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One Question to Ask Yourself To Become More Productive

Sep 30, 2020

A few years back, I had the pleasure of experiencing Ben Hunt-Davis’s speak. He was brought in to a management event while I was working for Just Eat and his story was truly inspiring.

Ben Hunt-Davis’ along with the rest of the GB Eight rowing team, competed in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games. In short, in both of those events, they missed out on getting gold in the Olympics. They had four years to get ready for the next one. When the team next met to discuss the strategy, obviously they wanted ways in which they could make things better the next time around.

“We need to train harder this time”, “We didn’t work smart enough” were the sort of things they came up with initially. But these were technically all the things they had tried before. In the end, they came up with the idea that truly changed the way they worked towards the next Olympic games.

They found a way to test themselves. One simple way to unify every action they would take for the next four years. They found a question, a question they could ask themselves with every single decision, conversation and action that they took from that moment onwards. What was this question that they asked?

Quite simply, it was this:

Will it make the boat go faster?’

The concept was simple. To win the race, the boat had to travel faster than every other boat. So asking themselves that question every time was a sure-fire way to make sure they focused on this single goal. 

One of the great examples Ben gave was when he chatted about the Olympic opening ceremony. As you could imagine, going to the Olympics is a big deal. Not many times you get to experience something like that. Being part of the Olympic ceremony itself is a huge highlight and something that most competitors would go to without question. When it came to it, however, they asked themselves that question. “Would it make the boat go faster?” The answer was no, so they choose not to take part.

Well, as you may know, it all paid off. In the Olympic Sydney games in the year 2000, Ben Hunt-Davis and the rest of the GB Eight rowing team won the gold medal, The first time a British crew have won this event since 1912. A remarkable achievement and a great example of what you can achieve, with a common goal and some good old fashioned discipline.

This talk stayed with me, and ever since then, it is something that I apply to all the goals that I have. No matter what you’re working towards, if you know what you are aiming for you if you can get this down to one simple question you can ask yourself, you can start to work much more focused than you were before. 

Let’s say you have a service-based business, and the most significant thing you need right now today is customers? Asking yourself, “Is this going to bring me customers?’ is a simple way to figure out if what you are what you should be working on.

Now don’t get me wrong, in business what you need to focus on changes daily, if not more often, especially when you are starting out. You can have many hats to wear, everything from sales, marketing, customer service, operations to finance and accounting. But understanding what these clear goals are, and questioning what it is you are doing will very quickly help you figure what’s essential and what isn’t.

Question EVERYTHING you are currently doing.

When I start working with clients, I ask lots and lots of questions. It’s the only way for me to get to the bottom of what the problems are. However, you can ask those questions to yourself. 

What is it you can ask yourself to make sure you are working on the right stuff? Questions such as"

“Do I NEED to do this today?”

“Is this MAKING A DIFFERENCE in my business?”  

“What can my TIME be better spent on?”

You’d be surprised at the amount of stuff we do because we feel we “have” to but has no value whatsoever. Equally, you could find you are focusing on stuff that’s in your comfort zone because it’s easy, and it makes you feel like you are working.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed right now and struggling to get a hold of everything, step back for a moment and figure out what is most important today and do that instead.

What is it that is going to make your boat go faster….?

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