Attendance is optional, productivity is not.

Tags

, , , , , ,

Larry Winget, American motivator-with-attitude, says in the introduction to his book, “It’s Called Work for a Reason!”,

“Bye honey, I’m off to work!”

Oh, bull! You aren’t going to work at all. You are going to the place that isn’t home, where you have to dress a little better than you do around the house. You are going to a place that is full of other people who also just lied to their significant others. You are all liars – you AND those people you say you work with. You say you are co-workers, when the truth is you’re only co-goers.”

I admit I chuckled a bit at that. I am in an envious position where I can manage my workload and, getting it done quickly with (slightly imperfect) time management expertise, I have more down time than most. I try to do an excellent job, but am most challenged when I, like you, are trying to do an excellent job when another expectation-of-an-excellent-job rolls up, closely followed by more. It’s hardly surprising that we want a quiet 10 minutes to prepare for more work.

But Larry does have a point. We are paid to do more than turn up, we are (as my first employer actually told us on an induction course) to put in a good hard day and go home pleasantly tired. Unfortunately, the world has changed and that is now harder to do.

I’m not talking about back-breaking manual labour, even though that is ever-so-slightly less back-breaking than even it was.

The world has changed in that our ability to focus on ‘work’ has been severely compromised by our inability to focus properly on anything! Mobile phones pinging, bleeping, ringing or just being in view mean we MUST check them several times an hour – even if only to see why we HAVEN’T heard a ping or a bleep or a ring. Downtime also excuses a quick Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/WhatsApp session, doesn’t it?

Perhaps this is why we are now providing courses on ‘How to manage millennials’, a concept that confirms surrender to the ‘me’ generation, rather than suggesting, firmly but politely, that they are being paid to benefit the employer, they CAN be replaced if they don’t work hard enough, and the sun does NOT shine out of their baby-smooth bottoms.

You are paid to work, to produce.

Now, a slight counter-proposition, too. If you are not paid ‘just to be there’ as I suggest, then IF your productivity is good/excellent, IF your standards are high, and IF you can be seen to be a worker, THEN liberties can be given and taken.  I recall an amusing story about a CEO who wanted a manager to have a word with an employee who turned up at 8AM, but went home at 12 noon and played golf all afternoon. After some enquiry, the manager told the CEO, “He’s the most productive employee you have! Get him to teach everyone else how to do that and we’ll be rolling in it!”

Work is measured by RESULTS, not merely PRESENCE. But if you can produce the first through maximising the use of the latter without burning out, your job will be safe. Wherever you work.

 

Advertisements

I’m using a WIG. Or Four.

Tags

, , , , ,

Hello. I’m back.

I went away because I was a bit tired of espousing personal development philosophy while manifestly failing to come up to my own standards. Furthermore, as a direct consequence of said lack of integrity and the physiology that resulted, I felt bloody terrible. I had (still have) a dodgy knee, but carrying 42 lbs of spare weight wasn’t helping. All that weight was on my front, which probably didn’t help with the back. I was constantly tired when I woke up in the morning, and I was motivated only by virtue of the fact that I would do things only if they were on my prioritised action list in my planner. I could simply avoid doing things by not putting them onto the list. I needed space.

I booked some time off from work, and set myself only four WIGs – wildly important goals – for the 18 days available.

  1. Stick to a diet that had worked in the past.
  2. Go to the gym on every free day (i.e. those when I did NOT have whole days dedicated to other events – which only amounted to 2, anyway).
  3. Finish the edit of Police Time Management so that I can sell it through my professional body’s website.
  4. Clear and organise my attic.

Might not seem much but I had various events, meetings and other commitments to fill my time. Those 4 were the specific outcomes or strategies I chose that would address many of the physical and mental blockages that were causing my malaise.

How did it went?

