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When “Just Do It” Isn’t The Answer

02/26/2014

in Exercise, Productivity, Stories

Nike loves to make me feel horrible.

For the second consecutive day in a row, the low is 10 degrees and you know what — sometimes, I just don’t feel like moving.

But then I see commercials like this, and at 6am, with the brutal cold rattling my bones, somehow, I muster the energy to get up and get to the to work:

“Luck is the last dying wish of those who believe that winning can happen by accident.”

There is definitely something to be said for PUSHING yourself through uncomfortable, undesirable or downright painful situations when you know that on the other side, victory is waiting.

There’s tremendous value in knowing when to suck it up, stop whining and JUST DO IT.

But have you ever tried to push yourself through a painful, difficult scenario to no avail?

Have you ever pushed hard, but just ended up spinning your wheels?

If you’ve ever pushed hard to finish something, but you just end up spinning your wheels, maybe the issue isn’t a lack of “motivation” or a personal failing.

Maybe the root of the problem is that the work you’re trying to get done isn’t part of your natural skill set or personality.

An example: Several months ago, I was on the train working on an investor pitch document. I was asking for $100,000.

This was a warm connection and I just had to communicate my idea and show how the investment would be of mutual benefit.

The train ride was going to be pretty long — a few hours at least. This wouldn’t take me more than 45 minutes.

I opened my Macbook.

I looked around.

YouTube.
Reddit.
Facebook.
Email.
Facebook.
Email.
Reddit.
Buzzfeed.

2 hours and 45 minutes later, I still had a blinking cursor on an open Word document. To be fair, I had managed to write the title, “Investor Doc.”

But I’d literally made ZERO progress. And the scary thing — this was for a potentially life-changing $100,000.

In the college, I’d had similar difficulty forcing myself to write essays and papers, but I always chalked that up to the fact that 99% of the time, they were about things I didn’t care about.

 But this was different. THIS WAS FOR MY COMPANY.

The possible investment was extremely important to me. And I DID care about it.

So why couldn’t I get myself to do it? The short answer: it’s just not my personality.

 I love coming up with ideas. I’m not as good at executing them. I can execute, but it’s just a lot more painful for me than it is for others with different personalities.

According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I’m an ENTP. Take a look at the entire spectrum:

All 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types 

If you’re not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, it’s definitely worth studying to learn more about yourself and others.

I spent years considering myself a failure because I was unable to finish the things that I started. But when I read into my own personality, I realized that it wasn’t a personal failing—it was a function of my personality (and indirectly, a function of my success). The fact is, people with my personality type have the potential to do great things and inspire others, but when left to our own devices, we tend to jump from thing to thing, never finishing anything we start.

The solution? To pair my Perceiving type with Judgers.

That’s when I called Johnny.

The solution to my investor doc problem was simple: Just call someone to help me who I knew could execute the idea painlessly. I called my intern Johnny from the train:

Maneesh: “Hey, man. I’m having some trouble writing this investor doc. I’ve been trying to get it done for 2 hours. Can you help me?”

Johnny: “Sure. I can do it right now.”

I opened up my Macbook again – but instead of trying to write it myself, I turned on the webcam and made a 3 minute video explaining exactly what the document needed to say. This was surprisingly painless.

Uploaded the video. Sent it to Johnny. He finished the investor document in less than an hour, and I’d be struggling with the first sentence for over 2 hours.

This was a huge “lightbulb” moment for me — realizing that I didn’t have to do everything alone, that not everybody is suited for every task, and reminding myself that playing to my individual strengths, rather than always trying to be a “jack-of-all-trades”, is a huge asset.

Recently, I’ve begun to hire a team of people around me who are Judgers — able to take my grand ideas and execute upon them. Understanding my personality has allowed me to feel comfortable letting go of the things that I’m not designed to do.

Developing new skills is wonderful. But sometimes, we should just focus on our strengths.

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type?

Here’s a free tool that will give you a good idea of where on the spectrum you fall.

Also, some recommended reading: The Art Of Speed Reading People, a book about identifying Meyers Briggs personality types and dealing with others. Discovering, deeply, what that personality type means was a complete pattern-shifting experience.

What did the tool say about your personality?

 ENTP like me?

Maybe you’re an IFSP or EFSJ.

Take the test and let me know where you fall in the comments.

{ 21 comments… }

JJ August 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Q: “Have you ever pushed hard, but just ended up spinning your wheels?”

A: Yes, and it’s with networking (in person.) Which is a bit of an impasse for me since it’s so essential to success and yet, no matter how hard I try to push ahead, I fail to establish any connection with the people I network with in person. Online networking, although is something I struggle with, seems to go a lot more smoother.. mostly because I don’t need to drive long distances to meet people (I live in LA) and don’t need to think on my feet.

Fyi, I’m just 1 letter away from your MBTI Type: INTP.

