Are you at your best?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. so throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. explore. dream. discover.”
– Mark Twain (1835–1910)
Are you currently at your best? Right now, today, this week? Are you in a purple patch, in your element, firing on all cylinders?
If not, when were you last at your best, and what’s changed since then?
Having observed myself working and, more often, attempting to work, I’ve noticed a correlation between being at my best and the subsequent results (financial or otherwise), feeling good, efficiency and effectiveness. My ability to influence, to be creative and to inspire others is strongest when I am operating at my best. At all other times some or all of these outcomes elude me.
I’ve noticed this in almost all of the people with whom I have worked as a coach over the last 10 years. When they spend moments ‘at their best‘ for a few hours, a day, perhaps even a week or more, amazing things happen. They experience breakthroughs or crystal-clear perspectives on topics that were once hazy, and notice performance increases in themselves and those around them.
So why would we not want to be at our best all the time?
Well, you can be at your best significantly more often than you might be now. Firstly, it is a choice, a conscious and determined choice. You control your life and performance, no one else, and you are not the victim of the situations in which you find yourself. Secondly, it’s about becoming aware of who you are when you are at your best, what are the circumstances, what has led up to this and so on, in as much detail as you can identify. Finally, it is about creating that context every day so you can be at your best.
Are you At your best?
Here’s a suggestion, coined by my masterful coaching friend Kate Duffy. Pick up your pen and write uninterrupted for at least three minutes, completing the following sentence:
“I’m at my best when...”
Revisit this often and keep track of what the ingredients are. If you try to make these happen one at a time, you will move to a place when you are at your best more often and your best will just get better!
The 3-4-3 Strategy
“The road to happiness lies in two simple principles: find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it put your whole soul into it – every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have.”
– John D. Rockefeller III (1906–1978)
Apart from being what I consider to be the best football formation, 3–4–3 has become a successful way to shift my clients’ behaviour towards spending more time doing and being what they are designed to do and be.
Whenever I meet a team, client or participants in a workshop, I often ask how much of their time could be described as being at their best. How effective did they consider themselves to be at that particular moment? Then out come the stories about the volume of work, meetings etc. that get in the way of operating at their peak. And some brilliant justifications for why most of their working days are spent this way. The 3–4–3 strategy works like this.
Think about everything involved in doing your job. Everything!
Top Three – approximately 30% of what you do or get involved in is what makes you go ‘ooh’. You are great at it; time seems to slip past when you’re doing it; no one else could ever do it quite to your standards; when you’ve completed these things you actually feel better. It may take time, but it certainly doesn’t seem to take effort. These are the things that, if you spent all your time doing them and not the other stuff, you would be an unstoppable machine!
Bottom Three – at the other end of the ratio are 30% of the things that you are poor at, you probably put them off until they build up and shout at you; when you are working on them, you feel drained and uninspired and your mind wanders. You begin to detest the task and everything and everyone associated with it; you look for and take any distraction from it; you’re inefficient at these things and they take an achingly disproportionate length of time.
Middle Four – in the middle you’ve got the rest: 40% of the things you do are okay; part of the job, expected and known – you know they’ve got to be done and you get them done.
The juicy opportunity for you is to get to a point where you are aware of the top three and bottom three items.
Make an active decision to spend more time doing your top three – don’t put them off, waiting until you’ve suffered and done the nasty things. Maybe consider a compromise and do one of the middle four for every one of the top three. Next, make an active decision to spend less time on the bottom three. Don’t kid yourself that everything will be fine when these are done, because it won’t – it will be exactly the same or even worse because you have missed the opportunity of making dramatic positive change with your top three. Look to outsource these tasks: delegate them, ask a friend to help and get them done or even pay someone to do so because, and this is the magic bit – the items in your bottom three will be in someone else’s top three!
And as for the middle four, you’ll always get these done somehow. Hidden within them may even be your potential, a new currently unrefined skill. Observe others, explore new learning and utilise the time you are saving from your no longer draining bottom three.
Bonus refined 3–4–3 nugget:
The Art of Successful Delegating. You know you need to delegate and haven’t yet cracked how to make it work for yourself or the delegated helper. The 3–4–3 strategy is made for you.
