When you have something to do that involves a long wait, what’s your plan? Are you an ‘unlimited coffee’ drinking Wetherspoons telly reader (because the sound’s off and the subtitles are behind the speaker)? Do you search the local shops with no intention of buying anything? Do you manically find some urgent task that you might just progress if the opportunity arises and can be taken? Or do you just chill?
Yesterday, I had a car serviced by a friendly mechanic in Cardiff and such is the distance that it’s not worth going home because as soon as I’d get there, I’d be called back to collect the vehicle. So when I’d booked the service, and in anticipation of the expected wait, I planned my day by first asking Neil (for that is his name) how long it would take. As a result of that one question I was able to make a plan as to what I’d do during the wait AND plan the rest of my post-service day.
First, I decided to go to a library and review my Personal Mission Statement and Goals, just to reset and refocus. That is a valuable activity that reinvigorates motivation and allows you to plan and envision how much better you’ll with deal with a challenge the next time someone annoys you. Then I decided to visit Cardiff Crown Court ‘for old times’ sake’, which proved to be a bust because inn the lead up to lunch there seemed to be little enthusiasm for starting the trial. (Wonder why courts are suffering delays? This is why: “Well, it’s midday, we’ll only get the jury sworn in and have to start the trial later, so let’s have lunch now and start the process at 2pm.”) Finally, I adjourned (ha!) to the adjacent museum and amused myself with some Natural History input – did you know that Wales is made up of rocks, like THE REST OF THE WORLD?
I walked 14km that morning and when I got home, I got to walk the dog, too. Yay.
But it was the first hour, the library life review, that made all the difference. No major changes in terms of my approaches to life, just a reminder where I was and wasn’t performing in terms of the person I want to be. A couple of short-term goals were identified, but the main benefit was just reminding myself who ME is supposed to be.
For those who just chill, kudos to you. Taking a break from the high demands of life is as valuable – I don’t do that because no matter how much I try I am always thinking about the next thing, so Mindfulness is a no-hoper. But for those who find meditation valuable, go for it when you have a long wait.
Charles R Hobbs, author of Time Power (best practical time management tome ever, available second hand only), suggests that when planning for a waiting period it is always good practice to have what he called a ‘High A’ to hand, meaning an important task that you can progress during your wait. Suggestions included making important phone calls or reading something related to your profession, but a good novel that lets you put the stresses of work behind you is as good a High A as a report that needs to be read but in respect of which you’re not really going to be able to provide the appropriate focus.
But the message remains clear –shopping, telly watching and other mind-numbing time fillers aren’t valuable enough for you to be wasting time on them.
What’s your High A, the one you can use to fill spaces in your day?
This week, I’d like to take an opportunity to tell you more about my book “The Way: Integrity on Purpose.”
In 2014 I self-published ‘The Three Resolutions’, an effort to expand upon Stephen Covey’s own writing under that title, which was a small chapter in his book ‘Principle-Centred Leadership’. The chapter described how making three commitments could make quantum improvements in an individual’s life, specifically in three areas. The areas were the physical self in terms of the wellbeing of the body; the ‘mental’ self in terms of character and competence; and the spiritual self in terms of contribution and service to others. The commitments were to overcome appetites and passions through the application of self-discipline and self-denial; overcome pretentions and pride through becoming a person of good character, and of great professional competence; and to overcome unbridled ambition and aspiration through a focus outside oneself.
I expanded on the concepts and publicly committed to a set of rules, values and a personal mission statement that reflected those headings. In many ways I succeeded in executing to a degree, but I felt that I wasn’t as compliant with my intentions as I could or should have been. Asking myself why, and considering the self-generated feedback that resulted, I concluded that there were four reasons why I, and many others, don’t feel as though our level of compliance with our mission statements is as high as we would like.
This realisation led me to consider the reasons for this, and how we could go about addressing the gap between desire and execution in living our personal mission statement; or, for the purposes of this book, living The Way.
First, though, I want to make one clear statement.
When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am not saying there is only one ‘way’.
When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am talking about what you will discover, in this book and through its study, is YOUR ‘Way’. Not mine, yours. This book isn’t about moralising and dictating what you should think, feel and do. I may make some suggestions, but the focus is intended to be on assisting the reader to discover his or her own Way, not just reproduce people who believe in mine. The objective is to help you design your better way of living, and for me to redesign and recommit to mine. But yours and mine will be different, either to some small degree if we are alike in some way, or by a huge difference if your values are hugely different to mine.
