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The Value Of Being An Extremist

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We’re going to talk about the process of extreme improvement of productivity. The first thing I would say about it is that we mostly talk about it as being a time management issue. But is this right?

About Ambition

People are less productive than they could be because:

Bad methodology – 10%
Insufficient motivation – 70%
Insufficient pressure – 20%

…but when discussing this, we go to “time management” and focus 90% of the discussion on 10% of the problem.

Truth be told, it’s mostly not a time management problem, it’s mostly an insufficient motivation problem. It’s mostly not sufficient drive, determination, and reason. My original mentor said the number one reason there aren’t more millionaires in America is because most people haven’t come up with enough reasons to do what’s necessary to be a millionaire. Same things are true with being productive.

Most people are just not sufficiently motivated to do everything that’s necessary to be super productive.

This is from Harvey Firestone’s 1926 autobiography titled Men in Rubber, which had a much different connotation in 1926 than it would now. Here’s a couple of things that are significant. The first story is: I was on the hunt day and night for men to buy our stock. It was no easy matter to sell stock in a company that had no assets except on a patent on which it was losing money. For years I never saw a man with money without turning over in my mind how I could transfer some of his money into our stock.

What he’s just described is specific ambition. That was Harvey Firestone every minute of every day. If extreme productivity is your ambition, that’s how you have to approach that too. You’re on the hunt night and day; you’re trying to control every single minute, every interruption, every person, every everything.

Second then, part of the game plan is self-awareness. Tyson used to have two people whose job was to follow him around all the time; walk behind him and say, “You’re the man Mike, you’re the man.” This goes a long way to explaining Tyson’s current financial position. What would be more useful is having someone walk around behind you all the time with a baseball bat and every time you were acting in a way grossly incongruent with your stated goals, just haul off and whack you.

We’re not going to do that as a practical matter, so we’ve got to do it to ourselves mentally. And we have to do it on a real-time basis, not a retrospective basis. The time to determine whether or not your behavior is congruent with your stated ambitions is not at the end of the week, not at the end of the month, not at the end of the calendar quarter, not in December—it’s real time minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. What you can’t measure you won’t be able to manage. We have to have measurement benchmarks of our productivity and of our congruent behavior.

Again, if you want an extreme result you’ve got to go to the extreme. You’ve got to be very aware of leverage, value, use of time. Like on the dress thing, today if you were going to meet with somebody who might be worth a million dollars to you, would you look like you are? No, no, of course not. You might run into the guy in the checkout line in Wal-Mart that’s going to be worth a million bucks to you and you can’t be looking like you’ve been working on your car, that doesn’t work.

The Value of Being An Extremist

  • You cannot have extreme productivity without taking extreme measures.
  • Those who most ardently advocate “tolerance” need your tolerance.
  • Extreme Productivity can bring with it Zero Tolerance for unproductive activity

The other awareness is what you are permitting to happen around you, with you, it’s getting in your way, and kill it. If you aren’t willing to defend your productivity violently, if necessary, what exactly are you willing to defend? Somebody is screwing up your productivity, how tolerant of that are you? First of all, how aware of it are you? Then, secondly, how tolerant are you of it? I will suggest to you that there is a direct correlation between high income and low tolerance for anything that is screwing up one’s productivity; something they are doing to themselves or something other people are doing to them.

Third, very specific decisions over how you are going to control these things. What you do, where you do it, if you do it, who you do it with, and how you do it. Most importantly here is “the who.”

I want to make it very clear the very first thing on your job list is to facilitate my maximum productivity at my best mental attitude so I can be productive. That’s your job. That’s who you want around you and there is no neutral, spouse, staff, friend, there ain’t no neutral, they’re either helping or they’re hurting.

When you talk about going home and getting to work and making things happen, there’s eight specific types of actions. One is immediate. That’s start. General Schwarzkopf, who I was on programs with for quite some time in his leadership talk, he always said it’s better to get started in the wrong direction than it is not to get started. Because we can fix the direction, we can’t fix the not starting. And he’s right about that. One of my premises is I’ve got four or five things as a result of my being here that I want to do. I know that the best odds of them ever getting done is if I start something having to do with them immediately, immediately. No matter how ill prepared you may be to follow through, start matters.

So Carville says the best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago, the second best time is now. That’s true of everything. The best time, if you can’t do it last week, which you couldn’t because you didn’t, so the next best time is now. There is enormous power to starting.

Second is visible. Puts you on the spot and conveys certain things to others so visible actions matter from two directions.

Third, renegade millionaire principle “simultaneous, not sequential” and you really ought to watch yourself on this. It’s hard not to slip back because you’ve been conditioned since birth that everything ought to be sequential: step one, step two, step three. A then B, and walk before you run, first grade, second grade, third grade, blue badge before you get red badge, etc. You’ve been conditioned since birth to do everything sequentially. There’s two problems with that. One, that’s not how high performers and rich people do anything. If you’re trying to get extreme results that’s not what they did; they run around and make all kinds of messes and start 500 things at the same time, that’s what they do. They live in perpetual controlled purposeful chaos, that’s how they live. Secondly, the problem with sequential behavior is that in many cases nobody ever completes the sequence. Financially here’s what everybody thinks, here’s how all poor people think about money; they think I’ve got to get a job, then I’ve got to get my basic stuff taken care of, I’ve got to buy a house, I’ve got to get some furniture, I’ve got to have some appliances, etc. If I’m making enough money to take care of rent, car payment, movies, beer, stuff I’ve got to do, my iPhone, my cable TV, which all of that adds up to 30 bucks here, 30 bucks there, before you know it you’re a trillion dollars in deficit. They’ve got to get all that taken care of—then if I’m making enough money, I’ll start saving some money. When I’ve saved up enough money to make it worthwhile, I’ll start worrying about investing the money. They never get there doing it that way. Never, never—in part because nobody ever has any money left over. Nobody ever has any time left over, either. And if you’ve got any lying around, time or money, that you have left over, that you’re not doing anything with, somebody will take it.

So simultaneous, not sequential. Massive, not dinky. You put a lot of stuff in motion all at the same time with urgency.

Everybody understands that they perform more under urgency. I’ve always been amused in pro football at the two-minute drill. These guys haven’t been able to move the ball for two hours past the fifty and all of a sudden, even with no possibility of winning the game, in the two-minute drill they come down and screw up the spread and I lose a thousand dollars. How come nobody plays the two-minute drill every two minutes?

Congruent– is your behavior congruent with your stated specific ambition? Synergistic, so we’re looking for leverage. How can we make the same piece of work do more than one thing? How can we make the same relationship do more than one thing? How many ways can you get productive benefit out of each act? Out of each conversation? Out of each relationship?

From here the next thing you’ll want to consider are the most common points that drain your productivity, and how to avoid them. But don’t worry I won’t leave it all down to you, come back here next week for the second part of this series on Extreme Productivity where I’ll talk you through drain points and how to avoid them!

Source: Dan Kennedy


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