Are you Effective Enough? A Lesson on How to be an Effective Person

Are you effective

Being influential is not just about achieving your goals but also about positively impacting the people around you. You must clearly define your goals and take consistent action to be effective. It would help if you were willing to learn and adapt as you go along and be open to feedback from others. It’s essential to prioritise your time and energy on the things that matter most and to stay focused on your goals even when things get tough. With these qualities and a strong work ethic, anyone can become an effective person and achieve their dreams.

I will use the story about Obi and Odu and the importance of effectiveness and efficiency compared to hard work. You would learn how to become more effective in your personal and professional life with specific strategies to help a person overcome distractions and focus on what is truly important.

The Power of Effectiveness: Learning from Obi and Odu’s Story

Once upon a time, Obi and Odu joined a company shortly after completing their one-year national service. As the years went by, Obi was promoted to Senior Sales Manager, while Odu remained in his junior position as a Junior Sales Officer. Odu couldn’t help but feel jealous and dissatisfied, although he continued working diligently.

One day, Odu reached a breaking point and decided he couldn’t work with Obi. He wrote a resignation letter, but before submitting it to the manager, he vented his frustrations, claiming that the management only favoured certain employees and didn’t value hardworking staff.

The manager was aware of Odu’s dedication and acknowledged that he had worked harder than Obi during his time at the company, making him deserving of a promotion. To help Odu realise this, the manager assigned him a task.

The manager instructed Odu, “Go and find out if anyone is selling watermelons in town.” Odu carried out the task and returned, confirming the existence of a watermelon vendor. The manager inquired, “How much do they sell per kilogram?” Odu returned to town, gathered the information, and reported to the manager, saying, “They sell them for ₦100.00 per kilogram!”

Seeking to prove a point, the manager gave the same task to Obi in the presence of Odu. The manager told Obi, “Go and find out if anyone is selling watermelons in town.” Obi diligently performed his task, and upon his return, he shared detailed information with the manager and Odu.

“Manager, only one person is selling watermelons in the town. They are priced at ₦500.00 per whole watermelon and ₦300.00 for a half melon. When sliced, they sell for ₦100.00 per kilogram. The vendor currently has 93 melons, each weighing approximately 7 kilograms. Additionally, he owns a farm and can supply us with 102 melons per day for the next four months at ₦350.00 per melon, which includes delivery. The melons are fresh, red, of excellent quality, and taste better than the ones we sold last year.

Moreover, the vendor has a slicing machine and is willing to provide slicing services free of charge. We need to finalise an agreement with him before 10 am tomorrow to secure this opportunity. If we succeed, we have the potential to surpass last year’s melon sales and generate an impressive ₦2,300,000.00 in additional profit. This achievement will contribute at least 8.78% towards our current sales target. I have compiled all the relevant details in a spreadsheet, which I can share within the next fifteen minutes.”

Odu was deeply impressed by Obi’s thoroughness and realised the stark difference between himself and his colleague. Instead of resigning, Odu decided to learn from Obi’s example.

This story highlights the importance of doing what is right in all our endeavours. While Odu was hardworking, he recognised that influential people understand what needs to be done and take action accordingly.

As Tim Ferriss once said, “What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.” The critical ingredient for effectiveness is clarity. Let’s explore this concept further with a map of personal significance, highlighting the essential components and skills required for each.

Before delving into the map, we must address an important question: How do we know if we are effective? The simple answer is as follows:

You are effective if you are doing what is right to do. Simple. From this answer, you can see that there are two components of personal effectiveness:

  1. Knowing what is right to do, and
  2. Doing it

Now let’s look at them in more detail:

  1. Knowing what is right to do – How do you know what is right to do? To understand what is right to do, you need clarity. Clarity allows you to figure out what is truly important to you. The biggest enemy of clarity is noise, so the action you need to take is to minimise noise.
  2. Doing it – Knowing what is right to do is just half the equation. It is useless to know what you are supposed to do if you don’t do it. To do what is right, you need to overcome distractions to do otherwise. The summary of all distractions is short-term pleasures. So, the action you need to take is to ignore short-term pleasures. Since the things you are supposed to do are often uncomfortable, only by being able to ignore short-term pleasures can you do them.

