Be a Leader in Your Life and Your Business

April 15, 2008

“Leadership is action, not position.”
— Donald H. McGannon

A general in the United States armed forces created two separate teams to develop each of two possible plans to achieve a set objective. Both teams were filled with the smartest and most skilled people the general could find.

After several months of preparation, each team presented its plan to the general, outlining its virtues, costs, timeline for implementation, etc. Both plans were top notch.

When the presentations concluded, the general spoke…

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Planning and the Dangers of Ignorance

June 14, 2007

Buddhists call ignorance a “poison of the mind.”

Indeed it is, especially when it comes to planning and time management.

How Does Ignorance Poison the Mind?

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Time-Wasting: “I had a bad day”

June 7, 2007

“I disgust myself.”

That’s what I said to myself yesterday at around 1:30 PM.

I’m not a fan of negative self-talk, and I caught it immediately and did a little mental “cancel, cancel” to snap out of it. But it’s a perfect indication of the state of mind I found myself in.

Why?

I’d been wasting time all day. Here’s a list of what I’d done up to that point:

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Get More Done in Less Time

April 6, 2007

There are high-value uses of your time and low-value uses of your time. And a lack of clarity about the value of your actions will hurt your productivity.

What exactly do we mean by high-value and low-value?

The value comes from the degree to which the action produces the results that are most important to you. Those results might be tangible like money, quantifiable like losing weight, or subjective like happiness.

Let me use a conversation I recently overheard at the supermarket as an example to illustrate how this lack of clarity might show up in one’s life.

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Time Management – How to Make Time for Anything

March 7, 2007

If you’re like me, your day fills up fast, doesn’t it? Work, errands, chores around the house. Maybe some leisure time with family and friends, if you’re lucky.

And that leaves you with a nagging list of things you never get to:

“I know I should exercise, but I just don’t have the time.”

“I’d love to learn to paint, but I’m too busy to take classes.”

“I can’t plan my day because I have too many emergencies to deal with.”

Now for the reality check. You’re not totally, completely, monumentally busy, are you?

As a friend of mine once said, if people were really as busy as they say they are, television ratings would suck.

So why is it that you have time for your favorite TV shows each week, for example, but not for exercise or planning or learning to paint?

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Time Management – Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work

March 5, 2007

“Hey, I use a to-do list! So what’s the problem with my to-do list?”

That’s like asking, what’s the problem with giving your spouse an anniversary card to show your love. That’s great, but if it’s the only way you express your affection, then your marriage is in trouble.

Using to-do lists is better than not using any system to manage your tasks and responsibilities. But when it becomes the cornerstone of your time management system, you’ve got a problem. And if you’re reading this, then clearly your to-do list is not giving you the results you want.

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Time Management – Top 10 Time-Wasting Mistakes

September 18, 2006

“I wish I had more time!”

This is rapidly becoming the top complaint I hear from almost everyone I meet. Time seems to have replaced money as our most desired resource.

The good news is that you can reclaim hours a day from time-wasting habits and activities. Start by identifying which of the ten most common time management mistakes you make most often:

  1. Not setting clear, specific, time-bound goals–and then reviewing them regularly. You can’t hit a target if you don’t have a target to hit.
  2. Not having a plan or strategy to achieve your goals. As they say, any path is fine if you don’t know where you’re going.
  3. Ignoring important areas of your life simply because they are not in crisis. Neglect costs more time down the road than simple maintenance along the way.
  4. Letting short-term emergencies and instant gratification activities consume your time instead of investing some of it in longer-term activities like building relationships, long-range planning, and caring for your physical and mental health.
  5. Being disorganized. This might seem obvious, but many people don’t realize just how much time they waste looking for things.
  6. Not taking time for rest and rejuvenation. The wise woodcutter always takes time to sharpen his saw.
  7. Thinking that good time management will limit your creativity and freedom. Freedom must co-exist with structure. Life without structure is chaos.
  8. Not delegating–or simply refusing–low-value demands on your time.
  9. Forgetting to ask yourself, “Do I even want to spend my time doing this, and if so why?”
  10. Using a daily to-do list as your primary planning tool. To-do lists tend not to discriminate between the important and the unimportant. Even prioritized to-do lists don’t do more than emphasize the most urgent tasks. Important things like exercising, spending quality time with your family, or nurturing business relationships rarely ever make it onto the to-do list.

Don’t try to correct all your time management mistakes at once. Instead, start with the one you struggle with most often. Focus on changing that one, because that will give you the greatest initial benefit. Once you’re seeing progress there, move on to your second most common time management mistake. And so on.

Before you can expect the latest time management gadget or organizer to solve your time management problem, you must first identify and eliminate each one of these ten most common time management mistakes.

Copyright 2006 Curtis G. Schmitt


Mission Statements Demystified

October 1, 2005

Have you heard the phrase “personal mission statement,” and if so, do you know what it is? Given that this is a personal growth magazine, I’m expecting the percentage of readers who answer “yes” to be extremely high. In case you don’t, a personal mission statement is a written description of one’s life purpose.

There are many advantages to having a personal mission statement:

  • It acts as a compass for navigating difficult choices.
  • It unites the different facets of your life in support of a common purpose.
  • It provides long-term motivation for achieving your goals in the face of distraction, temptation, and adversity.
  • It answers the big question, “Why am I here?”
  • Living your mission is fulfilling because you are contributing to something bigger than yourself.
  • And, to quote Nietzsche: “He who as a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Given this list of advantages, wouldn’t you agree that it’s valuable to spend some time clarifying and writing your personal mission statement?

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Make Decisions with Confidence

May 1, 2005

Paralysis by Indecision

It is always a challenge for me when someone expresses an interest in coaching but feels they aren’t ready for it. Sometimes it’s a money issue. Sometimes it’s a time issue. But sometimes it’s what I call paralysis by indecision. Some people are not really sure what they want, and think that until they decide, coaching can’t help them.

“I don’t know what to do.”
“I can’t decide.”
“I’m not ready right now.”

Imagine you wanted to go on vacation. You had the time and the money, but you didn’t know where you wanted to go. The world is such a vast and interesting place, with so many options. Go skiing or relax on the beach? Visit the pyramids in Egypt or the pyramid in Las Vegas? Wouldn’t it be a shame if you skipped your vacation just because you couldn’t decide where to go?

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When High Standards Attack!

April 1, 2005

Most people agree that having high standards is one of the keys to success. It’s easy to see why. In today’s world where people frequently seem to be late, unprepared, unmotivated, and unreliable, simply doing what you said you would do sets you apart. When you do even more than people expect, they are blown away. And when you continually exceed people’s expectations, you are in high demand.

So what is the downside of having high standards?

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