There’s an effectiveness hater inside you. Which one?

I’m very excited to begin a new series of articles that will help you transform your personal effectiveness and rethink your approach to productivity.

However, there is a problem. Unless we deal with the hidden “effectiveness hater” inside us, we’ll never get our feet off the brakes and growth will be impossible.

In this article, I reveal the 4 major “effectiveness haters” and ask you a simple question: Which of these internal voices speak loudest to you, and are you ready to ignore those voices in pursuit of greater impact?

Cracking the code on effectiveness

I’ve explained before why systems beat tactics every time. So rather than tell you a specific set of tactics to implement, in this series of articles I’m going to crack the code on effectiveness and productivity and give you the building blocks you need to get the system that works for you.

The benefits of increased effectiveness are clear:

  • You start living on the “front foot” and get people off your back
  • You increase your personal capacity and get more done when needed
  • You achieve your goals more rapidly and create more margin in your life
  • Most importantly, you gain clarity, confidence, focus and presence

The 4 effectiveness haters

However, there is a pitfall that may stop us from enjoying all these benefits of being more productive and effective.

Mindset. In the immortal words of Chicken Run, “it’s all in your head, Mr. Tweedy!

I did a quick poll with some colleagues on their use of email and their use of to-do lists. These are all senior professionals whom I respect greatly.  However, in talking to them I discovered four types of mindset that shut off any chance of them getting better in these areas.

I see these mindsets as “efficiency haters” – voices we listen to that can shut off learning and development and leave us stuck in our current way of doing things.

Here are the four efficiency haters. I wonder which one you listen to the most?

1. The $1 hammer carpenter

Don’t be the carpenter wielding a $1 hammer. Let me explain.

I’m not a great home improvement fan. I see Do-It-Yourself as an evil scheme to waste weekends and not a pleasure. And so, if I absolutely need a new tool, I’m likely to buy the $1 hammer in the local supermarket.

Yes, it’s cheap. Yes, it’s nasty. Yes, it will break within minutes. But it gets the immediate task done.


Of course, if I was a professional carpenter, I’d not buy the $1 hammer. I’d buy the $100, titanium-reinforced, shock-absorbing one with a lifetime guarantee … because it’s the tool of my trade.

Too many people are acting like carpenters with $1 hammers! Because our personal effectiveness system is a key tool of our trade, whatever our trade. And, indeed, a key tool of our life. But too many people make excuses that they can’t afford the investment to upgrade their “hammer”.

The biggest excuse? “I don’t have the time”. So instead they make do with an ineffective approach. This reduces their personal capacity for impact, means any meaningful goal takes longer to achieve, and creates frustration and fatigue.

Carpenter, get the proper hammer for the job.

2. The 5-day ski god

Don’t be the beginner skier who thinks he has it together after a few days. The intermediate who thinks of himself as an expert.

This is the voice saying “my system works for me”.

Now, I think it’s great that you’ve figured out a workable approach. Indeed, most of us have. But there is a big difference between getting down the mountain in one piece and in skiing it with ease and grace!

And let’s face it, we don’t always ski with style.


None of us can be complacent with our current approach to effectiveness and productivity. None of us choose the right things to focus on all the time. Me neither: I admit, I do fall off the productivity wagon from time to time!

I think we can all do with tuning up our personal effectiveness system.

3. The Windows 95 user

This is the voice that says “changing my habits sounds like a hassle”.

But imagine being stuck on Windows 95 because moving to a modern operating system felt like too much of a hassle.

Or sticking with your 15 year old Nokia rather than your Android or iPhone.

Or sending a telegraph rather than an email.


This is not a point about technology. It’s just the observation that learning new habits requires time and effort. But staying stuck in less effective habits and using less efficient approaches requires much more time and effort overall!

4. The paint-by-numbers Picasso

This is the voice that says “I’ve tried it all before”.

I understand. There’s so much material on productivity out there that you could dump it all into the Pacific ocean and form a new continent with it. You’ve probably read, tried and failed with all sorts of approaches and tools.

However: much productivity and effectiveness material focuses on tactics and gimmicks. The result is we try different approaches but nothing seems to stick.


It’s like an artist who is told to paint-by-numbers, but finds the resulting piece of artwork less than satisfactory. Instead, the artist needs to learn the fundamental techniques and principles. Once internalised and mastered, these can be applied or indeed discarded as the art dictates.

So in this series of articles I am going to take a different approach and start with proven principles. Once we internalise the principles, it becomes much easier to flex our actual systems and tools as needed.

To switch to a sporting metaphor: if you know the rules of the game, you can adjust your gameplay as required; if all you have been taught are set pieces, it’s easy to be thrown off track.

What are you going to do about it?

So, there we have four voices that can hold us back from pursuing increased impact. Which one do you gravitate towards?

  • The $1 hammer carpenter, who refuses to invest in the tools of his trade?
  • The 5-day ski god, who’s muddling by and doesn’t see the potential to grow?
  • The Windows 95 user, whose disinterest in more advanced approaches keeps him at a lower productivity level?
  • The paint-by-numbers Picasso, who is fed up of the froth, and sceptical that there really is something deeper to learn in mastering the art of effectiveness?

Whichever voice you gravitate towards, are you ready to set that aside for a while and come on a journey into effectiveness with me?

Why not leave a comment and let me know which resonates most?

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