Dr. Morten Hansen, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, recently published Great At Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better and Achieve More.

After writing 200 academic papers, interviewing 120 experts and testing a framework of questions on 5,000 people from various industries and backgrounds, Hansen concluded that 66% of the difference in how people perform has to do with three strategies.

  1. Do Less and Then Obsess –
    1. Focus on fewer goals and obsess over those goals
    2. Less volume of activity = more concentrated effort
    3. Do as few things as you can and as many things as you must
    4. Reduce the number of things you do and reallocate your time to intensely focused activities
  2. Use what Hansen calls “The Learning Loop” – this Loop helps you get better at your job and helps you to keep improving –
    1. Commit to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, not sleepwalking practice
    2. Pick one and only one skill at a time to develop
    3. Carve out 15 minutes daily to review and evaluation that one skill
    4. Isolate micro-behaviors
      1. Make more eye contact
      2. Speak more slowly
      3. Feel passion and purpose for your work
        1. Task passion – what you do excites you
        2. Achievement passion – closing a deal, for example
        3. Creative passion – love of solving difficult problems
        4. People passion – love interacting/supporting with those around you
        5. Learning passion – love learning something every day
        6. Competence passion – do something you’re good at doing

Hansen believes that purpose in your work means creating value for others in ways that are personally meaningful to you. He emphasizes that purpose in your work is less about performing actual tasks and more about how you frame those tasks.

Once again, Hansen believes that 66%, two thirds, of the difference in how people perform has to do with these three strategies. And, according to him, your age, the hours you work and your education make only a combined 10% difference in how people perform.