  1. The diet I chose is known as the Natural Hygiene Diet (look it up). In a nutshell, only have EITHER a protein OR a carbohydrate ‘main’ accompanied by vegetables or salad, and avoid (as far as is reasonable) heavy sauces and other taste bombs. Eat lightly, and use fruit as your treats. It’s Slimming World without the sins. I also ate only four slices of bread the whole time. My only variance was a bit of a treat after a day-long conference and drive home, where I indulged in a sandwich snack and some sweeties.
  2. I surprised myself, here. I went to the gym every day but the two days when I had all-day commitments, sat on a static cycle for 45 minutes (and pedalled!), pushed some weight and did some gut-stressing leg raises. I even took my kit to an overnight halt before the aforementioned conference and did it in the hotel gym.
  3. I finished the edit far quicker than I thought and it will soon be available for purchase either on its own or as a freebie on an investigator’s course.
  4. This was a challenge because of an unexpected obstacle known as ‘other people’. I found it easy to sort out ‘my’ stuff – chuck, charity, colleagues, keep. Other people – predominantly ‘review, keep, put back’. And their proclivity for finding other things to do which could be done better/at other times/not at all, but seemed to pop up just when I was climbing the attic ladder.

How did I feel? Much to my surprise, by day 12 I felt physically much fitter, lighter, and more disposed to movement. On the final, 18th day, I weighed myself and I had lost 11.15lbs.

The attic is tidier and, most important, I can get at anything I need at short notice. (And I found some stuff I’d been looking for, for months!)

Success!

But why? Why did it work now and not before?

Anthony Robbins often says that when we change, it is for one of two reasons – inspiration, or desperation. The 100-Day Challenge, which I manifestly failed to execute, was born of the former, while the success of this moment was clearly, unequivocally and sadly founded on the latter.

I have said before that the principles (of successful living) work if you work the principles. The principles I worked this last 3 weeks were:

  1. WIGS. I set only four Wildly Important Goals, around which any other things were organised.
  2. Time Management. I recognised that I was sitting around ‘saving time’ and not ‘using time’, so deciding to use the gym at a specific time every day (4pm) was better than leaving it to ‘IF I have time’.
  3. Sensible eating. I realised that when I have been stuffing my face it has never, ever been because I am hungry. It is because I am bored. And I realised that seconds after a meal was completed, the ‘event’ was over and my mind and body had already forgotten. So why go to that effort? Just eat sensibly and feel just as ‘forgetful’, but healthier!
  4. I learned to cook omelettes, scrambled eggs and poached eggs. Thanks, Delia. Masterchef beckons.

One sobering event. Early on, I was at the gym when I met a friend I have known over 20 years, and I mentioned I was on leave and intended to use it daily. On day 11 I met him same place (and time) and he said, “I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

What does that say about me? What have I been communicating over the years, at least in terms of my physical state? Evidently, I have been saying, “Here I am again, this week’s fad. It won’t last.”

No more.

100-Day Challenge, Day 66. Truth Hurts. A lot.

Tags

, , ,

I have long been an advocate of integrity excellence, a fundamental (but not exclusive) element of which is honesty. The principle of truth, spoken loud. The valued exercise of telling it like it is, even when doing so discloses, as Al Gore would put it, an inconvenient truth.

And the inconvenient truth on Day 66 is this: while I maintain that the Principles of Excellence in the physical and mental spheres always work, I have failed to work the Principles. I have known what to do, but I have failed to do it.

In my defence, the ‘excellence’ I have sought to perform in the competencies I look to possess has resulted in my being appointed a ‘Masters Mentor’ with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, and I look to produce high-quality work on a professional level. I still do my funky thing for all those I seek to serve.

But physically I am a wreck. I am no further forward in terms of weight loss from Day 1. Exercise-wise I have the genuine reason of a knee injury which, as much as I tried to compensate through different approaches to exercise, just got too painful to move. Even walking was challenging. Where I failed most of all was to not adapt my eating habits (a) to lose weight ‘at all’ and (b) to compensate for the inability to work out.

The ultimate weight-loss principle is and always will be ‘eat less, move more’. I started this Challenge by using the ‘move more’ approach and that worked. But when the injury kicked in I did not then apply the ‘eat less’ approach and that has meant, well, failure. There are 34 days left so I can still do something, but I am not going to hit my original target unless Montezuma seeks terrible revenge, and as far as I know I have not offended any Mexican gods.

