Disciplines of Effectiveness: Align Your Priorities

Disciplines of Effectiveness: Align Your Priorities

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

This week we begin a series on effectiveness. Effectiveness is one of the key traits of successful people. The definition of effectiveness is “doing the right thing.” And, I believe it is one of the leading indicators of long-term success.

I recently watched a demonstration of a skilled carpenter along with unskilled people hammering nails into a board. As you can image, the skilled individual hit each nail a few times, and they went in quickly and cleanly every time. The unskilled individuals didn’t hold the hammer properly, hit the nail sideways, didn’t swing hard enough, and bent some of the nails, preventing the nails from working at all.

What was the difference? The skilled individual did the right thing, in the right way. The unskilled individuals tried, failed, and the work was ineffective.

You may argue that trying, failing, and trying again is a good cycle. I believe it is, too. Sometimes there is a more expedient path. Had the inexperienced individual taken the time to learn how to nail right, he would have been much more effective and ruined fewer nails in the process.

Hammering a nail is an easy thing to do, and doesn’t take long to learn. What about something more difficult? Have you ever built a cement wall?

Building long-term success is like building a cement wall. It’s not a quick process. Forms need to be created so that the wall will be straight. Rebar needs to be set in so that the wall will have additional strength. Then the correct mix of cement must be made. Only then can the cement be poured, but the wall still isn’t done… It needs to sit for a period of time so the cement can become hard and usable.

So it is with successful individuals. Individuals become successful over years by doing the right thing every day. John Maxwell says that the secret to your success can be found in your daily agenda. Consider that for a moment. If you want to live a successful life over the next 50 years, you must concentrate on the next 24 hours.

Successful individuals practice disciplines that make them successful. They have a deep understanding of what they need to do every day to produce the outcome they desire. They know why they work (what their long-term desires are), what they need to do to bring about their desires (their short-term priorities), and then they do something about it – they act. The planning and hard work come together over time. It is the repeated application of the right disciplines in their day-to-day lives that brings long-term success.

An undisciplined individual will not be as successful as a disciplined individual – even if they have the same knowledge. Why? Why is it not enough to just learn what successful people have done? An undisciplined person will learn what they need to do, but won’t take the time and effort to put what they’ve learned into practice. Like pouring concrete with no form, no rebar, or the wrong mix.

Today begins the work.

Over the next few days, set aside a block of 2 hours to write down the following:
What do you desire most? (If you don’t know, how can live a fulfilled life?)
What are your daily priorities? (If you don’t know, how can you be effective?)
Chart out your daily schedule. (Is it built around your priorities?)
Write a list of things that need to change so that your daily schedule reflects your priorities and your priorities reflect your desires.