5) Doing the Tasks
Next, you and the others you need to rely on have to do the tasks that will get you to your goals. Great planners who don’t carry out their plans go nowhere. You need to “push through” to accomplish the goals. This requires the self-discipline to follow the script that is your design. I believe the importance of good work habits is vastly underrated. There are lots of books written about good work habits, so I won’t digress into what I believe is effective. However, it is critical to know each day what you need to do and have the discipline to do it. People with good work habits have to-do lists that are reasonably prioritized, and they make themselves do what needs to be done. By contrast, people with poor work habits almost randomly react to the stuff that comes at them, or they can’t bring themselves to do the things they need to do but don’t like to do (or are unable to do). There are lots of tools that can help (e.g., thank God for my BlackBerry!)
You need to know whether you (and others) are following the plan, so you should establish clear benchmarks. Ideally you should have someone other than yourself objectively measure if you (and others) are doing what you planned. If not, you need to diagnose why and resolve the problem.
People who are good at this stage can reliably execute a plan. They tend to be self-disciplined and proactive rather than reactive to the blizzard of daily tasks that can divert them from execution. They are results-oriented: they love to push themselves over the finish line to achieve the goal. If they see that daily tasks are taking them away from executing the plan (i.e., they identify this problem), they diagnose it and design how they can deal with both the daily tasks and moving forward with the plan.
As with the other steps, if you aren’t good at this step, get help. There are many successful, creative people who are good at the other steps but who would have failed because they aren’t good at execution. But they succeeded nonetheless because of great symbiotic relationships with highly reliable task-doers.
For a more detailed explanation of doing what you set out to do, please see My Management Principles.
• How good are you at pushing through?
• How confident are you that your assessment of your ability to push through is accurate?
The Relationships between These Steps
Designs and tasks have no purpose other than to achieve your goals. Said differently, goals are the sole purpose of designs and tasks. So you mustn’t forget how they’re related. Frequently I see people feel great about doing their tasks while forgetting the goals they were designed to achieve, resulting in the failure to achieve their goals. This doesn’t make any sense, because the only purpose of tasks is to achieve goals. In order to be successful, your goals must be
riveted in your mind: they are the things you MUST do. To remember the connections between the tasks and the goals that they are meant to achieve, you just have to ask, “Why?” It is good to connect tasks to goals this way (with the “Why?”), because losing sight of the connections will prevent you from succeeding.
Again, this 5-Step Process is iterative. This means that after completing one of the steps you will probably have acquired relevant information that leads you to modify the other steps.
If this process is working, goals will change much more slowly than designs, which will change more slowly than tasks. Designs and tasks can be modified or changed often (because you might want to reassess how to achieve the goal), but changing goals frequently is usually a problem because achieving them requires a consistent effort. I often find that people who have problems reaching their goals handle these steps backwards; that is, they stick too rigidly to specified tasks and are not committed enough to achieving their goals (often because they lose sight of them).
Weaknesses Don’t Matter if You Find Solutions
To repeat, the best advice I can give you is to ask yourself what you want, then ask ‘what is true,’ and then ask yourself ‘what should be done about it.’ If you honestly ask and answer these questions you will move much faster towards what you want to get out of life than if you don’t!
Most importantly, ask yourself what is your biggest weakness that stands in the way of what you want.
As I mentioned before, everyone has weaknesses. The main difference between unsuccessful and successful people is that unsuccessful people don’t find and address them, and successful people do.
It is difficult to see one’s own blind spots for two reasons:
1) Most people don’t go looking for their weaknesses because of “ego barriers”— they find having weaknesses painful because society has taught them that having weaknesses is bad. As I said early on, I believe that we would have a radically more effective and much happier society if we taught the truth, which is that everyone has weaknesses, and knowing about them and how to deal with them is how people learn and succeed.
1) 大多数人都不去搜寻自身缺点，就是因为“自我”所设的障碍，社会大环境告诉他们，有缺点是不好的，所以会觉得发现缺点很痛苦。我早前提过，如果大家都知道这样一个真相，即人人都有 缺点，人们通过了解缺点，知道如何应对从而成长与成功，那我们的社会将变得更高效更幸福。
2) Having a weakness is like missing a sense—if you can’t visualize what it is, it’s hard to perceive not having it.
For these two reasons, having people show you what you are missing can be painful, though its essential for your progress. When you encounter that pain, try to remember that you can get what you want out of life if you can open-mindedly reflect, with the help of others, on what is standing in your way and then deal with it.
• What do you think is the biggest weakness you have that stands in the way of what you want – the one that you repeatedly run into?
People who don’t get what they want out of life fail at one or more of the five steps. But being weak at any one of these steps is not a problem if you understand what you are weak at and successfully compensate for that weakness by seeking help. For example, a good goal-setter who is bad at doing tasks might work well with a bad goal-setter who is great at doing tasks—i.e., they will be much more successful working together. It is easy to find out what weaknesses are standing in your way by 1) identifying which steps you are failing at and 2) getting the feedback of people who are successful at doing what you are having problems with.
Because I believe that you will achieve your goals if you do these five steps well, it follows that if you are not achieving your goals you can use the 5-Step Process as a diagnostic tool. You would do this by 1) identifying the step(s) that you are failing at; 2) noting the qualities required to succeed at that step; and 3) identifying which of these qualities you are missing.
因为我认为只要做好这五个步骤，就能实现目标，所以若没能实现目标，可以把这五步过程当作 诊断工具。你可以：1）弄清楚在哪一步上失败的；2）记下需要完成此步骤所需的素质；3）弄 清楚这些素质中，自己缺少哪些?
To repeat, the five steps and the qualities that I believe are required to be good at them are as follows:
• Which qualities needed do you wish you had more of?
In a nutshell, my 5-Step process for achieving what you want is:
Values→ 1) Goals → 2) Problems → 3) Diagnoses → 4) Designs → 5) Tasks
价值观→ 1) 目标 → 2) 问题 → 3) 诊断 → 4) 设计 → 5) 任务
Your values determine what you want, i.e., your goals. In trying to achieve your goals, you will encounter problems that have to be diagnosed. Only after determining the real root causes of these problems can you design a plan to get around them. Once you have a good plan, you have to muster the self-discipline to do what is required to make the plan succeed. Note that this process starts with your values, but it requires that you succeed at all five steps. While these steps require different abilities, you don’t have to be good at all of them. If you aren’t good at all of them (which is true for almost everyone), you need to know what you are bad at and how to compensate for your weaknesses. This requires you to put your ego aside, objectively reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and seek the help from others.
As you design and implement your plan to achieve your goals, you may find it helpful to consider that:
• Life is like a game where you seek to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your goals
• You get better at this game through practice;
• The game consists of a series of choices that have consequences;
• You can’t stop the problems and choices from coming at you, so it’s better to learn how to deal with them;
• You have the freedom to make whatever choices you want, though it’s best to be mindful of their consequences;
• The pain of problems is a call to find solutions rather than a reason for unhappiness and inaction, so it’s silly, pointless, and harmful to be upset at the problems and choices that come at you (though it’s understandable);
• We all evolve at different paces, and it’s up to you to decide the pace at which you want to evolve;
• The process goes better if you are as accurate as possible in all respects, including assessing your strengths and weaknesses and adapting to them.
The organization Outward Bound has a concept that is helpful in thinking about the optimal pace of personal evolution. They speak of a comfort zone, a stretch zone and a panic zone. It’s best to spend most of your time in the stretch zone.