A metric to measure your personal effectiveness

A metric to measure your personal effectiveness

Estimated reading time: 5 Minutes, 30 Seconds


Let me tell you about a man that highly inspires me. He is a motivational speaker, who is doing his PhD at the University of Michigan right now. He is is also the owner of a huge motivational speaking business, performing at major colleges, for MLB teams, NFL teams and charges around $10,000 per session. Is he successful? For our western, middle & upper class standards, he certainly is. 

Now let me tell you a story of another person that equally inspires me: having grown up in a notoriously poor area of Detroit, he did what all his friends did – drop out of high school. His father was a high school dropout and so was his grandfather. His life was predetermined. At age 18, he was homeless. His only food supply were trashcans – food that other people wouldn’t eat anymore. No job, no perspective, no opportunities. 

Until one day, a pastor took particular interest in him (and no, not the interest pastors are said to usually take in boys). He saw that this guy was special. He took him in, mentored him, showed him what life had to offer. 

You probably know where this is going. The first and the second person are actually the same. His name is Eric Thomas, and I love listening to his tracks. He is one of my few idols, because his tracks manage to motivate me every single time I listen to them. If I were able to inspire just one person with every post I write, I would be proud. He inspires thousands, if not millions. Eric Thomas taught me to work hard. “If you want to be successful as bad as you wanna breathe, then you’ll be successful.” (watch this video in order to understand what I mean) // link


Eric Thomas is the living example of the American Dream. His message is that it takes grit, hustle, principles and discipline to get from rags to riches. In a talk to college students, he talks about consistency between things you say and things you do. What particulary struck me was this sequence:

“If you do what you say you’re gonna do 70% of the time, you’re gonna be average.”

“If you do what you say you’re gonna do 80% of the time, you’re gonna be good.”

“If you do what you say you’re gonna do 90% of the time, you’re gonna be great.”

My first thought was: would I ever not do something I said I was gonna do? No way in hell. When I started thinking about it, I and everybody around me do it all the time. Ever heard one of those lines?

“Let’s hang out soon!”

“I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”

“I’m definitely going to call my mom on the weekend.”

“Jesus, I’m so hungover, I will never drink again.”

“This year, I’ll go to the gym three times a week.”

“I’m gonna write a new blog post every week.”

“I’ll have more time soon when I’ve finished all these things.”


I am guilty of this. I have said every single one of those lines and never put any of them into practice. If you’re even remotely similar to me, you are probably guilty of it too. Why do we keep lying to ourselves and others? Why are we jeopardizing our integrity? 

Reason (1): It feels good

Saying it totally makes you feel better. The idea of you having achieved such an ambitious task in the future is flattering. Oh, how proud I would be. How I’d brag to all you guys about it. Lovely, isn’t it?

Yet, when it comes to actually getting shit done, the enthusiasm is diminished. Why does it feel good to think about things that you have achieved in the future? Ultimately, because you’re proud of them. If you’ve read my previous post about pride, then you already know that in order to feel proud, you have to go through a struggle. You have to work hard, to fight through adversity. Fighting through adversity is exhausting and hurts. It simply isn’t attractive in that very moment, especially with your bed and Netflix looming around the corner. Every time we decide in favor of Game of Thrones, we sacrifice long term happiness for short term gratification. 


Reason (2): We want to keep options open

In my Lacrosse team, we have one rule. If you aren’t sure if you can make it, then pretend you cannot make it. Having an additional player is never an issue, but relying on one who then doesn’t show up usually is. We installed this rule because we were tired of “maybe”. Knowing that you’ll maybe come to Wednesday’s practice doesn’t help anybody – be there or be square. The same thing is true for Facebook events that you’ll maybe attend, parties that you possibly might go to (even though they start in less than 2 hours) and dates you maybe go on. At some point, we all have to make a decision – and while keeping options can facilitate spontaneity, at some point it will make us lethargic (more on that in B. Schwartz’s paper called “The Paradox of Choice”). 

By telling somebody that you’d like to have lunch soon (despite the fact that you know it will never happen), you do not close a door – so if you’re really desperate for a lunch date, you can always call up that person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of burning bridges, but you might as well just not say it. Then, a call from your side will most likely come as a pleasant surprise. 


Reason (3): It allows us to borrow bragging rights from the future

People enjoy talking about themselves. People also enjoy talking about their future selves. It is very easy to speak about things we want to do – things that will raise our social status. Others will think of us as a highly ambitious person.  Don’t get me wrong: it is absolutely essential to have ambitious goals. As I like to say, “no matter how hard you try – if there is no goal, you cannot score”. However, if you are gonna talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk. And that is a lot harder. 


Recently, I have been pondering different metrics to measure personal effectiveness. Things that are measured can also be visibly improved. Visible success is a great motivator. Therefore, in order to become the most effective person that we can be, we need to measure it. Defining personal effectiveness is the next great challenge.

First, let us define “effectiveness”. 99.8% of the Earth’s population struggle with the difference between effectiveness and efficiency [totally made up number, but it definitely feels this way]. 

“Effectiveness” describes the extent to which you are doing the right things. “Efficiency” describes the extent to which you are doings things in the right way. Those two tie in nicely together: you can be incredibly efficient, but if you do the wrong things, your efficiency goes to way. It all starts with pursuing your goals, with making sure that you focus on the right things. 

Now, what are the right things? No one knows for sure, but I believe that everybody has an idea which things they’d enjoy doing. More accurately, chances are that the things that we would like to and should do are the things that we say we are going to do. The circle comes to a close here …

The metric is defined as follows: things that you have actually done / all things you have said you were going to do = your personal effectiveness score

This score can be tweaked by the manipulation of two variables. The more obvious one: actually getting more shit done. This is definitely a goal most of us should pursue. The other one is: speak less about the things that you are going to do. It might not raise the number of things that you do, but it has other positive implications for you:

– you stop lying to yourself and others 

– your mind is decluttered, as it can stop worrying about stuff that you still feel obliged to do at some point

– you prioritize more clearly 


I challenge you. Wait what? That’s right. I challenge you to track every single time you say “I am going to do …” and write it down (I assume an Excel spreadsheet would make sense). Observe this over the course of a month and check everything that you actually did. Calculate your effectiveness score afterwards. If you have the impression that it works for you, keep going and become a better, more goal-driven person!

I also challenge myself here: goals and goal setting have been mentioned more than once here. It is something that I myself struggle with, but I am constantly on the hunt for new, better ways to set goals. AND I AM GOING TO WRITE ABOUT IT. Oh, and while we’re at it, I’ll give you a short list of topics that have been on my mind recently and could/should/must turn into a new post soon:

– Perserverance

– Instant Gratification

– Decluttering your life, physically and mentally

– Morning routines

– … 

I will leave it at that. Those are my opportunities to increase my PES. Now go out and do the same – the world will thank you for it!


Thanks for reading! Like, love or loathe this post? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a message at hello@dominiknitsch.com. I reply to every single email that I receive. Want more? Get everything I write straight to your inbox – just click the button below!

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