A common mistake I've seen people make, and I've made a lot myself --
Thinking others will give the same care to your affairs that you would to theirs. It doesn't happen.
There's a quote from the Talmud, it's one of my favorite quotes and I think one of the most important:
"We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are."
On the surface, it's a simple quote. The optimists see the opportunities and the pessimists see the barriers.
But it also applies to things like integrity, people keep their word, carefulness, diligence, etc.
I've seen a lot of talented and focused people, time and time again, be disappointed in the results they get from other people.
Other people are actually perfectly reliable, as long as you've got the correct expectations and you structure things correctly. It's only when you start to expect unrealistic things and structure things poorly, that things don't work out well for you.
So bear this in mind next time you're delegating something to an employee, staff member, or even a skilled professional like an attorney, accountant, or doctor -- don't project your values and work ethic onto them.
A few people -- very few -- will do better work for others than they do for themselves and in their own life. To some extent this is cultural: Japanese people are more likely to act this way. It also relates to pride in work: people who see themselves as master craftsmen and love their craft are more likely to act this way. And some people have a particular honor code about it.
These are fantastic people to work with, and ought to be looked for. But even then, the assumption should be that a person will handle your affairs as well as they handle their own at best, and oftentimes slightly worse. So bear that in mind -- if you're focused and diligent, make sure to bring realistic measured expectations to table, and then you'll never be disappointed.
My co-founder is a counter-example. He always put effort into managing others' affairs meticulously. The funny thing is that he's a bit of a douche, so it's not a charity thing. More of a perfectionist/pride thing.
His care of the affairs of others ranges from setting up great company networks for friends (VPNs, DMZ, firewall, etc) to UX/design/progamming work for our clients to preparing business meetings with every detail taken care of (looks up what the other party's favorite food is) to even cleaning my toilet once. It was the cleanest that bathroom had ever been.
Needless to say, this man is very well trusted by everyone and readily given responsibility. I am sometimes in awe to work with him, and that he deems me worthy to work with him :p
The man who can truly motivate, discipline, and work himself to 100% of his productive capacity is rare. It's hard to estimate the number, because I don't know anyone that truly sustains that level of performance day-in and day-out.
What percent of people do that?
It's hard to say. If you were working as focused and as hard as you could, very consistently, you'd hit the upper reaches of your growth curve and stay on it. Yet, when you benchmark performance, you see that most people are not doing as well as they could be.
Crude metrics like sales calls, deals worked on, words written, features created, and so on, would show most people don't put in the focused effort they could.
Likewise, subjective ratings of effort on a daily basis would likely show the same thing. If you got down to the nitty-gritty of tracking time, the picture gets even bleaker. How many days do you actually put in a focused effort of 10+ hours without distraction or screwing around?
Last year, I did a Year In Review to sum up and show my growth throughout 2012.
A few days ago, I planned on doing something similar for this year. But then, I wondered to myself about whether this year would really be considered a success or not. At first, I thought it would again be defined by running and Breakthrough, the same two subjects that summed up 2012 for me. Now yes those aren't the only two things I've done this year, but they have made significant impacts in 2013.
In March, I broke the sub-5 mile barrier in the mile. I had a rough cross-country season, but my state championship meet ended up going very well and I surpassed all expectations I had for myself. Currently, I'm in my senior year of high school and am training for what may be my last track season ever. I can say for a fact that I will be running faster times than I did last spring. I do have some ambitious goals I want to accomplish in this upcoming season, but even if they aren't reached, I know I have improved regardless. This year has solidified the fact that I'm going to continue to run after high school.
My experience with Breakthrough has also changed significantly. This summer, I got the opportunity to be a full-fledged teacher intern (I was a TA the summer before). Responsibilities increased tenfold and I had to deal with copious amounts of stress, but it was an enjoyable experience overall. I was able to bond with my students more and truly understood what it meant to be a teacher.