Achieving extraordinary things — whether building profitable businesses, raising remarkable children or becoming world-class at a particular skill — requires extraordinary effort.
Most of us have a strong bias for action: we settle on a big, audacious goal, and launch into a flurry of activity to start moving toward it any way we can, but there are three strategies we can all use that would get us there much faster.
(Of course, we need to make sure we’ve got a clear answer to the Focusing Question to find your ONE Thing before making any other moves.)
These three commitments are common in so many success stories that it’s safe to say that following through on them is a roadmap to achieving extraordinary results.
Commitment 1: Follow the Path to Mastery
Mastery is an old concept that has been swept into the background in the fast-paced modern world — much to our detriment. In times gone by, people who had mastered their crafts had started out as apprentices, slowly building their knowledge and experience, gradually layering on fresh processes and insights over time until they were the best at what they did.
When we set out to achieve something amazing, we have to take that same apprentice mindset. We have to understand that to achieve mastery, we have to be humble, do the work, and follow the process even if it takes years.
In their book The ONE Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan describe mastery as “giving the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.” For most of us, the idea of spending years learning a skillset is daunting. We’re used to speed, and it’s a hard pill to swallow that we can’t just read a book or take a course to become great at something!
But it’s in the time spent that mastery is forged. We develop mastery in our chosen areas by committing to deliberate practice, developing specific skills, solving specific problems and being focused on improving and breaking new ground.
Mastery takes time. A lot of it. But no one changes the world without a powerful grasp on what they’re doing, and there is, happily, a wonderful upside to committing to mastery.
Mastery yields many gifts.
As we work to improve our skills over time and we continue to exercise effort, we become more productive. We become more perceptive and proactive. It becomes easier to focus our energy on what really matters, since our experiences show us what is and isn’t important, and makes it easier to assess new information quickly and efficiently. The path to mastery is its own reward, and as we improve, achieving those huge goals becomes ever more likely.
Applying Commitment 1:
- What is the skillset you need/want to master to achieve your ONE Thing?
- What do you need to deliberately do each day?
- What are the things that will restrict your progress, and how can you overcome them?
Commitment 2: Move from “E” to “P”
If you think of yourself as entrepreneurial, energetic, self-starting or enthusiastic (or chaotic, reactive, wilful or overzealous) in your approach to getting things done, this commitment is going to be big for you.
Most of us, having set a big goal, launch into it firing on all cylinders.
We throw ourselves into each day, tackling anything and everything that could possibly help us get there. This boundless energy is what Gary and Jay refer to as “E” (for Entrepreneurial) energy: the energy that gets us going when we see “something we want to do or that needs to be done, and racing off to do it with enthusiasm, energy and our natural abilities.”
However, if we’re going to pursue mastery, that energy needs to shift to “P” — Purposeful. We can still bring the full force of our attention and ability, but we take the time to think critically about the situation, and to take the best path of action, even if it seems unnatural or harder than our “E” approach would have been.
It’s the difference in mindset between “get it done” and “get it done effectively,” and it’s important because the “E” approach will bring us to our limits very quickly. We all have natural ceilings on our ability, time and energy, and when we try to push through relying just on our natural tendency, we end up burning out or bumping up against challenges we can’t solve.
Shifting to the “P” approach helps us take a step back, prioritize and think outside of our normal boxes to find innovative, effective solutions that take us to the next level.
Getting different results requires taking a different approach, so the next time you’re stuck, take a moment to work out if you’re in the “E” or “P” mindset, and then shift your focus to purposeful thinking to find the solution you need.
Applying Commitment 2:
- What are the reliable indicators that you personally are in an “E” state rather than in a “P” state?
- How can you undergo regular checkups to make sure you’re in “P” as often as possible?
- Where are you currently stuck as a result of the “E” approach, and how can you start fresh with a “P” perspective?
Commitment 3: Live the Accountability Cycle
Accountability is one of the most effective ways to ensure that we are making real progress, not fooling ourselves or wasting time. Whether we join a mastermind, get a coach or mentor, or simply find a peer or friend to partner with, being accountable to someone else forces us to stay in reality, and helps us see beyond our own perspectives.
Sustained success requires us to take full responsibility for ourselves, and that requires us to be held accountable to others.
When we’re on our own, it’s too easy to quietly decide that a problem is too hard to deal with or that a task is too draining to look at today, but we’ll get the darn thing done if we know someone is going to ask us about it in a day or two.
It’s those difficult actions — the things we want to put off — that often have the most impact on our progress. Whether it’s making a dozen sales calls, having a tough conversation with someone, or simply putting your butt in the chair and grinding through some things, these actions are what create outcomes. Having someone to keep us accountable ensures that those high-impact activities are happening.
Now, we might not always have an accountability partner or coach available to help us out with important decisions. In that situation, we can hold ourselves accountable by using the OODA loop.
This is a term that came out of the American Air Force in the 1980s for a feedback loop of information in which you Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. It’s a powerful tool for making progress in tight, effective iterations. We use OODA loops all the time without even realizing it, but using them consciously and with intent gives us a real edge.
The OODA loop helps us face up to reality, to find our role in what’s happening (and what needs to happen next), to weigh the options and decide what to do, and then to act accordingly. When we use the OODA loop, we can quickly understand and leverage our outcomes into effective action.
Ideally, though, you would find someone that will help keep you accountable on a regular basis.
An outside perspective is invaluable — others can see our blind spots, present alternative possibilities, and create clarity when we are stuck.
Committing to accountability drastically increases your chance of success, and the value of accountability increases over time. The sooner you get started, the better.
Applying Commitment 3:
- What kind of accountability is going to be most useful for you, given your trajectory toward your big goal? Would a friend, peer, or coach be best?
- What do you need the most accountability help with?
- When can you reach out to the people that would be good accountability partners for those tasks you need the most help with? Can you provide them with accountability or some specific value so that it’s a beneficial partnership for all parties?
Doing extraordinary things means making extraordinary choices.
Committing to mastery, a purposeful approach and accountability are all extraordinary choices — and we commend and support you as you take these steps.
If you’re ready to make moves on your extraordinary path, download the My Purpose Workbook here to get absolute clarity on your goal and the steps you’ll need to take to achieve it.