These two words often confused me when I was younger. Productive was the one that I was most familiar with. It had tangible results and immediate gratification. I could tell when I was productive when my list had many things crossed off.
Of course, when we are younger we have more energy so it is easy to see why this is so alluring. We want to get so much done. We want to make such an impact. Time management has a vast library of books to help us defy time in order to get more done and be more productive.
Effective is a concept that I knew little about nor rarely considered. Blog after blog, article after article talks mainly about change and productivity. The production line thinking of the beginning stages of our industrial revolution front and present in our lives. More modern thought professes that exclusion of trivial things from our day will make us more productive.
The difficulty in all this is that, again, there is never any discussion about choice. About what we choose to personally strive towards is difficult in itself to decide. Our choices should be different and unique to who we are. Effectiveness is about judging our progress towards the choices we make.
Remember the crossing off of items on our list? There is no easy score card when it comes to being effective. The time horizon is much longer. The degree of effectiveness we realize in our lives even varies depending on whether we are talking about personal, family or our professional lives.
Consider this. Who is more effective? Is it the parent that works full time, gets the kids to school, cooks dinner, and takes them to piano lessons? Or is it the parent that works full time, picks them up after school, buys them fast food for dinner and then spends two hours every night during the week helping them with their homework?
Not easy to decide, right? Is it the small restaurant owner that is open every day of the year and has been in business for the the last 30 years? Or is it the older gentleman who has a $50 million dollar business that he started from scratch 40 years ago?
You see all of these persons may or may not be considered effective. You need to know what choices they decided to make. The small restaurant owner raised three children, all of whom went to college, and all three went to medical school. Does this information now change your opinion of him or her?
Effectiveness is what we should think more about. It’s messier. It’s more uncertain. It may not reveal itself until much later. Even more complexity constrains us when we consider what our responsibilities are for the positions we hold?
Responsibilities demand us to pay attention at being effective. There are outcomes that are asked of us to deliver when we are in positions of authority. Is it possible that we can convince ourselves that we are very productive by the scheduling of our time yet not very effective in delivering the outcomes that the position of responsibility we hold asks of us?
Our responsibilities many times will affect the choices we can make given the outcomes we must deliver. These types of choices become even harder to make in our lives, especially when we believe differently in what is right to do.
I spent many years working hard, my life full of activity, yet I went no where. Personally or professionally. They were good years spent at burning off my restless energy. It was only when choice began to become prominent in my life that my concern for effectiveness grew.
Both choice and effectiveness have become my friends in times of uncertainty and in my moments of greatest weakness. Make them yours.