“There are moments in my life, both work and personal, that can be best described as ‘hammer time.’ I accomplish great things, I stay focused, I do the hard work and achieve the solid focus it takes to bring me closer to my long-term goals and those of my company. The rest of my life, and I would suggest most people’s lives, is spent in some sort of daily daze, reading e-mails, getting stuck in traffic and going to meetings that are in some ways diversions from committing to total hammer time. And the long-term goals that stand in front of me suddenly become impossible tasks that can’t be tackled now.”
These are the words of a corporate executive who was asked to describe his experience and understanding of personal episodes of extraordinary productivity. However mysterious, we all experience them from time to time. We are more focused, organized, efficient, driven and self-directed. Our personal productivity soars.
Understanding the process by which hammer time occurs and translating that into effective learning is a front-line mission for CLOs. Increasing productivity is fundamentally an engagement issue that involves a four-step process:
Step 1: Extraordinary clarity on the mission and its link to core personal values. This is engaging the spirit. Two things are important here: understanding precisely what the mission is, and connecting the mission to something one deeply cares about. If either of these is not clearly established, the cycle of extraordinary productivity is not likely to occur.
Step 2: Extraordinary precision in the focus of energy. This is engaging the mind. The important issue here is great precision and clarity on where to focus your energy at every moment of the mission. Issues of time management, mental preparation and precise scheduling are critical considerations.
Step 3: Extraordinary effort to recruit hope-filled, opportunity-based emotions in all aspects of the mission. This is engaging the heart. Hammer time requires that your heart be in the mission. The full ignition of employee talent and skill occurs best in the presence of positive, opportunity-based emotions. Hammer time is more likely to occur when the mission is perceived as an adventure and when one possesses hope and confidence in success.
Step 4: Extraordinary effort to ensure ample physical energy reserves for the mission. This is engaging the body. Hammer time does not occur when one is exhausted, sleep deprived, burnt out or nutritionally deficient. Issues of sleep, hydration, movement, exercise, nutritional intake and rest are foundational to sustained extraordinary productivity.
The same four-step formula we used to facilitate increases in personal productivity could also be used to facilitate personal change. As CLOs recognize, personal change is the goal of all learning. According to the four-step model, the first step in the change process is identifying precisely what one wishes to change (the mission) and linking the change to core values. The second step is establishing great clarity on when and where energy must be invested for the change to occur. The third step is sustaining hope and confidence that the change will in fact occur, and the fourth is making sure that one has ample physical energy reserves available to drive the change.
As human beings, we perform best and make changes most effectively when we have a clearly defined mission before us that really matters, when we understand precisely when and where to invest our energy, when we derive fuel from positive, hope-filled emotions and when our energy reserves are nearly full. Once this four-step process is fully understood, the challenge for CLOs is to design and implement learning systems that spawn sustainable, transformational work cultures. The process begins by applying the four steps to one’s own life.
Jim Loehr and Jack Groppel are co-founders of LGE Performance Systems. Both are pioneers in the field of performance science and have coached thousands of people in business, law enforcement, health care, education and sport. E-mail Jim and Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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