monday morning easier. Then I was working a few hours on Sunday, then all day. My boundaries slipped away until work was all that was left.”

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.” -Thomas Sowell

Jim Collins was once told by Peter Drucker that he could either build a great company or build great ideas but not both. Jim chose ideas. As a result of this trade-off there are still only three full-time employees in his company, yet his ideas have reached tens of millions of people through his writing.

To that end, the school has also created a hiding place called “Booth Noir.” This is a small room deliberately designed to fit only one to three people. It is windowless, soundproof, and deliberately free of distraction. It is, according to Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft in their book Make Space, “beyond low-tech. It’s no tech.” It’s tucked away on the ground floor. It is not, as Doorley and Witthoft point out, on the way to anywhere else. The only reason you go there is to think. By creating space to think and focus, students can step back to see more clearly.

“Designing Life, Essentially.” The sole purpose of the class is to create space for students to design their lives. Each week it gives them a scheduled excuse to think. They are forced to turn off their laptops and smartphones and instead to turn on the full power of their minds.

Think of Sir Isaac Newton. He spent two years working on what became Principia Mathematica, his famous writings on universal gravitation and the three laws of motion. This period of almost solitary confinement proved critical in what became a true breakthrough that shaped scientific thinking for the next three hundred years. Richard S. Westfall has written: “In the age of his celebrity, Newton was asked how he had discovered the law of universal gravitation. ‘By thinking on it continually’ was the reply.… What he thought on, he thought on continually, which is to say exclusively, or nearly exclusively.” In other words, Newton created space for intense concentration, and this uninterrupted space enabled him to explore the essential elements of the universe.

Inspired by Newton, I took a similar, if perhaps less extreme, approach to writing this book. I blocked off eight hours a day to write: from 5:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., five days a week. The basic rule was no e-mail, no calls, no appointments, and no interruptions until after 1:00 P.M. I didn’t always achieve it, but the discipline made a big difference. I set my e-mail bounceback to explain that I was in “monk mode.”

Here’s another paradox for you: the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus. No matter how busy you think you are, you can carve time and space to think out of your workday. Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, for example, schedules up to two hours of blank space on his calendar every day. He divides them into thirty-minute increments, yet he schedules nothing. It is a simple practice he developed when back-to-back meetings left him with little time to process what was going on around him. At first it felt like an indulgence, a waste of time. But eventually he found it to be his single most valuable productivity tool. He sees it as the primary way he can ensure he is in charge of his own day, instead of being at the mercy of it.

Journalism is not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the point. It isn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you have to understand what it means. This works in life just as it does in journalism.

Sir Ken Robinson, who has made the study of creativity in schools his life’s work, has observed that instead of fueling creativity through play, schools can actually kill it: “We have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.… Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”

If there’s one thing you are passionate about—and that you can be best at—you should do just that one thing. – Jim Collins

As often happens to driven, ambitious people, his earlier success had distracted him from his clarity of purpose.

An essential intent doesn’t have to be elegantly crafted; it’s the substance, not the style that counts. Instead, ask the more essential question that will inform every future decision you will ever make: “If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?”

The class reviewed more than 100 mission statements and noticed that some of the most grandiose were actually the least inspiring. For example, one had the mission to “eliminate hunger in the world,” but given that there were just five people in the organization, the mission felt like little more than empty words.

Then out of the cluttered landscape of such loose idealism came a statement we all immediately understood and were inspired by. It was from a slightly unexpected place: the actor Brad Pitt, who, appalled by the lack of progress in rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, had started an organization called “Make It Right” with the essential intent “to build 150 affordable, green, storm-resistant homes for families living in the Lower 9th Ward.”

The right “no” spoken at the right time can change the course of history.

Sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time, money, or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred, or sunk, a cost that cannot be recouped. But of course this can easily become a vicious cycle: the more we invest, the more determined we become to see it through and see our investment pay off. The more we invest in something, the harder it is to let go.

Jack Dorsey thinks the role of CEO as being the chief editor of the company: “By editorial I mean there are a thousand things we could be doing. But there [are] only one or two that are important. And all of these ideas … and inputs from engineers, support people, designers are going to constantly flood what we should be doing.… As an editor I am constantly taking these inputs and deciding the one, or intersection of a few, that make sense for what we are doing.”

