Steve Smith was the drummer for Journey.
He had been a drummer for most of his life and many people held the opinion that he was one of the best in the world.
Smith has been on the front page of Modern Drummer Magazine and DRUM! Magazine, he has been listed in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Drummers of all time and is currently enlisted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Smith was a great drummer because of his commitment to improvement and his self-discipline in practice.
Smith was so committed that he took 3 years off.
Sounds weird, right?
Well, he took 3 years off from touring and instead studied with a drum guru—far away from his bands.
When he came back, his bandmates were very excited to hear him play all the new stuff he’d learned.
Smith knew something they didn’t.
When they played again, for the first time in 3 years, his bandmates were blown away–but not for the reason you’re thinking . . .
“Steve, you don’t sound ANY different! You sound EXACTLY THE SAME! What the heck did you do up there?”
Smith simply replied:
“That’s exactly what I hoped you’d say. I know I sound exactly the same, but I’m doing a third of the work.”
This story encapsulates the core principle of productivity: working smarter and not harder.
Please, stop believing that you have to drum harder to sound better.
You don’t need to work a million hours, cut valuable hours of sleep, de-prioritize your family, etc. etc. etc.
By focusing on the essentials, you give your brain and body space to improve and be happy.
You can, with deliberate practice and focus, work on the things that will yield the highest output for the lowest cost.
Master the essentials–because the rest is just noise.
2 Minute Action
Take 2 minutes to cut one or two things from your list today.
You can cut a task. You can cut a project. You can cut a person. You can cut anything you want, so long as it’s non-essential.
You only have the rest of your life.
There is no time for the non-essential in any dimension.
Please, reply here and let me know what you’re planning to cut out from your life.