Ravi Kumar
Dec 20, 2018 · 11 min read

Ratings: 4/5

Chapter 1: Secrets to Great Performance

  • “The popular StrengthsFinder approach advocates that you find a job that taps into your natural strengths, and then focus on developing those further.3 ”
  • “They argue that an individual’s sustained effort is just as critical or even more so in determining success.4”
  • “In the end, we discovered that seven “work smart” practices seemed to explain a substantial portion of performance. ”
  1. “When you work smart, you select a tiny set of priorities and make huge efforts in those chosen areas (what I call the work scope practice)”
  2. “You focus on creating value, not just reaching preset goals (targeting).”
  3. You eschew mindless repetition in favor of better skills practice (quality learning).”
  4. You seek roles that match your passion with a strong sense of purpose (inner motivation).
  5. You shrewdly deploy influence tactics to gain the support of others (advocacy).
  6. You cut back on wasteful team meetings, and make sure that the ones you do attend spark vigorous debate (rigorous teamwork).
  7. You carefully pick which cross-unit projects to get involved in, and say no to less productive ones (disciplined collaboration).
  • This is a pretty comprehensive list. The first four relate to mastering your own work, while the remaining three concern mastering working with others.”
  • “the best performers in our study also did something else. Once they had focused on a few priorities, they obsessed over those tasks to produce quality work. That extreme dedication to their priorities created extraordinary results. ”
  • “Choice is only half of the equation — you also need to obsess.”
  • “Our top performers took a different approach: they strove to find roles that contributed value to the organization and society, and then matched passion with that sense of purpose. ”
  • “Top performers collaborate less. They carefully choose which projects and tasks to join and which to flee, and they channel their efforts and resources to excel in the few chosen ones. They discipline their collaboration.”
  • “To work smart means to maximize the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted effort.”
  • “Under the old “work hard” paradigm, high achievers tend to become stressed out, even burned out.14 You work harder and your performance improves, but your quality of life plummets.”
  • “The seven “work smarter” practices didn’t just improve performance. They also improved people’s well-being at work. ”
  • “Being great at work means performing in your job, infusing your work with passion and a strong sense of purpose, and living well, too.”

PART 1: Mastering Your Own Work

Chapter 2: Do less and then obsess


  • “Doing more,” as we shall see, is usually a flawed strategy.”
  • “Writers like Daniel Goleman and Stephen Covey have argued that people can only perform at their best if they select a few items to work on and say no to others.11 This view is incomplete. It overemphasizes choice, as if that’s the only requirement: If you are disciplined enough to choose a few priorities, you will succeed. Picking a few priorities is only half the equation. The other half is the harsh requirement that you must obsess over your chosen area of focus to excel.”
  • “The term “focus” consists of two activities: choosing a few priorities, and then dedicating your efforts toward excelling at them. Many people prioritize a few items at work, but they don’t obsess — they simply do less. That’s a mistake.”
  • “Amundsen didn’t win just because he picked dogs. He won because once he had chosen dogs, he applied huge amounts of effort to perfecting that single method of transporting the sledges.”
  • “As economics Nobel-laureate Herbert Simon quipped, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”


  • “Coordinating between priorities requires mental exertion. Many regard multitasking as efficient, but research shows that rapidly toggling between two items — reading emails and listening to a colleague’s presentation, for example — renders you less effective at both.”
  • “The complexity trap wreaks havoc inside companies. In the name of progress, we pile on goals, priorities, tasks, metrics, checkpoints, team members, and so on. But adding these items increases complexity, which we can define in terms of the number of items and the number of connections between them.”


  • “Attaining that quality demands obsession — and focus.”
  • “We often disparage obsessions in our daily lives, viewing them as dangerous or debilitating. But obsession can be a productive force.”
  • “Greatness in work, art, and science requires obsession over quality and an extraordinary attention to detail.”
  • “Just choosing to focus, as work-productivity experts would have you do, does not lead to best performance.”
  • “Instead of asking how many tasks you can tackle given your working hours, ask how many you can ditch given what you must do to excel. ”
  • “To perform at your best, discipline yourself to shave away any options that you stick with for psychological comfort alone.”


  • “When you need to generate many new idea”
  • “When you know your options, but are uncertain which to choose. ”
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.