This truth is demonstrated elegantly by the story of a school located next to a busy road. At first the children played only on a small swath of the playground, close to the building where the grownups could keep their eyes on them. But then someone constructed a fence around the playground. Now the children were able to play anywhere and everywhere on the playground. Their freedom, in effect, more than doubled. Similarly, when we don’t set clear boundaries in our lives we can end up imprisoned by the limits others have set for us. When we have clear boundaries, on the other hand, we are free to select from the whole area—or the whole range of options—that we have deliberately chosen to explore.

When Britain discovered North Sea oil in 1980, the government suddenly had a massive windfall in additional tax revenues, to the tune of 166 billion pounds ($250 billion) over a decade.
Arguments can be made for and against how this money was used. But what is beyond contestation is that it was used; instead of creating an endowment to prepare against unexpected disasters (such as, in hindsight, the coming great recession), the British government spent it in other ways.
Norway also benefited enormously from windfall taxes from oil but unlike Britain, Norway invested much of its good fortune in an endowment. Today, this endowment has grown over time to be worth an extraordinary $720 billion, making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and providing a cushion against unknown future scenarios.

Erwann Michel-Kerjan, the managing director of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at Wharton, recommends that everyone, starting with heads of state, develop a risk management strategy. For example, he has worked, in connection with the World Bank, to identify the most vulnerable countries in the world, and as a result Morocco, identified as #58 out of the 85, has an action plan to prepare against areas of risk. When Erwann works with national governments to create their risk management strategies, he suggests they start by asking five questions:
1) What risks do we face and where?
2) What assets and populations are exposed and to what degree?
3) How vulnerable are they?
4) What financial burden do these risks place on individuals, businesses, and the government budget?
5) How best can we invest to reduce risks and strengthen economic and social resilience?
We can apply these five questions to our own attempts at building buffers. Think of the most important project you are trying to get done at work or at home. Then ask the following five questions:
1) What risks do you face on this project?
2) What is the worst-case scenario?
3) What would the social effects of this be?
4) What would the financial impact of this be?
5) How can you invest to reduce risks or strengthen financial or social resilience?
Your answer to that fifth and crucial question will point you to buffers—perhaps adding another 20% to the project’s budget, or getting a PR person on board to handle any potential negative press, or calling a board meeting to manage shareholder expectations—that you can create to safeguard you against unknowable events.

What is the “slowest hiker” in your job or your life? What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you? By systematically identifying and removing this “constraint” you’ll be able to significantly reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential.

The Nonessentialist operates under the false logic that the more he strives, the more he will achieve, but the reality is, the more we reach for the stars, the harder it is to get ourselves off the ground. The way of the Essentialist is different. Instead of trying to accomplish it all—and all at once—and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential.

My wife Anna and I have tried to apply these ideas to our system of parenting. At one point, we had become concerned with how much screen time had crept into our family. Between television, computers, tablets, and smart phones it had become just too easy for the children to waste time on nonessential entertainment. But our attempts to get them to change these habits, as you can imagine, were met with friction. The children would complain whenever we turned the TV off or tried to limit their “screen time.” And we as the parents had to consciously police the situation, which took us away from doing things that were essential. So we introduced a token system. The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week. These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week. If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money. The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90 percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down. In other words, nonessential activity dramatically decreased and essential activity dramatically increased. Once a small amount of initial effort was invested to set up the system, it worked without friction.

There is something powerful about visibly seeing progress toward a goal. Don’t be above applying the same technique to your own essential goals, at home or at work. When we start small and reward progress, we end up achieving more than when we set big, lofty, and often impossible goals. And as a bonus, the act of positively reinforcing our successes allows us to reap more enjoyment and satisfaction out of the process.

For a long time I wrote in my journal only sporadically. I would put it off all day; then at night I would rationalize, “I will do it in the morning.” But inevitably I wouldn’t, and then by the next night I had two days’ worth to write and it was overwhelming. So I put it off again. And so on. Then I heard someone say he had developed a routine of writing a few lines at the exact same time each day. This seemed like a manageable habit, but I knew that I would need some cue reminding me to write at the specified time each day or I would continue to put it off as I’d been doing. So I started putting my journal in my bag right next to my phone. That way, when I pull my phone out of my bag to charge it each evening (already a well-established habit) I see the journal, and this cues me to write in it. Now it is instinctive. Natural. I look forward to it. It has been ten years now and I have almost never missed a day.

The way of the Essentialist is to tune into the present. To experience life in kairos, not just chronos. To focus on the things that are truly important—not yesterday or tomorrow, but right now.

