The Secret to Effortless Productivity & Overcoming Overwhelm w/Greg McKeown EP 1102 | School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

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Key Takeaways

  • Our mindstate is the first thing holding us back from getting the results we want
  • Three key productivity hacks: forgiveness, gratitude, and asking “how can I do this effortlessly?”
  • You’d never think of forgiveness as a productivity hack, but that’s what it is
    • It frees up so much energy
  • “What if the essential things can be the fun things?” Greg McKeown
    • We can create rituals to make what’s essential also enjoyable
  • Instead, of asking “How can I work harder?” ask: “How can I do this effortlessly?”
  • “When we focus on what we lack, we lose what we have, when we focus on what we have, we gain what we lack” Greg McKeown
    • Every time you notice you complain about something, also think about something you are grateful for
  • Your priority should be something that creates a breakthrough when you achieve it
    • Is adding this other project creating motion sickness or momentum?
  • Beating yourself up when not working is evidence that you need to choose a different paradigm
    • Designing relaxation that we want to do is key
    • Make a list of 10-20 things that really create joy for you and make you relaxed
  • “What is one thing that is absolutely essential that I’m underinvesting on right now?” Greg McKeown

Key Books Mentioned

Intro

Looking for an Easier Path

  • Our culture worships hard work more than anything else
    • It is true that hard work is a key component of success
    • Even when we burn out, our “grind culture” suggests working harder
  • Essentialism was about better prioritization
    • Figuring out what really matters
  • Effortless is about re-thinking simplification
    • Sometimes we make our work harder than it needs to be
    • Greg is not against hard work, but he thinks it shouldn’t be our only strategy
    • “The point is, if you can’t work any harder, you gotta find an easier path” Greg McKeown

Getting Into an Effortless State

  • The book’s model is based on three concentric circles (mindstate, actions, results)
  • Our mindstate is the first thing holding us back from getting the results we want
  • Anger, grudges, and resentment take away so much of our energy
    • Holding negative mindstates makes your life more burdened than it needs to be
  • Simplifying your mindstate has a huge return on investment
    • You do this by letting go of grudges and negative emotions
  • We need to understand what did we “hire the grudge to do”
    • There’s a reason behind every grudge we hold (a feeling of superiority or victimhood)
    • We can evaluate grudges one by one and see that they make us weaker
    • Then it becomes easier to let them go
  • You’d never think of forgiveness as a productivity hack, but that’s what it is
    • It frees up so much energy

Letting Go of Limiting Ideas and Inverting the Questions

  • A common assumption today is that any problem can be solved by working harder
    • Instead, of asking “How can I work harder?” ask: “How can I do this effortlessly?”
  • Another limiting idea is that important, essential work has to be drudgery and separate from play
    • “What if the essential things can be the fun things?” Greg McKeown
    • We can create rituals to make what’s essential also enjoyable
    • “If you don’t make the essential stuff enjoyable, then you will be burned out” Lewis Howes
      • When playing sports becomes a duty and loses its fun, people often stop

Getting in an Effortless State Through Gratitude

  • A complaining state limits creativity and makes things harder to do
    • “There’s nothing so hard that complaining won’t make harder” Greg McKeown
  • Why do we complain so much?
    • Complaining is the easiest thing to do
    • The more you complain, the more you find things to complain about
  • Every time you notice you complain about something, also think about something you are grateful for
    • When Greg tried this he realized he used to complain much more than he thought
    • He also found his state to immediately change
      • You can’t be in a complaining and grateful state at the same time
    • “This (gratitude) is the way to accelerate success in any  area of your life and it is instantly effective” Greg McKeown
  • “When we focus on what we lack, we lose what we have, when we focus on what we have, we gain what we lack” Greg McKeown
    • In a grateful state, you’re able to see opportunities that you couldn’t notice before
    • You’re better able to deal with challenges

Questions to Ask to Reach Effortless Action

  • Effortless action is about asking a few questions to simplify your projects 
    • When projects or problems are unclear in our mind we feel overwhelmed
  • Important questions to ask when working on an essential project:
    • What does “done” look like?
    • What is the first obvious step I can take?
    • How can I take a 10-minute micro-burst of work?
    • What is the minimum number of steps to achieve the final result?
    • How can I pace myself to stay in an effortless state?

