Chaos vs Stasis

With two young children, it often feels like we are in constant motion, in every direction. Someone is always eating, sleeping, sick, tired, hungry, dirty, laughing, crying, scared or some combination of those. It is a surprising point when that starts to feel like a constant. Somehow we seem to reach stasis within the chaos. A high-pressure business environment can feel the same way: constantly trouble-shooting, fire-fighting and just trying to stay afloat. At those times and in those environments, it is critical to distinguish what is important from what is urgent.

So, make a list. Of all the things that are on your mind today and likely to be tomorrow. What’s urgent, what’s important and what’s just filler? Put the individual things filling your brain into their appropriate column and look at how you are spending your time each day. It is fixed. You are the person responsible for what you do with your time. Make it count, not just for today but for the long-term. Make sure at least 30% of your day is working on the important, not urgent items. Those are the ones you will regret not addressing and those are the ones that weigh on us day in and day out. You may be surprised at how well it goes.

The myth of 10,000 hours

To become an expert, it is said that one must practice for 10,000 hours. That’s all it takes. There is something comforting about having an actual number- as though I can tick off the hours and know I am getting closer. The truth, however, is that the 10,000 hours aren’t spent just doing a specific activity. They need to be spent practicing in a specific, deliberate fashion. One must be honing ones skills in an intentional way. Intentional.

So often it seems like we aren’t getting anywhere. We are so busy responding, acting, rushing and fitting it all in, we forget to prioritize. We forget our goals, if we even managed to write them down in the first place. We forget the big picture and where we are trying to go. As Emerson said, ‘Life is the journey, not the destination.’ but the journey shouldn’t be reactive- especially in today’s world where the demands are endless. Your journey should be proactive. Don’t wander through life looking to see if you have dropped anything behind you. Make a conscious decision each morning about where you are headed and commit yourself to getting there. Then, spend the day enjoying the path you have selected. Great things can happen but it will take focus.

The perks of modern business

It is no surprise that commitment in our society is waning. More people are getting divorced, but even more telling is that fewer are choosing to get married in the first place. Company loyalty has followed suit. 20-year company veterans are now a thing of the past and a 30 year old with 5 companies on his CV is no longer a novelty. There is no expectation that people will stay with your company for a long time and companies are struggling to determine how to appeal to and retain the best talent. It is no doubt a challenge.

On the upside, things are moving faster than ever before. Things are being (or should be) tried and tested faster, more reliably and more effectively than ever before. The fear of change is being tempered by a mitigated downside. What is the upside and what is the downside? For those in the old guard, there is an understandable apprehension: slow and steady wins the race. But, far more exciting, is the opportunity to make a difference, without the bureaucracy and endless negotiation. The opportunity to just try it and see.

Make your plan for today, this week. Be bold. Give it a go. What do you really have to lose?

The Great Law

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” Sometimes it seems like we have forgotten that. Was there ever a time when businesses weren’t exploiting workers? I don’t know. But I do know that the tide is changing. And I hope that companies choose to embrace this, hold themselves more accountable and look at the impact they are having on the world around them. There are so many things going wrong -and so many of them are fixable. It’s time to make things better.

A work in progress

One step forward, three steps back? It certainly can feel that way sometimes. There is so much to learn in this world and it is hard to value each moment as much as we should. So, take a deep breath, collect yourself, be present to the moment and then get started.