We measure the performance/success of our lives and our businesses in time boxes. The periodic monthly report, the quarterly review, the annual report. We review information on business performance by comparing it to previous historical data, last months report, last years. It is our only way of putting a temporal framework on data to identify and draw out trends on which we can ascertain whether our latest changes are making a difference, are they moving us or our business in the desired direction.
Each new period is the opportunity to build on the foundation of the previous one, just like each new day is the opportunity to build on the experience we have banked in our lives up to now.
Our businesses tend to have good governance. Even our domestic household lives have quarterly utility usage statements and we get monthly credit card and bank statements which the orderly among us will meticulously reconcile. However our individual lives are often left ungoverned, uncharted and largely unplanned. This is bizarre when you think that each day we have is one that we will never have again, it is one less on the reserve of days we have to make a difference.
I have written before that many people put more thought and planning into their 2 week annual vacation than they put into the other 50 weeks of their lives each year. I am not talking about business meetings and social calendar entries here, these give our lives some framework and structure but they are not moving us in a particular direction.
Why are we not taught this in school?
At school, college and university we are only taught what the human race has discovered so far and how to apply ourselves to a particular subject, how to know a lot about a little. Why are we not taught to plan our lives? How many of you have children who on leaving school don’t really know what they want to do, or if they have an idea what they want to do suddenly realise that they didn’t do the subjects or make the grades that they needed to get there.
Athletes and the 2012 Olympics
This year we were all captivated by the Olympic games in London. We cannot fail to be impressed at the commitment and dedication of athletes as we hear about how they dreamt of winning a medal at very young age, how they trained every day for hours on end, how they overcame setbacks and disappointment and ultimately how they ‘peaked’ their performance for their respective event and gained a medal in an event where the difference between success and failure is measured the time it took you to read the last 5 words.
When did you become a manager?
When I mentor people in industry I am often asked; when did I decide to make the change from ‘engineer’ to ‘manager’? I answer that I never did decide, that ultimately I am still an engineer, I think like an engineer, I evaluate information and make decisions like an engineer but that I had realised the limits of what one person can do alone. To solve bigger and more complex problems and systems requires teams and to make teams work effectively you need some structure and you need managers. Most importantly you need to delegate and to realise that you can’t have your finger in every pie.
It’s the same in life, initially we collect education and knowledge, like tokens or stamps until we have the entire set, then we realise that to achieve greater goals we need to harness the power of others and we need to have people skills, we need to inspire, enthuse and we need to support and help, its the only way to generate loyalty. The power of position only has limited effect, the power of loyalty and respect is incredible.
Take control – plan for a new dawn
- Determine what you have built so far in your life and career, what tools and what connections you have. Determine what you have to offer, what your “uniques” are.
- Determine what will make you happier than you are today. It’s always possible, it might be more free time, greater financial security, public acknowledgement, family and relationships.
- Perform a ‘gap analysis’ and write it down; see I am still an engineer.
- Determine some intermediate steps with associated timeframes using the 50% probable rule. That is, don’t make it ‘too easy’ or ‘too hard’ such that you can make excuses for not achieving.
- Move forward in the direction this takes you, abolish randomness.
- Remember each new dawn is valuable, one that you will never get back from your finite allocation so make it count!