When we look back on our careers and our lives, would we rather see a long laundry list of “accomplishments” that don’t really matter or just a few major accomplishments that have real meaning and significance?

He uses the acronym FCS (a.k.a. FOCUS) to teach his philosophy to his employees. The letters stand for “Fewer things done better,” “Communicating the right information to the right people at the right time,” and “Speed and quality of decision making.” Indeed, this is what it means to lead essentially.

Talk Price ASAP with Prospects

Four days ago I presented a custom marketing strategy to a prospect.

I spent hours working on this pitch. I interviewed the founder and one of his sales guys. After I reviewed the info I got from them I came up with what I believe was a pretty solid lead generation strategy.

I worked with my wife and business partner, Lacie, to translate this strategy into a beautiful Keynote slide deck, which is what I presented four days ago.

The founder said he liked it and seemed interested but asked for the “next level of detail.” In other words, he wanted to know what our onboarding process was like, how we would track results and also wanted to see some samples of our work.

So over the weekend we spent more hours coming up with more slides that addressed all these areas. I presented that to him last night.

At the end of the Skype call he basically said the price was too high. I admit I was a little frustrated because we told him what the price would be from the start.

But even though we “told” him I realized we never really got an agreement from him that this was within his budget. He would say vague things like, “I’m willing to spend money if it’s going to work.”

But we never had a serious conversation about the price. And that was my fault.

While it was frustrating to spend so much time on one single pitch I still learned a couple important lessons:

1) Talk price early: Don’t tiptoe around the price. Have a serious conversation about it so they know this is the price and it’s not negotiable. If it’s not within their budget then it’s a waste of time for both sides.

2) Stop doing custom work: My main focus right now is building a DFY digital marketing product for financial advisors. And that needs to remain my main focus. Custom projects like this, although they pay well, are a distraction.

So just a couple real-life lessons I’m learning as I go! Now time to get back to work.

My New Book Notes Page

Last night my wife and I watched Stanley & Iris.

It was  a movie about an illiterate man, played by Robert Di Nero, who learned to how to read and write from a women who he ultimately fell in love with.

I don’t usually get emotional when I watch movies like this. But I’ll be honest, the thought of someone not being able to read made me want to cry!

I love reading so much that it sounds like the saddest thing in the world to not be able to. 

So as we watched the movie I googled ‘how many people in america are illiterate.’  According to this article, there are 32 million adults in the U.S. who can’t read! Yikes. I had no idea it was that bad.

It was interesting that my wife chose to watch this movie yesterday because unbeknownst to her I was working on a new project for this blog right before she started the movie. 

That project is what I want to tell you about today: my new Book Notes Page!

For years I’ve benefited from reading book notes and reading recommendations from bloggers like Derek Sivers and Ryan Holiday, so I thought I’d do my best to contribute vs just consume.

I read about 30–40 books a year and I take notes and highlight as I read (I’ll share my reading process in a future post). So instead of keeping all these notes private I thought I’d share them publicly.

Click here to check out the new page. 

I just made it yesterday so at the time of this writing there’s only 5 books listed in my “library” but I’ll likely add at least one a week so by the end of the year there should be close to 50.

If you have any feedback or ideas let me know by leaving a comment below.

The One Thing by Gary Keller (Notes)


In The ONE Thing, you’ll learn to * cut through the clutter * achieve better results in less time * build momentum toward your goal * dial down the stress * overcome that overwhelmed feeling * revive your energy * stay on track * master what matters to you The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life–work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING?

Click here to buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

My Notes

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? Mitch: No. What? Curly: This. [He holds up one finger.] Mitch: Your finger? Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh*t. Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the “one thing”? Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.

“What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

The way to get the most out of your work and your life is to go as small as possible. Most people think just the opposite. They think big success is time consuming and complicated. As a result, their calendars and to-do lists become overloaded and overwhelming. Success starts to feel out of reach, so they settle for less. Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much and in the end accomplish too little.

So when you think about success, shoot for the moon. The moon is reachable if you prioritize everything and put all of your energy into accomplishing the most important thing.

“It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.” — Og Mandino

Extraordinarily successful companies always have one product or service they’re most known for or that makes them the most money.