I concluded that there is only one true route to personal success. It’s a straightforward formula of four phases. They are:
Find the Way
Learn the Way
Live the Way
Teach the Way
These four phases systematically summarise a strategy for living. The system reflects the identification, learning and application process, that process which we all undertake when learning to live, to work, to earn, to relate to others, to manage – everything. They embody all the skills we need to have and to demonstrate in our efforts to live ‘properly’. They also reflect those areas where, if we are not careful, we will act badly.
This system parallels any development process undertaken anywhere, by anyone, for any purpose. It is how a professional learns; it is how a religion becomes ingrained into an adherent to that religion; it is how a family member learns to become a contributor to that family. The reason that such a system works is because it is neutral. It is a principle in action. It is the principle of progression, of starting out as a novice with the aim of becoming a master.
I believe that the route to living your Way is taken through these four steps. The steps are progressive, and they involve properly and fully identifying the Way, studying in greater detail about how the Way can be executed, then living in such a fashion as to clearly be in congruence with the Way, and finally to reinforce your Way by teaching it.
In brief, the four elements of The Way are expanded thus:
Find the Way
To quote Covey, the first challenges we face when deciding The Way is that we are not sure who we are, and where we want to go. The first part of the book is therefore intended to help you decide what values you have or want to have, the associated behaviours you believe will help you comply with those values, and writing them down so that you, yourself, clearly understand them.
Learn the Way
The second challenge, once we have put our fingers on who we want to be and where we want to go, is to learn how to do so. This section will be about studying and committing to the behaviours that serve execution of The Way.
Live the Way
Having overcome the first two challenges, there remain still further challenges to living the Way.
The first is that we do not realise that we are compliant because we don’t feel as though we are ‘doing’ our mission all of the time. Life gets in our way in the sense that it is hard to consider yourself ‘carrying out your mission’ when you are filling the dishwasher. Life is full of little routines that have to be done but aren’t, well, exciting.
The second reason for ineffective application of The Way that we have identified is inextricably linked to the first. As our lives are littered with unexciting, routine, non-mission projects, tasks and other activities, we fail to properly and routinely recognise opportunities to execute on our missions. For example, part of my own mission is to be patient with others. Imagine a day cluttered with runs to the shops, commuting in traffic jams, banking and managing money – then something jumps at you and interrupts you and in that second you react impatiently, because you haven’t seen, in the clutter, that opportunity to be what you want to be. The third part of the book is intended to help you overcome the challenges and live The Way – the way that you want to.
Teach the Way
And one way of living The Way is to spend a lot of time teaching it. Covey counselled participants at his many events that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. He would ‘volunteer’ random attendees and tell them he was about to teach something that they would have to repeat to other participants. Then he would point out to those others that his ‘volunteers’ had just pricked up their ears and picked up their pens – they were now listening because they knew they had to understand what they were about to teach. The fourth part of the book will advise you on how to do this.
To summarise, then, the objective of this book is to
Help the student identify the values, disciplines and objectives for their future success in life.
Help the student find the motivation to learn the precise definition of those values so that they are content they reflect their true desires. And then to master that understanding.
Help the student master and execute the behaviours and actions needed to live in accordance with the values they themselves have identified in the first two parts.
Encourage the student to teach others, with the objectives of both spreading the word and ingraining their own improved mastery of their chosen path.
I hope you take the opportunity to get a copy, which is available at Amazon through THIS LINK and is as much a bargain of a paperback as I could make it!
There is a lot of material in the personal development sector that promotes the setting of goals. It’s a standard theme, which makes perfect sense because you can’t develop yourself in a particular direction unless you know what your destination actually is.
Numerically, there are a LOT of those books. Also numerically, there are fewer books that promote the idea that your goals should be, as far as is possible (given the reality of work impositions which your employer would really like you to consider as important outcomes), aligned with your personal value system.
There are millions of books on relationships. Some ethical, some manipulative. There are those which instruct you how to improve a loving, compassionate and giving relationship with someone important to you, and at the other end of the ethical scale there are books that tell you how to make people do what you want them to do for you, regardless of their own interests. We don’t like those, do we?
But in my (admittedly limited) experience I can think of only one that truly combines advice on how to set goals that align with your personal values AND which take into account the fact that what you want to do involves and affects other people. In other words, one book that asks the values-directed goal-setting reader to consider their relationships as part of the planning equation.