Of course, as a personal development writer this has to reflect on my reputation – a bit. I occasionally feel like the clown who is sad inside: the clown, promoting laughter and entertainment while forever crying inside. But part of my challenge might be that I eventually face the possibility that I am comparing my situation, and potential, to that of the truly great writers, performers and coaches in this field, and looking to play like Ronaldo while only having the talent of a (insert name of good, non-International football player here).

I am reluctant to settle for less than ‘perfection’. Nobody should do that. But even perfection is subjective, because as soon as it is achieved someone will always come up with an even better version of it. And even if I did approach an ideal version of me, that very approach would inevitably identify an even better ‘better’. That ‘even higher standard’ could be identified because one of the giants in my field found it, even if I didn’t. And then I would think ‘here I go again’.

Anyway, I will carry on moving ever forward, seeking to finally achieve those elusive, higher levels of personal congruence that will enable me to truly walk my talk and be the individual I would dearly love to be.

Perhaps, as I write that last sentence, I realise that I have to ask myself some sobering questions:

“Am I willing to work hard enough to be the man I want to be? Exactly how dearly do I want to be the best ‘me’ I can be? Do I want it enough? And – finally – do I actually have a clear idea of what that best ‘me’ will look like when I finally get to ‘be’ that person?”

I guess we’ll find out. But one thing must apply. I won’t blindly adopt other peoples’ standards and measure the final ’me’ against those. They have their values, beliefs and behaviours and they are not necessarily mine.

The ultimate identifier and judge of my congruence with my values and unifying principles will be – me. Eventually.

100-Day Challenge, Day 59. And a word about personal development philosophies

Holidays. Despite not going nuts on food and drink, and spending hours walking about, the curse of a holiday reared its ugly head and I gained two pounds. Suffice to say, the original objective is now impossible unless I suddenly obtain the capacity to train like George Foreman (in his boxing, not grill days). 41 days to lose 31 pounds is not impossible but when I achieved something remotely near that (losing a stone in 2 weeks) I spent the 14th day in bed and I suspect that my 55-year-old metabolism is not the same as my 40-year-old metabolism. Do any readers have suggestions or experiences that might be fun for others to read?

Speaking of holidays, how do you do yours? As a coach/trainer I find that I spend a lot of ‘time-off’ thinking about ‘time-on’. For example, as I toured many book shops during my break I found myself gravitating to the self-help section, and then cursing myself because I want to focus all my energies on Principle-Centred Self-Leadership and the writings of Stephen Covey. I’d pick up a book and then put it back – I don’t need to read these things any more! Why?

This is a piece of advice I give any clients of my courses. Find the ONE philosophy and system that floats your boat – and stick with it.

Why do that? Why do that and not explore potentially better alternatives to improved living and personal development?

The reasons are two-fold.

1.       When looked at deeply, the teaching is basically the same, even if the terminology and examples differ slightly. In The 8th Habit, Covey touched on this very subject. He was at a big-name leadership shindig and during a discussion with other greats he made this point – that fundamentally, what they taught using different words was the same stuff. All agreed. (And this is why seeing a book on leadership with a ‘new, different, better, latest leadership teaching’ tagline leaves me cold.)

2.       Trying to apply one system is a lot easier than trying to jump between different ones. Canfield’s Focusing System, Ziglar’s Goals Method, Allen’s Getting Things Done, The Seven Habits and others – all great, but you can’t ‘do’ any of them consistently  – and effectively – when you’re trying to ‘do’ all of the others. Find and use one system – I prefer the 7 Habits version because I have been applying it for 22 years and it works. But you might like the others. Just find ‘one’ and stick with that – or you’ll fail while desperately trying not to because your time is spent trying to juggle alternative technologies.

Recap – the philosophies are generally the same; the methodology serves those philosophies, but in slightly different ways. And different strokes suit different folks.

Find one route, and stick with that.

100-Day Challenge, Day 44. And about a ‘Cure’ for Stress.

Tags

, , , , , ,

This week I have been mostly exercising every two days, eating sensibly and producing like a dervish. I discovered that ‘being on holidays’ equates to ’90-120 minutes a day dealing with voluntary tasks’, in that two days of this week felt like I was one of those CEOs who claims to get a million emails a day. Every single one I dealt with generated two more, I swear. Hence this input on Stress.

