Fast doesn’t guarantee first. Easy doesn’t mean lazy. Break out of the rat race and learn how to make life— and success— effortless.
Greg McKeown has dedicated his career to discovering why some people and teams break through to the next level— and others don’t.
The definitive treatment of this issue is addressed in Greg’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” This book challenges core assumptions about achievement to get to the essence of what really drives success.
Last year, Greg released another New York Times bestselling book, “Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most”— an empowering guide to achieving your goals that starts with a simple principle: not everything has to be so hard.
Aside from being a prolific writer, Greg is also the CEO of McKeown Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency headquartered in Silicon Valley. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Twitter, and Yahoo!.
I last interviewed Greg back in 2016 where we went on a deep dive into the practice of essentialism. This time, we delve into the mindset of effortlessness: why easy doesn’t mean lazy, how to overcome the inertia to get started, and more. Tune in now!
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
[00:00] Greg McKeown: Your primary learning life is from mistakes is from error. And so designing your life for making learning sized mistakes is critical for high performance.
[00:17] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Welcome to another episode of success through failure. This is your host, Jim Harsha, Jr. And today I bring you Greg. You listen to podcasts, read books, follow the experts on social media, and you find yourself getting mediocre results in your business, in your health, in your relationships.
[00:34] And you know, you're not living up to your full potential. You've not broken through the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. And if you continue on this path, there are consequences. If nothing changes. Imagine looking back in 20 years with regret and thinking, what if, like, what if I could have found a way to unlock my true potential?
[00:53] Like how would that. The different, well, you can unlock your true potential. I'm hosting our second annual retreat May 13th through 15th, titled moving to mastery. We're going to take all the book knowledge that you've learned in all of the life experiences that you've lived and turn it into results.
[01:11] It's going to be an intense weekend of deep learning and powerful immersive experiences. That don't stop when you leave, but actually include an additional 30 days of growth. Following the retreat. We've reserved a private lodge and event center, all to ourselves located on 330 acres, just outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
[01:32] It's an hour and a half drive from two major airports, Dallas and BWI. So it's easy access for. Anywhere in the United States or Canada space is limited. So if you're interested in self-mastery and finally getting the results, you know, you're capable of reach out to me as soon as possible to apply. Just go to Jim Harshaw, Jr..
[01:52] Com slash retreat. It's time for you to move to mass. I last interviewed Greg way back in October of 2016, episode 68. If you want to go back and check that out, but we talked about his book, then it was the number one New York times bestseller essential ism, the disciplined pursuit of less. And I frequently referenced that book when I'm talking with my clients on a couple of key concepts that came out of that.
[02:23] But after writing that book, of course, Greg's career just absolutely exploded. And he had a hard time fitting in just the essentials into his life. And he realized there was another additional mindset to adopt, and that is the mindset of effortlessness. And he wrote his new book again, a New York times bestseller titled.
[02:41] Make it easier to do what matters most. And in this interview, we dive in and pull out the best stuff in the book. He also covers a lot of this stuff in his own podcast titled what's essential. Greg is the CEO of McEwen, Inc. And some of his clients include apple and Google and Facebook Pixar, Salesforce, Twitter, and Yahoo.
[03:02] His writing has appeared in the New York times, fast company, fortune magazine, Huffington post Politico. Inc magazine. And he's been featured on NPR, NBC Fox. And he's been a regular on the Steve Harvey show. I mean, he is a sought after speaker. He's a sought after author. I mean, his work is known around the world.
[03:23] This is the second night I've had Greg on. And man, his interviews do not disappoint. Here we go. Interview number two with Greg. It's been a few years. So since we last spoke, after you publish your wildly successful book essentialism, you found your life getting fuller and fuller of essential things. You know, the guy who wrote the book was applying it, but still struggling and struggling to get everything done, which, you know, my listeners can certainly relate to.
[03:52] I can relate to what was good.
[03:55] Greg McKeown: Well, I mean, it was a, you know, it's the right problem to have one could say, but it doesn't make it less of a problem. The kinds of requests that were coming in were more and more aligned to what it was I wanted to do, you know, was traveling the world as working with companies in every industry.
[04:10] I remember doing a book signing where the were maybe, I don't know, 300 people in the line and, and around the corner they ran out of books. They'd never done that before. I mean, this was the kind of experience and I felt very grateful for it and started to send. Sort of problem, really, because you remember perhaps the old idea of the big rocks theory, which says, you know, if you put the small rocks in your life first and then the big rocks, then it doesn't fit.
