Workaholics Anonymous—A 12-Step Program of Recovery and Personal Transformation (Step 3)

[Index: INTRO, Step 11b233b4566b7899b1010b1112]

WARNING… you might be successfully failing! Even a finely tuned and designed Ferrari will fail if driven in the direction of a brick wall.

STEP 3 – Separate Efficiency from Effectiveness

What if you are doing the WRONG things RIGHT?

Here is where we are so far:

In Step 1 we figured out the things we needed to stop doing—our compulsive responses to work addictions, and the things that suck up most of our time, attention and life force.

In Step 2 we learned to set and protect our boundaries so other people or outside forces would not fill our newfound time, energy and capacity with derailing activities.

Now, in Step 3, we need to ensure our time is focused to gain maximum success in the shortest amount of time, allowing us to compound achievements at a much faster rate.

Take a look at the graph to the left. Direction is more important than speed. The right side of this chart is the “right” side. Even the upper right—doing the right things not very well—will take you further.

A Ford Pinto going in the right direction is better than a Ferrari headed toward disaster. The goal is to do the right things right. It’s tough to beat a Ferrari heading in the right direction and squarely at the finish line.

I have friends on both extremes of this principle:

1. One friend is a rather unsophisticated person in his business acumen. Everything in his business is done on paper, he does his accounting by hand, all his transactions are entered manually, none of his systems are automated and he is still baffled by e-mail. But his business is incredibly successful, and he is worth a significant fortune.

2. My second friend is an amazing talent. His business is automated in a way that would awe-inspire Bill Gates. He is on the cutting-edge of every technology and gadget you and I still don’t know about. He is operationally efficient, and has flawless and relentless execution. His business is failing miserably, and he is on the verge of bankruptcy.

What’s the difference?

Even while friend No. 1 might operate sloppily and be somewhat inefficient, he is doing the right things in his business. That could be his UVP (Unique Value Proposition), business model/positioning, focus on sales and revenue, world-class customer service or attention, etc. He is excellent—where it counts.
My other friend is executing excellently in the wrong things. In other words, he is a Ferrari headed in the wrong direction.

Find your vital few.

I read a great book, Vital Factors, in which the authors suggest boiling down your business to the most essential “vital signs” that can tell you its health and success at any given moment. Just like with the body, I can ask how you are feeling, and you can say you have a headache, a sore knee, a hang nail on your pinkie, etc., but if you are in intensive care the only things that matter are your vital signs—body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Those are the signs that tell us whether you are living or dying.

In a business, there are also vital signs that need to be monitored daily. They might not be as discernable as revenue, margin and profit if you can’t measure those numbers daily in your business. You need to determine the daily functions that drive those ultimately important statistics. Maybe its click-throughs, site visits, shopping cart transactions or average price per order. Maybe it’s the number of calls made, appointments set, presentations delivered and purchase orders issued.

The key is to figure out the daily vital signs for you and your business. Those functions should drive your weekly vital statistics, then your monthly, quarterly and annual ones. Now all (80+ percent) of your time, energy and creative capacity need to go, exclusively, to activities that directly drive those numbers.

Learn to value your time to produce your worth.

Let me give you another perspective for the reason to focus strictly on what drives your vital statistics and your resulting income.

Let’s say you want to earn $150,000 a year. That’s about $3,000 per week, $600 per day and at least $60 per hour, thus $15 every 15 minutes and $5 every 5 minutes. That means if you spend 15 minutes chatting with a co-worker in the hallway, begin working 15 minutes later than you should, take 15 minutes extra at lunch, you need to pull a $10 and $5 bill out of your wallet—it costs you $15, each and every time. Over the course of a month, a quarter and a year, you can see how that can drastically erode your earnings outcome.

Correspondingly, every hour of your focused work time ask yourself, “Is what I am doing right now going to produce me $60 in income?” If not, you are likely working on ineffective activities, not those that drive your vital factors.

When I gained this perspective and wanted to earn an income much greater than the analogy above, I became vigilant about the value of my time and the value of strictly focusing on what was most effective for driving my vital statistics.

My recommendation to you: Determine your core vital factors (three to six statistics) for your business annually. Revenue and net income will certainly be factors. Now break down that number quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. Now you have perspective on the productive financial output you and your business need to be responsible for each hour to reach your annual goal.

Next, take your daily vital factors and figure out the exact few functions and behaviors responsible for driving those vital factors. Now be sure that you spend most of your time on those functions. Most everything else can be ignored, forgotten or remain inefficient, as those things are mostly distractions from what’s responsible for your success.

Learn some useful insights? Know anyone else who might benefit from these tips? Be a pal and help a friend – send them a link to join us on the 12-Step program to Personal Transformation:

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  2. Chris Owen says:

    Thanks for HEARING Darren. I appreciate you exploring the problem!

