Be the chicken with the head in 2013

Here at Idealog HQ, we read a lot of business books. In fact, we go through business books like regular people go through breath mints. So it’s something of an accolade to say we’ve found the must-read book of the year.

book review the art of deliberate success dr david keaneI kid you not when I say I’ve happened upon a book which, if you do nothing else this year, you absolutely must read. That is, if you are aiming for an inordinate amount of career and life success, and living your life deliberately.

Dr David Keane’s The Art of Deliberate Success landed on my desk late last year and I initially put it into the pile of ‘stuff that I might read over the summer but not immediately gripping’. Books that promise to sort your life out are a dime a dozen, so what makes this so different?

Well, Keane has spent years studying what it is that successful people do that makes them so successful. His thesis is that you need to first figure out what success means to you and what your ULP (Unique Life Purpose) is. From there you sort out ‘campaigns’ – mini-goals to help achieve your ULP. Then you set about culling the dross and prioritising the important stuff in order to make it happen.

Two points from the book stood out to me. The first is that being busy isn’t necessarily a sign of success or an indicator that someone is hard-working. And don’t we all know that person in the office who rushes from A to B like a headless chicken, flapping their jazz hands and creating drama, without achieving much at all? Excessive business is more like a sign of inefficiency and an inability to prioritise the truly important stuff – the stuff that’s going to get you from A right through to Z in no time at all.

We feel as if we’re not achieving if we’re not busy, though. (Got time on your hands? Able to get your work done and leave on time? Clearly you're lazy, you indolent sloth!) ‘How are you?’ someone asks. ‘Sooooo busy,’ we say, as if it’s a badge of honour.

It’s not. It’s a badge of shame, an indicator of a lack of effectiveness. Ever noticed that the most successful people don’t really seem to be all that busy?

Don’t be the headless chicken. Have a head! Be the chicken with the head in 2013. (Click here to enter to win a copy of the book.)

The second point that stood out is something reminiscent of the 4-Hour Workweek principles: eliminate the crap. Perhaps you’re letting emails interrupt you every five seconds rather than actually getting any work done. Maybe you spend a lot of time consuming pointless news media or surfing the net, feeling like you have to keep up to date with everything that’s going on. Or you might have unnecessary clutter around you at work or at home.

Get rid of it, says Keane. If something important happens in the world, you’ll get to hear about it from other people. Emails can largely go unanswered for a day – if someone needs you urgently, they’ll come see you or pick up the phone. And do you really need all that junk sitting around or is it just creating more work?

The ultimate premise of the book is to really carefully consider what you’re doing in life and how you can do it with purpose – hence, deliberate success.

I like the idea of success being something you deliberately create rather than just having it accidentally happen to you. Because it’s funny how people who are the ‘luckiest’ in life also tend to be the most hard-working.

What are your goals for 2013 and how could you live life more deliberately? And have you read the 4-Hour Workweek and what did you think of it?