How to Become an Effective Person

First off, I don’t claim to have the secret to accomplishing this feat of “becoming effective.” I’m just trying to figure it out myself.

Effectiveness isn’t a common goal. We want to be successful, happy, purposeful.  Effective sounds a little harsh. It sounds too utilitarian. But to me, it’s not about being an uber-disciplined hard body that never relaxes and only does things that creates ‘results’ (normally defined as money, things, numbers of people – any kind of measurable sign of achievement).

I see the idea of being an effective person a little differently.

Defining Effectiveness

Being effective is about causing growth and change. It’s about building. It’s about seeing people around you flourish and flourishing yourself.

Living an effective life is to have purpose and to act on that purpose. I’m not sure if it’s about achieving greatness. Greatness is even more difficult to define.

It is, though, about doing great things and moving mountains bit by bit, day by day.

Hindering Effectiveness

Running through water with ankle weights and a parachute tied to your back makes for slow going. Yet I sometimes fall prey to adding every manner of encumbrance to my mental, spiritual, financial, emotional, and physical life.

These things – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual clutter – hinder effectiveness. We try to add every bright, new shiny object that catches our eye, but these things become more anchor than decoration.

This clutter will take different forms in different lives. And oftentimes the most cluttery thing is that we aren’t clear on what needs to be uncluttered. We don’t know what effectiveness would even look like in our lives. We aren’t clear about what we want to be effective at.

Lack of clarity and clutter both hinder effectiveness.

Releasing Effectiveness

Is it too simplistic to say that releasing effectiveness is simply a matter of removing clutter and gaining clarity?

As with many things that produce results, it isn’t the answer that is difficult. It’s taking action.

It’s viciously slicing through our priorities and interests and getting to the core of the important things in life.

I’m a Christian, a father, and a husband. The first step for me is knowing that I want to be effective in each of those three areas. Everything else in my life flows from those three roles. My work life. My health. My finances. All other relationships. All else in my life should serve those areas.

Being clear on these three areas is the first step. And it’s a good place to start for anybody.

What are my main roles? That’s part 1.

Part 2 is this: What contributes to my ability to be effective in these three roles? What does not? This is where clutter seeps in.

This whole life decluttering can be tricky. It does not imply that we do not take care of ourselves and simply remove all things that prevent us from serving God, spouses, children, and friends. In actuality, we cannot fulfill these roles without being deeply rooted in healthy soil.

If my heart, mind, soul, and body aren’t being fed and nourished, then I can’t be an effective and nourishing person.  This being fed and nourished requires some time that might appear selfish to the very people who are primary in our lives. We’ll hash out these ideas more as we go along.

The point, though, is that releasing effectiveness means we must be clear on who we are and what is vitally important to us. Then we must start removing the things that hinder us.

This is simple. This is not easy. Some of the things that need to be removed aren’t on shelves, but on our calendars, minds, and hearts.

For now, two exercises that might help get you started:

  1. Define the key roles: Where do you want most to live an effective life?
  2. Be mindful of the commitments you say ‘yes’ to and those you say ‘no’ to. Just take mental note. Does this commitment contribute to your effectiveness? Does it take away from your ability to be effective?

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