M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
Do you remember my update from a few weeks ago?
The one where I explained that the biggest productivity problem people face is they don’t realise they have a productivity problem?
The one where I told you to go take TAoL’s productivity quiz if you didn’t believe me? To go see how productive you really are for yourself?
You do remember that? And you spent two minutes taking the quiz?
Because if you’re like 99% of people who get here; if you’ve suddenly realised that lack of clarity, consistency and execution is the main thing that’s holding you back; if you’re anything like I was when I started this journey then I bet I can guess your next question…
I bet you’re thinking something like, “Alright, Arthur. I have a productivity problem. So tell me straight: what can I do about it?”
But before we dive into solutions (which is where so many people get lost) let me counter your question with another…
“What even is productivity?”
That’s a tough one…
And I promise I’m not trying to be difficult.
I’m asking because the second-biggest productivity problem I see people face; the thing I see cause so much disconnect and confusion among newbies and gurus alike is that they’re trying to solve a problem they haven’t clearly defined yet.
And if there’s one thing I learned at McKinsey, it’s that clearly defining a problem, breaking it down into small, meaningful chunks, is the first step in any solution.
Look at “Love“. (It’s on my mind at the moment.)
You love yourself and your partner and your family. You love your friends and your pets. You love the stranger you shared a smile with on the subway.
But you also love your country and your team and sunsets and blue skies and the feel of soft, clean, white sheets on your skin. 🤤
So if your question was, “What can I do about love?” and I jumped straight in with tips on physical affection… you can see how things might end up complicated.
Now, the ancient Greeks knew how to talk about love. Because the first thing the Greeks didn’t do was just dive in and “solve” the big problem.
The first thing the Greeks did was to break the big problem down into pieces.
Specifically, they broke love down into (at least) 6 different areas:
- Agape – Love for all people; universal goodwill;
- Eros – Intimate love; sexual desire and passion;
- Philia – Friendship or affectionate regard, usually among equals;
- Storge – Familial love; especially towards parents and children;
- Philautia – Self-love; regard for one’s own happiness and advantage; and
- Xenia – Hospitality; love of and generosity towards strangers.
Isn’t that powerful?
In just six words it’s obvious how just one concept of love is inadequate.
In just six words we can see which parts of love we excel at and which parts of love we could work on. We can talk about love in a way that puts us all on one register. We can think about love (and what to do about it) in a way that is actually useful.
Which is why the first question we should ask of productivity isn’t, “How can I fix it?”
Our first question should be, “What is productivity?”
Does that resonate?
Now this update is too long already, so before I dive into my answer, I’d love to understand your perspective.
I’d love you to LEAVE A COMMENT below and tell me how YOU’D break productivity into 3 – 5 (possibly more) meaningful areas.
I’ll look forward to reading your answers (there’s no right or wrong here).
I’ll share my own views on the topic next Tuesday.
And until then, have a wonderful week, love thy neighbour and go well 🤘