Stress is self-imposed. (Cue anger.) Okay, let me temper that a bit.

On Monday I went to Cardiff Yes Group, a post-Tony Robbins event ‘alumni’ event where personal development lecturers keep the audience ‘on track’ with their commitments. All are welcome, and there are UK-wide events available.

The speaker suggested that (one of) the reasons for stress arise from overwhelm and an inability to cope with change and pressure because life/we/bosses etc haven’t allowed time for our neurology to get respite from the constant changes of direction (e.g. from interruptions like constant demands for attention from emails). That inability to cope can be genuine and physical, or it can be a perception. By that, I mean that the stress is all too real to the sufferer but if they weren’t so pressured they’d realise they could control it, if they only knew how.

In other words, the stressed individual says, “I have 101 things to do and I just can’t see a way to do it.” The individual with a control strategy says, “I have 101 things to do today and 8 hours in which to do them. Do-able.” That is 480 minutes – about 4.5 minutes a ‘thing’, and for every ‘thing’ that takes a minute, that rate expands.

Time management might seem like a management cliché but in my opinion, from years of applying it, time management properly taught, accepted, encouraged and applied is an absolute – yes, absolute – cure for stress.

Please understand, I am not talking about stress resulting from trauma, accident, disaster, relationship failures and so on. That’s different, even if some relevant TM training can help. I am talking about task overwhelm in work and in the home.

Charles R Hobbs, in his epic book ‘Timepower’, suggests that high self-esteem is served by the ability to be in control of events. I am fairly confident when I suggest that those with genuinely high levels of justifiable self-esteem (as opposed to ego) rarely suffer from work-related stress. And that is because they are, or they feel they are in complete control of what’s ‘appenin’, OR they know that they can take control – even of the unexpected. They have techniques and approaches that enable that control.

In the mid-1990s I had what I call ‘an episode’ where this 6’ tall, macho, fightin’, drivin’, chasin’, action-man copper left a boss’s office in tears and went home before his shift was due to start. (Short version, I think it was slow burn.) Fortunately, I had been reading The 7 Habits and books like Timepower for years. I went home, took the wife and kids out for a family meal, and took stock. I recognised that what was happening was a stress build-up.

Then I took control and decided what I was going to do about the situation. I was back at work within 48 hours asking for what I needed to regain control. And got it. Never happened again.

We all know of people who do the tears thing and aren’t seen for months. They lost control and didn’t or couldn’t get it back, and that was because they didn’t know that there was an alternative to pills.

Values-based time management – might not be penicillin but by all that’s holy it’s a damn good treatment for what ails a lot of people.

Try it out. My book or theirs, you decide. It’s you who controls your decisions if you want to.

 

100-Day Challenge: Day 37. What can YOU do in 20 mins an hour?

Tags

, ,

Yup. Reading the PMS daily does make a difference: I exercised after work daily, and spent the week finishing my planner pages with ticks all down the page. Lost some weight, got fitter (a bit, it’s only a week). Couldn’t ask for more.

Or could I?

Some friends have often asked how I manage to run an Institute, give driving advice, run a speakers club, do the social and side-business that those commitments entail, write a couple of books and compile this blog.

I, on the other hand, ask them how they manage to get so much done because my perception is that they are constantly being, doing and having a better social life than me, and their homes are pristine. (Occasionally it occurs to me that their houses are spotlessly clean because they’re never in them.)

When it comes down to it, the difference must be in the way we choose to spend our time and what lies behind how we choose to spend our time.

I’m not judging – the way they choose to spend their time and money may be different to how I do those things, but that doesn’t make either side ‘wrong’. It merely provides tangible proof that the things we value are different. Alternatively (and this is a bit deeper), our values are the same but the way we address those values is different.

For example – and see which side you fall – whenever I have conducted a values exercise I can be absolutely sure that for those who are parents, ‘Family’ always come at or near the top of the tree. And I look at the room and I see people who work 80 hours a week and who rarely even see the family that is so important to them.

