St. Patrick: Productivity Mastermind

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You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb

March 17 is celebrated by millions as St. Patrick’s Day, including many secular individuals of Irish descent. Nevertheless, before enjoying a pint of Guinness this evening, I thought I’d share a few historical notes about this very interesting goal-setter. Although he is considered the patron saint of Irish by most people, the big irony is that Patrick has never been officially canonized as a Saint by Rome. Technically he is NOT a Catholic saint (please, do not tell my Irish grandmother).

That irony goes deeper for the Catholic Church as he was the first independent missionary after St. Paul to convert so many people in a short span of time and his program was an impetus for later missionary activities during the next 15 centuries.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of historical evidence to consider Patrick as he only left behind two written documents, his two famous letters, the Confessio and the Epistola. The Confessio is autobiographical, so it contains the most insights. As a young man he was enslaved by the Irish, but he escaped back to England, where he then studied Christianity, before returning to convert the pagan people of Ireland.

Why do I call him a productivity mastermind? He had a single big goal (for him, a visionary mission inspired by God) and focused his many inner resources to achieve it. Patrick utilized a great mix of time management practices, creativity, and scholarship to transform an entire cultural and socio-economic system. He employed delegation, problem solving, and prioritization of tasks. Of course, Patrick did not convert the entire island of Ireland to Catholicism single-handed. He had assistance from many recent converts. He became a new kind of leader.

Also, interesting enough, there is something called the “two Patrick” theory as a different Bishop, a man named Palladius, had also been sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine a few decades prior to Patrick’s arrival. Some historians believe that the individual we know as Patrick might actually be an amalgamation of both individuals.

The big take-away is this: big projects require delegation, outsourcing, and teams. Many entrepreneurs feel they must be chief cook and bottle washer, but this will limit one’s personal, professional, and profit growth. The big productivity secret is to become a great leader. OPE (Other People’s Efforts) is usually requited for large goals to manifest.

The traditional story of St. Patrick is inspiring as it tells about a man that started as the lowest of the low (a slave) and then achieved his ONE life mission by leveraging scholarship, productivity, creativity, and leadership…a pivotal man for both Ireland and the later history of the Catholic Church.


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