One of my clients has been setting the bar higher.
We’ve been working together for more than five years, and every week he’s shooting to get better.
Yet in the last couple of weeks he’s taken it to an entirely new level—his Summer of Getting Better.
Why Get Better?
For many people, getting better is mostly irrelevant to their success.
Even most the people I know in high paying jobs, so long as they show up every day and get done what they “need,” they’ll have a great career.
But my client is different.
He left one of those jobs years ago, and in his business today, if he doesn’t get better, he will FAIL.
I don’t write that to be dramatic, but factual.
He’s chosen a very hard game. Over years of constant improvement, he’s pulled ahead in his business, but he only keeps winning because he keeps getting better.
In his case, it’s simple—Get better or fail.
But That’s Not His Only Why
All of my clients are maniacs about their goals.
They’re not just goal-driven people. They are goal-driven people who every day want to show up their best.
They care very much about their goals, but they especially care about progressing them.
They want to be more focused. More energized. More skilled. They want to get more done in less time. They want to be more effective where it truly counts.
And most of all, they want to get to the end of the day and feel like they left it all on the desk…
As my client put it, “There’s nothing better than feeling like I really moved this place forward.”
Moving it Forward
Ahead of his summer vacation in mid-August, my client intends to get in the best business shape of his life.
For the last few months we’ve been focused on three key areas, and he’s resolved to train like Rocky and head out on vacation feeling like he really earned it.
When I spoke to him last Friday, he was as excited as my mum in an M&M’s store.
He’d made a ton of progress last week and he was eager to talk about how things were coming together.
Now, there’s something crucial that I point out here—When we spoke, he started by saying, “Look, it’s not like we’ve been driving better results, but…”
It’s not about that. Yet. He knows the results come as he keeps getting better and better.
The title of famed football coach Bill Walsh’s book on excellence says it all, “The Score Takes Care of Itself.”
3 More Turns of The Screw
One of my good buddies introduced me to that phrase years ago.
It’s pretty self-evident, right? Basically it means, no matter how good you are, no matter how tightly you think you’ve turned the screws, why not see if you can give it another 3 turns?
Again, as I pointed out earlier, for many people that’s simply unnecessary. They can “win” in their jobs just by showing up, but my client is playing a different game.
He’s battened down the hatches and turned the screws tight, yet as he keeps sailing his business through the high seas, he must keep tightening those screws.
These are three screws he’s tightening in his Summer of Getting Better.
1. Up and At Em’
My client is up at 4:30, in his cold shower, and at his desk by 5:30 most days.
Notice I wrote “most days.” Well, part of his Summer of Getting Better is eliminating the cheat days.
Although he’s roughly hit that schedule for years, he’s focused on hitting it very precisely—zero time from alarm to bouncing out of bed. Zero time waste at home (e.g. checking email). Zero tolerance for “cutting himself some slack.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s not being this way through force and discipline. He’s choosing to be this way because he’s focused on winning, but most of all, he loves how it makes him feel.
Starting his day with vigor, he feels like he’s already winning. And this feeling carries into every aspect of his day and life.
2. Eating Frogs, Building Momentum
In the last few months I’ve written extensively about daily routines. That of course wasn’t by coincidence but because I’ve been extremely focused on optimizing these processes for myself and my clients.
You are what you repetitively do, and there’s nothing more important to having great days than getting started right.
Like a Formula One driver off the grid, if you can get out in front of the other drivers and to the first corner you can pull ahead of the pack, and starting right, your day feels the same.
It’s all in the mind, but the mind is ALL.
And when you can look back mid-morning feeling like you’ve already crushed your day, you have incredible momentum to carry you.
I will say, it doesn’t matter what time you start your day. Whether you’re getting started at 6:00am or 10:30am, what matters most is that you IMMEDIATELY dive into those highest priority tasks that build momentum for you.
Inevitably, those tasks are your frogs.
They are those things that if given the chance you will try to avoid. They are perhaps the hardest things in your day. And they are the things that you will waste time on low value junk (e.g. email, news) to avoid diving into.
In my client’s case, his goal is to spend 2 hours on those hardest tasks before 7:30am. Then, he gives himself a breather to take a quick pass through email (and other time sensitive but lower value tasks) before he resets for his day.
3. 80/20 Actions
I’m fascinated by the Pareto or 80/20 Principle.
While it sounds like an old wives tale or rule of thumb (e.g. 20% of your customers account for 80% of your revenues), it’s considered to be a natural law through which all resources converge, including how you use your time.
Hence, if 20% of your actions drive 80% of your results, then the trick is to get absolutely clear on what those 80/20 actions are…
And, then… train yourself to be exceptional about how you put your time into them.
Unfortunately, there’s a hard problem in doing this.
Just like that resistance which keeps people in bed hitting snooze. And the resistance to diving into eating that first frog. And the resistance many people face in doing any exercise, our brains often do their best to avoid doing the things that we perceive matter the most.
We’ve all experienced this, and the trick is, as is the case with my client—RESIST THE RESISTANCE.
You want to get clear on what matters, plan your day, and then, literally, every minute become more and more masterful at working your plan.
Even if you don’t want to schedule your day, you want to time box it. You want to be very clear on what time is “acceptable” to put into what tasks, and hone your focus.
Not About “Hard Work”
Look, if I’m honest, none of this is easy to do, and it really comes back to why you want to live this way:
It’s about how you feel—is there any greater feeling than shutting your eyes at night feeling like you really went after it today?
It’s about loving the game—you might not feel like you’re “winning” every day, but who doesn’t want to just love playing the game?
And, in the end, it’s about results—for people playing easier games, getting better makes it far more rewarding, but for those of you playing hard games, you must get better to win!