The new millennium presents many new-age principles on personal and professional success. Ideologies like work smart, not work hard and you only live once come to mind. And while they have merit, these mantras don’t tell the whole story of success and in fact are missing one crucial component: commitment.
Park Howell, Business & Brand Storytelling Consultant, Keynote Speaker, host of the Podcast Business of Story and Founder and President of Park&Co. joins us in this episode. Park believes in applying time-tested, albeit painstaking practices that build a strong foundation for virtually anything you aim to accomplish.
“You can get so much accomplished in a short amount of time. There's actually a lot of hours in a day to do a lot of things. If you can stay focused and do that show up, follow up thing, you can accomplish way more in four hours than most people do in eight hours.” - Park Howell.
Commitment takes more than plotting things on your calendar or mentally telling yourself you’re going to do something. Ask Park, and he will tell you it’s all about how you gear up to get to your destination by actually taking the steps, following through to make sure all bases are covered, and having the willingness to endure the process to get good at what you’re doing.
For Park, 50% of success is showing up every single day to make it happen. But showing up doesn’t mean just being physically present or being a seat-warmer.
For him, what showing up stood for was going beyond verbalizing that you're going to do all this stuff and have these great plans and ideas. You actually have to do what you say you're going to do in a timely manner.
Part of his success routine is to start every morning and write down the top three things that he needs to do that day, whether he wants to do them or not. And quite often there are things that we don't want to do. However, writing these three things down and seeing them in black and white is often the push we need to do those three things.
There’s always the temptation to put more things on our to-do list to make ourselves feel more productive or accomplished. But that’s often a trap that leads us to feeling more dejected and unmotivated if we see so many things on our list not ticked off. Park suggests for people to just focus on the top three right now because that's the showing up part. It’s setting your heart, mind and your intentions to completing those three things.
So show up every morning and get those off your plate. It gets all the positive, creative juices flowing, allowing you to set yourself up to achieve more because you’ve successfully paced yourself and got rid of the overwhelm.
And then the remaining 50% is in the follow up. This is a highly underrated step most people don’t apply, either because they don’t know that following up is important, or they’re too lazy to go the extra mile.
Or maybe the intention is there but it's not done all the way through to hit success because there is a component of follow-up that may not have been clearly defined.
But what’s clear is that in today’s world, differentiation is everything.
How do you stand out? And it's what you stand for that stands out in the hearts and minds of your employers or your customers. So by virtue of not following up, you are completely commoditizing yourself, meaning you're just among the rest of the sheep out there that are blindlessly, mindlessly going through the job search. - Park Howell.
What you are doing is now differentiating not only you and the rest of the workplace, but also feeding or supporting the brand to differentiate itself in the marketplace.
And the worst part about not following up? It takes so little of your time but presents such a huge lost opportunity. Following up is the best antidote to all the “if only”s. What if that one email you were meaning to send spelled the difference between you working on your dream job instead of them hiring someone else? Or that client that you said you’d call back to confirm their purchase, what’s the status on that?
Get ghosting out of your vocabulary! Do not ghost anyone, follow up with them. - Park Howell.
It’s also good to build a habit of following up with yourself. It shows strong dedication in your craft. After a task, project or any endeavor, as yourself:
- How did that go?
- Did I get it in on time?
- Did I do what I said I was going to do?
In relation to showing up, following up means pursuing all those things you jotted down that you said you needed to do, and actually doing them.
Don’t Blow Up!
With everything being instant or easily accessible, it’s almost impossible for us not to want the same quick pace with other aspects of our lives.
Tempting as it is, don’t take the bait of taking shortcuts especially with processes that need the passage of time like fine wine. You just have to put in the work. What often comes easy we tend to lose just as easily.
It takes a higher level of discipline or mindset needed to position ourselves to avoid taking those shortcuts. There’s really no way around it. - Park Howell
To spot shortcuts to processes and results, these are often low hanging fruit opportunities which tend to produce short term rewards. And the worst shortcut to take is profiling people - clients in particular. Thankfully, Park shares what they at Park&Co call the rigid and frigid test.
Frigid clients fit the bill of people who are only out for themselves. These are clients who don’t care deeply about what you bring to the party nor appreciate your talents and your abilities, because everything is about them and revolves around them.
Rigid clients are a little harder to spot, because some of them are the most wonderful people in the world that you’ll ever meet. However, they are so fear-based and already set in their ways that you won’t be able to do what you’ve set out to do, which is to help them. As nice as they are, if they are unwilling to trust you and do work with you to get them to where they want to be, it’s better not to go through with the deal. It will only be an exhausting and frustrating experience for both of you.
Taking shortcuts have less to do with maximizing time and more with instant gratification - getting things you want now. To be successful in life, you have to learn to distinguish productivity and efficiency with values-forming and habit-building character traits that you need to have a sense of commitment. To avoid blowing up, you really need to commit. Put in the work. Don't take shortcuts, just put in the effort. You have more time than you think.