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Dearly beloved, today’s lesson comes from the Book of Principle-Centred Leadership, Chapter 12, pages whatever (Kindle doesn’t paginate).

Don’t you just love it when you think a profound thought – and then read a book by a great writer who expresses exactly the same idea? Maybe with better prose, but identifying the same concept, nevertheless?

I have suggested in the past that success is basically the result of excellent time management and effective communication, and in the aforesaid book, Stephen Covey suggested that a successful family life is the result of those two skills. Okay, he adds problem-solving as a third competence but two out of three ain’t bad.

Covey proposes that time management, or rather the ability to lead and manage ourselves in the context of the time available and our relationships, is essential if we aren’t to waste time NOT doing those things that create what we define as success. He proposes that the ability to be clear in communication is also key – clearly saying what we mean, ensuring that we understand what others mean, and even getting so good at communication that we hardly have to speak at all. And developing the skill to solve problems, which is based on asking four questions.

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be?
  3. How will we get there?
  4. How will we know we’ve got there?

Which, to be frank and to return ‘his’ three skills back to matching my two and making me feel smug all over again, is basically the formula for setting a Goal – in this case, setting the Goal of Solving the Problem. And goal setting firmly comes under the time management heading. So there.

Can you think of any problem that isn’t solved by asking those four questions? Even if the problem is solved in three seconds flat, the solver undergoes that process even if they don’t realise it.

David Allen, in his book ‘Getting Things Done’ also outlines how we unconsciously undergo a ‘Natural Planning Method’ when we plan even the simplest of projects, which scientists have analysed into Project Management ‘science’. Everything complicated started out as something simple. We just make it harder because we’re sooooo clever. Which might explain why, in 2021, it takes years to implement any idea that used to take weeks. Discuss.

Given that Stephen Covey and I are so clever, one has to ask (as a client, employer or individual):

Why don’t they teach time management, communication and generic problem solving to young people in school?

Imagine an organised student able to express him- or herself with patient sentence construction, who has a plan to achieve what is expected of them as well as what they want to achieve as a person, who sees a problem as a relatively simple A to B issue that s/he has time and resources to solve. Instead of just telling them stuff we want them to regurgitate in December and May.

It seems strange how we expect people to know this stuff without teaching it.

Buy this book and give it to your kids!