This will sound familiar to most of us. You have five million things on your to-do list. You are working hard to check them off. Yet, the list keeps growing and nothing ever seems to get done.
Moreover, at the end of the day, you are unsatisfied and have no energy for the things that truly matter to you.
Continuing just the hard work will keep bringing the same disappointing results, much like the Myth of Sisyphus.
As the Greek legend goes, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods for eternity to repeatedly roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again once he got it to the top.
I see this as a metaphor for our days of hard work without the satisfaction of progressing in the right direction. Without reaping the benefits of the time and effort investment.
Caption: Sisyphus, oil on canvas by Titian, 1548–49; in the Prado Museum, Madrid.
What I suggest to you to break this vicious and stressful circle is a regular self-reflection practice. It can be minimal in terms of time, but it needs to be regular. It needs to become part of your routine.
Bellow, you can find a simple reflection technique that I have spotted listening to an interview with Ann Miura-Ko. She is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford and a brilliant investor who according to Forbes is “the most powerful woman in startups”.
Is That a World-Class Effort? The Story of Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Ann Miura-Ko
This is the simplest and at the same time one of the most powerful self-reflection techniques. It is in essence just one question that helps you focus on the most important tasks and challenges you to excel in accomplishing them.
It has 2 steps:
- Take time to think and reflect on regular basis. I suggest once a week. I block an hour every Friday to reflect on the passing week.
- As you go through the events and things you did this week, ask yourself: “Hey, was this a world-class”?
This specific but open question triggers the right thoughts.
- What is so important to me so that I am motivated to do a world-class job?
- What can I do to get better at this?
- For which tasks I am not giving my best and should I keep doing them? Are they aligned with the path I see for myself in the future?
- … fill in the dots…
Ann learned this technique thanks to the brilliant coaching of her father. Already at age of five, when she would be writing something, her father would ask her to reflect on her handwriting with the simple question “Hey, is this world-class?”
He would push her gently to develop creativity and find new ways to excel in what she does.
Sometimes she would be a little annoyed by this question, especially when working on something she didn’t value much. She remembered replying to her father about about the uninteresting side job she once had “I’m photocopying and filing. There’s no such thing as world-class there.”
Nevertheless, this question became an integral part of her regular self-assessment and had a major contribution to her transformation from the shy, introverted child to the successful investor, she is today.
Self Reflection and Self Descovery: More Thinking Less Autopilot
“What is world-class in this situation?”
I love this question because it is an open one. It invites you to think of what world class means to you in a given situation, as well as what are your values and things you find important.
For example, if you have limitted time in the evening, is it more important to spend it playing with your child or finalizing a power point presentation for work?
Is it worth making this presentation world-class? What is a world class presentation? A good looking one, ordered, seen by certain people, objective, facts doublechecked? Does this task give you energy or is daunting?
If you notice you are not delivering world-class, is your work aligned with what you love doing, with your skills, with your purpose?
Everyone is capable of finding his world-class life and I think oftentimes we forget it. And for every person, it’s different. And that’s the beauty of humanityAnn Miura-Ko
I am not saying you should be good at everything. I am saying, ask this question over and over again, to find something where you can dominate and really be world-class.
I believe world-class means different things for each of us.
By reflecting on the work done on regular basis, we make sure our todo list is prioritized based on what is most important to us.
In addition, this simple self-reflection technique gives us a way to be in touch with ourselves, nourishing our values and desires, which is a prerequisite for a world-class life!
Learn how to reflect and prioritize tasks for a whole year ahead!
How was your week? Was it world-class?
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