Then I reflect on that values definition, and realise that while my value of family is defined to include ‘presence’, their value of family might just as easily (and validly be defined as ‘providing for their needs and wants by working hard to get the money that pays for them’. So we act differently on what we value to be important.

And what we ‘do’ takes up ‘time’. What I do to take up my time is write and serve the organisations I have joined. My friends spend their time differently – for example, running around after their children helping them learn, play, perform and so on. Which is something I used to do but now my kids are adults. What I do now is not necessarily what I did then. And I forgot!

How we spend our time is a reflection not only of our values but also that of our current situation – our obligations, duties, interests, and so on.

I get a lot done because I prioritise and plan my time. As a result, the reason I appear to watch so much television is because I have the time to do that. And said television is so predictable I can read a book or ‘do’ Facebook at the same time. (20 mins of adverts per hour helps. It’s amazing what you can get done in short bursts.)

Learn values-based time management. Apply what you learn to what you truly value. See if you can do more of what you value, less of what you don’t, and still get the things done that need to be done.

It is possible.

Buy My Book HERE. Read the opening pages at ‘Look Inside’. Available in Kindle or Paperback.

 

You’ve got me all wrong. Probably.

Tags

, ,

Gretchen Ruben is an American author and lawyer, and I have enjoyed reading a couple of her books, most notably her last one – which has become an accidental precursor to her next book. In said next book, she will expand upon what she has called The Four Tendencies. These tendencies are four ways in which we can identify our predilection and motivation for action, or otherwise. Three of those are Upholder, Questioner and Rebel. Those of you who know me have already decided which of those three I am.

Guess what? You’re wrong.

According to the definitions and the pseudo-test she has provided and which I have circulated through Facebook (as requested by the test – read on and giggle), I am the fourth type – an Obliger.

Stop laughing.

An Obliger is defined as responding ‘readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.’

To me, that means that when a person is called upon to do something for others, they do it. But when they have to do something for themselves, they don’t.

I see me in that definition. A sense of duty exists at the workplace, of course. Most of the time I go about my business routinely. I’ll plan my time to enable completion of the required work. But sometimes, when asked to do something, I might (do) whinge and bitch and suggest there is a better way. Nevertheless, in the end, I always do it. I oblige.

But when I call upon myself to do something and the only person to whom I am accountable and responsible is me – I waiver. A lot, in my experience. Even if I have seemingly volunteered to join some enterprise, I haven’t created an inner obligation – I have self-created an obligation to another.

A good friend recently suggested something to me, and while he isn’t aware of the Tendencies I think he did inadvertently confirm the solution for an Obliger. I had ‘complained’ that once when I get to the gym I can train – but thinking about going to the gym often stopped me actually doing it.

He suggested that when it comes to physical exercise (and my stated reluctance to go to a gym unless I could go there straight from work without having to think of something else in between) I would improve my chances if I exercised with someone else. Think about that – going alone is a problem, but if someone else was involved, my Obliger Tendency would ensure that I honoured my commitment to that other person.

Thinking through this using the paradigm of the Three Resolutions, any reluctance to comply with the First Resolution could and would be offset by compliance with the Third Resolution, confirming my hypothesis that adherence to one Resolution often serves compliance with another. Serving a friend would also and simultaneously serve me. So, where discipline is weak, service can provide support.

Me and Gretchen – we’re thinking along the same lines.

Today’s joke – Matt Damon’s chicken dinner has gone cold. Bourne’s Supreme’s icy.

Please buy me.

100-Day Challenge – Day 30. Hereinafter called the 70-Day Challenge. :-(

Put plainly, I know the principles will work, but to be frank – I ain’t working the darn principles. While productivity and service levels remain high, there is no use pretending that my diet is WAAAY out of control (‘socialising’ not overly helpful) and I could exercise with more gusto. In fact, it would help if I could exercise with any gusto at all.

The personal development field is crazy. Someone writes a book, sells it for £15, then charges anything up to £1,000 a day to teach you what’s in it. However, if it is taught well it does stick better than just having a read, and a good quality training course behoves you to follow through and holds you accountable. On the one hand, therefore, I understand the reluctance of the public to invest in their PD, but on the other hand I think there is a reasonable value in providing that support.

