This week I was running along on one of my longer runs listening to my iPod, this time to an audio book called ‘The Good Psychopaths Guide to Success’ by Kevin Dutton and the SAS veteran Andy McNab. They proposed that the one way to get anything done in this world, the only way, was to decide what you want and then focus on that 100% of your waking hours – okay, perhaps not quite 100%, but certainly to focus 100% on achieving that goal. This was also a suggestion made by the personal development writer and speaker Brian Tracy, who says, “Decide upon your major definite purpose in life and then organise ALL (my capitals) your activities around it”, which I took to have the same meaning as that proposed by Dutton and McNab. It seemed sage advice when I heard it from Tracy, so much so that I downloaded a picture of that quote and used it as my smartphone home screen screensaver for a week (before I re-loaded my Personal Mission Statement again).
There is certainly a lot to be said for discovering your fundamental purpose in life and dedicating your time to it, putting your heart and soul into achieving that noble purpose in the hope that it will come to pass. The great successes of our history are often said to have done it ‘like that’. And, like I said, it made sense. For a bit.
I say ‘for a bit’ because I realised that this piece of advice was absolutely fine for a single man or woman, who is responsible and accountable only to themselves for what he or she does, and for whom other people are not necessarily a factor in that success. I don’t mean that other people aren’t important to them, only that the focus on their singular purpose is so precise that those other people are either with them, or they’re not in the circle, so to speak.
For most people, there is a problem with focusing all your time on your passionate purpose and that is – you love, respect, like and need to spend time with other people who are not, necessarily, involved in your noble purpose. They may support you but they aren’t part of the great plan. For most of us, those people we love who are not part of the inner circle of The Plan are those in our other inner circle – our family.
I suggest in my (it’s coming, honest) book that one example of a noble purpose is that of family. This isn’t a mind-blowing discovery for which I take credit, it’s the counsel of Dr Covey. He didn’t only write about personal success like so many other authors (and I’m surprised how many do focus only on ‘you’ when I think about all my reading), he always, always included that most important of organisations to which we provide great service, known to all as The Family. (Not the Mob, that’s a different family.)
Half of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ was about relationships. In Principle-Centred Leadership two who chapters were about family relationships and ‘Making Champions of your Children’. ALL of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families was about family.
Providing service to others (the Third Resolution) must be part of one’s Noble Purpose if it is to succeed. NOT providing a service is unlikely to serve a noble purpose anyway – try not serving your customers in a business. Seriously, though, one organisation, one set of ‘customers’ that we all should serve – indeed, when we married them or created them we intended to serve them – is Family. For me, great service to others is noble, desirable, and honourable. But how about service to your kith and kin – is it any less noble?
If all you can do in your own circumstances is serve your own family, then that just might be enough. And if you think about most of the true historical greats you see (more often than not) that they had fantastic familial relationships, too.
I guess what I am saying is this – if you can serve your organisation, community to a high level, that’s marvellous. But if you have to choose (because of time or circumstance, e.g. the needs of an ill relative) then choose family. Your work will forget you soon after you leave the job. Your community changes and develops. But your family is always there and will always need you. Don’t focus all of your time on your Purpose at their expense.
It so nice to think that if you serve family well – you will serve yourself, too.
Make the effort to ‘be nice’ to your family. Pay them compliments, honour their achievements, or just say ‘hello’. Truly forgive someone who has offended you, even if you do so only in your own heart and mind. Write what you have done in your journal, and see how good it makes you feel without having to feel better through manipulation or appreciation.
I lost 5 pounds, folks. I saw the number 14 on the scales for the first time since at least 2009 (if not 2008). My running is (almost) at the point at which I am enjoying it – I won’t pretend it’s the opium of the masses yet, but it is feeling more comfortable as time passes. I did break my mile record (twice) and I’m ‘back’ up to the 30 minutes (3.45 mile) mark. Well on target. Yesterday’s run was after 8 hours shopping (I am a dynamo) – it was seeing my PMS as my laptop screensaver that reminded me of the purpose. T does get you moving provided it is on your mind. Many people say they’ve written one only to file it away (mentally) as ‘done’, and so castrate it at that moment. I know I’ve done that. As I believe I said – it’s on my laptop, my wall, my phone, my dog-tags, my wristband (I bought 10), my 4 t-shirts, 2 sweatshirts, 2 hoodies and a hat. My daughter also bought me a lovely stainless steel business card holder with the words “Seven Habits – Three Resolutions” engraved on it. I really mean to live it, as you may deduce. It’s not only on those ‘things’ – it’s on my mind, too.
In terms of other PMS objectives I spent four days editing and updating the Manual for Investigators that I originally wrote in 2003. A student on our course gave us some feedback on how dated it was and we welcomed that feedback. (I know, surprised me, too.) Initially expecting the work to take weeks, in three days I’d broken the back of all 29 chapters. Of course, with greater resources and time we could make it even better but as a training manual it does what it needs to do, at a cost the Institute can manage.
And yesterday I spent money on improving the home. (Oooooh! Me wallet!) We bought a bit of furniture to remove the need to fill all flat surfaces with (a) flotsam and (b) dust.*
*(He said, hopefully yet with a resigned ‘sigh’).