No Escalator to Success. Take the Stairs.


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The breakthrough idea is simple but requires actual work: Our problem is not Time Management. Our problem is Self Management. Not a skills deficit per se. But a matter of focus and will.

For some, this Self Management I speak of, which Wikipedia somewhat obfuscates, may well be conflated with Self Discipline or even, Family Management. Whatever you choose to call it, all are interlinked with future success or failure; with your destiny.

Let me drive that point home, literally.

3 Anecdotes

In order to finally claim the headspace to conceptualize, design, write and publish this blog you're reading, I survived countless distracting international calls (together with ever-growing local constraints on my time) over several weeks because of my role in resolving an ongoing and very costly legal and security problem. I could neither effectively buckle down and hit a grove nor think in blocks of time while saying NO to distractions. In this kind of situation, you don't get to finish your breakfast, lunch or dinner. You're lucky if you get more than 2 or 3 hours of sleep. Everything I was working to resolve in fact was a manufactured crisis. Meaning, it could have been avoided if the parties involved hadn't opted for the elevator from the get go. Which leads me to two Chinese families.

Several months ago, I was called in my capacity as a strategist, educator and problem solver to “fix” a spoiled kid with very serious behavioral, psychological and learning problems. At some point in the first week, the kid actually sank his teeth in my flesh. Bit me! However, I quickly moved to tackle the disciplinary and learning issues with 100% support from his father, and today, he is back to “functioning” as a normal, respectful, well-performing kid who is actually intellectually curious.

In a different situation, the embarrassed but self-same non-committed parents whose spoiled son threw a fit when I was invited for tea and I playfully turned off his monitor because he is always glued to a computer screen offered excuses while my mentee who should have know better echoed a defeatist plea to the effect of “how do think you can change a kid like that when that's all he knows”.

What's the 7th thing highly successful people do differently that we learned in Breakthrough Ideas for March 2012? “To build willpower, take on a challenge [requiring] you to do something you'd honestly rather not do...Stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur...”

With a mindset like that of the second family, the scientific basis for predicting how their son might turn out is well-known. Indeed, actually discussed in my Managing Digital Distraction & Exhaustion blog series. The same procrastination that led to scenario #1 is festering by the day as they wish it away. And in High Impact Strategic Business Sense Series (4iQ), Rory Vaden (above) teaches us his 7 Steps to Success (PDF below). Among them: Focus is Power.

To achieve focus, we must minimize the amount of distraction we tolerate in life. Ask any highly successful billionaire. Further, we know among other things, that distraction typically manifests itself as procrastination. There are three basic types of procrastination. The first is classic procrastination. This is consciously delaying what we know we should be doing. You may or may not be willing to admit that you struggle with this problem, but most of us do in at least one area of our life.

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There is, however, a more dangerous type of procrastination that’s increasingly prevalent in the workplace today. Creative avoidance is unconsciously filling the day with menial work to the point where we end up getting busy just being busy!

The third type of procrastination is another one that often goes unnoticed—and it tends to affect the very people who aim to achieve. It’s called “priority dilution.” Priority dilution is most commonly found in high-performing people—the ones who are the most busy, competent, and overwhelmed. They have so many emails, meetings, objectives, family matters, and other responsibilities on their plate that they can start to lose control of their effectiveness [as above, in my case].

When we have diluted focus, we get diluted results...the most important skill for the next generation of knowledge worker is not learning what to do but rather determining
what not to do, and instead focusing on key objectives. It’s only as we embrace the incredible volume of noise in our work and our lives that we can silence it—or at least reduce it to a dull roar. Ignore the noise. Conquer the critical. Manage the minutiae.

The truth about success may not be popular, but it is certain. It may not be easy, but it is simple. In fact, it’s so obvious that it can be elusive. And while it may not be what we want to hear about success, it is the only guaranteed method of high performance in any endeavor. It can all be summed up in one simple word…Discipline.

The challenges we face today are not a matter of skill, but a matter of will. Our problem isn’t time management; it is self management. And we’re not losing to poor circumstances as much as we’re losing to a lack of self-discipline. Self-discipline is the simplest and fastest way to make life as easy possible.

Portable PDF version of 7 Steps to Achieving True Success clickable (below).

○ ○ ○The Art of Authentic Success (VI) (Follow the Dove)


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