How to improve productivity and build positive relationships

Weren’t expecting a piece combining productivity AND having that correlate with the importance of relationship-building, were you? Here’s the thing — the two go hand-in-hand. Allow me to explain: Every great stride in productivity, performance and planning comes from what we learn and put into action from others. None of us are given all the answers. We have to figure that out. We do so from teachers, mentors, coaches and partners.

A fascinating analysis from Harvard Business Review details Dr. Emma Seppala’s findings in studying workplace happiness and productivity. She writes:

“A positive work climate also leads to a positive workplace culture which, again, boosts commitment, engagement, and performance. Happier employees make for not only a more congenial workplace but for improved customer service. As a consequence, a happy and caring culture at work not only improves employee well-being and productivity but also improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.”

This happiness she speaks of comes directly from empathy, values and a willingness of leaders to build positive relationships. We can take this model and apply it to our personal lives, relationships and in entrepreneurship. Kindness, Respect, Positive Attitude all lead to building lasting relationships with others. This mindset attracts like-minded people to help us become more successful.

It’s also a winning strategy for boosting your productivity. So many of us wander around looking for the magic elixir or formula for how to become more productive. There are no secrets and certainly no shortcuts. It begins with discipline, confidence and a strong competitive desire — with yourself — to continue refining, building and progressing toward your peak potential.

Once you’ve done the self-mastery and moved closer toward your own self-actualization, you need to reflect and look upon the ways others have helped you to grow in the process. It’s a reciprocal relationship of continuing to take the inputs of others to keep building yourself. Then, doing the same for others and picking someone else up.

I’ve highlighted four important principles to consider and reflect on as you look at yourself, your impact and how you want to impact the world around you. Your productivity will run directly proportional to your ability to build positive relationships with those around you, but also through encouragement and enrichment for yourself.

1. We’re able to produce and do more than we think

The saying “mind over matter” is real. Our willpower is so strong, yet we only get to know and realize this once we begin to tap into it. Our ability to overcome pain, loss, disadvantages and adversity is largely controlled in the power of our minds! But remember this — the other side of this coin is thinking you can do too much, in too short of a period of time.

This great Bill Gates quote exemplifies this:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

In other words, while we are strong beyond measure, we often fall into a trap of overestimating our short-term plans and underestimating the “long game.”This is why I believe so strongly in the power of a five-year plan. Once you put things in writing and commit to a realistic plan, you can truly do anything within reason of your talents and natural abilities.

You’re only ever limited by your attitude and your work ethic. If you’re willing to stay positive and work hard, you will always produce more than you ever thought possible. And through this ethos, you’ll attract more people who will help you continue building toward your biggest goals.

2. Time is your most valuable commodity

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” — Steve Jobs

Well, there you go! I can tell you. Your friends and colleagues can tell you. And heck, one of the greatest innovators ever can tell you. But you’ll only truly understand this truth through your experience. I’ve personally found the best way to learn just how valuable time really is, is to strike things out on your own in an endeavor where you are dependent solely on yourself for success.

I believe everyone should become their own boss at some point in their life. If nothing else, it causes you to become resourceful and take ownership like you never have before. Once you are doing this for something you believe in and have passion for, you’re on a road toward success and fulfillment. And as you keep traveling, you’ll find just how much you value you time. Because you are both the manager and delivery specialist for your time.

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you — “My time is valuable.” Once you go through a similar experience, you know why, too. You come to value your time for your personal ambitions, your time with family, business time and even volunteer time in a totally different way. This engenders a call to action to be more competitive with yourself, so you’ll become the person you can be.

3. You’ll never have it all figured out — that’s OK

Despite many a successful person’s efforts to gain influence and control over every part of their life, it will never happen. Never. And you know what? That’s actually a great thing. You have to seek to influence that which you can, just know it’s not possible to influence everything. As a result, you won’t figure out the answer to everything.

Those of us with dominant personalities fight this battle each day. Eventually, you have to let go. Faith needs to enter the equation. Faith in yourself, faith in others, faith in God — faith that things will work out in harmony with your life. Faith is one of the most fundamental values to living a life you can be proud of. Speaking of values…

4. Values & structure will sustain you through life

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” — Roy E. Disney

Relationships. Goals. Determining your Why and personal definition of success. These things provide structure for your life! Building relationships begins “local” with family, friends and co-workers. In this digital-age, it expands to social media and professional networking sites. Powerful, loving, mutually beneficial relationships help give your life meaning and purpose.

Goals provide you with something to reach for and work to attain. Most successful people I’ve observed and studied succeed by setting small, incremental goals. Those goals can then fit into the context of a long-term plan, if you choose the five-year plan route above. Either way, having something to aim for is a winning strategy.

Values are what give your life definition and serve as the foundation for every move you make. I believe so passionately in the power of values, I wrote a book on the topic. I realized that we all need a framework of reference that helps with making decisions, finding opportunities and building great relationships.

Values are the key to beginning on the path that you want to take. Find that structure you crave. Find your values and know they lead to the truth. Once you know your true path, it’s so much easier to be productive and to attract the people you want to share your journey with.

This article first appeared on Medium.