As you can see, there are two abilities which are crucial to effectiveness:

  1. The ability to minimise noise
  2. The ability to ignore short-term pleasures

Focus efforts to increase personal effectiveness on honing these two abilities. There needs to be more than one of them. You may know what to do but don’t do them because of the distractions (1 without 2), or you may be willing to do anything but do the wrong things due to the lack of clarity (2 without 1); the summary of it all is in this Life Optimiser map of personal effectiveness:

By minimising noise, you will know what is right to do. By ignoring short-term pleasures, you will do it.

How to become more Effective?

One can become more effective in personal and professional life by setting clear goals, prioritising tasks, and managing time effectively. It is also essential to continuously learn and develop new skills and knowledge to improve one’s abilities and performance. Additionally, seeking feedback and learning from mistakes can help identify areas for improvement and lead to increased effectiveness. Finally, staying focused on essential tasks and minimising distractions can also improve energy.

are you effective enough

Overcome distractions and focus on what is truly important.

Several strategies and techniques can help people overcome distractions and focus on what is truly important. One practical approach is identifying and prioritising the most critical tasks based on their importance by creating a to-do list and breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.

Creating a dedicated workspace free from distractions and setting specific times for focused work can help improve efficiency and productivity. Other techniques include using time-management tools and apps, practising mindfulness and meditation, and avoiding multitasking. By focusing on the most important tasks and eliminating distractions, individuals can become more effective in their personal and professional lives.

Effectiveness entails successfully reaching a desired outcome or objective. Conversely, efficiency involves accomplishing that outcome or purpose using minimal resources or time. Effectiveness focuses on choosing the correct actions, whereas efficiency emphasises executing those actions optimally.

Effectiveness and efficiency complement each other because they contribute to achieving a desired result or goal. While effectiveness focuses on doing the right things, efficiency focuses on doing something right with the least resources or time. By combining these two principles, individuals and organisations can ensure they achieve their goals in the most productive and impactful way possible. is about helping you gain clarity and improve your situation to reach your goals. Sam Soyombo can virtually hold your hand to build motivation and assertiveness, support your goal achievement, and provide information to facilitate you to communicate confidently.

Sam expects you to give 100% in every aspect of your life, whether family, relaxation, or career. You are encouraged to portion your career life into 70% on your primary occupation (your job, education, or training), 20% on growing your career dream and 10% on your career distractions (not ready to do but interesting enough to catch your attention). Eliminate or park anything outside of this for the future.

These priorities can change over time, e.g., during annual leave, you can spend 70% on your dream to intensify your effort, 20% added to your relaxation time and 10% on your distractions. It can also change depending on your situation. If you are unemployed, you can spend 70% on building your career dream, 20% on finding a job and 10% on distractions.

You should continually assess these priorities before taking on a new career commitment. In summary, have a clear career focus and dreams, and minimise distractions anytime. Be determined, optimistic, persistent, and creative. Manage stress, solve problems, manage your time and plan effectively.


Obi and Odu’s story is a powerful reminder of the distinction between effectiveness and mere hard work. Personal effectiveness requires a combination of clarity in knowing what is truly important and the ability to take purposeful action.

By understanding the core components of personal effectiveness and implementing strategies to enhance it, individuals can navigate distractions, prioritise tasks, and achieve their goals more efficiently. Embrace effectiveness as a guiding principle in your personal and professional life, and watch as you unlock your true potential.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency?

Effectiveness refers to achieving a desired result or goal, whereas efficiency focuses on achieving that result or purpose with the least resources or time. Effectiveness is about doing the right things, while efficiency is doing something right.

How can I become more effective personally and professionally?

To enhance effectiveness, set clear goals and priorities, manage time effectively, and continuously learn and develop new skills. Seek feedback, learn from mistakes, and focus on essential tasks while minimising distractions.

How can I overcome distractions and focus on what truly matters?

Several strategies can help you overcome distractions. Create a to-do list, prioritise tasks based on importance, and break them down into smaller steps. Establish a dedicated workspace, use time-management tools, practice mindfulness, and avoid multitasking.

How can I balance my priorities and minimise distractions in my career? 

Focus on your primary occupation (70%), allocate time to nurture your career dreams (20%), and limit distractions to a minimum (10%). Regularly reassess these priorities based on your situation and make adjustments accordingly.

What are the critical components of personal effectiveness?

Personal effectiveness involves knowing what is right to do (clarity) and doing it (action). Clarity comes from understanding what is essential, while action requires overcoming distractions and short-term pleasures.

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Sam Soyombo
Sam Soyombo

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