The book is Stephen Covey et al’s 1994 classic “First Things First”, and it dedicates a lot of its pages to ensuring that the reader properly considers their important relationships, and compassion for others, as part of their planning and executing of their lives. There are 43 pages alone under the heading ‘First Things First Together’, but the tone of the entire book is one that says, “Everything we do, we do with, for or because of others.” It’s all very well having the drive to get what it is you desire – but this is the only book I have read (on time management/event control) that reminds us that relationships are more important than achievement.
Which is not to say that I have ever mastered that idea. Far from it. I have spent many a day frustrated that ‘someone’ is getting in the way of my plan by being late, letting me down, not performing well, or being the other half of a misunderstanding. Like you, I get the hump with other people.
First Things First was the first Covey book I read, because I was exploring the concept of time management for work at the time I found it. But despite my generic impatience with other people getting in ‘my’ way, it spoke to me. It spoke to me so much that I have subsequently explored everything Covey ever wrote (to an embarrassing degree, to be frank). Me! Mister Miserable, Mister Impatient, Mr Self-Absorbed was impressed by a book, the tone of which was about recognising and respecting other people in personal and professional planning.
So impressed that I taught it, gifted it and promoted it. Some will listen, some will not. C’est la vie.
But if you have an inkling to learn time management AND you love, respect, and wish to take into account the needs of, other people, this is the book you want.
Make it your next personal development purchase.
(And while it might not have a big section on e-mails, be mindful that this is about the mind-set, attitude towards, and execution of life and work, not how to use a hammer that has its uses but isn’t applied to everything. There are lots of books about emails, too.)
You can get it through THIS LINK. (I suggest you don’t buy the audio book as it is too heavily abridged.)
I have written before about how many people confuse The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with being a business book. It isn’t, never was. What it is, is a book about living effectively as an individual and as part of any relationship. It is not about fame or success, per se, but about living a principled life, which in turn can lead to those things – if they are what you want. But let’s be frank – most of us don’t want them or don’t see them as important as being a good person doing good work for the people they care about, while enjoying life – which this book promotes in spades.
I recall once attending a meeting of personal development teachers preparing to deliver the Seven Habits material to schools with the overall aim of teaching ‘leadership’, and I opined that what we would be teaching was self-leadership, and this was even more important because while everyone has the potential to be ‘a success’ and a ‘boss’ the vast majority of young people would be the staff, the workers, the led – and they should be trained to be the best they could be at those things, too. Leaders – self-leaders – make great followers.
The Seven Habits are (and I quote) A principle-centred, character-based, inside-out approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
Let’s break that down a bit.
Principle-Centred. We like to think we can control events, but while we can control what we do, principles (sciences, incontrovertible truths, systems) decide the results. I’ll get deeper into that in future articles but for now I’ll explain that it means that instead of letting fame, wealth, family, church, peers, friends, pleasure, friends, enemies or work dictate how we think and behave, we let principles lead our decisions and resulting actions.
Character-Based. Our personality is what we show other people deliberately, but our character is what we really are. Personality tends to make us follow fashions and popular thought and ‘the latest thing’ so that we can fit in and benefit from that fitting in. Character, on the other hand, requires sacrifice, work and effort. But it lasts well beyond fashion, fame and money.
Inside-Out Approach. There is a tendency for folks to wait for their external world to change so that it suits them, instead of either changing it for the better themselves by changing their approach towards the changes needed. In 2020 we see protest after protest of people demanding other people change to suit their agenda – then they go home and wait for it to happen instead of engaging those in power in an effort to persuade and influence the change they want. The Inside-Out Approach is about looking into yourself and deciding what you need to change in yourself and how you need to change your approach, in order to achieve what you seek. Waiting for ‘them’ to change is ineffective.
Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Effectiveness is not ‘just ‘success. Effectiveness is getting the results you want in such a way as to get them consistently – not once, but as long as they are needed. And it is not just about ‘you’ – it’s about effectiveness with and through other people, too. I have often said ‘Everything we do, we do with, for or because of other people – everything.’ So relationships are important enough to pursue with diligence. Including those we have with ourselves.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, then, are about taking responsibility for making things happen for the benefit of all those you love or serve, including yourself, while acting with good character and respecting the realities of the world.
