Track Leading not Lagging Indicators!

Suresh Thotakura
Oct. 20, 2019

In his book, "Deep Work" Cal Newport talks about one of the disciplines - Act on the Lead measures - from the book "The 4 Disciplines of Execution", that can be applied to achieve any important goal. Whatever maybe your goal, the actions you take towards achieving that goal are the leading indicators and the results are lagging indicators.  The problem with Results is that the actions that drove those results are already in the past. There is nothing you can do about it once you have results - whether you like them or not.  You cannot correct your course once you reach the destination. In fact, there would be nothing to course correct once you have reached the destination. You can only do that when you are still marching towards the destination. That's why it is so important to track your actions or leading indicators.

Identifying Leading Indicators

Most people do not have a problem in identifying goals or desired results - lagging indicators. They often be like "I want to reduce weight by 12 pounds by the end of the year", or "I want to become a millionaire by the age of 42" etc etc.  It is definitely important to first identify your goals or desired results. It is equally - if not more - important to identify the actions that needed to be taken to achieve those results. Leading indicators always give you a chance to correct your course before it is too late.  Mention Benjamin Hardy Airplane and ATC course correcting the Airplane story. One important aspect of applying this principle is "identifying the leading i You want to reduce weight in a month? Do not track the weight, instead track what you eat, how long do you exercise, etc. Similarly, want to invest in a company Mention the stuff from book, Deep Work, may be couple of quotes, etc. Want to reduce weight, track what you eat, exercise. Want to invest in a company, do not check their quarterly results, but look around for signs like how the sales are going. Mention Joel's book "You can be a Stock Market Genius" and maybe some comments from that book. You want to build great audience for your content, do not check the stats but check to see how much time you are spending in Writing quality content. Want to become a millionaire, again look at your actions not results in few years to see if you have really become a millionaire or not. Jim Rohn millionaire stuff. Concentrate on Process / Actions than Results. Complacency is your enemy. Do not get complacent when tracking actions. Talk about momentum complacency. newton's first law. Post a picture of your leading indicators chart. Big Mo from the book The Compound Effect. Newton's first law, etc Performance accelerates when it is tracked. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

In Conclusion

Results are Lagging Indicators and Actions are Leading Indicators. Track your Actions not Results. If you track your Actions and they are going in the right direction, then you do not need to track your Results. If they are not going in the right direction, then you will have chance to correct your course and arrive at your results.