But not (name omitted) £1,000 a day just ‘cos you is the author.

 

100-Day Challenge, Day 27. Talk -or read – yourself into success.

Tags

, , , ,

I have never really been all that enthusiastic about affirmations, those sentences one states (ideally out loud) to oneself that are intended to reinforce the cognitive integrity between what we say to ourselves and how we behave. Not that I don’t believe that what we say to us influences us, but the woowaah suggestion that doing so out loud makes any difference. Until this week.

Until last week, I had got into the habit of reading my PMS daily – it was on my to-do list and the brevity of time it took, allied to the simplicity of the particular to-do, meant it was an easy ‘tick-off’ in my planner. I didn’t shout out loud (partly because I was in an office full of personal development sceptics, aka ‘detectives’), but I did focus on the reading. And for the couple of weeks I did that I lost weight, produced, and lived according to said PMS.

This week, I did not. I allowed myself to believe that I had, by now, ‘got it’ and didn’t need to read it any more. This was the week I didn’t exercise, ate too much (and it doesn’t take ‘too much’ to stop weight loss, I assure you), and didn’t study for my forthcoming test as well as I could have.

In other words, my failure to read my PMS influenced – well, my failures.

So it is back in the planner and will be read daily this week. And I respect affirmations a little bit more than I used to. And to be frank, if they are good enough for Stephen Covey, then they are certainly good enough for me.

Now, dear sceptics – you may think this silly. Now ask Lewis Hamilton, Tiger Woods, many premiership footballers, and copious other successes who you’ve SEEN talking to themselves or meditating with closed eyes just before they perform, what they are doing. And if it is good enough for the successful – why isn’t it good enough for YOU?

A Sunday Morning Values Lesson on the BBC.

Are you willing to admit that your ideology influences you too much?

I was just watching Sunday Morning Live on the BBC, and the subject under discussion was the famous case of the monkey selfie, where PETA (the animal rights charity that does otherwise valuable work) was wasting money suing a photographer over the rights to a photograph that a monkey accidentally took of itself, using the gentleman’s camera. As is often the case the conversation widened, but at the end the four panellists were asked a simple question.

In a situation where an animal and a human were in danger, which would you save first?

This is where ideo-stupidity stepped in. it’s a simple question. Two alternatives. Which one?

The first two panellists avoided the question. Don’t get me wrong – even though I think there is only one sensible answer, I am not saying they gave a ‘wrong’ one. My point is that they avoided giving one at all.

The first (PETA) said they need more information (bolleaux) and the second went into whether we should treat animals with the same respect as we (should) treat each other, which wasn’t what he was asked.

That meant that PETA woman would not say she would put a person first because it might undermine their otherwise unquestioned love for animals, while not choosing the animal first because that might upset humans. And the second panellist avoided committing to a human life – which seemed odd for an equality rights campaigner for ‘people’, who wouldn’t put a ‘people’ before an animal in that simple dichotomy – possibly because he may upset animal lovers.

Here’s the thing – both were unwilling to stand by any personal values at all, either way. They flapped, they flummoxed, they prevaricated and, in the end they lied, either directly or by omission. There was an answer to give, whatever it was – but they wouldn’t give it because it would commit them to something that others might challenge. Which means they were gutless about their beliefs – which in one case was odd because the panellist is usually quite vociferous about what he believes in.

Which brings us to the point of my opening question – do you realise that your chosen ideology influences you so much that you can’t even stand by it when challenged? Does it influence you to the point that you KNOW or suspect that standing by it – isn’t absolutely right?

Question your values and beliefs until you get to the point where you wholly understand and are willing to stand by them, whatever the cost. Otherwise you will never be truly happy or congruent. When questioned, you will squirm. You will then be challenged, and you will squirm even more before getting all defensive and angry. Ultimately you will find yourself unable to put together the cogent argument that you did have about your values-derived choice – and all because your beliefs weren’t as sound and principled as you thought they were.

Do the values exercise, question your own beliefs, get absolutely clear and then stand by your values.

Or look a fool.