It is highly likely that up until now, whenever you need to free up time, the tasks you delegate come from your top three or middle four, simply because you cannot believe anyone else would want to do your bottom three laundry. And of course the delegatee can never complete those top three tasks to your standard and expectations or with the essence and spice that you would give, so you spend your time looking over their shoulder and end up taking the damn thing back!
But there in your bottom three are tasks that you feel nothing for, that someone else (if you choose them correctly) will do well, faster and with less pain, because it falls within their top or middle categories.
You get the gist, so become aware and make your move!
Praise for Simon and The Simple Way
“Simon Tyler has been my business/life coach for nearly 2 years now. I can honestly say he has changed my life and I now sit on the edge of achieving one of my main life goals. Something I feel would have been much more difficult without his help. He has just released a book and I would highly recommend it.”
— Dan Cossins, former GB 200 & 400m sprinter, now Speed Consultant, Coach and Performance Trainer”
“Over the years I have been working with Simon, his insights, rules of thumb and often interesting and quirky exercises have helped immensely! Tools to help me put my thoughts in order and challenges in perspective, and to think through how my actions will affect the business. Most of all Simon has helped me identify and be true to what really matters, and through this book, many others will have access to some of that help.”
— Terry Watts, Chief Executive, Proskills
“I would not hesitate to recommend Simon and The Simple Way if you want to take your personal performance to the next level.”
— Adrian Hick, Head of Sales & Relationships, Lloyds TSB International”
“The Simple Way is first and foremost a book about success. It just so happens that a large part of being successful comes from the ability to make things simple. Topics such as goal achievement, time management, productivity etc are all here, presented in a way that you may find more helpful than some other, more lengthy texts… I would thoroughly recommend checking out The Simple Way!”
— Dan Byrne, The Simplify Guy
“Where there is a challenge Simon is able to get to the heart of it quick, slicing away distraction and noise. His ability to do so reminds me of a samurai warrior. Clean, quick and simple.”
— Kim Ann Curtin, Founder & CEO, The Wall Street Coach
“Simon cuts to the chase and our conversations have left me with greater belief in my thinking, my methods and my management style. His methodologies present simple solutions for complicated people. His Simple Notes are thought- provoking, sometimes challenging, often off-the-wall and always a pleasure to read and digest.”
— Ted Rodger, Managing Director, FPP
“Simon’s approach keeps you moving forward, removes hurdles (including the perceived ones) and holds you true to yourself. In short he ‘keeps everything simple’ and success follows.”
— Jennifer Mathias, CFO, Coutts Bank
About Simon and The Simple Way
Simon has enabled scores of business executives, leaders, owners and solopreneurs to become increasingly successful by exploring their own intellect and applying a range of innovative and personally enabling techniques.
He is much respected for his ability to deliver refreshingly honest, acutely insightful and practical coaching programmes that challenge consensus thinking, break through barriers and redefine connections through the power of attitude. He is an astute and perceptive coach who can rapidly transform cold coaching knowledge into powerful coaching capability, turning hollow coaching theory into a uniquely usable personal toolkit.
Simon is available to coach individuals and teams and to speak at team meetings, seminars and conferences. His talks are guaranteed to inspire, motivate and, most importantly, deliver results. Using humour and audience interaction, real-life stories and actual situations, yet sometimes raising crucially important personal topics, his style is light, lively, memorable and entertaining, but also pragmatic – full of easy to apply techniques and tools for each member of his audience to put to immediate use for themselves and their teams.
Simple Notes like the ones contained in this book are published by Simon every two weeks to subscribers. To join the free mailing list and begin receiving the notes subscribe below or visit simontyler.com and register.
The Simple Notes have grown out of Simon’s belief that the simple way is the best way. You can watch Simon talking about The Simple Way and describing ways to simplify your thinking and shift your attitude and results at www.thesimpleway.tv.
Simon is married with three children and lives on a farm in Wiltshire in the west of England.
He can be contacted via his website simontyler.com.
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Simon Tyler’s speeches, seminars and workshops are guaranteed to inspire, motivate and, most importantly, deliver results. Using humour and audience interaction, real life stories and relevant actual situations he often raises crucially important personal topics. The presentations are light, lively, memorable and entertaining, but also pragmatic – full of easy to apply techniques and tools for delegates to put into immediate use for themselves and their teams. Many of these are in The Simple Way.
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