Choosing What to Work On

  • Many people struggle with having too many passions
    • They don’t know what to work on or and work on too many different projects
  • At any given time, you should know what’s your priority
    • Your priority should be something that creates a breakthrough when you achieve it
  • Greg doesn’t discourage spending time on projects other than your priority, but
    • You should be very selective about what you work on
    • You can’t try everything at once
    • Idea of “procrastinating on purpose” by Rory Vaden
      • You don’t discard all your other project ideas
      • Leave them in the backburner, and wait for the right time to work on them
  • Is adding this other project creating motion sickness or momentum?

Done for The Day Lists and Designing Relaxation

  • To-do lists are endless, you never feel satisfied
  • A “done for the day” list challenges you to think about what would make you feel done
    • Once done, it allows you to enjoy yourself and relax “guilt-free”
    • Recovery is essential for peak performance sustainably
    • “Don’t use up more energy today that you can recuperate today” Greg McKeown
  • Beating yourself up when not working is evidence that you need to choose a different paradigm
    • Are we working to live or living to work?
  • Designing relaxation that we want to do is key
    • We often don’t know how to relax and end up working or feeling guilty
    • Make a list of 10-20 things that really create joy for you and make you relaxed

Effortless Results, Delegation, and Relationships

  • Delegating an area of work to someone you trust is a way to obtain effortless results
    • Putting effort one time that produces results many times over
    • The key is working with people you trust highly
  • Every relationship has three parties involved: Person A, Person B, the agreement between them
    • Often the reasons relationships don’t work is that there is no clear agreement
      • Expectations are often uncommunicated
      • People rely on their own assumptions
  • Stipulating high-trust agreements for effective delegation and work relationships
    • Being clear on:
      • What results are expected
      • What rules should be in place
      • What resources are available to each person
    • Setting up accountability structures (periodic reporting)
    • Agreeing in advance on “exit strategies”
      • Work relationships are often treated as marriage or family ones
      • There is the wrong assumption that they will never end
      • It’s important to agree on ways to end the relationships that work for both
      • The book Conscious Uncoupling by Katherine Woodward Thomas talks about this in romantic relationships

What Do High-Achievers Get Wrong About Life?

  • Reaching unsatisfying success
    • High achiever usually will be able to achieve what they go after
    • Their primary mistake is going after the wrong goal
      • E.g. focus on winning a marathon, when what they really want is a good relationship with their wife
  • Doing it the wrong way
    • Going after their goal in inefficient ways that cost them too much
  • To course-correct, high-achiever should ask themselves: “What is one thing that is absolutely essential that I’m underinvesting on right now?” Greg McKeown
    • Common answers are relationships and health

Key Lessons Greg Wants to Share with the World

  • All three lessons are related to the word “Light”
  • In every moment you can choose to go towards light or darkness
    • Being a good person means keep coming back to light
  • Choose the lighter (effortless) way to do things
    • Ask yourself “How am I making life harder than it needs to be?” 
  • Making God the light of his life makes Greg feel full of love and hope

Primary vs Secondary Greatness

  • Greg’s mentor Steven Covey used to distinguish between primary and secondary greatness
  • Primary greatness is inside of you, no one gets to see that
    • Your character, kindness, honesty
  • Secondary greatness is public
    • Your successes, victories, etc…
  • Primary greatness precedes the secondary one
    • If you get primary greatness, you’ll often also get public success
    • Even if you don’t achieve outward success, you’ll be fulfilled
  • If you only chase secondary greatness, at the end of the day you’ll suffer
    • Secondary greatness disappears incredibly fast
School of Greatness : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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