[04:38] But if you put the big rocks in first, the most important essential things first, then everything fits. And I found myself, as you alluded to was sort of this idea there's question of, well, what happens if you have too many big rocks? I mean then what do you do? And I think a lot of people. I can relate to that, especially in a pandemic world where they're suddenly homeschooling or they're suddenly having, you know, working from home challenges.
[05:04] And they're suddenly having to pivot in all sorts of ways, work. And, and you have a situation where you are focused on what matters most, but there's too much of it still. Well now, what do you do? I should say that in the midst of that challenge myself, we then had a family emergency where suddenly, one of my daughters was extremely ill and without any diagnosis as to what.
[05:29] and getting, you know, much, much sicker by the day. And so this was the tipping point, you know, this was like, well, it's figuring out what's essential is an absolutely vital mindset, but it's not the whole story because even. You strip off all of those non-essentials out of your life. You still might have not enough room.
[05:54] And so it led me down to a different path of saying, okay, well, if it's still too much review now, what do you do? And I found that there really are two parts to any execution, to anything you're trying to accomplish. There is the heavier more burdensome or complicated parts. And then there's an easier, simpler, better way.
[06:16] And what is strange about that is that many, many insecure overachievers choose the first path. So even if you say select the essentials and I've worked in coach, many of them now, and they're doing that, they still approach doing those things in a way that's overwhelming, but in a way that's, over-complicate.
[06:39] In a way that has the overexert. And so therefore they underperform compared to what they could achieve over time. And so this is sort of some of the backstory as to why I felt it was time to actually write another book and, and why I feel so passionately about this second mindset, this, that I simply think of and referred to as effortless.
[07:02] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And so you launch into research about how to make life more effortless. We've got the essential state. And which I think is always going to be a work in progress, but, but now how do we make these effortless? And so let's talk about some of the different ways, and there's a variety of philosophies that you discovered through your research.
[07:17] one of my favorites is just the simple concept of asking yourself what if this could be easy, cause that really be a solution Greg, for when we're trying to find success. Like what if this could be.
[07:30] Greg McKeown: But yes, it absolutely can be. And one of the reasons is because of what I think of as the 10 X dilemma, which is that everybody listening to this right, they're they're high performers, they're driven.
[07:39] They're part of the hit squad, the hardworking, intelligent, talented group of people, four people in that makeup, they want better results. Even 10 times, best results, 10 X results. The problem that I lemme is that not one of the people listening right now can work 10 times harder. And as soon as you put those two realities together, you can see the dilemma that brings forth a book like effortless.
[08:10] That makes it relevant. When you try to work 10 times harder, you don't get 10 times more results. What happens is that you burn out without breaking through to your highest point of contract. And so suddenly it's, it's a bit like George Costanza in Seinfeld. You remember this episode where he is, you know, classic loser, that's sort of his persona, nothing ever works for him.
[08:38] He always seems to ruin everything at the last moment until this episode, in which he says, okay, do everything. That's
[08:45] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: right. That's a great episode.
[08:47] Greg McKeown: Everything he does different than the opposite of what his intuition would be, and everything starts working for him, just at least for that one episode. And I'm really arguing the same thing for insecure overachievers is the, in a way you have to invert everything you would think of.
[09:04] Doing and look at it from the opposite point of view. So when you start to try to achieve a new goal, instead of doing what you always do, which is to push harder, do more, no pain, no gain type thinking you say no, let's invert that effortless inversion. Okay. How could this be effortless? Yeah. How could this be easy?
[09:27] And, and, and another question I really like as a sort of coaching question is how am I making. Harder than it needs to be. And what you find is that there are many, many strategies techniques, solutions that you are not even considering because you not only value hunt work, but in a Puritan type. You distrust the easy.
[09:51] And so I'm arguing with these simple questions that you can make room for an alternative way of thinking. and, and that thinking might be summarized as easy, does not equal lazy for a lot of people. They think it does that easy equals lazy, and it's not tall the same way. and so as soon as you're willing to put in effort, find that strategy will help to a certain degree, but what got you here, won't get you there.
[10:18] And so, yes, this simple inverted question can help you to unlock the next part of your journey so you can get to the next level without burning out.
[10:30] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And for the listener, what we're talking about here is. We're not talking about doing right. We're talking about stepping back, hitting the pause button and asking yourself questions and for any new listeners out there, the longtime listeners know this by heart now.
[10:45] And can probably say this with me. The concept that we're really talking about here is I call it the productive pause and the productive pause is a short period of focused reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of action. And peace of mind, clarity of action and peace of mind. I mean, Greg just gave us two powerful, productive pause questions.
