On the Shoulders of Giants

by Brian SperonelloIcon

"What Gets Measured Gets Managed"

"What gets measured gets managed" - Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive
Both of Tim Ferriss' books mention this quote by Peter Drucker, who is an expert on business processes and management, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The most amazing thing about it is how much power is crammed into five simple words.

The unavoidable result of taking measurements is action. One of the case studies in The 4-Hour Body was of a guy who simply started weighing himself every day and wound up losing an amazing amount of weight. He didn't even consciously try to change anything, all he did was force himself to step on the scale every morning and record his weight in a spreadsheet. Simply knowing what his weight was subconsciously effected his behavior and caused him to shed his extra pounds. And the best part is the power of this quote is amplified if you are actively trying to change.

One of the hardest parts about behavioral change is simply getting started. Steven Pressfield's theory of "Resistance" from The War of Art comes in many forms, but procrastination is one of the most common. As he says in the book, "We don't tell ourselves, 'I'm never going to write my symphony.' Instead we say, 'I'm going to write my symphony; I'm just going to start tomorrow.'" Fortunately for us, actively taking measurements is a powerful weapon for beating Resistance when it comes in the form of procrastination.

Whatever behavior you are trying to change, starting with something small and easy is crucial because it allows you to achieve what Ramit Sethi refers to as "quick wins." Seeing results early provides positive feedback and the encouragement to keep going, and taking measurements accomplishes two critical objectives that allow quick wins to happen.

First, taking measurements gives you perspective so you know where your starting point is. If you're trying to drink less when you go out, do you know how much you currently drink each night? If not, how will you know when you've reduced your alcohol intake? If you're trying to save more money, do you know how much you're saving now? If not, how will you know when you've started saving more? If you don't know where you're starting, you won't know if you're making progress, and that will block you from experiencing the early success that is crucial for experiencing quick wins. Knowing where you're starting will also allow you to make your first milestone extremely small and achievable, another thing that enables quick wins.

Second, taking measurements is usually extremely easy, but it still requires you to slightly change your behavior. That means it's a perfect way to make a small, simple change that still puts you on the path towards complete behavioral change.

Next time you're trying to change your behavior, try making your first step to simply start tracking for a week whatever you want to improve. It takes two seconds to step on a scale every morning or to write down how many reps and what weight you put up at the gym, but once you've begun taking measurements it's impossible to stop yourself from thinking "Okay, so what can I do to move this number in the direction I want it to go?"

Implementing the ideas that come from these internal brainstorming sessions doesn't feel like such a monumental step if the ideas are coming involuntarily, but they don't happen that way unless you start taking measurements. Once they do though, you will most likely find yourself making the behavioral changes you wanted without even thinking about it!

This post stands on the shoulders of:

Tim Ferriss - He's obviously a huge proponent of testing and self-experimentation, and he introduced me to the quote at the top of this post. See his book The 4-Hour Body.

Ramit Sethi - The term "quick wins," and their application in the process of behavioral change.

Steven Pressfield - The idea of "Resistance" from his book The War of Art.


Post a Comment 0 comments:

Post a Comment