“Redesign isn’t about working longer hours. It’s about changing how you work. Yet, not all redesigns gener“ate better results. One manager in our study reshuffled the organizational chart every twelve months, and diminished his organization’s performance. A pharmaceutical saleswoman kept redesigning her sales pitch, and her revenues remained flat. So what distinguishes a great redesign from a not-so-great one?”

“fruitful redesigns all shared one thing in common: value.”

“A good redesign delivers more value for the same amount of work done. ”

“we should evaluate the value of our work by measuring how much others benefit from it. That’s an outside-in view, because it directs attention to the benefits our work brings to others. The typical inside-out view, by contrast, measures work according to whether we have completed our tasks and goals, regardless of whether they produce any benefits.”

“Many people never question whether their work produces value.”

“The advice “start with goals” when planning an effort, is wrong. We need to start with value, then proceed to goals. Ask yourself: what benefits do your various work activities produce, really?”


  • “The advice to follow your passion — in other words, letting your passion dictate what you do — can be dangerous.”
  • “The problem is that we do NOT hear from people who have failed to become successful by doing what they love.” — Marc Andreesen
  • “Is there a solution to this tradeoff between “following” or “ignoring” passion? Yes. Our research uncovered a third option: “matching.”
  • “Some people pursue passion in navigating their careers, but they also manage to connect this passion with a clear sense of purpose on the job — they contribute, serve others, make a difference. They have matched passion with purpose.”
  • “To be passionate about work is to feel energized by it, to experience a sense of excitement and enthusiasm.”
  • “For some, passion is a quiet, inner sense “of satisfaction and contentment. For others, it’s a louder, “Let’s go!” kind of thrill.9 ”
  • “Purpose and passion are not the same. Passion is “do what you love,” while purpose is “do what contributes.” Purpose asks, “What can I give the world?” Passion asks, “What can the world give me?”10”
  • “You have a sense of purpose when you make valuable contributions to others (individuals or organizations) or to society that you find personally meaningful and that don’t harm anyone.”
  • “It’s possible to experience a strong sense of purpose in a job and not feel deeply passionate about it — and vice versa. ”
  • “Our statistical analysis of 5,000 people shows that people who match passion with purpose perform much better, on average, than those who lack either purpose or passion or both.”
  • “The key therefore is to infuse your work with both passion and purpose, to aim for P-squared.”


  • ”“What’s the real magic of P-squared? It provides people with more energy that they channel into their work. Not more hours as in the “work harder” paradigm, but more energy per hour of work. That’s working smart.”
  • “If you love what you do, you’ll show up with a certain amount of vigor. And if you also feel that you’re helping other people — that they need you and depend on your contributions — your motivation to excel becomes that much greater.”
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • “here are three steps in particular you can take to find and grow your passion and purpose while staying in your organization.



”“Passion at work is an expanding circle that encompasses all six areas: joy doing the tasks, excitement at succeeding, the thrill from unleashing one’s creative energy, enthusiasm from being with people at work, delight from learning and growing, and elation from doing one’s job well.”


  • ”“Another way to maximize your passion-purpose match is to infuse your present job with more purposeful activities. Let’s remember the key difference between passion and purpose. Passion is doing what you love; purpose is doing what contributes. So how can you increase your contributions to others? ”
  • “Purpose Pyramid” — to indicate a logic of increasing order. The premise of the pyramid is that you should fulfill the first level before moving upward. The higher you climb, the stronger your sense of purpose at work.”


  • “Value creation forms the foundation of the Purpose Pyramid.”
  • “If you produce little or no value, you’re not doing purposeful work. Period. ”
  • ““Think of that engineer at Hewlett-Packard who produced a quarterly report and submitted it on time every time, even though corporate headquarters stopped reading the reports long ago. Although he may have felt passionate about the work, he created zero value and thus served no purpose.”
  • “Many people conceive of purpose as social contributions alone and not as “value added,” but they should reconsider. ”
  • “When you create value for your organization, you contribute, and your work has purpose”
  • “Yet you have to be careful about how you add value. If your work harms other people, that harm cancels out the value you add, draining your work of purpose.”
  • “A strong sense of purpose only arises when you don’t harm anyone — customers, suppliers, your boss, your organization, employees, the community, the environment.28”


