Yesterday in "Prioritizing" I wrote -
I think most people are at, maybe, 10% of their max capability. Probably more like 2%. That’s where most of my life I’ve been. Lately I’m near 40-50%? It’s intense. Better technology, better coordination, better planning are all necessary.
It didn't occur to me as anything important at the time - just a line thrown into a post on prioritizing. A few people have mentioned it -
Your 2% vs. 50% comment struck me as interesting.
Do you have experience being 2% productive? It would be interesting to hear from you exactly how you are different.
Sure, I have experience being at 2% of my max capability - note that I didn't call it "productive," I said "max capability" - there's a subtle difference.
But if you want to think about it, don't start at the bottom of the ladder.
Start at the top.
Think about one of the most expansive well-rounded days you've ever had.
Maybe you've had a day like that. You woke up, felt amazing, maybe read or worked a little creatively before breakfast, and had an inspired breakfast by yourself or with someone you really like and respect.
You connected with some people you like working with, and the ideas were just flowing - BAM BAM BAM, you cover three weeks' worth of ground in a few hours. You find an elegant solution to what was a tough roadblock. Before lunchtime, you've already accomplished more in that day than you did in the whole last month.
In the afternoon, a couple things you've had percolating come together - you finally get a chance to connect with someone you're going to do a huge business deal with, or you help put an inspirational event together - maybe a charity or educational event.
It's not even dinnertime. You have dinner with someone you really care about - maybe your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse. It's magnificent, everything is good. You're in such a wonderful mood that everyone around you smiles. You get great service, treat everyone well, get treated well.
Maybe you go to some event in the evening, or maybe you relax quietly at home. Either way, you don't want to sleep because you'd prefer the day to never end. But when you sleep, you sleep very well.
Most people have a day like that... how often? Once a year? Once every three years?
What if you could get a place where it was happening a couple times a month?
What if you could string a week of days like together in a row?
What if you were having quality similar to "the best day of your life" pretty regularly?
Maybe not every day. But pretty damn regularly?
It seems possible to me. Every day - create art and pioneer creative projects, act in an enterprising way to distribute all the valuable things you're doing, connect with great people, train your mind, treat people well, serve people, have everyone do right by you, have things go just absolutely fantastically.
What's "2% of max capacity"? It's everyday life. What's 50%? It's the best day you've ever had. What's 100%? I don't know, I haven't been up that far. By when you run at 50% for a a while in a row... man, it's just fantastic.
Great people are required to make it happen - you just can't do it alone. Lately I've been surrounded by such fantastic people in business, socially, everything. I'm waiting in a cafe for a really talented artist to show up that I'm distributing art for. The credit card machine wouldn't take my visa, and the Westernized Chinese girl in line just bought me a coffee. Turns out she's in the art world, invited me to a party tomorrow. Earlier I was working with a colleague on a big expansive business deal that should be both short and long-term lucrative. I'm listening to Tim Wu's "The Master Switch" on audiobook, which is just amazingly fantastic history of radio, television, telephone, and other information empires.
I spent the morning on the Longecity Forum researching new supplements to take. I'm going to start drinking more Rooibos tea. I just had the most painless visa-getting experience of my life since the firm I just joined paid a company to take care of it. One of the senior partners introduced me to his tailor, and I had a bunch of really beautiful stuff made for very low cost.
It's cyclical, y'know? You train your mind, you build good habits and a solid daily practice, you be very useful to people and connect with them. You work with the best tools, you work quickly and efficiently, you treat people well. You connect with people, help them, they help you, it's cyclical. People are the most important thing after starting to get your basic habits in order.
I'm hiring a lot of people lately. We're getting a new office up. Some of the people coming onboard are just fantastic, brilliant.
How long would it take, from scratch, to get to a point where you're having "best day of your life" twice a month? Maybe, like, 20 months. Maybe shorter if you're smarter or more disciplined or faster than me (all of which you quite possibly are, I'm not all that bright nor do I have particularly high natural willpower; I also used to be extremely slow at decisionmaking and implementation and had to train that up - you could go faster than me if you were already good at it).
I think most people don't realize how much is possible. Actually, today is a relatively slow day compared to the recent days before this. Maybe I'm at 10% of my max capability today. Much, much more is possible. Have you ever stopped and reflected on that? Why can't you have a really fantastic life consistently?
Maybe every day being amazing would be a stretch. But at least half of them? Yeah, that wouldn't take very long. Build your habits, do things that matter, learn a lot, connect with great people, treat everyone well, be very useful. The rest - using technology to make your life easier, scheduling well, things like that - those are just details.
Build habits, do things that matter, learn a lot, connect with great people, treat everyone well, be useful. That should get you from 2% of your max capability up to around 50% or so.
So this has now been added to my daily routine/tracking system (loosely based on yours). Each night I need to answer "% capacity". I've only been doing it for a few days now so I doubt it's too accurate, though still, a 40% day (a few days ago) is something compared to a 15% day (today) even if the numbers are off a bit.
Again, helpful for the self accountability.
Great post.. I used to moderate a group of entrepreneurs when I lived in Berlin and someone from the facebook group just posted this. I've been building up to a greater capacity over the last couple years. I haven't read the Full Engagement book that Nate suggested (yet, but I'm excited to now!) but I definitely think its a cycle. One of the other commenters said he's having trouble recreating these kinds of days on a constant basis.. well for me (and I imagine others as well) it works like this: I can have several in a row, but a break is always needed. I definitely agree with days of renewal activities. Work and rest.. you can't have one successfully without the other. Looking forward to reading more.
Best from LA, Melissa
Sebastian, interesting insight.
A few thoughts: Most people are going to ignore this concept of "not fully utilizing one's potential" prematurely because it's just very difficult to truly grasp it. I mean, it's difficult for me to grasp it.
How can you compare what a 50% (based on your scale) day would feel like, when you've spent 30+ years at an average of 2-5% ? It's like someone trying to compare what air-travel would look like BEFORE even electricity was invented.
I think the biggest key AND the most difficult element in this entire thing is: Great People. How does one surround themselves with great people? I think if you figure out how to satisfy JUST that element, everything else will take on it's natural course.
Thanks again for the post
I love this article man.
I like the idea of having some of these epic days, not just once a month. But why not, every week? Or every few days?
I believe it involves a complete alignment of everything in your life. I am working on aligning my internal world (things that are within my control - such as, the music I listen to, the movies I watch, the foods I eat, how often I excercise, getting good restful sleep, the vitamins I take, the friends I talk to) and then, I usually put out good energy into my external world - which causes good things to happen.
So for example, if I am in a good mood, I will interact with people in a way that will make them feel good too. Lately I have been getting a lot of "free swag" and the only explanation for it, is that I am making people feel good when I interact with them. The other day I forgot my wallet, and I didn't have the money to pay for a coffee and a muffin. The lady paused for a moment, and said: "don't worry about it" and she gave it to me for free. I was a bit shocked, we had chatted a bit beforehand, but nothing too major.
I am realizing that people are starved for connections. And when you have your life going well, and you put out a certain energy, people pick up on that, and they want to be part of it.
Lately things have been going well, but I am not operating nearly where I want to be. Today was a very productive day for me - got a ton of work done, and I am about to hit the gym. But it was maybe a 10% day or 15%.
In order to get to 40-50% range, I have to be firing on all cylinders and I have to very motivated about what I am working on.
First comment, so I'll start out by saying I've been really enjoying your ideas the last couple months- thanks for sharing.
Wonder if you've read the excellent book: The Power of Full Engagement: why managing energy not time is the key to high performance and personal renewal.
The authors talk about how we need to strategically recuperate following moments of pushing our limits - just like in exercise. It talks about building strength, endurance, resilience, and flexibility in all of our capacities (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional).
I like the idea of strategically interspersing an extremely productive day followed by day of renewal activities.
I'd also think optimizing our diet and sleep would play a big part in all this.
Great post, I was just this week going over what my perfect day, a concept that internet marketer Frank Kern made me aware of, would look and feel like.
I have scheduled a point at the end of the week to get my thoughts on this day down on paper. But I have found that by knowing what a perfect, full/happy/productive/fulfilling day looks like and what emotions it contains, I get this strange buzz whenever I feel one of these emotions during my day-today activities. The thought process is almost along the lines of "huh, so this must be what it feels like to experience my perfect day," even if it only lasts for a second.
It's great that you've put some thought behind reaching full, or higher levels, of capability - maybe it is possible to one day utilize 80%-100% of our brain capacity like in the movie 'limitless' and find bliss in operating like finely tuned machines.
You're absolutely right that a pull is required. Thank you. And, you are observing that max capacity is filled during the expansion, maintenance and world phases of your day, which is also interesting to me as I believe this only happens when they are done in order. That lazy morning in a coffee shop usually yields nothing, but this early evening I am going to a lecture and I can feel that I am likely to make interesting connections because I'm riding on a high of doing things all day.
Oh man, I sure do have such days. I'm amazed at how much I can do - everything seems simple, the actions are quick and correct. Then the next day I wake up all groggy and try to repeat it - no dice. No matter what I try, I can't have more than a day of this kind of productivity, and yes, it is 50% compared to the usual 2%. I've tried to do it - the most I could get was a week, but the following 6 days were like what, 10%?
The real question is how to always maintain that level of productivity, and I'm afraid I'll never find the answer. Maybe a combination of motivation + iron will/discipline, but I don't have either, especially when I need them the most...
Just got a comment on "Having Your Own Ethics is Lonely" by a reader. He asked one of the hardest questions about becoming successful - what happens when you're improving when your friends aren't?
I found this blog because I'm looking for advice. I've realized four years ago that I was unhappy with myself. I lived a poor, and dead end life. So I decided to look closely at my lifestyle and eliminate some bad habits and replace them with good ones. I also got a second job to make more money, and lived in relative poverty by choice. And it worked! I'm healthy financially and I've gotten a chance to learn anything I've wanted to know. I'm strong and smarter than I used to be. I think I know what God is, and everyday I work to be better than the day before. But, I can't connect with my old friends because they do all the things I dont want to be a part of any more, because they dont care to do well for themselves as much. In a way, to put it bluntly, they're not usefull to me. I'd rather make friends with people I truely admire and respect. I dont feel like I can tell them that I basically think they're bad people. They've done nothing to harm me personally, but I want nothing to do with them. What do you think?
Indeed, that's one of the hardest parts about becoming successful.
Most people don't like to change after they get established. If you improve quickly, it can upset and turn off old friends and cause breaks in friendship.
Perhaps the worst time is when you're still on a shaky ground with your old improvement. I remember one time, I was going through a super healthy kick. Lots of gym, weights, very clean and healthy diet. But with one of my buddies, we always ate junk food together when we got together. Pizza, chicken wings, burgers and fries, stuff like that.
"It just happened. Just like that. You know, one day I just had enough. No more! I haven't smoked a cigarette since then. That was three years ago."
Yeah, well, except it didn't happen just like that.
Here's how I think change really happens... and it's the same pattern that occurs all across the universe when anything new happens:
An idea is had. A heretic thought. Some inkling, some hint that maybe everything isn't as you thought it were.
It looks harmless at first. It's just an acorn of an idea. An acorn that will grow into a majestic oak that tears through concrete foundations.