“You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thing on which you have decided.” —General George S. Patton

“Success demands singleness of purpose.” — Vince Lombardi

Through technology and innovation, opportunities abound and possibilities seem endless. As inspiring as this can be, it can be equally overwhelming. The unintended consequence of abundance is that we are bombarded with more information and choices in a day than our ancestors received in a lifetime. Harried and hurried, a nagging sense that we attempt too much and accomplish too little haunts our days.

Knocking out a hundred tasks for whatever the reason is a poor substitute for doing even one task that’s meaningful. Not everything matters equally, and success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that is exactly how most play it on a daily basis.

Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction.

The one that we decided on was that I would write a book on how to become an elite performer in our industry. It worked. Eight years later that one book had not only become a national bestseller, but also had morphed into a series of books with total sales of over a million copies. In an industry of about a million people, one thing changed our image forever.

“To do two things at once is to do neither.” —Publilius Syrus

The payoff from developing the right habit is pretty obvious. It gets you the success you’re searching for. What sometimes gets overlooked, however, is an amazing windfall: it also simplifies your life. Your life gets clearer and less complicated because you know what you have to do well and you know what you don’t.

The brain makes up l/50th of our body mass but consumes a staggering 1/5th of the calories we burn for energy.

An 11-year study of nearly 7,100 British civil servants concluded that habitual long hours can be deadly. Researchers showed that individuals who worked more than 11 hours a day (a 55-plus hour workweek) were 67 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.

View work as involving a skill or knowledge that must be mastered. This will cause you to give disproportionate time to your ONE Thing and will throw the rest of your work day, week, month, and year continually out of balance. Your work life is divided into two distinct areas—what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.

Sabeer Bhatia arrived in America with only $250 in his pocket, but he wasn’t alone. Sabeer came with big plans and the belief that he could grow a business faster than any business in history. And he did. He created Hotmail. Microsoft, a witness to Hotmail’s meteoric rise, eventually bought it for $400 million. According to his mentor, Farouk Arjani, Sabeer’s success was directly related to his ability to think big. “What set Sabeer apart from the hundreds of entrepreneurs I’ve met is the gargantuan size of his dream. Even before he had a product, before he had any money behind him, he was completely convinced that he was going to build a major company that would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He had an unrelenting conviction that he was not just going to build a run-of-the-mill Silicon Valley company. But over time I realized, by golly, he was probably going to pull it off.”

When people talk about “reinventing” their career or their business, small boxes are often the root cause. What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow. It will either serve as a platform for the next level of your success or as a box, trapping you where you are.

Before Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart, he envisioned a business so big that he felt he needed to go ahead and set up his future estate plan to minimize inheritance taxes. By thinking big, long before he made it big, he was able to save his family an estimated $11 to $13 billion in estate taxes. Transferring the wealth of one of the greatest companies ever built as tax-free as possible requires thinking big from the beginning.

For more than four decades, Stanford psychologist Carol S. Dweck has studied the science of how our self-conceptions influence our actions. Her work offers great insight into why thinking big is such a big deal. Dweck’s work with children revealed two mindsets in action—a “growth” mindset that generally thinks big and seeks growth and a “fixed” mindset that places artificial limits and avoids failure. Growth-minded students, as she calls them, employ better learning strategies, experience less helplessness, exhibit more positive effort, and achieve more in the classroom than their fixed-minded peers.

Here’s what I found out: We overthink, overplan, and overanalyze our careers, our businesses, and our lives; that long hours are neither virtuous nor healthy; and that we usually succeed in spite of most of what we do, not because of it. I discovered that we can’t manage time, and that the key to success isn’t in all the things we do but in the handful of things we do well.

In Carnegie’s talk, entitled “The Road to Business Success,” he discussed his life as a successful businessperson and gave this advice: And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret—concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.” Look round you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country.

How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life.

So if “What can I do to double sales in six months?” is a Great Question, how do you make it more powerful? Convert it to the Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do to double sales in six months such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

I believe that financially wealthy people are those who have enough money coming in without having to work to finance their purpose in life.

Absent an answer, pick a direction. “Purpose” may sound heavy but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as simply the ONE Thing you want your life to be about more than any other. Try writing down something you’d like to accomplish and then describe how you’d do it. For me, it looks like this: “My purpose is to help people live their greatest life possible through my teaching, coaching, and writing.” So, then what does my life look like? Teaching is my ONE Thing and has been for almost 30 years. At first it was teaching clients about the market and how to make great decisions. Next, it was teaching salespeople in the classroom, during sales meetings, and one-on-one. Later it was teaching business classes. Then it became teaching high performers models and strategies for high achievement, and the last ten years it has been teaching seminars on specific life-building principles. What I teach is what I then coach and is supported by what I write.