Over the next 17 days (long story*) I intend to expand upon Stephen Covey’s work with a view to encouraging any reader to take up their own study of The Seven Habits so that they can benefit, as I have, from a better self-understanding and an improved recognition of what is going on around them, how they can respond to the challenges of the modern world – and do so without offending or being offended.
A word of warning, though – as you understand the lessons Covey taught you will start to recognise how many people are trying to tell you how to live. Covey’s main lesson is that you have that choice and it need not be imposed upon you. Reading the book will make you aware of how the world is trying to condition you – not necessarily out of malice but out of a desire to make you agree with ‘them’. After reading it, you may still agree with ‘them’. But it will be a conscious rather than popular agreement.
In the end, a major tenet of this book is this.
You can live your life or your life can be lived for you.
I hope you enjoy the work to follow.
(* Michael Heppell, personal development coach, has proposed a 17 day project for his Facebook Group and this is mine. That wasn’t as long a story as I thought.)
I came to the Seven Habits later than I’d have liked, but since they weren’t published until 1989 and I was already 37 years old that’s not really surprising. I discovered the book in 1995 after I’d read Stephen Covey’s time management epic First Things First and realised that I enjoyed his writing style and presentation as much as I did the content.
In retrospect the book changed me in many positive ways, ways I wish to put on record and ways that I would encourage others to explore, if not adopt. I won’t look at the Habits themselves, as that would lengthen this article too much. I’ll just focus on their effect.
In reading The Seven Habits (and Covey’s other works):
I discovered that people allow themselves to be influenced, even created by their surroundings, and that I could decide that my surroundings would not affect me. We are all Pavlov’s Dogs, if we allow that to happen.
I discovered that the best way to achieve anything is to put myself forward rather than rely on things to happen in a way that suits me.
I realised that now and then it is better to just say nothing rather than express an opinion that will upset someone else, especially when there was no perceivable positive outcome to such expression.
I discovered that what was being presented to me by others is frequently coloured, flowered with opinion rather than objectivity, and designed to tell me what they want me to think, rather than what is actually unbiased and true. It made me question everything rather than just accept. Professionally, it made me a better investigator.
I noticed just how much time and effort is wasted on ‘things done the way they’ve always been done’ and without proper, considered thought. It made me challenge demands on my time – some I won, some I lost, but all taught me new ways to approach people whose demands challenged me.
I stopped challenging processes until I truly understood their objective, thus recognising what worked and what didn’t, so that I could influence effective change.
I started to think about my future and started developing and executing a plan that made my desired outcomes come into being.
I found that reading the book, with its considered prose, well-argued observations and incredible wisdom, made me more intelligent. It made me want to seek more knowledge, higher-level qualifications and challenging opportunities.
I decided that I wanted to teach this to others, and so I sought out the experiences, training and opportunities to do so. I even funded its availability in my local comprehensive.
I recognised that I have made many, many mistakes, but that they do not define me.
And many mooooorrrreeeee.
In conclusion, reading that book arguably made me a more productive employee, parent, husband and trainer. Yes, I still make mistakes but it is usually despite my knowledge rather than because of it. The principles apply – it’s my failure to apply the principles (on occasion) that influenced my personal errors. And given Covey’s confession that even he had trouble with them, I can live with it.
The book has sold 40 million copies, has just been re-issued as a 30th anniversary edition, and still surprises me with my recognition of bits of information that tweak my knowledge of the material and how it applies to my life.
I really, emphatically and enthusiastically recommend it. If nothing else, reading it led to some truly impactive self-discovery and personal growth. The hardback costs less than 10 pints and has a longer-term effect.
When I have promoted my works and offer training in the realms of personal development, I often find resistance not to the time or costs, but to the very idea of the material. I wrote in Police Time Management why I think this is in respect of that particular field of knowledge, but today I listened to a lecture by the late, great Jim Rohn and I think he hit the nail on the proverbial.
He spoke of the Sermon on the Mount and described how the response was reported in the Bible as being divided into three types – the perplexed, the mockers and the believers. Hence my title this morning.
Let’s have a think about all three, and their motivations.
The Perplexed. They don’t know what you’re talking about. These people are the ones in the Unconscious Incompetence bracket of Noel Burch’s model. They don’t know what they don’t know and are equally unable to comprehend that what they don’t know will serve them. They’ve likely already concluded it’s too hard to understand so they don’t bother trying.
