“10x” has become a popular term in the last few years. At first it was used mostly in regards to financial ROI: investors know that start-ups are high-risk and therefore they need some of them to be big successes to make up for the many, many failures.
But more recently, the 10x concept has been taken into other areas that people are seeking some kind of high return.
Just google “10x productivity” and you’ll find endless videos, blogs, and social media posts.
Do I think there are 10x productivity tips? Yes. Do I think it’s one-size-fits-all? Definitely not.
So this post attempts to answer the question, “What is my 10x?”
In what ways do I invest my time, money, or happiness and get the best returns in terms of time, money, and happiness?
Here’s my answers.
Reflection is 10x
There’s a lot of ways to do reflection. Here’s some of mine.
Every morning I do the What Went Well exercise. The What Went Well exercise has three parts: list what went well, what was good about it, and why it happened. It takes just a few minutes and there’s lots of payoff that has been scientifically validated.
This practice helps me see the things that went well and that I am most happy about. When I see what worked, it gets me to have it in front of mind, and helps it come to mind quicker so that do more of those things. (Focus on your strengths, as they say.)
The act of doing What Went Well has other benefits.
It reminds me of things like: the conversation that went well, the process change I made that went well, the meeting that went well.
Often when What Went Well is explained, the benefits are explained to be feelings of gratitude. Those are great and worth the exercise on it’s own. But there’s another part I think is also extremely valuable:
When I bring a good experience out of my memory to reflect on, my brain gives me related ideas which are also good that I can take action on.
Things like: “oh yeah, I mentioned that book to him. I’ll send them that link today as a thank you”.
Or: “Now that I think about it, Eric seemed a little off in the meeting. I’ll check in with him one on one.”
Or: “Sara shared something that saved us a day of work. Why did that happen? Hmm.. it was when I just kept quiet, let the silence hang in the room, and then she spoke up. Maybe it was that space I gave her. I’m going to try that more often, because that was amazing”.
These are all things I maybe half-consciously was aware of in the moment they happened, but they are really brought to light (and to action!) when I reflect on them.
Reaching out is 10x
The What Went Well exercise has three parts: list what went well, what was good about it, and why it happened.
I’ve been doing WWW for years and it is no exaggeration for me to say that at least 75% of the “whys” come down to the same reason: I reached out to someone.
I don’t know if this is a universal thing or just for people with a certain personality trait, but I never reach out enough. And when I do, amazing things come to me. Not always, but often. Very often.
What does reaching out look like? Ask for help. Ask if YOU can help someone else. Ask for ideas. Setup a catchup meeting with a team member, or friend, or boss, or vendor, or customer. Reach out in the ways you might dread and be avoiding : the sales call, the difficult conversation, the apology.
It’s amazing what just one good connection can do. The more you have the better. Not all reach outs will go the way you want, but in the long run it is 10x
Managing Emotions is 10x
First, understand that “managing” emotions is not the same as “controlling” emotions. Once you have emotions, there’s no controlling them. You just have to mange them. People tend to use the words “manage” and “control” interchangeably when talking about emotions, but it makes all the difference if you know the difference.
The better you can manage your emotions, the better you can be sure you are doing the work you need to be doing at the time you need to be doing it in the place you need to be doing it.
When I say managing emotions, I’m not just talking about often strong emotions like anger and disappointment and jealousy. In many ways, those are the easy ones.
I’m talking about the ones that make you procrastinate, make excuses, check your phone mindlessly.
I’m talking about the subtle ones that disguise themselves as rational “decision making”. The ones that we use to avoid the important work and whose tracks and fingerprints are so so easy to cover up. Fear. Doubt.
I’ll often say that there’s only one hard thing in all of life and business and that’s managing your emotions. Everything else is just doing whatever makes the most sense.
I’ve yet to find an example that defies this observation.
Mindlessly following emotions like fear and doubt can you lead you astray for far more than 10x.