How to Be an Effective Person

There are two things that make someone effective:

  1. Consistency
  2. Willingness to solve difficult problems and have difficult conversations


The person that shows commitment to showing up day in and day out, getting the right things done or keeping the difficult disciplines… That person is effective.

You know the type. That’s the one that you trust. That’s the person who will say they’ll do something, and they’ll do it.

Things do not fall through the cracks with that person.

That’s an effective person. A trustworthy person, not because the person doesn’t lie, but because she shows up, gets the work done, and shows up again.

Facing Hard Problems

It’s about facing down a problem, making a decision about the problem, and taking action.

It’s also about facing down a difficult conversation, making the phone call or setting up the meeting, and having that difficult conversation.

Being effective is about being willing to do the things that neither you nor most others would naturally want to do.

Most people who are successful, at some point in their journey, were willing to do the things that nobody else was willing to do.

They faced the hard problems or difficult disciplines or early mornings or late nights and did not shrink back.

They made decisions and took action, iterated as needed, and kept going.

What Being Effective Isn’t

It’s not about being well-liked.

It’s not bad to be well-liked. But spend too much time trying to be well-liked, and there’s a good chance you’re chipping away at your effectiveness. You’re always taking the temperature of the room and gathering opinions and slowly grinding your decisions and consistency to a halt.

It’s also not about being right all the time or making the right decisions all the time.

Analysis Paralysis is the enemy of effectiveness. Mull and mull and mull and there’s a good chance, a window might have passed (although I’m firmly in the camp that no situation is unredeemable).

Obsession with being liked and being right every single time will both kill effectiveness.

How to Develop Effectiveness as a Person

True confession, I am king of wanting to make sure each decision is correct. Even to the point of taking a week to decide on a lawn mower or a refrigerator. Wasting all that time researching when in reality any modern appliance is going to be fine.

Moving from wanting to be liked and wanting to be right is something that I’m continually working on.

Two keys to developing more in the areas of discipline and facing hard problems….

  1. Have systems and routines: One of the keys to consistency is to develop systems where you can slowly remove the distractions and other temptations to avoid doing what you have to do. Reduce your need for willpower. Consistency increases the more you create an environment and system that doesn’t depend on your white knuckles in order to get the thing done.
  2. Have a decision-making filter: Solving problems and having difficult conversations are about making decisions. The filter doesn’t have to be perfect (remember – you don’t have to get things completely right all the time), but having one is key. Mine: (a) What does love require? (b) Based on my past, my current situation, and my future hopes, what is the wise thing to do? and (c) What does unmitigated discipline in all things look like in this situation?

There you have it. My personal opinion about how to be an effective person. Think through these things and let me know if you think I’m right. Overlay these ideas against each of your roles – parenting, in the market, as a friend, as a steward of your own health, in your finances.

Let me know in the comments….

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