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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

Successful People Know When and What — to Give up and Move Forward

Successful People Know When and What — to Give up and Move Forward

“Never give up,” is a common piece of advice that we’re given when we’re facing difficulties. People think giving up is not an option, as we often hear about successful people who plow through obstacles to achieve greatness.

The truth is, successful people give up a lot. They turn knowing when to quit into an art form. Yes, there will be times on your journey when you’ll need to soldier on in spite of difficult odds, but sometimes you have to close one door in order to open another.

    Photo credit: Source

    Steve Jobs gave up a lot of production lines and made 3000 people lose their jobs

    In 1997, Apple was facing strong competition from Microsoft. As Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs was responsible for spearheading many of the changes that led to the company’s success. Many of the modifications that Jobs made involved axing old initiatives to trim the fat.

    Macintosh was producing hardware, desktops, and servers when Jobs intervened. All of these product lines were cut in order to allow the company to focus on four main products.[1]

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    Looking back, we recognize that Jobs made the right decision. Hindsight is funny that way–we see the value in him making such deep cuts to Macintosh’s initiatives because we know how successful the company became.

    I’m willing to bet that at the time people were fairly disgruntled by these changes. Over 3,000 people lost their jobs and 70% of Apple’s products were discontinued. This might have looked like grounds for disaster because he was giving up so much.

    When we cut things from our lives or businesses, it feels like we’re losing. There’s this shame around giving up on something you’ve worked for. But giving up doesn’t mean that you lack perseverance. Nobody wants to be considered a quitter, just sometimes you have to make cuts in order to realize a broader vision.

    3 things successful people give up

    Sometimes persistence will yield better results than quitting, but you’ll have to weigh your options. There are a few things that you can give up right away to pave the way for a more successful future.

    Things that worked in the past but are no longer viable

    We live in a fast-paced world, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Whether you’re running a business or managing your life, staying up to speed on what’s happening in the world is essential. Being able to anticipate change can give you a chance to alter your course while incurring less cost.

    Abandoning things that no longer serve you can be challenging. It’s easy to fall prey to the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which is the idea that you need to continue on a certain path because you have already invested time, energy, and resources into that pursuit.

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    The world changes, and you are changing right along with it. Don’t stick to things simply because they worked for you in the past. You may have to break out of your comfort zone, but it will be worthwhile to face the challenge.

    Review your life and business responsibilities on a regular basis to ascertain what isn’t working for you anymore. Keep track of data and anecdotal evidence that could help you decide when you need to change direction. Circumstances won’t change overnight. Some of your actions slowly start to cost you more time and money. Spotting a downward trend early can help you cut your losses and regroup.

    Things that consume their energy without yielding any benefit

    You may take on a project with the understanding that you may have to put in some effort up front to get results later. It is important to avoid the trap of spinning your wheels and waiting for success.

    Set time-bound goals and perform a cost-benefit analysis.[2] Establish how long you are willing to put in that level of effort, and what your outcomes should be. If you don’t see a return on your investment within the time frame that you set, you might need to consider dropping that initiative.

    When something takes up too much of your time, you end up working for free or operating at a loss. Something that takes too much of your energy can also prevent you from taking on initiatives that may prove more beneficial for you.

    The communication company, Slack, is a classic example of this principle. Before the company was a go-to platform for business communication, it was a video game company. The CEO received 17 million dollars to invest in his project, but the video games didn’t do well.

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    The CEO had to make a tough choice: continue with the original objective and go into debt for millions of dollars or try something new and keep what could be salvaged. Slack’s success today would not have been possible if the company had not changed directions.

    Giving up on something doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It just means that you are opening yourself up to the possibility of being successful in another endeavor.

    Prioritize your schedule and eliminate things that are eating up your time and energy. In some cases, low-value tasks may give you very little benefit, but they could also be negative-value if they take you away from more important tasks.

    People who don’t share the same goals and vision

      Photo credit: Source

      As the saying goes, you’re the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. You’ll want to make conscious choices about the people that you spend your time with because they can influence you. If they don’t share your vision, you will either end up in conflict with them, or they will take you off-track.

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      When you spend time with people who share your goals, you’ll have more opportunities for growth. Your peers will understand your mission, and you can use your collective brainpower and resources to strive for success. These people can offer you insights and motivate you.

      When you make new friends or apply for a new job, you need to understand the person or entity’s core values. This means that you will have to do more than engage the people around you in small talk. Asking people where they like to go, talking about the weather, or inquiring about their weekend doesn’t tell you much about them.

      Asking philosophical and ethical questions can give you insight into a person’s character. They don’t necessarily have to agree with you on all points in order to be a good match, but if someone responds in a manner that is completely against your core values, then they might not share your perspective about life.

      Asking someone, “What is your favorite quote (or book) and why?” or “What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?” can tell you a lot about someone you’ve just met. If you are having a deeper discussion, asking, “Are you religious or spiritual?” or “How do you measure your success?” can prompt people to open up about what is important to them.[3]

      Making the decision to give up on something that isn’t working for you is part of becoming successful. Some of the best-intended moves can consume too much time and energy to be worthwhile. Strategies and that worked for you in the past may need to be adapted or abandoned when they stop being beneficial. People who you thought were your friends could have a negative impact on your work.

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

      When you clear away ideas and initiatives that no longer serve you, you make room for fresh ideas to take shape. Quitting is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a capacity to give up is one of the best-kept secrets among successful people.

      Reference

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      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

      The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

      It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

      Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

      “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

      In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

      New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

      There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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      So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

      What is the productivity paradox?

      There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

      In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

      He wrote in his conclusion:

      “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

      Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

      How do we measure productivity anyway?

      And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

      In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

      But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

      In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

      But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

      Possible causes of the productivity paradox

      Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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      • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
      • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
      • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
      • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

      There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

      According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

      Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

      The paradox and the recession

      The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

      “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

      This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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      According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

      Looking forward

      A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

      “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

      Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

      “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

      On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

      Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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