How the Activities You’re So Damn Good at Can Sabotage Your Success

16 years ago I was a kid with a little web company who wrote an article a week for for the local county newspaper in hopes of getting new clients.

In exchange for a handful of print advertisements each month, I was the Summit Daily‘s computer and tech and website columnist.

[sidenote: I also spelled my name with a capital R and capital L because “that’s how it looks when I sign my name.”]

11 years later, I was still writing two times a month for the newspaper, even though I realized I hated it.

WHY was I still doing it?

Because I’d been told over and over again I was Excellent at it.

It was an “Excellent activity.” *

IN OTHER WORDS: I was doing something that didn’t actually serve me just BECAUSE I was really good at it.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Wait. Why the fuck am I doing this? I hate it. My clients are national and international now, not local. And who CARES if people love my column – it doesn’t bring me joy or business. OMG.”

– Facepalm.-

I quit writing piddly little website articles that day, forever.  (Yeah, sometimes I’m slow. Please don’t let it take you a decade to learn simple lessons like this.


And here’s what I promised myself from that day forward:

Four times a year I would implement a Stop-Inventory.

I’d spend 15 – 30 minutes, listing out all my business efforts, doing a quick overview of how I’ve been investing my time, and choosing a minimum of one thing to cut out completely. And I’d give extra focus to things I do WELL but don’t light me up. (my Excellent activities.)

  • It’s easy.
  • It’s invaluable.
  • It’s scheduled into my calendar.

And nearly every time, I find something that’s snuck in below my radar that I’ve kept doing over and over and over…like a robot…without questioning it – simply because I’m really good or efficient at it.


It comes down to this:

DOING SOMETHING WELL THAT’S UNIMPORTANT DOESN’T MAKE IT IMPORTANT.

If you’re not regularly, actively questioning your weekly activities, you’re almost certainly doing things that you’re EXCELLENT at that USED to serve you, but would be best delegated or stopped altogether.

It’s up to you to distinguish between what’s valuable, what will lead you toward your intended result, and what’s just WORK.

It’s surprisingly easy to get pulled into auto-pilot.

Quarterly Stop-Inventories help ensure you won’t get stuck there for very long.

* Thanks to Dan Sullivan for naming this.

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