“I’m bored.” When’s the last time you said that? I bet not too long ago.
If you give me 4 minutes, I’ll tell you why that’s a bad sign.
In the past, I always looked at other people for answers. When you’re little, your school teachers tell you what to do every day. The system is valid for primary school, high school, college, university.
It’s always one person who tells a group what to do. What does that do to people?
School systems train us to be passive. And after we get out of school, nothing really changes. When I had my first job, I listened to my boss about what to do.
And when I started my first business with my dad, I looked at him for answers.
Are you currently in a good mood or a bad mood?
Now, let me ask you another question: How is your day? I bet that you’re having a bad day if you’re in a bad mood, and a good day if you’re in a good mood.
That’s obvious, right? But here’s the thing; since it has such a big impact on the quality of our lives, why aren’t we managing our mood better? Because let’s face it, we shouldn’t let a bad mood ruin our day.
And yet, I never hear people about managing their mood. We all assume that our mood is influenced by outside factors. Things that we do not control.
Example of how Price’s Law works in a field/company with 100 people
At my first sales job, I had about 25 colleagues who did the same work. After the first month, I noticed something peculiar.
Only 4 of my co-workers brought in more than half of the total sales. I was 17 years old at the time, and I had no idea why that was. These folks were the superstars on the floor — the untouchables.
Little did I know that this relation holds true for almost everything in business. It’s called Price’s square root law, and it originates from academia.
Value Creation Is Not Symmetric
Derek Price, who was a British physicist, historian of science, and information scientist, discovered something about his peers in academia. He noticed that there were always a handful of people who dominated the publications within a subject.
Price found out the following (now called Price’s law):
What do you do when you feel tired or overwhelmed? Do you power through? Or do you take some time off?
In the past, I thought that you should always power through — no matter what. Now, I still think that way when it comes to life in general. You can’t quit taking care of yourself and your family.
A sense of responsibility is one of the most powerful motivators in life. But I’m not talking about a lack of motivation here.
I’m talking about taking time off work. But there’s still a massive taboo on taking time off. Some people think it’s for losers. Others think it’s about escaping your work.
After all, “If you love your work and life, why do you even need a break?”
The reason I research productivity is simple. I think that a productive life equals a happy life.
Also, if you’re more productive than average people, you’ll advance faster in your career. You learn more. You do more. And eventually are rewarded more.
And when I talk about productivity, I talk about being effective.
Because productivity doesn’t suggest that you get the right things done. It just means you get a lot of stuff done. But that’s not what matters.
Effectiveness, however, refers to getting the right things done.
And if you want to do your job well, earn money, live a meaningful life, or learn skills, that is what matters the most. Otherwise, you just run around in circles. You might appear busy, but you won’t achieve anything meaningful.
In other words: It’s easy to do useless work. Work that doesn’t bring you closer to the outcomes you desire.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading books, interviewing smart people, and having conversations with my mentors is that questions are more important than answers.
But that goes against everything you learn in school where you’re rewarded for the quality of your answers.
However, that’s not what you should judge a person on. Instead, look at the quality of a person’s questions, like Voltaire famously said:
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
And one of my friends who’s a consultant at one of the big three management consultancies, once told me that, “my job is to be ignorant.” He was referring to Peter Drucker, arguably one of the greatest management consultants of all time, who said: