This book has received an exhaustive amount of reviews, so I’m going to be brief and instructive.
I picked up this book because it was recommended as one of the landmark writings for managers.
An executive, as the Cambridge Dictionary states it, is someone in a high position, especially in business, who makes decisions and acts according to them.
Being effective, again from the Cambridge Dictionary, is to produce intended results.
Guess what, we are all executives in our own lives.
Here is how to be effective with the five main points and sections from the book:
Manage Your Time
“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”
Honestly asking ourselves where we spend our time often brings up undesirable answers. Are we scrolling through social media all day? Check the screen time on your handheld computer. How much of that time is for social networking? For reading? For being productive?
How does your screen time look for the week? How many hours did you spend there?
I have a habit of picking up my phone and opening Instagram. When I catch myself doing it so needlessly, I remind myself, there are other things you want to do. Then, I put the phone down, and I pick up a book (like this one), or do something else productive.
If I get into bed and pick up my phone, am I scrolling for an hour? Limit yourself to 15 minutes and get some rest.
I know I need all the sleep I can get.
Find What You Can Contribute
“To ask, ‘what can I contribute?’ is to look for the unused potential in the job.”
Are you doing what’s necessary? Great, you’re surviving.
Do you want to thrive? Give a little extra.
A contribution is that little extra you give to yourself, a friend, your job, or a stranger.
It’s the pause you take before reacting to bad news to remind yourself that you can handle this, like a little pat on the back. It’s the compliment you give to your single friend before going out, letting them know they look good, and then they feel good. It’s the food you give to the homeless person you pass on the street so they can go to sleep without feeling the pain of hunger. It’s seeing a possible problem with a new client’s system and creating security measures before they run into problems.
If you’re focused on what contributes to your personal and professional life, you’re looking at the next step.
Mobilize Your Strengths
“Feed the opportunities and starve the problems.”
Some of us might know our strengths, but I can guarantee we all know our weaknesses. It’s time to change your focus.
Accomplishments are made through strengths. If someone is focusing on their weakness and finds success, it’s only because they turned that weakness into a strength.
Choosing to use a strength is a conscious effort. If you’re a good at talking to people, you’d be fantastic in a front-end facing role, communicating with customers or clients. Can you convince anyone of anything? You’d be a great salesperson. Are you good at problem solving? I bet your friends ask you for advice, or you find joy in finding a new way to save time in a process. Are you a meticulous organizer? Mathematics, data, or research in various disciplines could be your shtick; truly, organization is needed everywhere.
If you use your strengths properly, your weaknesses become irrelevant.
Set The Right Priorities
“Effective executives do first things first and they do them one thing at a time.”
Research has proven, ad nauseam, that multitasking doesn’t help with productivity. Don’t believe me? Dr. Google will back me up.
There is a time cost when you switch from activity to activity, and this cost adds up.
Ask yourself, if you don’t address something, will anything happen? If the answer is no, then that something isn’t a priority, and doesn’t even need to be addressed!
Prioritize activities that aim big and make a difference. Dealing with the big stuff first makes the remaining priorities easy and quick.
Setting the right priorities also changes your activity from being busy with a handful of tasks to achieving results, knocking them out, one by one.
“Decisions are strategic, rather than adaptive to apparent needs of the moment.”
Choosing what to eat in the morning is a freedom. Deciding to eat healthy in the morning cuts out the bad foods from your diet and gives you great cognitive fuel for your day.
When you decide on something, it’s usually a judgment call made between multiple choices and a reduction in the next time you need to make that choice.
Decisions help us solve generic problems. A repetitive issue that comes up can be subconsciously handled with a decision. Haven’t decided? You’ll need to concentrate on that issue a little bit more to weigh alternatives.
Have you read all the way through? I bet you made the decision to focus on self-development recently, and this article was an exposure to a set of tools you’ll use in the future.
Individual continuous learning is central for the development of an organization. As the individual grows, so does the team.
And so, we end the review with a reminder from the book, that
“Effectiveness is a habit, a complex of practices,”
and it’s okay if you trip or make mistakes along the way.
You’re always your hardest critic.
Learning is a process, and you won’t reach perfection, but you can still aim for it.