  • “If you’re already adding significant value, and you’re not causing harm to the wider world, then you can continue ascending up to higher levels of purpose. Enhance your purpose-passion match by taking the next step — crafting personal meaning.”
  • “The meaning we attach to our jobs varies considerably. Two individuals can have the same job, with only one feeling that it is of any consequence. In a 2009 study of zookeepers, researchers found that some saw cleaning cages and feeding animals as a filthy, meritless job, while others saw it as a moral duty to protect and provide proper care for the animals. Same job, different feelings of purpose.”
  • “What matters, as far as purpose on the job is concerned, is how each individual feels about his or her own work. As long as people are contributing value in their job, it’s up to each individual to determine whether they see their work as purposeful.”
  • “To progress up the Purpose Pyramid, take steps to feel that what you’re contributing is meaningful. You can do this in your current job by reframing its meaning. The hospital janitors in Wrzesniewski’s study identified meaningful moments on the job.31 A janitor named Jason took it upon himself to start talking to patients to brighten their mood.”



Part 2: Mastering Working with Others


  • “getting our work done hinges on our ability to gain support from others, including bosses, subordinates, peers, colleagues in other departments, and partners. “These individuals control resources we need — information, expertise, money, staff, and political cover. ”
  • “ top performers mastered working with others in three areas: advocacy, teamwork, and collaboration.”


  • “Many of us believe that we need to appeal to people’s rational minds to gain their support for our projects and goals. Just explain the merits of the case using logic and data, and others will rise up in support. ”
  • “the best performers went beyond rational arguments and adopted various tactics to advocate for their projects. I discovered that the best advocates — what I call forceful champions — effectively pursued their goals at work by mastering two skills to gain the support of other people. They inspired others by evoking emotions, and they circumvented resistance by deploying “smart grit.”
  • “leaders gain support by making others feel excited about their vision, goals, and plans”
  • “you don’t need to be charismatic to inspire others.7 ”
  • “The forceful champions in our study used a number of practical techniques to stir emotions that everyone can adopt regardless of their job titles.”
  • “The second skill that the forceful champions in our study used, smart grit, entails persevering in the face of difficulty and deploying tailored tactics to overcome opposition to their effort.”
  • “Angela Duckworth have demonstrated that grit — which she defines as perseverance and passion for long-term goals — distinguishes successful people from others.8 In pursuing their goals, forceful champions in our study applied such grit to overcome opposition. But rather than simply plod forward, mustering endless amounts of energy and verbiage to overcome obstacles, they also deployed smart tactics to address their colleagues’ specific concerns. Like Ian Telford, they identified and “read” their opponents’ intentions and took steps, such as compromising or co-opting, to convince them to support their cause.”
  • “managers and employees in our study who scored high on both inspiration and smart grit performed much better than those who could manage either inspiration or smart grit, but not both.”


  • “A great way to inspire others is to foster both negative and positive emotions — getting people upset about the present and excited about the future. ”
  • “When your goal is to convince, not all emotions are equal.”
  • “the importance of “high arousal” emotions. These emotions prompt a “state of activation and readiness for action. The heart beats faster and blood pressure rises.”1”
  • “To inspire people and gain their support, line up high-arousal emotions on your side — make them mad and fearful about the present, and joyful and excited about your proposed future goal.”



  • “individuals perform better if they have a strong sense of purpose in their work. ”
  • “The tactics of lining up emotions properly, showing (and not just telling), and making people feel purpose enable you to inspire people so that they will support your efforts. Everyone can use these tactics; you don’t have to have a charismatic personality to inspire colleagues at work.”


  • “Grit at work is not about putting your head down and bulldozing through successive walls of resistance. Smart grit involves not only persevering but also taking into account the perspective of people you’re trying to influence and devising tactics that will win them over.”


  • ”“Too many people try to get others to change by doing all the convincing themselves. They become lone crusaders for their efforts — and they exhaust themselves in the process.”
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.
  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

  • Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: Morten Hansen. “Great at Work.” iBooks.

Part 3: Mastering Your Work Life

Power Books

Summaries of powerful books that have shaped me

Ravi Kumar

Written by

Product Manager at AXOOM, Germany building next gen IIoT platform and Podcaster at Yoursproductly.com

Power Books

Summaries of powerful books that have shaped me

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade