You Can’t Hack Your Way to Success

Hacking is all the rage.  We are obsessed with shortcuts in our country and culture.  Take this pill for this, do this 30-day program for that.  The goal with hacking should be to increase our effectiveness and well-being.  Instead, we use it to receive more leisure.  More leisure in a culture that already averages over 5 hours per day watching TV and 2 hours watching the social media feed, is that really what is needed?  When considering the implementation of a new hack, check to see if it will increase or improve any of these conditions in your life:


Freedom – Will this hack increase my personal freedom?  The most commonly considered freedom is the freedom of time.  The greater the freedom to use your time, the more likely it is you will be satisfied with your life.  Time freedom is also work freedom.  Work freedom means you are able to spend your time doing what you do best and where you bring the most value to the world.  Dan Sullivan calls this your “unique ability.”  Any time you spend your energy in your unique ability, you are happy because you are doing what you do best!  If you want more freedom in your life, learn to focus on what you do best and say no to the distractions that take you away from your unique ability.


Skill development – You can’t hack your way to mastery.  Mastery is achieved through intentional and deliberate practice.  How intentional are you being at growing your ability to do what you do?  Millions of people do the bare minimum.  Their motto is “get by.”  If you are serious about making the most out of the one life you are blessed to live, you will focus on mastery.  The most common excuse I hear is “I don’t have time.”  The average adult in America spends 2 hours per day on social media and 5 hours watching TV.  Take 1 hour per day to study your craft and you will soon be an industry expert.  It is really that simple but the majority will continue to make excuses instead of doing the work.


Productivity – There are several hacks to help achieve greater productivity.  The key consideration is what can someone or something else do better than I can and letting them or it, do it.  Our goal with increased productivity should be to deliver greater and greater value, more efficiently.  The goal is not to get more done for the sake of getting more done.  An example is yard work.  If you mow your yard and get no enjoyment from it, why not hire a company to free up your time to do other activities?  Create a list of the following:

  • What activities am I currently doing that I could outsource and ultimately improve my productivity?
  • Who can take over these activities?
  • What is your time worth?


Energy – The world is full of energy hacks.  The energy I am writing about here is the energy we bring to our life and work.  To be at our best and perform at our best requires that we bring a high level of energy with us.  Energy comes from three main sources: sleep, movement, and nutrition.  Sleep is the most critical of the three elements.  There are hacks to help you achieve better sleep, but no hacks can replace sleep.  We require 7-8 hours, period.  The data is unequivocal.  Movement is about exercise.  We can build our capacity for higher levels of energy through exercise.  There are countless strategies for implementing movement into our lives.  The science indicates that heart rate variability during exercise is one of the most efficient ways to achieve greater capacity, but there are many other ways.  The key is to schedule it and do it.  Most of our energy actually comes from the foods we consume.  The typical American feeds their pets better than they feed themselves and their families.  Sugar feeds cancer.  Flour turns to sugar.  Ideally, you’re getting 70% green stuff and 30% protein.  There are countless strategies out there to choose from, but my recommendation is to keep it simple.  Complicated strategies are easy to kick to the curb.  Eat real food.  None of us lack capacity, but many of us lack the discipline.


Recovery – It is important to take a break.  Recovery is one of the most underrated strategies for high performance.  The achiever goes and goes until they crash and burn.  Our brain most often has its best ideas during recovery.  Our body needs time to repair itself after a stretch of strenuous activity.  Social media is a stimulus and the world is on a mission to keep you stimulated 24/7.  Scheduling recovery is key.  When will you plan to shut down?  How about a break from electronics a couple of time per week, or a weekend free of social media?  Recovery is achieved only by relief from stimulus.  Schedule breaks daily, take a walk or a nap, plan a weekend away or a vacation free from stimuli that drain your energy.


We can’t hack our way to happiness.  When we are intentional about developing our skills, increasing productivity, managing energy, and creating space for recovery, we will have a greater ability to serve.  It is through service that the ultimate satisfaction in life is experienced.  True freedom is achieved when we are able to serve others at a high level, delivering significant value through our service.  The most admired companies and people serve at a high level, and so can you.


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