A determined soul (a maximizer) will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.
Most people, it seems, fall into one of three broad groups when it comes to their level of dedication and initiative, their work ethic, and how much they’re able to accomplish.
These three groups are the minimizers, the maintainers, and the maximizers. Minimizers do as little as they can get away with, and maintainers do only what is needed to maintain the status quo, but maximizers are ready and willing to go the distance; they are focused on moving closer to their goal, even though they know it will cost them in time and energy.
Maximizers are the cream of the crop. They take initiative, are proactive, are the first to respond to a need or adapt to changing circumstances, and give their best at whatever they do. It comes as no surprise, then, that maximizers are generally more successful than their less committed counterparts.
There is no simple formula for becoming a maximizer, but there are some basic principles that apply almost universally.
Put in the hours
Maximizers don’t watch the clock. To be maximizers, we must be willing to work long and hard, within reasonable limits, and sometimes do so in less-than-ideal conditions. Ancient Israel’s King Solomon, who was himself a maximizer when it came to things as varied as his building projects, pursuing wisdom, and (perhaps less wisely) acquiring wives and concubines, put it this way: “Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering,” and, “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; [therefore] he will beg during harvest and have nothing.”
Finding a balance is essential. The goal is not to become a workaholic, but if we want the maximum results from any venture, it stands to reason that we need to put in more than a minimum of work.
Have a good work ethic and self-discipline
Cultivating a good work ethic, good work habits, and self-discipline are all crucial to becoming a maximizer. We should look for opportunities to renew our commitment to excellence through constantly challenging ourselves to stretch and grow. Good work habits include such things as planning ahead, prioritizing, wisely delegating, learning from mistakes, and remaining flexible.
Maximizers have a purpose. They are driven to accomplish something beyond the norm, and they realize that to be successful at it they need to make sacrifices.
Share the load
Maximizers work hard, but they are wise enough to know that their own efforts alone will never achieve the maximum results possible, and they are humble enough to solicit the help of others. They see the potential in others, delegate what they can, and inspire their coworkers to strive to be maximizers too.
Abandon the comfort zones
Being a maximizer involves some discomfort. If we continue to do only the things we’ve always done, the way we’ve always done them, we can’t expect greater results. To accomplish more, we need to reach farther or in new directions; we need to pursue new ideas and develop new strengths and abilities. It’s easy to settle into a routine or to rest on one’s accomplishments, but the maximizer is always on the lookout for a new challenge, a new opportunity, and new ways to break out of the mold. When he finds one, he goes for it.
Be a team player
The maximizer looks for ways to serve the common good, to not only accomplish his own work, but also to help others on his team accomplish theirs. He knows that by giving in this way he is building team spirit, which will maximize his own efforts in the long run and cause others to be more willing to help him when he needs it.
Good health and being free from stress make you more productive, so taking time to take care of yourself is a good investment. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, and take time to relax and reflect.
Even if you do your best to follow the maximizer’s creed of giving your best, you can’t necessarily expect huge results right from the start—but you can expect to make progress. Focus on and be thankful for the gains, rather than dwelling on what there is left to do.