The one question you need to ask yourself

I sit down. My coffee is steaming. I put in my headphones. I put on the latest Tiesto house track. My head starts nodding up and down.

Then I get things done.

It’s how I center myself when I need to do real work.

Like a rocket about to take off from a rocket pad, this little process is like a countdown to Crushitville (which I just googled and I appear to be the first ever person to type that word).

Yet, here I am looking at another “9 Productivity Hacks from Billionaires Under 22” wondering if there is something better for me.

Why would I ever stray away from my go to? It’s worked for me for years. YEARS.

I know I should be doing what works for me. Yet, I push it aside in my frenetic search of a better strategy.

My gut says…I’m not the only one.

There is something so human about wanting to grow and achieve and do more. Yet this same natural human instinct that helps us grow and change and achieve also keeps us stuck. This desire causes burnout, depression and pushes us into a constant state of frenzied panic searching for the next big thing.

Track your time in 15 minute increments or by the hour?

Take regular breaks or none?

Set self-imposed deadlines or let the project decide?

Follow the “two-minute rule” or say F it?

Stand or sit at my desk?

Monitor on the right or the left side?

Which headphones are the best?

Which coffee is the best?

Multi-task or only one thing at a time?

Paper planner or the new app?

It’s so frustrating to find the answers to all these questions...

Which one is it?!

I mean, Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) swears by meditation but you HATE IT!

You love to check your email first thing in the morning but Tony Robbins says it crushes creativity.

Not to mention you love indulging in Orange Mocha Frappucinos before unleashing your best work but your best friend won’t stop talking about how if your body was in ketosisyou’d have more clarity.


I propose:

You. Do. You.

To do our best work and live our best life we have to be in alignment with ourselves.

Part of being in alignment is going all-in and taking ownership of the things we’re doing and the way we’re doing them.

Until we go all-in, until we stop playing halfway, we’ll never find out what is best.

I’ve been struggling with this idea of alignment for a couple weeks now, trying to turn it into a digestible concept instead of my next book. The idea feels right, but I couldn’t quite say the words.

Then Seth Godin, master of all things, wrote a post that hit the nail on the head:

“I once drove home from college at 100 miles an hour. It saved two hours. My old car barely made it, and I was hardly able to speak once I peeled myself out of the car.

That was maximum speed, but it wasn't optimum.

Systems have an optimum level of performance. It's the output that permits the elements (including the humans) to do their best work, to persist at it, to avoid disasters, bad decisions and burnout.”

Seth Godin, September 12, 2017

We as humans have optimum levels of performance…and we will not achieve long-term, lasting success until we are in alignment.

The best part is that as humans we are all different. So, no, you cannot read the top 15 productivity tips and do them all.

It’s maximum output (out of alignment)


Optimum output (in alignment)

And each of us as humans are different. Until we free ourselves to discover and identify who are, we’re working out of alignment trying to achieve maximum output.

Your coworker may be a marathoner (good rhythm over the duration of a long project). Meanwhile, you’re a sprinter (launch and tackle massive projects). Now you’re frustrated because you cannot do all the things they do.

What I'm wanting is for you to be free to DO YOU.

You are going to be you for the rest of your life. Literally.

Yes, you will always be changing but if the headphones and house music work, keep doing it.

If it’s the 9-pump mocha, 5-shot espresso latte (sorry for the inverted order, barista friends) that gets you that feeling — FREAKING CRUSH IT.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we trust ourselves enough to bet on our best way to do something.

We look to others for validation, insight, tactics, strategies and anything else we could use to develop. And the lack of trust in ourselves pulls us out of alignment a little more every time we wonder what else we’re not doing right. We read these headlines...

The 9 strategies you need for Q4 success...

The 12 tips you must have before your next pitch...

What Steve Jobs wished he knew at age 27...

And they pull at us. Make us question what we already know works.

Yes, by all means, explore new possibilities. Read articles, attend conferences and continue to seek the knowledge that can help you grow in fascinating ways.

But harness these tips, ideas and insights to help you get into alignment with how you DO YOU. Don’t see it as a list of things you are doing wrong.

JP Sears in his TEDx talk Saying YES! To Your Weirdness opens by asking the audience, “Who makes a conscious effort to be yourself?”

Then he says, “That’s a big mistake. Because trying to be yourself makes you just like everyone else who is trying to be themselves.

“My feeling is you should try to be unique.”

Being unique is the key — because being unique means we are doing us. When we are us, we are in alignment with how we best operate at work and in life.

Say SCREW YOU to the, “7 tips you must do before 7am if you’re going to be successful,” and think about what’s the one thing YOU must do to be most primed for you day. Your week. Your life. Your career.

This is how you unlock your potential. This is how you get to Crushitville.

So what gets you going?

Talk soon,


Joshua Schneider