There are some people who are perfectly content where they are in life. They may be late to the airport every time they travel, they may be fine with a beer belly and they may not be getting promotions every year, but they aren’t stressed. They’re happy.
There are other people, like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, who are the best at what they do. They have a million things they are responsible for and a generally busy life. But they aren’t stressed out. They make time to have fun, pursue side projects, and chill out with their families. They’re happy, too. And then there are people who are smack in the middle of these two worlds. People who know they need good systems in place, but start improvising when things get crazy. People who know they have more in the gas tank, but procrastinate when it really matters. People who live in the middle ground.
Destined for greatness, but caught up in the logistics.
Does this describe you?
I call this the middle ground paradox, and it’s just about the worst place to be. I was one of the people living in the middle ground for many years. It was awful. But what’s crazy is this: when I leveled up to my peak performance and started managing the logistics of my life the way a peak performer would, life actually got drastically easier.
That’s right, it actually became simpler, easier, and less stressful. I had more free time, not less. I had more fun and more energy. Below are my top three findings about managing the logistics of your life the way the peak performers do, gleaned from interviewing 25 top productivity and business leaders.
By the way, we’re hosting an online summit on July 10-13 that goes deep on this subject where you can hear Lewis Howes, Kevin Harrington, Greg McKeown, Jay Papasan, Influencive’s own Brian D. Evans and 20 other incredible experts share their secrets on top performance. Grab a free ticket here while you still can.
Create a Bullet-Proof System for Getting Things Done
Creating a system that actually works for you is most of the battle. David Allen’s Getting Things Done method relies on the idea of a ‘trusted system’—a system that you not only implement, but interact with and adjust to fit your life. If you don’t trust your system, you’re probably not going to continue to adhere to it, and it’ll all come crashing down! Where in your life right now do you not trust your system? Your monthly bills? Your housecleaning strategy? Think about this and be honest with yourself.
If you’re in charge of a team of people, rejecting your own systems can have a detrimental domino effect. If you don’t trust the procedures you have in place, why should anyone on your team? If you’re not using them, why should they?
Imagine baking bread: what needs to be done? You need to collect all of the essential ingredients—eggs, water, flour, yeast—and combine them. You need to let the dough rise overnight. And then you need to bake it. Simple, right? But what if you follow all of the steps to a T, and then you set the oven to 100F instead of 400F. You will have spent a lot of time and effort on this process, and never get any bread! A lot of people do this with systems in their life. When it comes to trusting their system entirely, they chicken out at the last second and start improvising, kneecapping the effectiveness of the whole thing.
If you need a more relevant example, think about birthdays. When it comes down to it, the only thing that matters is whether or not your friend got a birthday wish from you on their birthday. A few days later, your birthday wish says, “Hey, I didn’t care enough to wish you a happy birthday on your birthday, so here’s a half-hearted piece of a wish instead.”
Your whole birthday system fails if you miss the wish by a day!
When you’re operating like a Richard Branson or Elon Musk, your systems are getting things done for you—accurately and automatically. They require some oversight from you, but you have a VA working efficiently for you and you’ve leveraged all possible resources at your disposal. The consequence of this is being able to do the work of three people in just a few hours per day.
If you manage a team of people, the middle ground is a dangerous place to live. You’re essentially forcing all your employees to live there with you. Operating in the middle ground while managing a team probably means that you’re barely keeping up with your workload, and that you haven’t locked down the most efficient way to lead. Fighting fires all day and saying a prayer that everyone prioritizes correctly is a recipe for disaster!
When you start operating at 100% and trusting your systems to get things done, your team needs less and less supervision. Things run smoother. The systems that you’ve put into place—that are trusted by you—actually work and actually help get things done.
In order to do this, you need to acknowledge where you’re being unreliable as a manager—we all have development areas—and start being your word when it comes to your team. Again, be honest here. Little things that make a big difference to your team include doing what you say you will do, being on time for meetings and calling your employees to account when they aren’t meeting your expectations.
Once you’re operating at your peak, your team’s output will massively increase. They’ll be answering their own questions, taking initiative, and feeling more control in their workday.
Get Some R&R
If you’re currently living in the middle ground, take a look around. Is all of your free time spent doing extra work and household responsibilities? Is all your free time being eaten up by an inefficient life that you’ve built around yourself? When you start working at your peak potential, you unlock the ability to design your life. Want to travel more? Do it. Want to take up a new hobby? Join that Pilates class! Your systems are in place, your team is running itself, so take some time for you. Relax, recharge, let your brain putter around a bit.
It’s in this relaxed state that people have their best, most creative ideas. Moving your business or career forward becomes a whole lot easier when you give yourself ample time to unplug from your day-to-day because you’re giving yourself time to have those earth-shattering, awesome ideas!
Genius and boredom are best friends, right?
Play time and down time are not “nice to haves” for the top performers among us. They are absolute priorities, according to NYT Bestselling author Greg McKeown in his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less. Stripping away essential activities like play and sleep are what people in the middle ground do, while insisting on playtime is something top performers do. By the way, you can get exclusive access to my interview with Greg at the Lifehack Summit.
Having spent a lot of time in the middle ground, I know how difficult it can be! That’s why we created the Lifehack Summit. Our upcoming summit is going to be all about how to reach your peak potential. We’re bringing together some of the brightest minds in this space to help you become the best version of yourself.
Click here to get free access to this event.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.