[11:04] Now you can't find success from what Greg just said. If you're just going to wake up doing the same thing today, because no better reason than that's what you did yesterday. And then you can wake up tomorrow and do the same thing as you did today for no better reason. Then that's what you did the day before.
[11:17] I mean, you have to stop, you have to pull back to ask yourself these quite, you have to hit the pause button to get more.
[11:25] Greg McKeown: So, yes, it's so true. And, and this is exactly the idea is that it's a, it's a Slingshot type approach. So that you're saying, look, I might take a little moment to have to learn this new way of doing it, but if I can unlearn, what's keeping me stuck at the point in time.
[11:41] Then I have space to learn something new and a different way of doing life. And that is exactly what effortless is. So essential ism is about focusing on the right things, but effortless is about doing them in the right way. And there's enormous numbers of people. There'll be people listening to this right now who want to make a greater contribution.
[12:03] They want to succeed. Maybe it's in health or in fitness, or it could be in their business. It could be in that career, in that marriage. And. It could be in any of these areas and they want to do it, and they know that it matters, but they're still, they lack the energy to do it, or that they find themselves after, you know, whatever year and a half, almost two years coming up to this now at this pandemic teetering right on the edge of exhaustion, or maybe they just feel like life, everything is harder than it needs to be.
[12:34] And if any of that is true. Then they should at least consider a new mindset, at least consider how am I making this harder than it needs to be? What if there is a different path? And I don't mean that suddenly there isn't a part that is that you don't put in any effort. No, I'm not arguing that, but I am saying that to simply, yeah.
[12:58] The, when the insecure overachiever overexerts they actually make it more likely that they'll understand.
[13:07] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Greg, you also identified something that I see a lot in my clients, and that is the challenge of getting started. Like, how do we overcome the internal. That is keeping us stalled on a project, right.
[13:21] We're talking to overachievers here. The, the insecure overachiever. I love that concept is a, you see that so often, but we're stalling on a project and we're trying to start that business or train for the 5k or learn that new hobby or whatever it might be. Right. And it just seems to take so much effort.
[13:37] How can we make that more effortless?
[13:40] Greg McKeown: Yeah. I mean, one thing of course you can do is stop focusing on the 78 step of your journey, you know, and letting that overwhelm overwhelm you. The idea of just figuring out what the actually obvious tiny first physical step you can take is more powerful than worrying about the 78 step and not taking the first.
[14:05] And so if you can create a micro burst of effort, right. And micro burst is a, is a 10 minute. Timed 10 minute thing where you actually like put on your time and no more than 10 minutes, you could do less than 10 minutes. That's fine. But okay. I will work on this for 10 minutes. And at the end of 10 minutes, I'm going to stop working on it.
[14:23] You start to think about units like that, so that if you have something that's, that's huge and the very thought of it overwhelms you. You're already into exactly the cycle. We're talking about boom. And. execution or you want to do instead is to be able to do just the first thing. One of my favorite illustrations of this is, you know, spent the last 15 years working with companies or Silicon valley.
[14:50] One of the founders had this idea, this vision. In fact, I remember him sharing his vision, you know, something like 15 years ago and he wanted to create a streaming service, a video streaming service. It's going to work all over the world, create content for it. He had this vision, but the problem was that the technology wasn't there for it, literally the, the, the pipes to the houses.
[15:13] Aren't that con allow for that level of video. And so what does he do? I mean, the risk and of course in Silicon valley, especially the risks would be to say, well, let's go. A hundred million dollars that's range of a billion dollars and we'll build the whole infrastructure to allow this vision to take place.
[15:31] And I think if he'd taken that approach, it could not have achieved. It would have been so costly. Eventually it would have been pulled like many, many other technology projects, similar vision, instead of what he and the co-founder did is they said, okay, what, where do we start? And where they decided to stop was we're going to go and buy.
[15:51] A used CD, we'd go to the post office and we're going to mail this to ourselves and we're going to see whether it's damaged or not. Where does it arrive? And does it arrive in one piece? And the next day they found that it did arrive and it wasn't damaged. And they said, okay, so we can stop by just mailing DVDs out to people.
[16:09] Having the mail back. We can start. And that's how Netflix began. You know, it's now, well over 300 million, maybe 350 million people, or, you know, worldwide is sort of swallowing up Hollywood. you know, it, it can continually, and all from a tiny first step. So that kind of microburst is the way I think, to, to start to overcome the inertia.
[16:37] we talked about it before we came on air. The resistance is just take on a tiny, tiny first piece. and then there's momentum in that so that you can do tomorrow. The next tiny piece,
[16:52] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: no business plan. Didn't have to put together a pitch deck to raise their funding. They didn't have to build a website.
