The greatest stories ever told are nothing without hard work and dedication. People go down in history for accomplishing the impossible and the most difficult. We've seen them in Nobel Prize winners, Olympic champions, inventors, trailblazers, and changemakers across different fields. And the invisible string that ties them all together is the heart they put into their work.
Debbie Millman, the co-founder of Master's Program in Branding and host of Design Matters Podcast, talks about ways you can make productivity purposeful for your goals. Named as one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, Debbie’s book, "Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World's Most Creative People" provides a lot of significant insights and perspective.
Are you aspiring to be an influential leader in your field? Here are Debbie's principles for success.
We live in the age of the grind and hustle culture. Anyone can see amazing examples of hard work from anyone these days. The difference here is that you're working harder not for the sake of hard work but for results.
Work harder than anyone else around you. Work in a way that allows you to feel that you're putting your whole heart into what you're doing. – Debbie Millman
Although you're putting in extra hours and optimal effort, you can't assume you're doing well because you're working hard. Debbie's advice to see how purposeful your hard work is to develop some benchmarks for yourself. Set standards and targets. Perform and review your performance.
How much of your hard work brings you closer to your goals? How much of your outputs translate into meaningful outcomes? These are your benchmarks. These will also be the guardrails that will assure you that all your hard work is still heading towards your goals.
Don't edit out possibilities
Most possibilities came to the people who were bold and daring. They are those who didn't just wait for opportunities to happen – they stepped out and dove head-first. Indeed, only the brave are boundless.
The thing you want more than anything is likely the thing you're going to put everything into. – Debbie Millman
Debbie says that if you find yourself always coming up with an excuse not to do something, that's a challenge you need to conquer. Otherwise, you'll always find yourself compromising and trapped within the confines of your limitations. Try what you think is possible before deeming it impossible.
Aim for being comfortable with risks. If you're not making mistakes, you're not taking enough risks. This one takes courage to do. But you can always build the confidence you need through successful repetition of any endeavor. Practice and fail - do it repeatedly until you can achieve mastery.
Busy doesn't always mean productive
The word "busy", nowadays is often glamorized and worn as a badge of honor. As a result, "busy" is thrown everywhere – as something to be proud of or a very limiting excuse. Either way, being busy becomes an issue.
We are constantly self-selecting what we want our reality to be. – Debbie Millman
Being busy is also a means to procrastination. We tell ourselves we can't do some of the things we need to do because we're busy with something else and don't have the time. But the reality is we just don't want to do a particular task or are reluctant to take on a project.
This is how "being busy" rears its ugly head - it allows us to make excuses for ourselves without actually facing the truth of the matter: there are things we need to get off our plate. These are things that we actually can do but don't want to.
How to not let busyness take over? Prioritize. We are constantly making decisions about what we want to do. In this sense, busyness is a decision and something that we control. If you're too busy to do something, it all boils down to prioritization. Know what's important, what's urgent, and what's impactful.