Willpower Doesn’t Work. Here’s the Key to Being More Productive According to Neuroscience.

We have to outsmart the part of our brain that wants us to fail.

Al Pittampalli
Nov 9, 2018 · 21 min read
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Maintenance vs Growth

Maintenance activities are effectively short-term obligations.

The Real Reason We Procrastinate Growth Activities

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Who is the Passenger?

By now you probably realize that the Driver and Passenger are a metaphor for the profoundly conflicted nature of the human mind.

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How the Passenger Hacks the Driver

To get a better sense of how exactly the Passenger manipulates the Driver, let’s take a play-by-play look at the hacking in action.

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The Passenger’s 180 causes the Driver to procrastinate.

The Unfortunate Unreliability of Willpower

At this point, you might suspect the Driver’s best hope of overcoming the 180 is willpower. Willpower is famously the process by which we consciously fight back against the Passenger, attempting to regulate the emotional flooding that he sets in motion. But we should hesitate to advise the driver to rely on willpower for two reasons.


The Astonishing Effectiveness of Implementation Intentions

If the Driver and Passenger represent the prefrontal cortex and limbic system respectively, the self-driving car represents a system of the human brain, that we have just in recent decades learned is effectively programmable: procedural memory.


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The Driver overcomes the Passenger’s 180 by using implementation intentions.

The Passenger Strikes Back

Let’s review, for a moment, why the Passenger hates growth activities so much in the first place: he sees any activity that involves delayed gratification as a threat. Which was, of course, our reason for telling the Driver to perform implementation intentions. To ensure his growth activities get initiated, even as the Passenger tries to thwart him.

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The Grit Protocol

When we setup an appointment to perform any activity with someone else we change the very nature of that activity. We make not showing up at the agreed upon time decidedly painful.

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How to conduct The Grit Protocol Daily Meetings

Remember that growth activities are defined as activities that drive your most important long-term goal. So first, before you even begin these meetings, you and your partner will need to have decided on, for now, one long-term goal that you’re each committed to achieving over the next 6–12 months. Just one. Trust me. Once you’ve decided on one goal, go ahead and write it down.

How to Master The Grit Protocol

In this article I’ve laid out the basics of TGP, but there’s far more to this partner-based productivity system than I’ve had time to write about here.

Conclusion

While it’s temping to think so, the key to productivity is not getting more things done. It’s getting more of the right things done. In other words executing the specific tasks that drive our most important long-term goals. Growth activities.

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Al Pittampalli

Written by

Author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting (Penguin). Contributor to Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today.

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Al Pittampalli

Written by

Author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting (Penguin). Contributor to Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today.

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

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