The Getting Shit Done Muscle

Also, how to avoid meetings. Also, the art of the memo.

I’ve been known to say, “we should be working, working out, or sleeping.” To which, my father once replied, “wow, you’re so fun...” 

It's true, I need to learn the art of relaxation. Just not today.

One of the strongest skills you can have in the workplace is the ability to get things done. 

This might seem evident, but in my experience, many people struggle with this skill. Nor have I seen a training manual for it. 

However, if you train your “getting shit done” muscle, you become a superwoman or superman. 

I’m not implying we should all become productivity workhorses that don’t know how to relax. In fact, I am in the camp that believes the Monday-Friday, 9-5 (or hella longer) workplace is antiquated. 

Further, I know we can work far less and achieve as much or more. For inspiration on this front, consider following Marissa Goldberg on Twitter or reading Gitlab’s Remote Playbook.

But just as our world is transforming, we need to recognize that certain practices will phase out, while certain abilities will become more valuable and need to be strengthened.

One of those skills is the ability to get shit done. 

How do you exercise this “muscle”? 

Recognize you have an idea and write it down.

Often when I have an idea, I want to immediately call someone up to tell them about it. This is not the best path. 

If I do this, I am wasting their time and mine because I’m asking them to respond to something new in real time when they haven’t had the benefit of reflection. I’m probably also going to babble since I haven’t given myself space to refine my thoughts. 

The best thing you can do is to write down your idea. 

Some call this a brief, especially when it’s about a project. Recently, I’ve found myself writing old school memos. I was even called out for having a Jerry Maguire moments last week (which made my day). 

What do you write down? 

  • The Context: What is happening or not happening that presents an opportunity? Why is it important? What business goal does it relate to? What timeframe does this apply to? 

  • The Concept: What is your idea? 

  • The Impact: What will likely happen if the idea becomes a reality? 

  • The Path: What steps need to be taken? What milestones are there between concept and completion? What costs might be incurred? What teams need to be involved? 

In other words: explain what you are trying to do, why others should care, and show them a rough plan. Use your memo to make it easy for others to join you. 

Next, share your written down idea with the team you need to rally. 

You will most likely get feedback since you made it easy for people to respond. 

Process the feedback. 

You can do a lot of this asynchronously. At some point, you may want to get on a phone or Zoom call, but by this point, the conversations will be far more meaningful and actionable. 

Continue to get it done. 

The difference between wanting to do something and showing up with a plan is often not that much work. Maybe an hour or two. 

Contrast that with hours and hours of meetings to talk about something, scheduling, rescheduling, hemming and hawing... when all you had to do in the first place was sit down and think out a draft yourself.

In a world full of Zoom zombies... this skill sets people apart.

Something amazing happens when you recognize you have an idea, give yourself some heads down space to articulate it, and then share it. You will feel immensely accomplished... confidence is gained. 

Your “getting shit done” muscle is that much stronger. 

Given my journey over the last decade, I can’t help but see an association between physical and professional strength. 

Getting things done is hard. Yes, I simplified the flow above. Many times, you will do everything you can to get an idea off the ground, but people won’t respond. Do not give up. To quote the book title… The Obstacle is the Way… resistance is part of the process and our ability to overcome it is literally what makes us stronger. 

As an aside, I know many professionally successful people who have struggled with fitness. To these people, getting exercise can feel more challenging than building a business from scratch. Or taking a company public. My advice here would be to reverse engineer your “getting shit done” muscle to make small gains. I could write more on this later. 

I’m so excited about the future of work. I have a very optimistic view. And if what I think will happen actually does happen, there will be a lot more time for relaxation… so if anyone has a manual on that, please share. 

🙏 Thank you for reading. 

⏩ If you know someone who might be interested in this newsletter, please forward it to them. 

❓If you have a question related to strength, fitness, nutrition or getting shit done, I would love to help answer it. Reply to this email or drop me a comment.