How many tools do you use each day in an attempt to make yourself more productive, efficient, and effective in running your business and your life?
From my Samsung Galaxy to Gmail and Google AdWords to TeamworkPM and Toodledo – there are no shortage of tools I use every single day. Without them I couldn’t do what I do.
That said, I recently got a poignant reminder that all these tools we use have serious limitations.
This reminder came while reading an incredible book – Resilience by Eric Greitens. Greitens is a former Navy Seal and the book shares a series of letters he wrote to a friend, and fellow Navy Seal, who’s battling PTSD, alcoholism, a failed business and the loss of his brother.
It’s a beautifully written book and contains extremely powerful life lessons that apply to everyone, whether you’re Navy Seal material or not.
In one of the letters to his friend he talks about tools. Here’s the gist of what he has to say:
Tools certainly help to make us successful…
As Greitens writes, “We invented spears to bring down mammoths, compasses to cross oceans, printing presses to communicate across continents.”
There’s no doubt our lives are better in so many ways due to the tools we’ve invented.
But, as Greitens points out, it’s very easy for we humans to fall in love with our tools so much that we lose sight of their place. He gives a few examples…
One is in education where we spend a great deal of effort and millions of dollars to bring technology into the classroom. Yet, as he points out, “the great majority of students in the great majority of circumstances can learn almost all of what they need to know with a supportive family, a pencil, some paper, good books and a great teacher.”
Remember… the schools that produced Shakespeare, Jefferson and Darwin simply had some writing materials and printed books.
He also talks about a similar issue with policing. Greitens had worked with the Baltimore Police Department for a few years and was invited to speak at the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Conference.
At the conference, almost every speaker talked about some new piece of technology that was supposed to help police be more effective: surveillance systems, non-lethal weaponry, robotic cameras, gunshot detection systems, etc.
Greitens writes “These tools can be helpful, but only if those who serve as police officers have the basic skills of communication, teamwork, physical fitness, integrity, courage, compassion, cleverness, and fairness.”
And lastly he talks about being a Navy SEAL and having access to the most sophisticated technology in the world. Yet, even with access to all this, the SEALs have a simple mantra:
“Humans before hardware.”
“Millions of people, in all walks of life, and in every endeavor, create distractions and excuses for themselves by focusing on tools rather than on character. They’d rather, as Socrates warned, focus on what they have than on what they are.”
Toodledo is a great tool to organize and keep track of your To Do list. But it’s much more effective when you know how to prioritize tasks and are able to identify the tasks that are truly most vital to achieving both your short term and long terms goals.
TeamworkPM is a great tool to manage a business’ team and projects. But it’s much more powerful when you have the right people doing the right tasks and who are working toward a common goal that the team believes in.
AdWords is a powerful tool to advertise a business. But it’s MUCH more effective when used by those with a strong background in good old fashioned salesmanship and direct marketing skills and can create a powerful sales message and funnel that connects with their ideal prospects.
It’s easy to get blinded by the bright shiny objects that are the tools we convince ourselves are the keys to solving our woes and making life easier and us richer, more productive, better.
But before you put that new tool to use, stop and ask yourself the hard question of whether you have the required character, knowledge, and clarity of what you intend to achieve with that tool to make the most of it.
“Humans before hardware.”
Ever wish for a little extra time each day so you can cross more off your To Do List?
Unfortunately, time’s always been one of those things you can’t buy more of… at least, until now.
A few months ago, a member of my Mastermind Group highly recommended a tool that I now use almost daily. It’s simple to use, does exactly what it says it does and does it really well.
And it’s one of the best time management tools around. Since I started using it a few months ago it’s saved me 38 hours 20 minutes and 43 seconds (it has a built in counter that tracks this for me!).
The tool is called MySpeed by Enounce. It’s a tool that lets you speed up videos you watch online to save time.
Videos are everywhere you go on the Internet. And MySpeed integrates with your web browser so you can increase the playback speed of any of those videos (or streaming audio) up to 5 times. And it doesn’t distort the video’s audio quality. Voices sound fast, but normal (not at all like chipmunks 😉
I watch a lot of videos online… mostly training courses, but also informational videos, promotional videos, recorded webinars, etc. I find I can speed them up anywhere from 1.5 – 2 times and still understand all the content in the video. Sometimes I even go faster than 2 times if it’s material I’m familiar with or fluff I want to skip.
(You can also slow down videos too which can be helpful if you want to take notes.)
With MySpeed I’ve effectively doubled the amount of information I can consume from video (which is a good thing because in the fast changing world of online marketing, there’s a lot of quality video content to get through!).
But I don’t just use it for business purposes. Know those commercials that pop up before you watch news/entertainment videos on the web? Just crank MySpeed up to full speed and you’re done with those videos in a few seconds so you quickly get to the content you wanna watch!
There are also news/entertainment videos that seem intriguing, but I don’t want to waste a lot of time watching them. Again, I can play them back quickly to get the gist of them, skip the fluff and focus on the good parts (if there are any!).
Now, it’s not a perfect tool. Some sites don’t have the bandwidth to stream videos quickly. If you speed these up in MySpeed, you end up with the videos stopping and buffering, playing a few seconds, then stopping and buffering again. (Unfortunately, this happens for most TED videos which I’d love to be able to get through more of, more quickly!)
That’s annoying but, overall, MySpeed is fantastic. If you watch a lot of online videos, it’s an incredible productivity tool.
It only cost me a one-time $49 for the Premier version which has easily paid for itself many times over. I haven’t found anywhere else you can buy extra time so cheaply.
You can get a free 7-Day trial of MySpeed here.