Productivity As A Tail End
The main idea repeated throughout all of Selfmastered’s essays is that peak performance and productivity are the goals to strive towards to achieve self-mastery. Simply put, if you can perform at the highest level in your career or business sustainably, there are no unreachable goals in the long run.
This is why we created Selfmastered.net: to help entrepreneurs achieve and sustain peak performance in their personal and professional lives... so they can make a difference in the world. Faster
When looking to achieve and sustain peak performance, it is straightforward to go straight to focusing on productivity and trying to implement time-management techniques and strategies. In this essay, we will explain why this approach is not the best one.
Focusing on achieving productivity without considering the other aspects that lead to peak performance is like focusing on the symptoms while ignoring the root causes. Signs are an indicator that there is a process that isn’t working as usual. Trying to tackle them while ignoring their cause will not solve the problem.
Continuing with the analogy, when our body suffers a temperature increase, it is the byproduct of our collection fighting against illness or a foreign body. Temperature is a symptom of the ongoing battle inside us.
A lack of productivity is like suffering a temperature. All attempts at working on productivity without working on the leading cause behind it will be short term solution at best, futile at worst.
What is the root cause for lack of productivity, and therefore a lack of peak performance? Well, productivity is only one variable to consider when wanting to achieve and sustain peak performance. It is the result and side-effect of other aspects and systems running smoothly.
Productivity is one variable to achieve peak performance
In our model, the Selfmastered Peak Performance framework, peak performance is the result of an equation with six variables. These variables are Direction, Identity, Mindset, Energy, Productivity, and Automation.
Direction is where the individual is taking himself, his ventures, and his business. It is everything related to the fundamental beliefs regarding where the individual is heading. You cannot achieve your goals if you don’t know what they are in the first place.
The personal transformation of entrepreneurs occurs at an exponential rate due to the nature of entrepreneurship and business. As does for the individuals who seek self-mastery. Understanding the role of identity and how you can embrace your best self is paramount for sustaining peak performance.
It is fashionable to talk about the entrepreneur’s mindset, the athlete’s mindset or the investor’s mindset. While most of the content out there related to mindset is motivational and feel-good, most business failure, entrepreneurship, investing, etc. is due to a lack of emotional management strategies and lack of understanding of your own psychology.
The relationship between energy and peak performance is straightforward and clear. Without proper management of your energy, it is impossible to sustain peak performance. A few and sparse peaks in output do not constitute peak performance.
Productivity is the fifth variable of the equation. Being able to get better and more results from your efforts is achieved via different self-management strategies, which serve to achieve a more efficient “time-focus” balance.
Once all the above variables are identified and taken care of, automation is the final step needed to implement all these strategies on autopilot. Thinking less is thinking better.
Solely focusing on increasing your productivity while ignoring the rest is not the right focus to achieve peak performance. All the variables are equally important and deserve the same attention and focus.
Peak performance can best be achieved and sustained via a holistic view, considering all of the variables mentioned.
Peak performance is built and governed in a holistic way
The way direction, identity, mindset, energy, productivity, and automation connect and work together isn’t random. They are purposefully connected and in order.
The direction is the only independent variable, while identity depends on direction, mindset depends on identity; energy depends on mindset… all the way to automation, which is dependent on all that is mentioned before. This leads to knowing where your starting point is.
To begin, you need to focus on your path, which is defined by your direction and identity. The direction is the only independent variable, and identity depends on the direction. Only once you have figured out where you are and where you want to go you can move on to the next step: emotions.
Traditionally, the signal to noise ratio regarding the topic of mindset and emotions is not the best. All the good ideas get drowned in endless content that is feel-good, fluff, unrealistic, and motivational.
As mentioned above, most entrepreneurs, athletes, and investors fail not due to their lack of skills, training, experience, or knowledge. They fail due to their psychology. Mastering your psychology and purposefully engaging in emotional management techniques is crucial for peak performance. We will expand on this topic below.
Once your path and mindset are taken care of, only now, you can now start to focus on peak performance protocols to tackle productivity and energy. Without foundation, focusing on productivity is a futile attempt.
No time-management nor focus techniques can genuinely be sustained if you lack the energy, the mindset, or the direction. Sure, you want to be productive and achieve peak performance, but you need a how and a why.
