#118: How To Be Productive, Profitable, and Happy [Podcast]

Have you ever noticed that over the years, you tend to do pretty much the same things? What I mean is, if you’re a reader you remain one, if you’re a writer you tend to write, if you’re a procrastinator you tend to keep procrastinating, and so forth. The key to being productive, profitable, and happy is not in changing your nature. It’s in learning to turn your nature to your advantage.

overwhelmed

In this week’s episode, I’ll share some ideas on how to do just that.

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Tip Of The Week 

Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This book is a great clarifying breath of fresh air. In an age where we are continually sold the idea that more is better, McKeown recommends “the disciplined pursuit of less.” From the book:essentialism

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.  

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. “

Spiritual Foundations

There should be no such thing as a Christian who is perpetually unhappy.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Feature Segment: How To Be Productive, Profitable, and Happy

I think one of the real tricks of success is to simply recognize these things you tend to do, and then find ways to make these tendencies support your success. In fact, I think most people are miserable because they fail to do just that. Instead of working with their tendencies in order to succeed (almost effortlessly), they identify their tendencies as the problem and vow to change.

That, my friend, is called swimming against the river. And while you may get credit for working your tail off while doing it, you’re not going to make much progress relative to the shoreline.

Case in point: for the longest time I was worried about my information “addiction”.

Just this morning, I read an entire business book. Read part of a novel. Checked out a few hundred new items in Feedly.  And later I will sort through some 200 emails waiting for me.

I have dozens of PDFs in my “To Read” folder on my Macbook Air. I have dozens more videos and audios to go through in my “To Listen” and “To Watch” folders.

And once upon a time I thought something was wrong with me because of this kind of behavior. So I struggled against it. I read books about it. I read articles about it. I listened to self-help material about it. Is anyone other than me seeing the irony yet?

One day I stumbled across an article by Dan Kennedy in which he detailed his working habits… and I was shocked to discover they were nearly identical to mine (at least when it came to info-consumption)! And Dan saw it not as a weakness to be changed… but rather as a strength to be nurtured.

That was life-changing for me.

It gave me a way to stop struggling against my natural tendencies, and to embrace the way God made me. That tendency to process large quantities of unrelated information allows me to form connections between ideas, concepts, and methods that I would not possess if I limited my information intake. So now I structure my work and my routine in such a way that my behavior in this regard in strengthened, reinforced, and nurtured — and then put to profitable use in my writing.

I look for ways to channel that stream of information so that it’s not wasted.

So what does this all mean to you?

In my experience, it means that if you find yourself fighting the same old battles (chronic lateness, procrastination, forgetfullness), you’ve probably unwittingly been holding yourself back by resisting your own gifts.

If you have trouble with authority, why work in a job when it’s clear you’d be happier as an entrepreneur?

If you are always late for appointments — why not just stop making appointments (Arnold Shwarzenneger reportedly refuses to make appointments with anyone, and he seems to be doing okay running the state of California).

And if you have tendencies that are frowned upon by others — for instance, sleeping during the day and staying up all night — why not look for a way to turn the tendency into an asset (for instance, by working via Internet with clients or companies in a different time zone… where suddenly YOU are the early riser!)?

Just because certain tendencies, behaviors and attitudes are not “acceptable” in one context does not mean those qualities are “bad”. It simply means — at least in my experience — you need to find a different context! And that decision — how you live your life — is (for most of us) entirely a choice.

(And to ward off the inevitable objections to my premise: yes, I recognize that there are behaviors and “tendencies” that are illegal, immoral, and unethical. That’s not what we’re talking about here, okay? Anything that falls into those three categories should be jettisoned from your life. ‘Nuff said on that.)

Now take a moment to think about this…

In what ways could your “limiting tendencies” become strengths?

How could your re-arrange your life to make it so?

If you can find positive, proactive ways to answer those questions, you just might find yourself more productive, profitable, and happy.

What To Do Now

Here are some steps you can take to put this week’s episode content to work for you:

  1. Get the book, Essentialism.
  2. Journal some ideas on what parts of your nature you have sought to suppress that might actually be a strength,.
  3. Brainstorm some ideas on how you might channel your natural tendencies in a way that is more beneficial, and hat might even be an asset..

Get The Transcript

The transcript for this show will be available soon. Transcripts provided by SuccessTranscripts – a great solution if you need your podcast, sermon, speech, or other audio transcribed. Question: What natural tendency do you have that some view as a weakness or liability, but you have turned into a strength or asset? Click here to leave your comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “#118: How To Be Productive, Profitable, and Happy [Podcast]

  1. In Episode #118, there is an article referenced by Dan Kennedy regarding his ‘habits’ – is there a link or location for that article? Thank you.

  2. Good morning Ray. I just arrived at the office at 6:15 a.m. and will leave at 2:15 having worked through lunch. More about this later.

    Your podcast hit the nail on the head for me this morning because I too am an ‘information addict’ though I’ve always thought of it as being a ‘perpetual student’. Friends and family gig me about this and my nickname at work is “Podcast” which they say is stamped on my forehead. In fact, I’ve become so self-conscious about it that instead of beginning every other conversation with, “I heard/learned on a Podcast . . .” to “I read somewhere . . . ” It feels a little weird to tell what seems like a white lie but we listen to books all the time and when asked ‘Have you read_______?’, we don’t hesitate to say yes when we actually listened to it. Rationalization at it’s finest.

    This morning I read from R. C. Sproul’s, THE HOLINESS OF GOD. God spoke to me through you and Mr. Sproul this morning in a providential way. My reading this morning was about the encounter Isaiah had with God in the temple and how Isaiah was overcome (“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! Isaiah 6) with the realization of the depth of his own depravity/unrighteousness. One of the points Sproul made was that God forgave him, He did not change his personality. He made the point that God uses who and what we are (just as we are, but cleaned up).

    My point finally. Low and behold, you taught me the exact same thing less than an hour later on my drive to work. Your podcast blesses me because you begin with a spiritual, bible based message of significant ratio to the length of the podcast (10 minutes out of 20 this morning) and then make practical application. It blesses me particularly because I feel guilty that I listen primarily to informational (all topics) podcasts (many of your top 40 are also in my list) and a very small percentage of my podcast time is spent listening to spiritually based casts and so you give me that as a precious gift.

    I get up about 4:30-5:00 each morning (and consequently am in bed by 8 p.m. — another topic of mild ridicule and teasing from co-workers and loved ones) to spend one-on-one time with the King and this morning I had a double dose which INCLUDED an uplifting msg reaffirming what I had read from God’s word and making it taste like a second dose/infusion of God’s gentle whisper that He made me who I am and aside from the cleaning up, He wants to use me THE WAY THAT HE MADE ME. Only He is capable of that I guarantee.

    Thank you and bless you and yours. I’m praying for you today.

  3. Hi Ray,

    Thanks for recommending Essentialism. I’ve almost finished it and found it to be an excellent book. I’ve already put some of the ideas to work.

    The perfect compliment to Essentialism (particularly on the topic of triggers and routines) and hands down the best book I’ve read this year on increasing my effectiveness is “Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently” by Caroline Arnold. If you haven’t read it I think you’ll like it . I liked how practical and easy it was to implement Arnold’s techniques. It’s amazing how many different areas of life she manages to cover in this easy read.

    Thanks for sharing your knack of finding such good books.

    John