The Mockers. These are the ones who know it all, or think they do. They don’t see that there is an alternative way of thinking to the one they’ve already decided is best. And rather than articulate that because they know it to be a stupid position or can’t face the work involved, they attack the idea. It’s easier than knuckling down and listening.
The Believers. Now, here we have to be careful because there are actually three strands. There are the Believers who believe regardless of the efficacy of the argument, so they’ll believe no matter what is said, if they are convinced by the speaker. Then there are Believers who are the Consciously Incompetent, who know that there is something that they don’t know – and want to know it. And the final subset are the ones who’ve had the training and have applied it to the degree that they know it to be good stuff.
That last set is very present on LinkedIn, but there’s something they could do that they aren’t doing. They aren’t letting anyone else know that the stuff is good.
Some possible reasons. They are naturally well-organised ‘time-managers’ and don’t realise that others need this input. Or perhaps they think it’s a great secret and don’t want anyone to know because it makes them appear really effective. Or they think that the cost of training their peers and staff in such material isn’t cost-effective.
So they are Believers but not Advocates. I like the by-line I use for my LinkedIn page – Advocate of the Seven Habits – because it underlines my willingness to communicate something I believe in. I would ask others to do the same, but not only in terms of their chosen profession.
I would encourage people to look at the provision of training in the sub-skills of ‘work’ – sector specific or in a more general sense – like communications, self- and time-management, administration practices, even mindfulness (ugh) if it makes their staff more productive and less stressed.
As the greats have said (and I paraphrase) – Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll produce enough fish for his employer to sell at a massive profit through enhanced effectiveness and efficiencies.
Go on. Train your staff or just buy them a book about ‘stuff’. Many have, and many have benefited as a consequence.
Okay, yesterday I said I’d only do one pandemic post, but circumstances change and so does our approach. Here is take 2. It’s more important than yesterday’s.
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who was sent to the concentration camps in WWII. Famously, he was academically interested in why some people survived the camps, and others didn’t. notwithstanding the misfortunes of selection and random execution, the ones who weren’t so unfortunate either died, or they did not.
To cut a long story to the chase, Frankl concluded that the ones who lived were those who had a firm vision of their future. For Frankl himself it was a vision that he would teach what he’d learned to students, with a view to it never happening again.
Norman Cousins was a man who, according to Wikipedia, used his mental faculty to overcome a debilitating condition. It is said he made laughter one of his main medicines, along with a personal determination to overcome his personal, physical challenges – and he succeeded.
We live at a time when a virus threatens the existence of those physically unable to fight it. I’ll admit it plays on my mind, as I have what may be one of those pre-existing medical conditions. But it isn’t just about me – I have two beautiful grandchildren, four lovely kids and a beloved wife. I can’t conceive of life without any of them, particularly the young. But that also means if I’m gone, I don’t get to see them grow. So it is me, but it’s them too.
So now, more than ever, I think it is time to consider positivity, laughter, and a firmly envisioned plan for the future that will provide hope for us as individuals and, in the end, for all of us.
I have no doubt that despair does not serve the physical body, and I firmly believe that some people who died did so because they lacked hope, or a sense of purpose. They thought, “I’m done here.” Which in the case of the elderly may, for them, have a been some kind of satisfaction. It’s not cruel or judgemental to say that. If it was, then the person who thought of the term for the dying of ‘Blessed release’ is equally evil. It is just a belief, no more.
Anyway, like Hemingway, I want to die only when I am all used up, and that isn’t yet.
Today is the day I carry out my planning for the week, and part of that plan will be to consider my long term future. What do I want to create in this world, what legacy do I wish to leave for those kids? How am I going to achieve that? Not just in terms of tasks but in terms of the way I conduct myself – hopefully with integrity, with the fullest congruence between my values and my behaviours.
I’ll ask you all to do the same. Design your future as if all will pass as well as it can, for you.
At the same time, I will tie up my camel by ensuring that my immediate family is cared for, provided for, supplied and kept as healthy as they can so that if it does strike, they can be part of the 80% who just get a sniffle. But not, I hope, at the expense of anyone else. I will get enough for our needs, and no more. those who are stockpiling a year’s worth of soap for the 14 days they may have to stay at home are selfish. No question.
Plan a spectacular future. See it in your mind’s eye and start working towards achieving your dream and towards leaving your legacy. Review and recommit to your Mission. Frankl and Cousins need your support. And your health and welfare may depend on it.
And if fate should decide otherwise, let me face it with integrity and set a good example.
