Walter Nusbaum’s Strategies for Success: Discover What Matters Most and Learn How to Do It Right
Long-time ILTA collaborator and fan favorite Walter Nusbaum served as a guest speaker for January’s terminal membership call. The topic of this call was how to reach full productivity potential, both in work and in life. Early in the session, Nusbaum tailored his approach to the audience, asking us to think of our top five personal and professional life goals, one of which needed to include health, and then grade them on a scale of one to five. The group discussed their respective goals and the obstacles to achieving them, especially during the pandemic.
Nusbaum then discussed three keys to personal and professional success: 1) prioritize your tasks and decisions, so that you work on the most crucial items first; 2) develop systems, because those are what separate the achievers from the strugglers; and 3) practice the law of marginal gains, which states that small, incremental improvements in any process, when combined, can produce significantly better outcomes.
First, Nusbaum guided the audience through his prioritization tips, highlighting which decisions and tasks were the most consequential to achievement. He differentiated between ‘important’ decisions and tasks – things that matter but aren’t immediately needed – and a smaller list of what are truly the most important tasks and decisions. He encouraged the audience to reflect on all of their day’s tasks, noting that properly identifying and addressing critical tasks can have the biggest impact on accomplishing goals.
Walter Nusbaum then moved on to his second key to success, which is the system that someone creates to carry out tasks and make decisions. Each person’s system will probably be different, but dedicating this time and thought to determine how best to tackle critical issues is essential to success.
According to Nusbaum, the third key of success is the law of marginal gains. To highlight how much of a difference even the smallest of marginal gains can make when they are all combined, Nusbaum recounted the miraculous comeback story of a professional British cycling team. For years, the team struggled and lost every competition that it entered. Determined to make a change for the better, they hired a new coach, who overhauled their entire operation using the law of marginal gains. The team improved every tiny detail of their work, from the pillows that they sat on while cycling to the way that they practiced. It eventually paid off; they won the Tour de France, putting their days as routine losers behind them.
Especially coming at the beginning of a new year, this talk was a reminder of the importance of reflecting on goals and planning for continuous, concrete improvement.