To be precise, the word is priority—not priorities—and it originated in the 14th century from the Latin prior, meaning “first.” If something mattered the most it was a “priority.” Curiously, priority remained unpluralized until around the 20th century, when the world apparently demoted it to mean generally “something that matters” and the plural “priorities” appeared. With the loss of its initial intent, a wide variety of sayings like “most pressing matter,” “prime concern,” and “on the front burner” pitched in to recapture the essence of the original. Today, we elevate priority to its former meaning by adding “highest,” “top,” “first,” “main,” and “most important” in front of it.

People tend to be overly optimistic about what they can accomplish, and therefore most don’t think things all the way through. Researchers call this the “planning fallacy” Visualizing the process—breaking a big goal down into the steps needed to achieve it—helps engage the strategic thinking you need to plan for and achieve extraordinary results. This is why Goal Setting to the Now really works.

In 2008, Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California, recruited 267 participants from a wide range of professions (lawyers, accountants, nonprofit employees, marketers, etc.) and a variety of countries. Those who wrote down their goals were 39.5 percent more likely to accomplish them.

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil… . It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.” —Margarita Tartakovsky

“Well, if everyone has the same amount of time and yet some earn more than others,” I ask, “can we then say that it’s how we use our time that determines the money we make?” Everyone always agrees, so I continue: “If this is true, that time is money, then the best way to describe a time-managing system might just be by the money it makes. So, do you think you’re using the $10,000-a-year system? The $20,000-a-year system? The $50,000-, $100,000-, or $500,000-a-year system? Are you using the $1,000,000-plus system?”

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” —Francine Jay

To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness, time block these three things in the following order: Time block your time off. Time block your ONE Thing. Time block your planning time.

Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to take care of morning priorities, then move to your ONE Thing. My recommendation is to block four hours a day.

Like so many other successful writers, early in his career King had to find his time blocks where he could—mornings, evenings, even lunch breaks—because his day job didn’t accommodate his ambition for his life. Once extraordinary results started showing up and he could earn a living from his ONE Thing, he was able to move his time blocks to a more sustainable time.

To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.

Walter Elliot said, “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

“Until My ONE Thing Is Done—Everything Else Is A Distraction!” Try it. Put it where you can see it and others can see it as well.

The people who achieve extraordinary results don’t achieve them by working more hours. They achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work.

Most assume mastery is an end result, but at its core, mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience.

In 1993, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson published “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” in the journal Psychological Review. As the benchmark for understanding mastery, this article debunked the idea that an expert performer was gifted, a natural, or even a prodigy. Ericsson essentially gave us our first real insights into mastery and birthed the idea of the “10,000-hour rule.”

The Purposeful person follows the simple rule that “a different result requires doing something different.”

An accountability partner isn’t a cheerleader, although he can lift you up. An accountability partner provides frank, objective feedback on your performance, creates an ongoing expectation for productive progress, and can provide critical brainstorming or even expertise when needed.

I discussed Dr. Gail Matthews’s research that individuals with written goals were 39.5 percent more likely to succeed. But there’s more to the story. Individuals who wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them.

In the two years after his return in 1997, he took the company from 350 products to ten. That’s 340 nos, not counting anything else proposed during that period. At the 1997 MacWorld Developers Conference, he explained, “When you think about focusing, you think, ‘Well, focusing is saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.

You’re not focused on having a perfect day all day, but on having an energized start to each day. If you can have a highly productive day until noon, the rest of the day falls easily into place.

Write down your current income. Then multiply it by a number: 2, 4, 10, 20—it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, multiply your income by it, and write down the new number. Looking at it and ignoring whether you’re frightened or excited, ask yourself, “Will my current actions get me to this number in the next five years?” If they will, then keep doubling the number until they won’t. If you then make your actions match your answer, you’ll be living large.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain

For me, very few books cause tears, much less require a handkerchief, but Bronnie Ware’s 2012 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying did both.

At the conclusion of their exhaustive research, Gilovich and Medvec in 1994 wrote, “When people look back on their lives, it is the things they have not done that generate the greatest regret…. People’s actions may be troublesome initially; it is their inactions that plague them most with long-term feelings of regret.”

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