Executive Coaching Secrets for Productivity

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”~Aristotle

Executive Coaching Secrets for Productivity

In my 25 years of leadership experience and working with executives as an Appreciative Coach, I have noticed that there are a few distinct things that make the most successful executives stand out from the crowd.  These success behaviors focus tirelessly and repeatedly on what is working and in turn eliminate what is not working. In this guest post, Harvey Mackay’s column “Super Secrets to Becoming a Superachiever” addresses the three productivity secrets of super achiever’s and begins to uncover the magic behind the success of Appreciative Coaching. Harvey Mackey is a leading authority in leadership development and his books have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Read the column here to find out the super secrets for yourself and then answer the coaching questions at the end of this blog to find out how to put this information into action in your life.

Super secrets to becoming a superachiever

Because I do a lot of public speaking, I have developed a deep appreciation for top-notch speakers. So when I was brainstorming and looking for a real show-stopper to address a group of business people I am mentoring, I asked Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS magazine to be one of our presenters.

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Darren is in the rare position to interview the most celebrated achievers on the planet to discover how they have created their extraordinary success. Astute SUCCESS readers use the advice to achieve more and lead greater fulfilling lives.

Darren’s message, three productivity secrets of superachievers, was a real eye-opener. Number one might surprise you, because so many people want to know what individuals like Richard Branson do to create great results. But the answer is just the opposite. It’s not what they do at all. It’s what they don’t do, according to Darren.

Saying “yes” is easy, he said.  There’s no hassle in saying yes.  The master skill, however, is saying “no.” Everyone can say yes. No is hard because it causes conflict in relationships.

When Darren got a chance to interview Warren Buffett, he asked him the question that everyone wants answered:

“What would you attribute your grand success to?” The key to his great success was this: “For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say ‘no’ 99 times.

Darren asked the late Steve Jobs, “Of all the things that you have built and created, that have changed the world, what are you and Apple most proud of? His answer was, ‘I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.’”

Distinction number two of superachievers is to learn to focus on the vital few.

“A lot of us try to become master of many things,” Darren said. “We try to be great at a lot of things, and as a result, we don’t ever become world class at a few things. Look at Olympic athletes, entertainers, Nobel laureates or Albert Einstein. They were all world class at just a few things. The rest of their lives they were pretty mediocre.”

Darren makes the point that long hours are very different from hard work. Hard work is doing the few things that are hard to do but produce the big results.

“A great confusion for a lot of us is that we think there are all of these functions we need to be involved in and we need to be great at,” he added. “Really, like anything in life, there’s about a half dozen vital functions that you need to become excellent or brilliant at in order to create gargantuan success.”

What are your vital functions? What are the three vital functions that only you can do? What are the three functions that contribute the most to the success of your business or job? If you take the time to write them down, it will force you to focus your attention on what it is you should be doing every day.

Darren’s personal goal is to spend 90 percent of his time on his three functions. Best-selling author Jim Collins says if you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.

Steve Jobs learned when he was running Pixar that there’s great power in working on just one big thing at a time. When you can get your whole staff to focus on one thing, their creativity is off the charts. That’s why Jobs and Apple did one thing at a time.  They did the iPod. Then they did the iPhone. Then the iPad. Then they did retail – one big thing at a time.

The final distinction of superachievers, according to Darren, is that they’ve developed unconscious habits of success. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Darren explained: “When you repeat an activity over and over, the reason why it becomes an unconscious habit is it develops what’s called a neurosignature. It actually burns a brain groove. Every time you do something, it continues to reinforce this brain groove and we become what we practice the most.”

You can read more of Darren’s advice in his book, The Compound Effect, which I highly recommend. Especially helpful are the five ways to change bad habits and seven ways to install success habits. Bottom line: You have to develop a daily routine that will lead you to success.

“If somebody were to ask me what’s the one attribute that I would attribute my success to, it would be the ability to stay consistent.” Darren said. “Staying consistent creates momentum.”

Mackay’s Moral: Lots of people start, but few people finish.

Reposted with the permission of www.harveymackey.com

Coaching Questions to ask yourself:  Of all the projects I am doing, what should I focus on and what should I let go of?  What do I do well and how can I concentrate on that? What are you not doing because you are being cowardly? What are your vital functions? Take inspired action, leave me a comment here and share what you will do.


  1. Calla Gold on April 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    What a great post! Saying no is not always easy, and it was an unexpected Number One Thing. I love the idea of becoming great a couple of things, rather than trying to do it all. Multitasking is rarely a great approach to anything.

    • DrLynnKJones on April 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

      @Calla Gold Saying “no” is hard, especially for people like me–I am interested in everything–I want to do it all.  I have to remember what Steve Jobs said, “that he was proud of the things he chose not to do,”  so often we are only proud of our accomplishments.  Interesting concept.

      • Calla Gold on April 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

        @DrLynnKJones I love the concept of being proud of things you said no to. Just counter intuitive. That’s cool.

        • DrLynnKJones on April 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

          @Calla Gold I agree.  Totally counter intuitive.  I am going to have to read more about that.

  2. creativeguidetothrive on April 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I love Darren Hardy’s mind set, writing 3 things that you are great at and have it become your neurosignature is brilliant, well done!

    • DrLynnKJones on April 2, 2013 at 10:04 am

      @creativeguidetothrive I love the idea of a “neurosignature.”  When we start realizing that we can influence our brain so powerfully a whole new world opens up to us.  Thanks for commenting.

  3. Drwrightson on April 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

    This is a great reminder to me as I am building my business and having a lot of opportunities to say yes! So important to remember its ok to say no a lot of the time! Thanks for posting!

    • DrLynnKJones on April 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

      @Drwrightson Hi Kristi, When building a business there are indeed a lot of great opportunities to say “yes.”  I personally think it is hard to say “no,” but if it worked for Steve Jobs, then I am pretty sure it will work for you and me!  All the best in your business.

  4. YasirQayyum on November 16, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Thank you
    for the article.  Coaching is evolving and from my perspective, more
    leaders are coming to coaching to build self awareness and interpersonal

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