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  • Matthew Duckworth

The 4 Principles of Effectiveness: Principle #1 - Conscious Decision-making

As I've learned more about the world, I've learned to value simplicity...

There are many gurus out there - especially in the world of finance - who equate big words and complex ideas with being effective.


What's interesting about that way of thinking is that I don't know a single highly successful business owner (over $1mm in annual cash flow) who speaks or thinks this way... and I suspect it's because they can't afford to be "academic" when dealing with their own money.


Enter the 4 Principles


With so many talking heads and so much noise in our Twitter/Facebook/Instagram world screaming "YOU MUST IMPLEMENT THIS HOT NEW IDEA RIGHT NOW OR ELSE YOUR WORLD WILL COME CRASHING DOWN!!"... I have been searching for simpler ways to think about things.


I've boiled my thinking about personal effectiveness down to just 4 very basic principles that will never change and are based on biology and physics.


In this article series, I'll lay out the foundations of these 4 principles and explain how you can implement them to achieve more, faster.


The 4 Principles of Effectiveness are:

  1. Moving from Impulsive Decision-making to Conscious Decision-making

  2. Ordering your behavior off cause & effect relationships

  3. Adopting effective frameworks

  4. Implementing/Practicing


Principle #1: Moving from Impulsive Decision-making to Conscious Decision-making


Have you ever tried to meditate?


If you have, you probably became aware (maybe for the first time) that you weren't 100% in control of your own mind.


I was slapped in the face with this realization in my first job out of college working as a securities broker.


My encounter with the subconscious


As part of my job's new hire training program, we were tasked with making hundreds of cold calls every day in order to open new accounts with money managers all across the United States. In the beginning, because I had no customers to trade with, the only decision I had to make each day was whether or not to pick up the phone. Life was simple, but grueling.


As my client list grew, however, making those calls that I hated so much became tougher. Although I might set a goal of making 40 calls in a day in addition to serving customers, for some reason I rarely reached my target and I was stumped as to why.


There were a few days w I knew I'd be busy in the afternoons with client meetings anhend I started making calls earlier in the morning. Oddly enough, even though it looked like I had less time to make calls, I reached me 40 call goal each time.


But then I started to look at my call history and I noticed a strange pattern.


There were a few days when I knew I'd be busy in the afternoons with client meetings so I started making calls earlier in the morning. Oddly enough, even though it looked like I had less time to make calls, I reached my 40 call goal each day that happened.


Then it hit me...


I was SUBCONSCIOUSLY avoiding making calls.


So when I noticed the pattern, I simply adjusted my schedule to start making calls earlier in the day and, like some strange magic, I started hitting my goals like clockwork.


I had hacked my subconscious.


Even stranger, I began to develop a sense of when my subconscious mind was trying to trick me into avoiding things. It was an eye-opening experience.


Looking at yourself in the mirror


The fact is, unless you've been practicing the skillset of conscious decision-making daily for the last 5+ years, many of your daily decisions are based on impulses from your subconscious.

  • You lose interest in a topic during a meeting...

  • You become engrossed in good conversation and you realize you're 15 minutes late for your next meeting...

  • You avoid confronting an employee about a bad attitude that is affecting your team's morale...

  • You put off picking up the phone to call that prospect just a little longer...

  • You decide to add a cookie to your lunch order...

  • You hit the snooze button one more time...

These are all examples of impulse overriding consciousness.


Impulses are part of the human experience, and we all must deal with them. They're not, however, an excuse to carry on with our ineffective behaviors.


This is why, I strongly suspect, every major religion has some sort of daily practice to create self-awareness. Without it, we become ruled by our instincts and our instincts don't always serve us.


So what do we do with this?


I had a very wise & successful mentor who once told me:


The right thoughts lead to the right actions.

The right actions lead to the right habits.

The right habits lead to destiny.


I've thought about what he said so many times and, as I've gotten older, I've been surprised to see that the most successful people on this planet seem to live by that same motto. My firm belief is that, if you're not building habits around impulse control, you're avoiding the very foundation all lasting success is built upon.


And if that is true... there is no YouTube video, internet guru, book, or conference that's going to save you. All that information simply has no value if it's not used properly.


That's why I've made one simple shift...


I don't spend time learning better information until I've learned to control my impulses (and it's an ongoing task). I'd ask you to consider doing the same.


This is the root of the issue and we must start with the roots.


In the next article, we'll discuss Principle #2: Ordering our behavior off cause & effect relationships. Stay tuned.





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