Tae Kwan Do and Productivity

Frictionless Freelancing. While the book provides invaluable insight for the intended audience, I was also taken by how relevant it was for me. This was unexpected considering I have no intention whatsoever of becoming a freelancer. With this in mind, I asked Aaron if I could share an excerpt on productivity that stood out and that I believe relates to all of us, freelancer or not.Note: Yesterday, my friend Aaron Mahnke released his first non-fiction book,

The Basics vs. Performance

When I was in high school, I took Tae Kwon Do. If you’ve never learned a martial art you have missed out. Not because self-defense is important or kicking above your own head is an amazing feeling, but because there are so many deep lessons within the training that have applications outside of the dojo. For those of you who have never taken a martial arts lesson, here’s a brief rundown of the teaching system.

New students are taught the basics. There are a variety of kicks and punches, and you must learn each of them. You learn their names, their forms and how to improve them over time. The basics of Tae Kwon Do, like any other martial art, are the building blocks of more complex. A front snap kick looks and feels different than a roundhouse kick, and each has their place in the larger system of techniques.

You also learn forms. These are essentially a sequence of kicks, punches and movements that must be memorized and performed the same way each and every time, by each and every student. Forms are strings of the basic building blocks that combine to create something more.

When a student has learned enough of the basics, they are allowed to spar with other students. Sparring is a controlled fight, with pads and rules for scoring points. It’s not a street fight, but it’s also not predictable. Your opponent might kick, or they might punch. And you have to rely on other basic techniques such as blocking or counter-punching to defend yourself. You can’t fall into a rote form and expect it to work. Sparring matches are organic and fluid; forms are rigid.

Productivity is not about robotically following prescribed forms. Productivity is about mastering the basic elements. Running a freelance business is like stepping into the ring to spar. Depend too heavily on soup-to-nuts productivity systems and you’ll be too inflexible for the chaos of the job. Eschew all training and techniques, and you’ll be overwhelmed and underprepared for challenges.

The key to success is to learn the basics, and to know them so well that you can defend yourself from whatever your freelancing business throws at you. Knowing the basics helps you respond in a way that feels instinctive and natural, not forced and clumsy.

*If you’re a freelancer or even if you’re just looking to find ways to be more effective, and perhaps make a little money at home, you should read Frictionless Freelancing. This is not an affiliate link, I just think Aaron killed it with this book and that you should seriously consider reading it.

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