[16:59] They went to the store, they bought a CD and a CD case in medicine. So what is that tiny first step for you, for that's for the listeners to figure out what is the tiny, smallest, smallest first step. And
[17:10] Greg McKeown: first is the word, you know, I mean, obviously, you know, that I care about the idea of priority, but priority means the very first, the prior wrist thing.
[17:18] And that's the key is it's not even just to do a small thing. It's to just keep working until you get to, like, what is the. Physical thing I can do. And once you've identified the first, actually it doesn't even matter what the third thing is. You got to do the first thing first and in doing it, you can ignore everything else.
[17:38] Do that first step and put your attention 10 minutes, sign it, sign up for it. What can I do within 10 minutes? A microburst you can break through most procrastination by eliminating that overwhelming overthinking over complicated. Version in your head of what the project has to be. That's what makes it harder to get started?
[18:01] The start, the work itself, the first step, isn't hard by definition. It won't be hard, but the thinking about all this stuff, oh, it's like we fail before we even begin. It's like, you know, if you've ever seen a slide that has 500 words on it, it's not like we get to the first 300 words and given. We do the pre scan.
[18:19] We look at it, we're like, am I ever going to read this? I'm never going to read that. So we don't even bother. And that's the same for execution is that we pre scan in our head. What it will take to do that 5k. Oh my goodness. Way too much. I'm not even going to bother. I'm not able to start. So you're overwhelmed and overloaded in.
[18:34] So then you give it up before you've even begun on your journey. What we're trying to do is break through that. And let me just give you one example of this for somebody, because to put these couple of strategies, we've talked about so far together, I was just talking to somebody about this and I said, I'll go, what's something essential.
[18:50] You've been procrastinating. And he said, well, eating healthier. I said, well, tell me what normally happens. He said, well, you know, I get to noon. I am a little bit hungry, but I, I don't want to stop. So I, I carry on and then it gets to maybe two or three in the afternoon, and now I'm past hungry. Then I'll go out and get fast food because it's the only thing closest.
[19:09] And I, this has been a cycle for a long time. I said, okay, so how can we make this FO's how can we solve this problem in an effortless way? I said, let's do microburst night right now. What would it be? And he pauses in a sort of awkward way. And he sort of says, well, to make it effortless, he said, I guess I would just sign up for one of these services that just delivers to you every day, fresh meal.
[19:35] I'm okay. Just bet to put budget on that. And I said, okay, so what could you achieve in 10 minutes? Like if you, if you could do we just stop right now and you did it and he said, yeah, okay. I could find the service, sign up for the service, put in my credit cards, choose the food and do it. I can do the whole thing in 10 minutes.
[19:48] I said, how long has it been a problem? 10 years? That's the idea, right? Like that once you have an example like that, you go, oh geez, maybe it's that way. You're kidding me. Print it really be that I have a mental process. That's so overwhelming and convoluted that that's, what's keeping me from it. And so asking these questions can cut through all that platter and actually get us to an action to propel us forward on those things that really matter most to us.
[20:13] I think it is as simple as that.
[20:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Yeah, I agree. There's this. Productive pause question. That is the catalyst. I mean, who knows where this is going to go for this gentleman you just spoke about? I mean, it could be complete life transformation. Certainly a small transformation is going to happen, but who knows when, when you start implementing this philosophy in your life.
[20:36] Quick interruption. Hey, if you like what you're hearing, be sure to get the notes, quotes and links in the action plan from this episode, just go to Jim harso Jr. Com slash action. That's Jim Harsha Jr com slash action. To get your free copy of the action plan. Now, back to the show you tell in the book, the story of Robert Falcon, Scott, and road Amundson the in their quest to be the first to reach the south pole and the winter.
[21:03] Actually went slower. How is that possible? And how do we use this concept?
[21:11] Greg McKeown: Yeah, I mean, look, the insecure overachiever believes that the way to get maximum results is to put in maximum. Even as I say it as a truthiness about it, but I'm sure it's like, yeah, I think that's right. I think that's how the world works.
[21:28] And it's that way of thinking that actually makes execution much, much. And the reason. And so, so the, the British captain Scott, I mean, people are probably familiar with the story of the race to the polls, but, but if you go back and read the biography, which I did, which had brilliantly written, does this sort of more to the story than, than is a, that is commonly known.
[21:50] And so the first tip, I mean, let's just back up for just one second. No one had ever got to the south pole, nobody in all of recorded history, it was considered. Either impossible or close to being impossible. And so it captured people's imagination. The British team they'd said, okay, what we're going to do is we're going to max out.