  3. Cari says:

    I have historically been the task master each and every day, yet I am spinning my wheels on the ride of huge success. I’ve been a classic example of successfully failing on the major things by being a task master of the minor things. Identifying core vital statistics and creating vivid, precise goals they are measuring is now a functioning part of our business.

    Thank you for encouraging all to think more.

  4. Anirudh says:

    hey darren,

    i am just loving this 12 step process !

    i really never thought whether i was doing the wrong things right and this article has definitely been an eye opener in more ways than one.



    [FROM DARREN HARDY] Appreciate your enthusiasm Anirudh!!

  5. Jerry says:

    Great information especially needed in these difficult times. Keep up the good work, it’s being produced by exceptional effort which is very appreciated, I am sure by your readership.

    Your Biggest Admirer

  6. Bill Gross says:

    Wow, this is an amazing journey. I do not consider myself a workaholic, so I started reading this series half-heartedly. But the material applies to anyone trying to increase their effectiveness, especially this 3rd installment. Amazing material so far. Thanks so much for giving me what I always ask for, what do I do once I read the magazine cover-to-cover (the first day I get it) and finish the CD/DVD?

    Your loyal fan in Los Angeles

  7. Jack L says:

    I am really enjoying the Success Magazine and this blog. Keep up the great work. I am telling all my friends about it. Look forward to seeing the effect on my business.

  8. Chris says:

    Some great wisdom and real action-inspirations in this article. I’m really enjoying this series. You’ve definitely got me thinking about what i can do to track my business daily

    BUT PLEASE can you set your blog so that the whole post can be read in RSS feeds?
    I use Feed Demon to maximise the benefit of reading the blogs I really like but minimise the time spent clicking around!! All I get of your blog is 3 lines and then I have to click open your whole blog to read the rest.
    My usual policy is to unsubscribe from blogs that do what you are doing as it feels like I am being manipulated to be exposed to sales stuff.
    I believe that if what you’re saying is of benefit then your are already priming your prospects for sales based on quality relationships and highly credible information and wonderful ways to demonstrate to your clients that you are an expert.
    So why try to force a sales approach to the blog when you have such great information to share?
    Thanks for listening to both positive and negative feedback

    [FROM DARREN HARDY] Hi Chris! That is standard set up for Feedburner, not sure it can even be done a different way. I will have someone look into it.

  9. Craig Vollan says:

    Hello Mr. Hardy,

    I’m a big supporter of the Success mag-talk about it every chance I get and even had the Chamber watch one of the DVD’s.

    Wonderful content!

    Craig Vollan

  10. Bob Silcox says:

    Darren; I am a great supporter of your Mag and the CD’s/DVD’s I love your program keep them coming!! How do I this complete program of all 12 steps?
    Please advise.

    Bob Silcox

    [FROM DARREN HARDY] Hello Bob! Just keep checking back. The best way to insure you get updated when new posts are put up is to subscribe to the blog (in upper right).

  11. Brad says:

    I have often heard of placing a value on your time and focusing you efforts only on the tasks that “pay” you back in equivalent value, however I appreciate your spin on this concept. I particularly like the vital statistics concept. While I know the vital statistics of my business, I need to spend my time focusing on making sure my employees (my #1 priority) understand and take ownership of them as well. This will enhance my efficiency and productivity.

    This is a great process Darren, on to step 4!!!

  12. Bonnie Hanson says:

    Dear Darren,

    Thanks for another incredible article!

    I have been breaking the cycle of ‘doing the wrong things well’ by questioning how I spend my time. It makes a huge difference to set a value to your time and invest it (on the critical issues) rather than spend it (frivilously). Breaking it down into dollars per minute for us truly helps bring the value of time into sharper focus.

    To help stay focused throughout the day, I refer to simple reminders. “Be excellent where it counts” will be a great check in tool for me!

    By using the Slight Edge, working systematically, moving forward with focused energy (in spite of whatever the universe sends my way!), as I put one foot in front of the other, I know without a doubt that I will reach my goals.

    Looking forward to Step 4!

    All the Best,
    Bonnie Hanson

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  2. [...] Index: INTRO, Step 1, 1b, 2, 3, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 9b, 10, 10b, 11, 12 [...]

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  4. [...] your creative intelligence to air itself out. More on moving from efficiency to effectiveness in Step 3. Additionally, in my book Designing Your Best Year Ever I provide a weekly Achievement Planning [...]

  5. [...] I calculated my time-value worth, and I have spent each hour of each day since then on activities of equal or greater value. (In Step3) [...]

  6. [...] I calculated my time-value worth, and I have spent each hour of each day since then on activities of equal or greater value. (In Step3) [...]