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Simone May 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I got INFJ, but have been fighting against my personality for years. Ive pushed myself to be more outgoing even though I still need to get away from people at times. I am sensitive to people’s feelings to the point that it hinders me, so I learned to make snap decisions to veer around stalling. I have become better with just dealing with consequences and move on. But the worst is knowing that I suck sometimes at execution for my own stuff. I am an idea person for myself. If some one gives me instructions for work they need done I can definitely get anything done beyond their expectations. Doing it for myself is a lot harder to convince. Im full of ideas…too many..and not enough hours to do it all. I do enjoy helping and inspiring people, but I have no idea how to make that into a career. I don’t want to be a teacher or counselor and those are my choices. arg.

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Timothy Marc April 3, 2014 at 12:55 am

Maneesh, this post is rad! I’m an ENTP as well and often have trouble sitting down and just getting shit done.

The other test that I found really useful in finding complementary types is the Kolbe test.

Tim

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Steve Daar March 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Nice post.

That is something I struggled with for a long time. Just recently made it a daily practice to outsource one thing each day.

Maybe it’s something that is a low value task that I just shouldn’t be spending time on or maybe it is a high value task that I hate doing.

Either way – – striving to only do the high value tasks that I enjoy doing sounds like a great way to spend my work hours
: )

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Kimanzi March 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Great video. The weather is why we just moved to Maui, couldn’t deal with Wisconsin winters anymore!

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Ian O'Brien March 5, 2014 at 4:20 am

I though you might appreciate my geekiness. I use hassleme.co.uk to send an email to myself every 3 days saying ‘Remember to do kettlebell swings or Bodyweight workout’ it has this video attached. I haven’t missed a workout in some time.

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Stéphanie March 5, 2014 at 12:28 am

I had already done tests to find my personality type, but your article really pushed me to do some more. I literally spent the whole evening doing various tests to find out for sure what my personality type really was (ISFJ) and then reading about it. I loved how accurate some of the descriptions I found were.

Now I’d really want to know the personality type of everyone I know!

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Josh March 4, 2014 at 11:49 pm

That video is epic. Id like to wake up to that video every morning. Is there an app for that?

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Alex March 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Perfectly timed post.
I’m doing some boring market research right now and was thinking of doing this exact thing… I just don’t have any interns or employees yet.

The post reminded me to work hard now so I can get into a position to focus on what I’m best at and hire people better in areas I’m lacking.

ENTP as well… I also loved the Strength Finder’s test.

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Angela March 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I’m an ENTJ. I took the test years ago with a group of people who were going oversees to work. It really helped us understand each other and work together.

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Kayvee March 4, 2014 at 11:25 am

Maneesh…Hi

This was an amazing post

You have described me exactly.

I used to feel so bad because I couldnt bring myself to take action on a task. After I graduated university I physically couldnt apply for a job or send a resume. My friends kept telling me to “stop being lazy”.

But I know myself…I am not lazy. I have walked 163 kms for a charity. I have biked a similar distance as well.

But when it comes to certain tasks…I have the knowledge and the skills, but I just cant execute

I am also someone who tries to find the root of a problem and I am a big believer in self development to try to improve myself.

I always thought it was procrastination that I was suffering from

But this is the first time that I see the problem may be something else. Thank to you and your article.

Bro…I am grateful for this moment

Thanks

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Michal March 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

Lets have a five. I’m an ENTP (inventor),too. I’ll never forget the moment I realized that my procrastination is not because I’m a failure but I have different strengths. I’d describe that event in detail but right now a brilliant idea just struck my head and I’m going to ponder over it :)

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pliez March 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

Yup, i found myself on that website not too long ago, INTP for chure. good lookin on da reminder.

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Brian March 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

INFP

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Abigail March 4, 2014 at 6:53 am

Hi Maneesh,

Insightful article. I’ve taken the actual professionally administered MBTI test and my results were INFJ.

I’m good at execution, which is what you more or less said in your post about your Judging co-workers.

I also have the ability to grasp symbols and meanings. I can see the minutiae and how they fit into the big picture.

These are my strengths. My weaknesses tend to be the fact that I’m so Introverted, I need to be brought out of my shell more or less.

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Stéphane Régnié March 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

Very interesting article Maneesh (as always I want to say) !

It underlines the importance of knowing our strenghts AND weaknesses (being able to admit that you are not the right person to do a task and to call an appropriate person to help you on is a form of intelligence).

And when you are able to turn your weaknesses into strenghts (as you exposed here), nothing can stop you doing what you want :)

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PianoManGidley March 4, 2014 at 6:24 am

Well, I can determine my first three letters in the Myers-Briggs are INF, but the fourth requires me to assess how I take action. If I’m too lazy to take any action at all, what do I put? Is there a third option L for that last letter?

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Maneesh Sethi March 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

You’re almost certainly a P

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Katie March 4, 2014 at 12:12 am

I’m an INTJ. Myers Briggs is great, especially for understanding different personality types in the workplace

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Lairdb March 4, 2014 at 12:00 am

Incidentally, credit where credit is due. It’s not a Nike ad. The voiceover and text originate with TCU’s baseball program promo video: http://youtu.be/MNL_DAI19_I. The scenes are a mashup; I believe this is the original author: http://youtu.be/SuPLxQD4akQ.

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Lairdb March 4, 2014 at 12:02 am

Oh, yes: INTJ.

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