Radically change the way you are living by doing three simple things every day:
- Remove one distraction
- Work on one small habit
- Create something
My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.
~ C.S. Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Peter Drucker in the The Effective Executive:
Effectiveness is a habit. Rather, it is a complex of five habits of the mind, that have to be acquired to be an effective executive. These five habits are
- Effective execs know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.
- Effective execs focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They start out with the question, "what results are expected of me?" rather than with the work to be done, let alone with its technique and tools.
- Effective execs build on strengths – their own, those of their superiors, peers, subordinates and those of the organization. They do not build on weaknesses nor do they start out with the things that they cannot do.
- Effective execs concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They force themselves to set priorities and stay with these priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first, and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.
- Effective execs make dissenting decisions. They know that this is above all, a matter of system – right steps in the right sequence. They know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on "dissenting opinions" rather than on "consensus on the facts". And they know that to make many decisions fast means to make the wrong decisions. What is needed are few, but fundamental decisions. What is needed is the right strategy rather than razzle-dazzle tactics.
Todd Henry talks about keeping a Commonplace Book on the Accidental Creative:
A Commonplace Book is single place where you keep ideas, quotes, inspiring thoughts and other potential useful information for regular review and potential repurposing.
Principles for keeping a Commonplace Book:
- Keep only one and make it single purpose
- Review it regularly
- Use it to generate ideas
- Don’t be too selective [on what you add to the book]
No matter who you are, where you live, or how many zeroes are present in your bank account, you can bring good into the world:
- Every day, we have opportunity to model a healthy, selfless, disciplined life for our children.
- Every day, we can offer a smile to the person serving us behind the counter.
- Every day, we can work hard at our job, bringing value to the people we serve and our co-workers.
- Every day, we can look for opportunities to serve others in big ways and small ways.
- Every day, we can be generous with our time and our money (no matter how small that amount might be).
- Every day, we can offer kind words or a listening ear to someone who needs it most.
Atul Gawande in the The Checklist Manifesto:
Discipline is hard — harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking in between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.
Persistence is hard. It’s hard to get kicked in the face and to keep going. It hits at your self-esteem. You begin to wonder if you have value. You begin to think you might be crazy… Persistence … anticipates roadblocks and challenges. It gears up for the fact that things never go as planned and expects goals to be hard to attain… If you run into failure, persistence continues… Persistence is antifragile and benefits from setbacks.
What am I being persistent with today? What have I given up on because I was told no the first time? What are some things that I believe in that deserve to be brought up again? What about you?
Goals cannot sound noble but vague. Targets cannot be so blurry they can’t be hit. Your direction has to be so vivid that if you randomly woke one of your employees in the middle of the night and asked him "Where are we going?" he could still answer in a half-sleep stupor.
~ Jack Welch (Book: Winning)
Quoting from The 4 Disciplines of Execution:
In his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Patrick Lencioni describes brilliantly three reasons individuals disengage from work.
- Anonymity: They feel their leaders don’t know or care what they are doing.
- Irrelevance: They don’t understand how their job makes a difference.
- Immeasurement: They cannot measure or assess for themselves the contribution they are making.
This is why the choice of leaders in Law Enforcement is so important. There are lots of miserable cops counting the days the days until retirement. Do their leaders care what they are doing? Are their leaders showing them how they are making a difference? Can the Officers measure for themselves the contributions they are making?
A great episode of the accidental creative by Todd Henry. My summary follows:
Spoiler. Its thought. It’s taking "time to think deeply about the problems you are facing, the relationships that you are you’re dealing with at work or personally. Taking the time think about the problems that you’ve been handed by you manager… Taking the time that is absolutely necessary to distill the noise we encounter on a daily basis into something actionable, something meaningful something that will have help us progress toward our ambitions."
It is about turning knowledge and noise into wisdom. We need to stop reacting to everything and step back and think deeply about it.
I guarantee you that if you walk into a meeting and you say, here is what we should do… and here is are the reasons why we should do it… and here is what I think the potential outcomes are… If you are able to give that kind of a response in a meeting because you have have actually spent time thinking and developing your thoughts and really exploring. Then your manager will say, who are you and where can I get four more like you? Because that well reasoned response is very rare.
So how do we build thought time into our lives? Mr. Henry offers four ways:
- Plan it. Try to do it during the hours most likely to be interrupted.
- Be consistent. Rituals can be important.
- Keep yourself in the dark room and play. Staying in a place of uncertainty that is uncomfortable. Don’t gravitate to the first answer. Deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. Train yourself to look for deeper answers.
- Synthesize thoughts. Look for bigger patterns. Connect domains.
"The goal is to develop responsiveness not reactivity. We want to be able to respond meaningfully with wisdom to problems, not just react to them. "