The 3-Letter Word That Powers Success

success May 10, 2021
The 3-Letter Word That Powers Success

I want to talk to you about a three-letter word that is so powerful that I see a lot of people not really talking about it. We need to talk about it out in the open.

That word is why.

You probably say why a lot during the day. "Why is the traffic's so bad?" "Why is my Starbucks coffee not on time"? "Why is Uber Eats late"?" Why is my TV reception coming in poorly"? Why is my podcast not downloaded"? We're always asking why.

When I became a productivity expert way back in 2011, I was all about calendar apps and to-do lists and I notes app. And then I realized, I had to become a therapist or a psychologist because when clients come to me, the first thing I would ask them when they tell me all the problems was, "that's interesting. Why is that? Why is this going on? Tell me about that."

And when I ask people the why question, they got really quiet because they hadn't thought about it in a long time. "Yeah, why am I always late"? "Why do I have 5 million things on my to-do list that I never do?" "Why don't I do X, Y, and Z?"

Think right now about a situation that is affecting your productivity. Maybe you're always late or you don't sleep well. Perhaps you're eating processed foods because Uber Eats. Look, if you're on Uber Eats Christmas card list, you may have a problem. 

Think right now about one issue you're having with your productivity. What is that one thing?

Now, here's what I want you to do: think about why. And don't just say, "Oh, good question, Mark. I like it." I don't want to do that. What I want you to do is grab a piece of paper or a notebook and a pen. I don't want to do this electronically. It's really important you do this with pen and paper in your own handwriting. When you do, this exercise will really resonate with you. When you're doing this exercise on your phone, it's only half resonating with you.

At the top of the page, write down the challenge you just came up with: you're always late, you spend too much time on social media or gaming, whatever your one thing is. Write that item at the top of your list. Then start asking yourself, why? Why are you not doing this? Or why is this an issue?

Sit with yourself. Don't try to do this in a hurry. Give yourself at least 30 minutes. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, disable vibration mode, and put your phone upside down. Better yet, go in your backyard or go to a park without your phone, just be quiet and just think about your why.

When you get to your why, why you're not doing something, it's going to be so powerful to you. If you just do this one thing, I promise it will change your life.

We are living life in warp speed. We are go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. We are going so fast that life is a blur. It's one of the reasons why I read a print book. I actually read books slowly, not because I can't read fast. I read books slowly because I want to immerse myself in the book, I used to be one to read as fast as I could to get through the book so I could get to the next book. Then I decided at the end of 2020 that for 2021, I'm still going to track how many books I read but I'm not going to worry about the number. I'm going to be really intentional about picking the books I want to read. And I'm just going to immerse myself in the books. I really enjoy reading so much that I read it for at least an hour every day.

Your homework, your marching orders: stop and think about the one productivity, one challenge you're having. It doesn't matter what it is. Just pick one and do this exercise. Remember to do it on a piece of paper in pen. Go someplace quiet and meditate on why you are struggling with it. And you may have seven different whys, you may have 12, you may have five whys. The number doesn't matter. Just write.

When you're done, you should have some revelations on how you can overcome the challenge you picked out. Then pick another one and do the exercise again. This works. Just use paper and a pen. Don't try to do it electronically.

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