How To Put On Your Hat of Effectiveness


I’m going to give you a hat.  Whenever you need it, simply put it on.  This hat will help you get the best results in your life.

When triggers happen that cause you to react, add a pause, and put on your metaphorical hat of effectiveness.  When you put this hat on, you’re shifting gears.  You’re shifting from reacting to responding.

How To Put On Your Hat of Effectiveness
Here are the key steps:

  1. Decide what your goal is on exploring the most effective response (your next best move or your best play for the situation.)
  2. Boil the problem down to a simple one-liner statement (e.g. how to get the car at the price you want.)  This gives you clarity and makes it easier for you to state the problem if you need to ask for help.
  3. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish? (This is both what you want and don’t want.)
  4. Ask yourself, what 3 potential responses might be? (this is your chance to play out potential solutions.)
  5. Ask yourself, what would Edward de Bono do? (or fill in your favorite hero for the situation.)
  6. Choose the most effective response.

Measure Against Effectiveness
If you aren’t sure what your best responses are, make it a point to ask the right people for input. The most important thing is to keep clarity on what you want to accomplish, avoid, or minimize. You then measure yourself against effectiveness. If you fail, you ask, “what’s the lesson,” and you carry the lesson forward.  If you accomplish the goal, great … what did you learn?  So it’s a path of learning and growth measured against effectiveness.

A Lot of Power in a Simple Hat
It’s a powerful hat.  It will serve you well.  It’s probably the best hat that I wear for any challenging situation.
It combine the power of the pause, the ability to stay out of fight-or-flight mode (which screws up your thinking), it allows you to cycle through potential solutions, while asking solution-focused or forward moving questions, it keeps you unstuck, and it keeps you learning.

Changing Questions Changes Focus
I think the real power of this hat is that it combines several effective thinking techniques, plus NLP …

  • Changing state (without having to use real anchors/triggers.)
  • Changing questions changes focus changes results.
  • Changing state helps keeps you out of primal mind / fight-or-flight … so more prefrontal for your best thinking.

When You Don’t Know, Ask
The hat can’t help you pattern match, if you don’t have the right patterns to begin with.  If you’re up against a problem that you don’t have the right experience for, then ask your network for help.  You can also supplement  with the Six Thinking Hats technique and by asking experts for their input.  That’s why asking THE right question is so key.  If you’re not getting the right answers, you might not be asking the right questions.  You might also be asking the wrong people.  At work, I have to constantly check myself, “am I asking the right person?”

Take care of this hat.  It’s the hat that truly does make the difference.

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Photo by Bazule.


  1. Great post! Effectiveness is something I think about ALL the time (seriously, it might even be a problem how much I’m always wondering “What is the most effective way to do this?”) and I think this is an excellent post on the topic. Thank you!

    PS – I also love the image and the concept of the “effectiveness hat.” The picture reminds me of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, my favorite movie!

  2. Thanks for sharing with us this wonderful proverbial hat J.D. It really works if you let your imagination soar to a certain height that will do your soul good and make you think well and be positive. 🙂

  3. I could use this hat! There are several other hats I could use, to help me tackle other challenges.

  4. I just rewrote an article for my blog next week about a “creative writing talisman,” which works much the same way as your hat (love the hat in the photo, by the way). I have actually thought many times about using a hat for creative sessions (I love hats). I just haven’t found the right one yet.

  5. This is a good hat…my youngest child just so often gets a reaction rather than a response

    I really like chatting with her on IM rather than a phone conversation…and I have to keep the steps so short…phrases neat…
    concise…I am needing a hat…

    When my kids were little and I would get a work call (home office) and need to focus on someone else I put on a hat covered in silk with lovely big orchids on it….they all understood changing gears very quickly and would shush each other quiet or get out the crayons and paper….

  6. @ Positively Present

    Aside from prowess and results, effectiveness and effective are my favorites. Similarly, I’m always wondering “what’s the most effective thing I can do.”

    It’s a pretty gnarly hat.

    @ Jannie

    A follow up is, “who is the best person to ask?” and it works wonders.

    @ Cloak

    It’s a hat that challenges me the most, but I always learn the most too.

    @ Vered

    Sounds like you need the “kick arse and take names” hat, which happens to be another of my favorites 😉

    @ Melissa Donovan

    I was actually considering a follow up post on the hat I use for writing when I need to shift gears from productive to creative. If I’m not in the right state, I have to work too hard or I miss the mark.

    @ Alik

    Sometimes other hats are more appropriate. For example, my creativity hat or my efficiency hat or my kick arse hat all have their place.

    @ Patricia

    At work, sometimes I wear my kick arse and take names hat. It’s when our team is in SWAT mode. When I have the hat on, everybody knows we’re on a mission and it’s time to focus. It actually helps others get in the game. It’s a visual cue that the heat is on and it sets the pace.

    @ Fred

    I pitty the problem up against the combo of the pause and the hat.

  7. btw, I have a lovely pink John Deere ball cap that gives me much inspiration, especially for chopping kindling. And rounding up cattle. It’s a good hat!

  8. Hi J.D.–The pause is so good to do. You have to get yourself to make it a habit but once you do it is so helpful.

    Boiling the problem down to a simple one-liner is something that I need to try–I like that.

  9. @ Jannie

    Hmmmm … for some reason when I think John Deere I don’t pink. Sounds like a powerful cap if it works for both chopping wood and rustling cattle.

    @ Christine

    The pause is powerful stuff. It’s all our little decisions that really shape us over time.

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