[22:09] We're going to go as far as we can, as fast as we can. What that looked like in practice is that on the good weather days, they would go 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 miles. I mean, they would just max out and they thought, well, that's got to be the fastest way to get. But what they didn't realize they were creating in that intensity was also boom and bust execution.
[22:33] So the bus looks like on the bad weather days, they're so tired already that they can't make any progress on the bad day. So they sit, what do they do instead? It's not great for the psychology. They're in that tent, making no progress, nothing to do whining about their experience, writing the journals while we have the worst weather anyone ever had that ever was that tried to do this, which was actually patently false.
[22:56] It wasn't true at all, but it felt true to them because they were so excited. It changed their state to feel that they were had the, you know, such bad blood. Well, the Norwegian team had taken a different approach, right from the beginning. There's was steadiness there's was not intensity, but consistency.
[23:15] Yeah. The goal was to do 15 miles a day, 15 miles it's been recorded elsewhere, reported elsewhere. It's a different amount, but, but when you go back to the actual study, the actual account, 50 miles a day, good weather days, 15 miles. That means it sounds like a lot to the rest of us, but for them it meant that they had to stop when they could go much.
[23:34] And that's the counter-intuitive part. Really the first surprising thing you show restraint, you don't do the max to be able to make the maximum progress, bad weather days. What do they do? Same, trying to make as close to 15 miles progress as possible so that they just maintain this consistency day in and day out.
[23:53] The plot thickens. When they get within 45 miles of the south pole, they have perfect weather. They have perfect sledding conditions. They can make it to the south pole within one day with a big enough push and to up the ante even further, they don't know where the British team is. So for all they know, the British team is ahead of them.
[24:20] And the question really. So listen, this right now is what would you do? What everyone would do. Go for it. Everyone's going to do that. I know what you do. That's what I would do. That's what everyone listening will do now. Here's the next question is what would you have to believe about performance? To stay the course 15 miles per day for the last three days, what would you have to believe to take that counter-cultural action?
[24:56] Because that's what the expedition leader did. It still took them three days, still average, 50 miles per day. They get to the south pole. Well, they have beaten the British team by something in the range of 30 days. She's really sick. And not what we expect. It's not what we think would happen. We don't believe in steadiness.
[25:18] Like we should, steadiness is much, much, much faster than boom and bust. And, and, and not only that, not only are they the first team to get to the south pole ever, they are also have the sufficient reserves inside to make the 16,000 mile journey back to Norway, which is non-trivial because the British.
[25:42] Arrive exhausted, burned out at the south pole and not one of the, make it back alive. So they all die on the way home or what would be the way home. So that's the story. That's the encounter. What's the point? The power of effortless pace. In fact, there's just can't believe that this exists, but in the biography, the biography describing the Norwegian team's progress said they did what they did.
[26:11] Here's his quote without particular effort. That to me still I've shared that before, but every time I share it, I just can hardly believe that he wrote that thing. Sure.
[26:22] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: The opposite of what you'd really think, but that's their philosophy and that's the way they went about the trip
[26:28] Greg McKeown: wages thing to write.
[26:29] It's the most physically arduous challenge. Anybody on earth at the time can imagine. They achieve it without particular effort. Now of course they put in effort of course, but that wasn't the defining quality. And, and so what is it it's, can you, can you set an upper bound and a lower bound in your life so that you can make great progress over time?
[26:54] I'm thinking here. I mean, one rule that I really believe is don't do more today. Then you can completely recover from. Hmm. Why? Because what you want is not to make a contribution for five days of a 50 days, but for 50 years, you want to be able to, and this is the title of a book that would come out, I think next year, by, by Cynthia Covey and her late father, Stephen Covey, we want to live life in crescendo.
[27:28] We want to live with our greatest contribution lying ahead of us. Not behind. And that's achievable only if you set.
[27:41] consistency by having upper and lower bounds. It's true for absolutely everything. Right? You can, anything that matters to you. I did this with journaling, right? And then maybe the other people that want to keep a job, but I did, I wanted to write a journal. I wanted to be a dire diarrhea, and I wanted to be consistent about it.
[27:58] I've been very inconsistent, you know, I'd write for awhile, then I'd stop and give up for awhile and so on. And most people that try do it that way. They do three pages the first day they write that. They ain't got no time to be able to do that day two, three, and four. So they give up almost before they begun.
[28:15] I set the rule. I said, upper bound, no more than five sentences a day, no less than one sentence. And say that was the bounce at that. I did that about 11 years ago. I don't think I've missed a day. I'm pretty sure I haven't missed a day in that whole time. So that's the power of it. That's the idea. That's why effortless.
