Working with business owners in many different industries over the years, I’ve noticed that the most effective ones share certain beliefs about productivity. I’m not talking about clichés like, “Time is the most precious resource” or, “Since there are only 24 hours in a day, you need to delegate any task that you are not uniquely suited to do.”
Instead, truly outstanding entrepreneurs follow productivity principles and beliefs that I find (you may, too) refreshingly different from the norm. Here are 11 of them:
1. “The pie is enormous and getting larger all the time.”
Instead of fearing competition or scarcity, the most productive people have an "abundance mentality." They know that there are enough resources and opportunities for everyone to thrive; and with this assumption, they see more possibilities and synergies than others tend to see.
“The point is this: When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible [at this very moment].” -- Peter Diamandis, in Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
2. “I love being wrong.”
Anyone who takes too much pride in being right will miss out on opportunities to learn something new. The more open-minded someone is, the quicker he or she can grow and expand. Often, the quickest way to make progress is to learn that your assumptions were incorrect -- that perhaps the barriers in front of you are an illusion.
“[Being truly open-minded] demands that you get over your ego-driven desire to have whatever answer you happen to have in your head be right. Instead, you need to actively question all of your opinions and seek out the reasoning behind alternative points of view.” -- Ray Dalio, billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates
3. “I am the most important person in my life.”
Taking care of oneself emotionally, physically and financially is a prerequisite for being able to sustainably help others in any significant way. It’s wonderful to be caring and charitable right from the start (rather than waiting to become “comfortable,” before volunteering or donating), but be responsible. Depleting yourself will prevent you from serving others at all.
“Set the standard! Stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment, and respect when you don’t even show that to yourself.” -- Steve Maraboli, bestselling author and behavioral science academic
4. “When I produce results, I deserve to be rewarded, regardless of how quick and effortless the methods were.”
Instead of feeling guilty for effortlessly achieving success, productive business owners fully embrace a results focus. They unapologetically charge premium prices. They accept compensation for the value that they provide rather than the effort they expend. They figure out how to “wow” their clients without striving.
(Note: Some people struggle to adopt this feeling of worthiness, so practicing the abundance mentality first is often helpful.)
“I always believe that the easy way is the right way.” -- Bruce Lee, martial artist and actor
5. “Achieving my goals gets easier as I more clearly specify what they are.”
Once you know why you would like to free up an extra 20 hours a week (and what you’ll be doing with that new discretionary time), you can start designing a plan to work toward it. High achievers clearly envision their “success paths.” Other people stress about contingency planning and “escape routes.” Knowing how you’d spend your new free time is a precondition for actually reclaiming it. As for creating the roadmap to that destination, the fastest achievers rely on shortcuts others discover; they find a role model to mimic.
“Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event.” -- Brian Tracy, bestselling author and entrepreneur:
6. “Less is more.”
Busyness is not productivity; the most effective people know that sometimes the antidote to feeling overwhelmed is to stop and do nothing. Take a nap. Or go play. Do something completely unproductive. Hit the reset button. This reaction retrains your brain by telling it that working harder is not the answer.
Similarly, meditating regularly can silence the internal chatter and allow influence from inner wisdom.
Yet another way to benefit from the belief that “less is more” comes from the power of saying “no” to almost everything. By focusing on just one primary offering and building on your strengths (rather than spending energy trying to shore up weaknesses), you can more easily attract prospective clients who are interested in your core competency.
“Being busy is a form of laziness -- lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” -- Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek:
7. “I care about managing my energy, rather than my time.”
Business owners who make a radical impact don’t bother with time management. Instead, they focus on maintaining and increasing their energy level. Rather than worry about “shiny object syndrome” and think that they need to exert a lot of willpower and discipline, they realize how to harness the free energy that comes with following their inspiration.
They understand the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy and understand how to set up their environment to make success nearly inevitable. For example, throughout today, you can (at your convenience) do whatever is necessary to prepare your desk, body and mind in order to be in a state of flow tomorrow.
“Manage your energy, not your time. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times.” -- James Clear, entrepreneur and behavior science expert
8. “My most common thoughts and actions determine my destiny.”
“Watch your thoughts because they become your actions; watch your actions because they become habits; watch your habits because they become your character; and watch your character because it becomes your destiny.”
In other words, one can consciously design one’s unconscious habits so that they can produce tremendous results on autopilot.
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” -- Stephen Covey, bestselling author and educator
9. “Happiness comes first. (Since my desire to be more productive is simply a means to be happier, I will not sacrifice happiness in the present.)”
One of my favorite sentiments is, “May those hoping to enjoy their future waste none of their present.” At one level, this suggestion is to seize opportunity and do what is important. But the stronger part of the recommendation is to be happy now. Moreover, happiness precedes success, anyway.
“Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level -- productivity, creativity, engagement -- improves.” -- Shawn Achor, positive psychology researcher at Harvard
(Note, however, that a sure-fire way to waste a lot of energy is to feel responsible for other people's happiness. Happiness only comes from within.)
10. “Mindbody interaction is paramount.”
As Tony Robbins teaches, your mind and body are inextricably linked. “Getting into state” is an essential step to achieving peak performance. By taking your physiology seriously (through exercise, nutrition, sleep and attention to posture), you can prime your mind for doing creative, valuable work. Reciprocally, focusing your thoughts on clear intentions can calm and heal your body.
“Congruence is power. When our physiology matches our thoughts, we can get ourselves to take massive action. People who consistently succeed are those who can commit all of their resources [mental and physical] to work together toward achieving a task.” -- Tony Robbins, peak performance coach
11. “It’s important to hang out with inspirational people.”
Jim Rohn and numerous other mentors have commented that, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Peak performers very intentionally surround themselves with people who challenge them and stretch them beyond their comfort zone, and they also dissociate from anyone who is a drain on their energy. (Mediocre workers generally ignore both aspects of this advice.) Finding a tribe that brings out the best in you can be one of the easiest ways to leap ahead.
“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” -- Jim Rohn, motivational speaker