Harvey Mackay is a very successful businessperson. Mackay believes that success with anything comes by following one very simple rule: always be as productive as possible. Small businesses, large businesses, and everything in between must be productive in order to reach and exceed their goals. With the 2016 OPE season now well underway, it’s important to evaluate our productivity. Are we missing out on any opportunities due to being unproductive? To illustrate his simple rule for success, Mackay shared the following story:
We all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. That is a limitation of our existence. So, the only way to achieve more success with the time you have is to make that time more productive. Over the years, I’ve found it so helpful to invest a few minutes at the end of each week to think about how I could have been more productive. The realizations that have come to me have truly made my life and my business better.
I was fortunate early in my sales career to take some advice to heart. The advice was that “poor people should take rich people to lunch — and listen.” Since the results of my real estate career at that point in time would definitely fall under the “poor” category, I started paying attention to who was doing better than I was. There was a man in business in my community who everyone looked up to because of his great success. I decided I would take him to lunch.
It took several attempts, but my persistence paid off and he finally agreed to meet me for lunch. I had chosen a nice restaurant, and was so nervous that I was afraid to pick up my water glass for fear of spilling it all over myself. I hadn’t prepared well and didn’t even know where to begin with asking him questions. After a few minutes, he asked me why I wanted to meet with him. When I told him about the advice I had been given, he asked if I was serious about wanting to achieve success. I seem to recall my voice cracking as I replied “yes.”
He leaned back in his chair for a moment, looking at me. Then, he said, “Tom, I’m going to give you the best advice I’ve ever received. I’ve applied this advice to everything — my business, my family life, everything. I apply it every day, too — not just when I feel like it. Some days, you’ll love me for giving you this advice. Other days, you’ll wish you’d never heard it, but it will always work for you.” I was so excited that he would help me this way. I started looking for something to write on. As a young, inexperienced businessperson, I had failed to bring pen and paper. The restaurant had cloth napkins, and I was afraid I would forget this precious advice. Then, the man leaned forward, looked me straight in the eye, and said 12 words that changed my life forever. I’ll share those words with you now: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”
I was shocked. It sounded so simple. Could true success be gained just from being productive? Well, let me tell you, it can. I have lived by those words ever since the day I heard them. And let me also tell you that it’s not always easy to follow that advice. There were times when I wanted to linger in bed rather than getting on my exercise bike. There were days when playing golf sounded a lot more fun than going into the office. But when I acted on that advice, I had better days and achieved greater success.
Please understand that living by this advice is not meant to turn you into a workaholic. Is playing on the beach with your loved ones a productive use of your time? Of course, it is — when the money for the vacation has been earned. Is being present at your children’s sporting events productive? You bet it is.
Take those 12 words and start asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now productive as to achieving my goals?” If it’s not, make a choice and conscious effort to change what you’re doing to “the most productive thing possible.” You’ll start achieving both more balance and more success in your life.