The times we live in are very unusual times. The scope and rate at which technology is advancing is breathtaking. At the same time, the human population has witnessed and is witnessing an unprecedented population explosion. This means many more mouths to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and provide medicare for. Consequently the scarce resources available will be fiercely contested for by all and sundry. Probably in no other sphere of our lives as human beings will this effect be more noticed than in the area of work and employment. Thus the question is this: amidst the teeming mass of humanity how do I stand out from the crowd? How do I get the edge or competitive advantage? What is my unique selling point that separates me from the pack? How can I perform better, or get better results? In short how do I become efficient and effective?
Efficiency has to do with quality, how well am I able to do my work? (Whether as an employee or an entrepreneur) Effectiveness on the other hand has to do with the (kind of) results produced. So it is of utmost importance to know how to be more efficient and more effective.
The following are seven steps which can enable us become more efficient and more effective namely:
- Be a self-starter
- Work with the final objective in mind
- Follow a logical approach
- Cooperation, not confrontation
- Communicate (effectively) with clarity
- Harness the potentials of others
- Improve yourself
Be a self-starter
In the world of today, and similarly throughout human history it has been discovered that opportunities do not always come to those that wait on the sidelines. More often than not they are created from circumstances by those who attack. By and large most people wait for perfect conditions (which may never come). A wise man once said “…I will find a way or I will make one.’ Therefore rather than wait for situations and circumstances to dictate the pace, initiate action. One of the laws of science i.e. Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states that an object continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion unless compelled by an external force to act otherwise. What this simply means is that an object (or thing) will remain wherever it is unless an external force compels it to move. Likewise an object (or thing) will continue to move unless compelled by an external force to stop. This tendency is s true of human beings. Unless most people are forced to take action, they remain in their present state of inaction or inactivity. Likewise unless people are forced to stop by adverse or painful circumstances they usually hurtle on to their destruction. Both of these states can easily be seen in the lives of numerous people. A certain individual (say case A) due to poor upbringing exhibits indolent behavior believing he can live off inherited family wealth, will receive the shock of his life when lack and penury come knocking at the door. The pain of want, many a times forces him to rethink his position and take steps to engage in more profitable activity. Another individual (case B) on the other hand abuses himself with harmful drugs thus ruining his physical constitution. Faced with the prospect of ruined health and impending death he is usually compelled to seek external aid in order to quit the dangerous habit. The truth is that the power of self-determination lies in our hands. We can decide to choose by the grace and help of God to live a better life. We can decide to take our destiny into our own hands because we have the power of choice. So rather than allow the environment to control us we can choose how we will respond to external stimuli. We should avoid being reactionary but proactive.
Work with the final objective in view
Someone once said that ‘… the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.” We must undertake every endeavor with the final objective in view. What exactly is it that we hope to achieve? We must aim at our target so to speak. We must form, build and fortify the habit of propelling ourselves in the direction of our chief cardinal goal. Irrelevant activities must be cut off and distractions (which are inevitable) must be managed and pruned. We must learn to lead ourselves if we hope to produce tangible results. As long as we have our eyes on the target we cannot stray. In line with the biblical injunction we must place our hands on the plow of destiny and not look back.
Follow a logical approach
Once we have our overall objective in view, we must fashion out a road-map to get us there. How do I get from point A to point B? What steps do I need to take? In what order do I take the steps that I must take to get to my goal. How do I organize myself such that I clearly define my activities? The point here is one step at a time. We must learn to follow a prescribed logical order in the implementation of our projects, plans and activities. A methodical approach keeps us focused, avoids dissipation of energy, helps us do the right things in the right ways and at the right times.
Cooperation not confrontation
To forge ahead in life we must learn to cooperate with others, as they are vital to our success. No man whether living, dead or yet to be born has ever attained success in isolation. Someone, somewhere, at some time, in so many ways stood upon the shoulders of giants preceding him or her before they were able to attain the present giant status. Indeed there is nothing new under the sun, thus everyone of necessity must build on the foundation laid by others. Presently, much more than ever before, we need the input of other individuals. Everyone around you knows something you do not know. Everyone around you has something you do not have. Everyone around you has skills you do not have, knowledge you have not attained and experience you do not possess. Therefore a wise man would seek to involve others or work hand in hand with them to achieve his goals. Conversely since everyone also lacks something and is looking for something, it would not be far-fetched to say everyone else needs you as badly as you need them. Thus everyone stands to gain from mutual assistance and coming together. Consequently, rather than following a confrontational approach in which one party wins while the other loses or both parties lose, adopt a cooperative approach in which both parties bring something to the table and take away something for themselves.
Communicate with clarity
Anyone can choose to become more efficient and effective. One of the vital aspects of increased efficiency and effectiveness is communication. To communicate means to “make known” or to “share opinions”. We all must, by virtue of the world we live in, relate with one another. In other words we must interact at work, play, home, church or wherever. Communication which is done with clarity helps to develop, maintain, secure and cement all such interaction. We must know first in order to be known; we must be willing to share our opinions with others and in turn listen to their opinions which they share with us. If we get adequate accurate information from others we would be more likely to draw equally accurate conclusions.
Harness the potentials of others
We must learn to value, seek and encourage the input of others. This is because in line with biblical admonition “… two are better than one”; while one can chase a thousand, two can chase not two thousand as we would expect but ten thousand. This reveals to us in a nutshell, a great secret: namely the output that results from the combination of potentials of more than one or a single individual is greater than the output that would result from the individual potentials of the various individuals.
The potentials of others when brought to bear in combination with our potentials produce a multiplier effect. In other words we can produce more in combination than in isolation. Indeed no man is an island; a tree alone cannot make up a forest.
We must learn to improve ourselves. We are either dynamic (moving) or static (stationary), either living or dying, either progressing or retrogressing, either going forward or moving backward, growing or stagnating. We as humans do not live in a frozen state; therefore we cannot live in a vacuum. We are either improving or degrading. Every sphere, every aspect of our lives craves development and expression. Anything less than this leads to lack of fulfillment; thus it is incumbent upon us to find every possible means and way of enhancing our self-development. We must seek to improve ourselves by learning, which can take several forms:
Learning new skills
Learning new ways
Learning new habits
Learning new behavior
Learning new techniques
Learning new attitudes
Learning new methods
Learning new things
Not only must we learn, we must apply or implement what we have learnt. We must integrate and inculcate it into the mainstream of our existence, because this is the only way it would become part and parcel of us. Every part of our lives: mental/physical/social/spiritual needs rejuvenation and re-invigoration from time to time.
We must continue to grow till we die
We must continue to develop till we die
We must continue to change till we die
We must continue to advance till we die
Indeed we must continue to improve till we die.
You must strive to find ways of increasing your personal efficiency and effectiveness. This is the key to success and achievement in personal life generally as well as in all fields of endeavor.