[28:37] you know, the military term for this is a, that's been popularized a little now is, is those, you know, that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. and I've found that to be true at all levels of performance, high levels of performance over time. Yeah.
[28:53] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Great lesson, huge lesson there, Greg, there was a key moment in your career.
[28:59] You talked about in the book, it was years ago when you were asked by a high profile technology company, a client to give us. Presentations on leadership. So we're sticking with the insecure overachiever model that we're talking about here, right? That the, that the British took, you know, and they're tracked to the south pole, you know, for you, this ended up being a failure because you said you were trying too hard.
[29:21] This was a success through failure moment. If there ever was one, can you share that?
[29:26] Greg McKeown: It is a success through failure moment. I'm trying to think about whether it's failure through success moment or something, but I wonder it certainly was an interesting,
[29:34] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I think the success feels like the takeaway was, yeah.
[29:38] Greg McKeown: Okay. Fair enough. If the situation is that tech company already well-known, but still up and coming in, in a critical period of their development. Had reached out. They were familiar with my work. They said, listen, we just want you to start by doing maybe three events with us. And then, and then hopefully just partner together for the next two or three years as we go through this transition.
[29:59] So it was less like a great opportunity and they were already on board. I wasn't selling, I wasn't, I didn't have to get them up. They just came ready for it. Everything was approved. Actually didn't have to change any of my slides, any more handouts, everything. It was all approved. They already had it. I already printed it.
[30:15] And then the night before I just thought, well, you know, I've been doing this new thinking and new research and so on. Maybe I should, maybe I should just do it on that instead, because you know, I just going to push this and, and so, and so then I started messing with the slides and then I was like, oh, maybe I'll just redo all the slides.
[30:33] And so I did that. It was getting later, later into, into the night and, oh, it's we just do a news handout and I didn't pull an all-nighter, but I didn't sleep nearly long enough. And so the next day I wake up, I've in a foggy state. I'm not I'm, you know, emailing one of the main. Person within the company.
[30:54] And can you just do a new handout and I'm just going do this slides. And then I get to the event and I'm, they've got this set up behind me. So I don't even know what the slides are well enough. It's not well rehearsed or thoughtfully. So I'm having to turn around for that. And if somebody asks me a question, a perfectly reasonable question based on one of the slides and I was like, oh, well that hasn't really given the right impression.
[31:12] So then I felt defensive about that. The whole thing is just like, you know, he's talking about, you know, stealing failure from the jaws of victory or something like that, because all I had to do was the effortless thing. All I had to do was what was already approved and planned and simple. But I.
[31:33] Thought it and overexerted it. And as a result, sabotage my performance, didn't get double the results. I got worse results and I was exhausted and they, and they canceled the other two already completely agreed upon events. And of course the partnership didn't happen after that. Well, look, that's what happened.
[31:51] That's what you really get as an insecure overachiever. That's what you really reap you. Don't overachieve you underperform. And that's true whenever. I mean, that's what overexertion is, is that you you're putting in more, push more pressure, more effort, more time, more energy, but your results are going down.
[32:12] So you reach at first a diminishing returns, but if you're not careful and you just think, well, I'm not getting the results I want. Therefore I need to exert even more. You will end up with negative returns. That is, the result will be worse than if you'd done nothing at all. That's literally what happened to me.
[32:31] I had an negative return. If I'd done nothing that night, I would have had a great result the next day. And this is true for, you know, overthinking and over exerting and presentations, but in any, in any endeavor
[32:44] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: and for the listener, I want you to kind of put that in perspective in your own life. Like, what's that saying?
[32:49] That. You freaking blew it, the gas, if I just stopped, didn't overthink it. Like whatever it is that you blew, right. Success can come after that. Right. Success can come from that. I mean, there's this great lesson that you've, you've learned and I'll be honest. It probably, Greg has saved you a whole heck of a lot of work down the road because of that lesson.
[33:12] Right. Because of accepting, like, okay. What I've done is, is good enough. Don't overwork don't put in more effort than is needed because that could actually prompt a second.
[33:23] Greg McKeown: Yes, that's right. I mean, of course life is learning. I mean, that's, that's the, you know, the point of the exercise and, and in fact, one of the chapters in effortless is, is specifically about this, about how you approach learning your primary learning in life is from mistakes is from error.
[33:40] And so designing your life for making learning sized mistakes is critical for high performance. I'm thinking here of the Kramer prize. it was a London industrialist, Henry Kramer, who said, you know, I want to try and encourage human powered flight. innovation is basically a, a bike with wings, you know, how could you maybe design it so that somebody could fly?