Finally, as per the definition of peak performance, you need to automate all the above. Once you figure out where you are going, the routines and habits you need to lock in your mindset, energy levels, and productivity, now you need to make everything run smoother.
Peak performance is about doing more with less. In automating all the processes needed to build and maintain our holistic framework, we succeed in achieving and sustaining it.
Taking care of personal performance
Most athletes, entrepreneurs, and investors fail due to their psychology and lack of emotional management strategies, not because of their lack of work, skill or knowledge. The emotional roller coaster that is entrepreneurship, investing or any other form of competition is enough to make even the most resilient crumble under pressure.
Ideas around emotions and mindset suffer from two distinct factors: they are often motivational, superficial, and feel-good, and they have been traditionally ignored when studying peak performance.
Take the science of management, for example. It was developed as a science in the 20th Century, born out of the necessity to explain and categorize the ever-increasing complexity of the business world.
It started out by measuring the time each worker spent on tasks. Once there was a clear division of the functions, it was all about reorganizing the tasks and dependencies between them to make the process smoother and quicker.
Slowly, the science of management started adding into the equation of optimization more aspects, traits and understanding of the individuals forming an organization. Only for the last few decades have concepts like “work-life balance” and “human capital” been taken seriously.
The example of the science of management and the optimization of industrial processes is correlated with our goal to achieve peak performance because it is the core of managing oneself.
As we wrote in our essay Managing Oneself, we are treating ourselves individually as a business to be managed. There are many optimizations, time-management, and productivity techniques that work on businesses and can be adapted to the individual.
If we seek to sustain and achieve peak performance, we are already working with the frame that we can chart out our different strategies and processes, know which inputs and outputs, and make the whole process more efficient, like a business process.
Emotions and mindsets are finally considered and taken into account when looking at peak performance, both business-wise and personal development. And as such, techniques and strategies are emerging to grasp them better.
Emotions, both positive and negative, are catalysts of action. We are not the same person every day: sometimes we are sad, others we are worried, excited, motivated, and at our best, at our worst, etc.
Not only that, what if things don’t go smoothly? What if the economy suddenly takes a downturn? What if your most important client jumps the ship? What if your business partner is the one that jumps the ship?
Everyone is perfectly calm when running a smooth operation, but what about when things do not run as smoothly?
Mastering and knowing your emotions via different emotional management techniques is crucial to strive and achieve peak performance, as it can be easy to lose everything in one day due to poor emotional management.
Win by subtraction, not addition
In a world with constant stimulation and ever-decreasing attention spans, the signal to noise ratio is shallow. It is a world of continuous change, and for successful entrepreneurs and self-mastered individuals, it is exponential change.
Concepts like analysis-paralysis or even signal to noise ratio are increasingly popular due to increasing notion in the mainstream that our current society is too prone to distraction and information overload.
In How To Algorithmize Peak Performance, our thesis was that to make better decisions and improve our decision-making process, making fewer decisions was the way to go.
By making fewer decisions throughout the day, we do not tire as quickly, nor do we fall for attention residue. If we spend most of our day, making small decisions of no impact, we slowly run out of energy and brain capacity to focus on complex and creative tasks.
The solution to making better decisions was to make less by algorithmizing many small habits into routines we could follow on autopilot, leaving us plenty of energy to focus and engage in deep work.
The same applies in this case. Rather than add or amplify the signal, which most of the time is impossible, you can get the same effect by subtracting noise. In doing so, the signal to noise ratio shifts positively.
How can we reduce noise to add clarity to the signal? Well, by eliminating the one-sided approach towards peak performance and productivity that is popular.
Rather than solve the symptoms, bad business performance, low productivity, unnecessary risk-taking, the best time-management technique, etc. work on the common denominator and the root cause for all of them: you.
In taking a holistic approach to self-management and working on direction, identity, mindset, energy, productivity, and automation, you form the solid base and foundations for everything else.
Working to become more productive and achieve peak performance will be a futile attempt if the rest is ignored. It may work in the short term, but in the long term, it is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later, you will be faced with extreme pressure and constant change. Without a foundation to build upon, you will never be able to filter through the noise and reach success.