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Leverage Points

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Helicopter Leverage

Leverage Points are the intersection of our strengths, high-value activities and wants. They are what we do to create results and do amazing things in lives. This article is going to break them down into further detail, and show you how to uncover your own leverage points, then make sure that you’re spending most of your time on them.

We’ve mentioned Leverage Points before in our time management case studies. If you remember, they’re all related to this diagram:

AE Consulting Diagram

In a nutshell, leverage points are the “sweet spot” of activities – the things you do that yield wide beneficial impacts across your entire life. They are the things that you can do day-to-day that push you towards your goals. They are also the things that you happen to enjoy doing.

In fact, if you’ve heard the idea of “do what you’re passionate about then success will come”, then you’ve heard a distortion of the idea of leverage points. I don’t believe that passion necessarily leads to success, but I know that spending more and more time on your leverage points does. This is not to say that you’ll enjoy every moment you spend on your leverage points – you won’t – but you’ll enjoy it more of the time rather than less.

The applicable side of leverage points is simple:

  1. Get you doing activities where you have the optimal leverage – where you can have a bigger impact and bigger results.
  2. Get you doing these activities more regularly.
  3. Identifying repetitive tasks that aren’t your leverage points and eliminating or outsourcing them.

Uncovering Your Leverage Points

Most people will already know what their leverage points are – it’s usually the obvious things.

But, let’s break it down even more for clarity.

Wants

Let’s start with our wants. These are the same things as our goals or outcomes.

If you haven’t worked it out already, find out what your goals and outcomes are using a goal setting process.

This is the simplest part of leverage points – if we know what we want, then we can direct action towards it.

Strengths

The idea of strengths and weaknesses is an interesting one. Essentially, it asks the question of “what kind of personality are you”.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here:

  • You are never just “one type”. It’s a gradation, and you are usually more inclined towards one personality type rather than another.
  • What “type” you are can change over time through conditioning and experience.

You can discover your “personality” any number of ways:

Essentially, you want to uncover what you’re good at and what you’re not. This has a ton of implications for how you live your life – you’ll have a better idea of what industries you’ll thrive in, what your socialising style is (or isn’t), and how to go about getting things done.

In my opinion, the biggest gradients to keep in mind are:

  • The introversion / extroversion scale. This should be fairly obvious – do you enjoy the attention and company of others all the time or not at all?
  • The time-sensitive / not-time-sensitive scale. As an example of this, there are some investors who can make money based on market timing, while others can make money regardless of market timing.

High Value Activities

The last component of leverage points is discovering what activities are considered high-value TO YOU. They are the activities that produce the most real-world impact (value and results).

The easiest way to uncover these is to use the concept of Covey’s four quadrants. Your high-value activities are Quadrant II activities.

Here are some examples from my own life:

  • Writing systems.
  • Creating valuable content, and the creative process in general.
  • Solving non-immediate problems.
  • Networking.

Putting it Together

Now that you’ve identified strengths, wants and activities, you need to put it all together. You’ve probably recognized that each component tends to narrow down choices in the other – for example, you may realize that you’re introverted (strength) and that networking (a high value activity) is something that you should outsource as much as possible.

Generally, items that you don’t want (that aren’t goals) cannot be leverage points. And items that don’t fit your natural strengths, are also not leverage points.

Using Leverage Points

Once you have your leverage points, the implementation should be obvious: spend more and more of your time on your leverage points rather than other activities.

You can track this through a simple journal question or through time tracking.

Next Actions

  • Identify your wants, strengths and high value activities.
  • Find your own personal leverage points.
  • Every day, ask yourself: how much time did I spend on my leverage points today?

Photo by: The U.S. Army

Questions? Comments? Want a detailed example? Ask below!

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2 Comments

Posted by Ooker  | January 4, 2017 at 12:45AM | Reply

I agree that it is essential to understand your personalities. It’s actually understand your own self. And I think what you really want is ultimately determined by your personalities. So it turns out that the Want and the Strengths circles are just one, and you’re left with only two circles with one overlap. That’s neater.

Among the tests, only the Myers-Brigg one you link are free (I’m not opposing to pay for those though), which has been told to have unreliable results. The trend now is using the Big Five. That one is neater.

My last point is that asking people around you or taking personality tests are good choices, but I think the best way to know yourself is simply by looking at yourself. It’s correct, and it’s free. Facing an situation, asking yourself what, how and why your reaction happens. Because after all, the results of those tests are like words on the book. You read it, you understand it, but then you will soon forget it if you don’t find it by yourself.

Posted by Timo Kiander  | January 16, 2012 at 9:20PM | Reply

Great stuff!

I find that spending time on finding your strengths is not time wasted. It can definitely open your eyes about who you are and in which areas you could be your most successful.

I found that creating a DISC profile was really useful and I learned quite a bit of myself :)

Cheers,
Timo

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