Clutter. Clutter of the mind, clutter of the desk, clutter of the computer. All of it gets in the way, and all of it is our fault.
Edwin C. Bliss, author of time management texts of yore, suggested that people made a big mistake when deciding whether or not to keep something, like a document or file. The erring folk asked, “Will I conceivably ever need this again?”, and because ‘conceivably’ is always, er, conceivable, it gets filed away for ever. Clutter.
Bliss suggested asking a different question. He proposed asking the question, “If I lost this, what would I do?”
If the answer was ‘shrug’, he’d bin it. Alternatively, the mind would be directed towards finding a solution to finding the potentially lost, and the imagination would present answers as to how to minimise the need or facility for retrieval.
Of course, we now have The Cloud (a.k.a. someone else’s reliable and secure – honest – computer), and memory sticks (my preferred option). But the problem with these can be the same if we aren’t careful – we just gather sticks and clutter them, instead.
So the time management advice of the day is to manage your retrieval system by first of all only putting into it what you absolutely know would be irretrievable if you didn’t, but also to name the files in such a way as to find them easily when you do need them.
In the front office at Newport Central Police Station in Gwent, there was a computer. By virtue of its location it was used by everyone who needed to write something quickly for prisoner handovers, reports, whatever. Anyone using this desktop was presented with a screen containing shortcuts to Doc1. Not just one Doc1, but somehow to a plethora of Doc1s. Notwithstanding my confusion as to how many Doc1s a computer could create, how and why they managed to save them to the Desktop screen instead of the document folder I will never understand: but the question also arose as to how long anyone would take to find ‘their’ Doc1 if they needed it again?
Giving a saved file a searchable, relevant name is important, and there is no limit to how long that name could be (within reason). Once the immediate need for access is over, stick it somewhere safe, accessible but out of the way. Stick, cloud, external drive, whatever suits. Learn how to use the search function on the documents and other folder windows (you’d be surprised how few people know how that works).
But don’t have your file icons cluttering your folders, desktop or laptop screen or desk (in the case of paper), dragging your attention away from the truly important, needed stuff. Your mind is for thinking. Not for managing files.
Do it Now.
For more on the subject, and other time management advice, buy this book, available from Amazon.
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.
Where are we now?
Where do we want to be?
How will we get there?
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.
That was close. This morning I was driving my car to the tip for my umpteenth delivery of packaging from a house re-do, listening to Jack Canfield’s ‘The Success Principles’ (good book) and bemoaning the fact that ‘No-one is reading my posts’, when what was saying struck a chord. He spoke of the obstacles to our success, the benefits of feedback, and what we should do about both.
And it hit home. I was concerned about lack of readers on this blog, and the feedback from an earlier post suggested I wasn’t reaping the benefits for which I fervently hoped, which was leading me to think it wasn’t really worth the effort. Which was an act that was monumentally stupid of me. (It’s a repeating theme, apparently.)
Jack’s chat made me review my paradigm of the situation. My conclusion was that the number of readers was important but it wasn’t the sole benefit of writing a daily blog. (Yesterday I was just plain busy, BTW.)
I am a communicator, a writer, a trainer. I realised that this blog wasn’t ‘just’ there to be read by others. It has another benefit.
It’s a daily opportunity to think about things, to cogitate, to consider, and to discuss. It’s my 5-times-weekly chance to craft my thinking and writing skills. It’s a time for improved learning on how to express ideas in such a way as to educate, entertain and empower. It’s mission-focused, values-driven and service-oriented.
It’s congruence in action.
I’ve written before about looking for the alternative value that makes a dichotomy easier to resolve (see this post), but on this occasion it was the alternative value that found me. The value that I was focused on was a ‘moving away from’ value – egotism. People didn’t love me so I wouldn’t waste further time on the matter. The value that poked my conscience was a ‘moving towards’ value, and this was Integrity – people don’t have to love me for my stuff to be important enough to put into print.
What is stopping you from achieving something you need or want to complete?
Is that something really true or are you just making an excuse? If the latter I won’t judge you because I feel like that a lot of the time. But occasionally a thought just peeks its head into my mind, or I consciously read my Mission or Values Statements and recognise my need to get it done. Which creates a reinvigorated ‘want’ to get it done.
Whichever works in the moment.
The heading asks, “What’s the Point?”
Don’t ask that question as if you’ve already decided there isn’t one.