If you want to be a high-performing leader, invest 80% of your time and energy to do what you love, the way you love doing it. In order to do amazing things in your work and in your life, you need to focus most of your energy on the things you enjoy – otherwise you just get drained and depleted.

How good are you at spending the vast majority of your time and energy doing things that you love to do and are good at?

Unfortunately, when it comes to conventional wisdom, most people put too much energy into trying to fix their weaknesses, or to rehabilitate in the areas where they’re not strong. Now, that might make sense logically, but if you want to be a high-performing leader doing amazing things in your work and in your life, you need to focus most of your energy on the things you enjoy – otherwise you just get drained and depleted. Never mind that you might not be good at those other things, and it’s a waste.

Do what you love and outsource the rest

I remember years ago, I was taught by a mentor, “Never forget the things that you dread doing, somebody else loves doing.” Find somebody who loves that work and give it to them. Let them have the gift of doing the things that they love, and then you can be freed up to go and do the things that you love, that give you energy – and likely end up being a much more effective leader.

There’s a quote at the beginning of the chapter in the book Your Oxygen Mask First: “Success is achieved by developing our strengths not by eliminating our weaknesses.”

As I share it upfront, it’s conventional wisdom to work on weaknesses – we do it with ourselves, we do it with our kids – it’s just not a great idea.

You need to work on this if:

  • Most of your days feel like a struggle because you’re doing a slew of stuff you just don’t enjoy
  • If you don’t feel inspired to do the work on your to-do list.
  • There are important high-value tasks you intend to do every week, but never get them done.
  • There are aspects of your work that are mediocre, but you don’t have the energy or desire to improve them because you just don’t care
  • You generally feel blah or drained at the end of the day.

All these things are indicators you’re not working in your sweet spot.

These are the key distinctions you need to think about to make this work:

  • There’s the work you do – the things that you love doing and are quite good at and continually get better. There’s someone’s willing to pay you to do it in the work context (in your life doesn’t matter).
  • The environment you do it in

Some people love to work by themselves all day, some want to be surrounded by people. Some want to do team projects, some only want to work with other people by telephone. Some like things where the deadlines are urgent, some like a huge amount of times to prepare. Some want to work on multiple projects, some only want one project at a time.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter what it is, you just need to know your secret recipe for getting the best out of yourself. So, what is the work that you love to do? What is the environment that you love to do it in? Those two variables are quite different, and you’ve got to find where they intersect.

Key point: Invest 80% of your time and energy to do what you love, the way you love doing it.

Here’s your simple challenge: Figure out your sweet spot.

  • What is it you love to do and do well?
  • What’s the environment you love to do it in?

If you find this hard to do top of mind, go to chapter 4 in the book. There’s a whole bunch of exercises to help you understand your sweet spot, and to get more insights about what has worked for you in the past, and what might work for you going forward.

Download the Master Plan – the integrated plan for your entire life – in chapter 17.

The top center of that plan is your sweet spot – again, the kind of work that you love to do. Keep that front and center in your plans so you don’t get dragged doing things that you just shouldn’t be doing.