[34:08] This was only 10 years before there was a man on the moon. And so it's really extraordinary time. For invention in this area, he thinks it won't be a big challenge, but it turns out 17 years later, no one has achieved the goal or won the prize, which is to fly around this figure rate, you know, these pylons without an engine.
[34:28] Well, Com Paul MacCready comes along. He's broke. He has no team behind him as everyone else has. Who's tried to achieve this over the last 17 years and failed. He has his son and some, you know, family and friends type situation. His young son becomes his test pilot and he staring at the problem and suddenly realizes everyone's trying to solve the wrong.
[34:54] What they should be trying to do. He thinks is to create a machine that can fail fast and be rebuilt cheap and quick. Everyone else is trying to build this beautiful machine that is capable. And the first time it tries that it is to be able to achieve. And so they built these things out of wood and out of plastic and in gorgeous things that looked impressive and they would take them out to try them out.
[35:27] They would crash inevitably, and then it might be as much as six months before they would go and try it again. They'd go back to the drawing board. Okay. What did we, what, what we must have thought about this all wrong? And so their learning cycles are six month cycles, perhaps. Well, with his very ugly machine that he created the.
[35:47] This thing would crash and they just put in a broom handle and some tape on and within five minutes, they'd be back up in the air. They might have four or five crashes and attempts in a single day. that might be as many times as their competitor teams would have in the lifetime of their machines.
[36:06] And so it took. 227 fails or something like that, but that's, they were the ones that won the prize. And then two years later, they won the prize in the second Kramer prize to, to, you know, man human powered flight across the English channel. And they were able to achieve that too. It was the same process you want to make failure, not shameful for sure.
[36:28] Now. Not massive so that if you fail, you've lost everything. You want to create learning sized failure and embrace it. The courage to be rubbish. And to not pretend you didn't fail either, because that will just slow your progress down to admit that, to admit that you. Why is in the past, even if that pasta was 10 minutes ago, it just means you're wiser now than you used to be.
[36:56] Pretend that you've got it all right in the past all the time. And to feel the pressure, you have to be perfectionist about everything. This is actually going to slow your progress down significantly.
[37:06] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: That's it right there. I mean, that's success through failure and a neat little package for you and, you know, there's, there's another.
[37:14] Part of the book where you talk about this is my favorite quote, Greg from the whole book is there's no mastery without mistakes. There's no mastery without mistakes. I mean, this obviously sounds an awful lot, like success or failure, but, but here's, here's the challenge, you know, what do you say to the person who's listening and.
[37:34] This morning, they tried to run a half a mile, but quit. They couldn't do it. Right. They asked her boss for a raise that they got told no. Or they tried something that they thought was going to work for them, but it didn't work to connect with their kids or something like that. Right. And it didn't work.
[37:48] Right? Like this concept of there is no mastery without mistakes. It sounds good on a podcast. It sounds good in a book. Sounds good for other people, but what about when it comes to me like failures? So. Painful. Like, what do you say to that person? Who's in the midst of feeling that failure?
[38:09] Greg McKeown: Yeah. I mean, there's two kinds of failure, right?
[38:10] There's the, there's the thing itself. And then there's the way you talk to your self about the thing itself. That's what I think is really the problem here. If you try it, okay. You try and talk to your kids and to engage with them and they're not interested and you feel rejected by that moment. And then you beat yourself up for trying and blame them and blame you.
[38:29] And so on you, you can relive that failure. 10 times a hundred times, a thousand times. I mean, that's just a grudges, a made of two, you know? Oh, well, yeah. And you're reliving that past moment. That's not going to serve you. You know, what you want to do is sort of think about, you know, Steph Curry, right?
[38:48] Whose advantage, you know, I've done a decent amount of research into, you know, how he trains and how he operates and why he has been, you know, so. One of the reasons why he's so fascinating to watch, but one of the things that that is a competitive advantage for him is that he's present right now. He's not worried like most of us are, but the last shot is not thinking about both victory or failure is just moving on to the next thing.
[39:15] Okay. Let's try that again. Let's do the next one. Let's do the next one. And that ability to not be caught up in the past, there'll be present in this moment. It gives you a tremendous advantage over other people who are either celebrating too long about some victory. They've just had a shot. They just made or complaining and berating themselves about one that they didn't do.
[39:36] You want to make it cheap to fail in both making small bets in the first place. So if you fail, it doesn't matter. You know, you're not betting everything, but also to make it emotionally cheap to fail. And I think that's the big area. But people to get over failure. And I think what we need to do is instead of if, you know, if we have time to berate ourselves, I think we have time to be grateful.
