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My best 2013 life hack

Many life hacks are written to help us get as many activities done as quickly as we can.

My best 2013 life hack


Many life hacks are written to help us get as many activities done as quickly as we can. GTD and TCB and DIY. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with tips that help me hack meaning (rather than just productivity). How do I make deeper connections with people, enjoy the hustle (not just the reward), and try to make each day better without obsessing about achievement?

The most meaningful life hack I’ve adopted in my professional (and more recently, my personal) life is to try understand and communicate two things about everyone I interact with:

  1. What I like about them
  2. How their strength benefits our community

On a professional level, this means I make bold expressions about the strengths I perceive in others. When I talk to my teammates about their strengths, I’m not trying to get them to do something differently. I want them to understand the impact they have on our professional community. That’s not to say it isn’t a little selfish. It’s as much about me as it is about them. When I’m in a strengths-based mindset, I do a better job of thinking of ways our team can use its strengths to solve problems and do better work. If I’m in a mindset that’s focused on weakness, I’m less likely to be able to make those strategic decisions. It’s important to keep in mind that people’s strengths change over time. I find that my most difficult professional relationships are those in which professions of strength do the most good.

How does this play out? I try to notice positive things in others and communicate those strengths at a time when I know I’m not trying to get anything out of them. I’m moving away from compliment sandwiches and pairing the difficult with the positive. I can’t give an exact example for what a profession of strength might sound like but here’s a list of strengths I’ve noticed in my team over the past few weeks (and how that strength helps our team do its best work):

  • Showing empathy (helps our team feel connected to each other)
  • Being detail-oriented during stressful times (helps us turn in great products)
  • Using humor to de-stress, connect to, and persuade others (helps us have high-quality and low-stress communication)
  • Taking awesome meeting notes that allow a fraction of our team to attend meetings than before (GTD)
  • Making sure that professional stress from above doesn’t sweep through the entire team (makes our work environment pleasant even when the work is tough)
  • Taking the time to teach others “why” and not just “what” — even when time is limited (makes us all better people over time)
  • Offering feedback that helps people see how they can do something better without shame or micromanagement tactics (makes us all better people over time)
  • Remembering to celebrate birthdays and other important life moments (makes our team feel connected)
  • Asking “Can I help you with something?” when others seem stressed out (makes our team feel connected/GTD)
  • Writing concise emails (GTD)
  • Remembering to do the dishes and take out the trash (helps our community run smoothly)