[40:06] And this is counter-intuitive I think because even people who believe in gratitude or have heard that gratitude matters and thankfulness, man, Generally think that means being grateful for things that are good things that go right. But I don't think that goes nearly far enough. What I would call radical gratitude is that you're grateful forever.
[40:26] You're grateful for the mistake too. You're grateful for the failing as well. I mean, really that's that's when you've made progress is where you can say, I mean, even think about greatest failure of your life. Think about the, the time maybe, or the time that somebody has hurt you the most, you know, something massive when you can finally say thank you.
[40:47] Thank you for what that taught me. Thank you for the experience. That means you have what you need to go forward. And so I think if you can combine gratitude for failure, I'm thankful that that thing didn't work out, even if you don't know why you're thankful. Yeah. Just started that way. The journal that I mentioned I is, is basically a radical gratitude journal.
[41:09] And so, you know, I estimate that I've written well beyond 10,000 things I'm thankful for, and then not. They're not all positive things. What you'd think of as positive sometimes I'm writing about, I'm thankful this thing didn't work out. I expected it to, and I don't even know why I'm thankful yet, but as I say it, it opens up the possibility that there's a reason.
[41:31] And then some answer comes as you start to learn rapidly from your mistakes. And so, so I think that that radical gratitude is a way to make it cheaper and faster to celebrate. Rather than to berate failure,
[41:48] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: so many great principles, so much wisdom here, Greg, for the listener. Who's bought in, who wants to adopt this mindset?
[41:58] What's an action item. What's something that they can do. Let's say in the next 24 to 48 hours to start adopting this mindset and putting it into action in their
[42:07] Greg McKeown: lives. Yeah. And let me give you a few things, right? Number one is to create a done for the day. Every day, take a moment, take do a microburst 10 minutes, no more, no less.
[42:18] Write out a list of the most important things you want to do. But the things, when you say, if I'm done with that list, I'm done for the day, I'm not going to be pushing anymore. And so done for the day list helps you to not overexert today. And it also helps you to keep the other rule we talked about, which I think is a daily rule.
[42:34] So something they can start doing immediately, there'll be more today than you can completely recover from by tomorrow. So that's kind of two things, I think a third. Related to this gratitude is this rule. After I complained in the next 24 hours, I will say one thing I am thankful for. Everyone's going to complain everyone listening to this.
[42:51] Who's going to complain about something in the next 24 to 48 hours. And I'm not saying give it up, giving up complaint. I'm just saying, turn it into a better habit. A battery. By saying at least one thing you're thankful for, even about the thing you're complaining about is it, you know, an extra, an extra award that you can have, the other things and we've talked about them, but by way of review is to ask, how can this thing be effortless?
[43:15] How am I making this harder than it needs to be? And if I just summarize one more that we haven't talked about, but I think is relevant is, is rest, is to take. For a lot of insecure overachievers. If you say, Hey, go run a marathon. Maybe they do know how to do that. But you know, they'd know how to set the goals and force themselves to push themselves.
[43:38] But if you say to the same person who could go take a nap, they're like, oh, I don't know how to do that. That's its own challenge. But in that for science behind that, the data shows that certainly like a serious nap, which you don't have to start with that. But a 90 minute. We'll return to you, mental capacities, abilities to process, and think almost as much as a whole night's sleep.
[43:59] and so you can, you know, there's, there's examples and I've experienced myself, being at a double productivity by taking a nap because you have to so many guests to boost the city of working on the right things. Those are, I think maybe we covered something like five things there that people could do right away to apply what we've taught.
[44:16] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Absolutely lots of great action items for the listener, you know, where you can get those go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION for all the quotes and notes and action items. From this episode, Greg, where can people find you follow you?
[44:31] Greg McKeown: I would just encourage people to do one thing, which is they can go to Greg mckeown.com and sign up a one minute, Wednesday newsletter.
[44:38] One minute is just the most concise, possible thing that we can come up with that helps people just to just. Gently, even effortlessly keep these ideas in mind so they can make those small adjustments, micro adjustments, to be able to do what really matters, but without burning out
[45:00] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: excellent listeners, you know what to do, Greg.
[45:03] Thanks for making time to come on the show again.
[45:05] Greg McKeown: Thank you June.
[45:08] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into. Let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at Jim Harsha Jr. Com slash apply where you can sign up for a free one-time coaching call directly with me.
[45:23] And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more. You would totally make my day. If you give me a rating and review those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience, just open up your podcast app.
[45:44] If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast, a rating and a review. Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck.
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