PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS [PART 4]

 

The market remains strong and especially considering what’s going on. I guess the stable interest rates have a lot to do with that. Confidence, which frankly most of us probably suffer a lack of, seems still to be high enough to sustain home purchases. A discussion yesterday regarding a huge Joburg developer informed me that sales have dropped from 40 to 30 per month – not a bad result considering the market in which they play. In the Cape things continue to soar ahead. A recent article in our newspaper quoted some areas of Cape Town rising 7X from 2001 to 2016 – that’s 13.85% per annum compounded growth! Very interesting situation and all I can say is long may it be.

Two quotes to start off with, one for interest and the other for our blog today:

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Religion without sacrifice. Politics without principles. Science without humanity. Business without ethics.” Mahatma Ghandi

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Dr Victor Frankl.

FOCUSSED OR FRAZZLED? 

Know someone who is always busy, always running around? Are they effective? I have a saying: “If you want something done, find a busy person.” But is this true or just a fallacy? Does that person drop everything to get it done and then become ineffective in other areas? Or, who do they hurt, including themselves, by stretching their time for others or other things?

On the other hand, in one of my businesses we had so much ongoing simultaneously. This opportunity and that, people with bright ideas that deserved auctioning on the face of it. Do it or someone else will was almost out motto. You feel like that? Too much opportunity chasing too little resources, especially when the key resource is you. Truly, I understand the dilemma but it always demands the question, Is it right? I can honestly say that of all we tackled, only one initiative worked and worked properly.

Then comes the issue of Focus. I used to tell myself that I am focussed but there is just a lot to focus on! The question will always be what to focus on.

Let’s remind ourselves of the common-sense that we so often ignore: 

 

  1. Focus does not mean “one thing” but “the important things”
    I have read the book Essentialism. In it, Greg McKeown asks us to define the one inescapable thing upon which we should be focussed to the exclusion of all else. The more I read the book I became more and more engrossed with the impossibility of doing ONE thing. I don’t believe life is like that – you need to deal a sick child, bond payments, your boss and your golf all at the same time. Which you will do with what prioritisation is the key to focus. Understanding what deserves the top priority is key and then the rest kicks in right behind that. Often, as any Mom will tell you, you need to multitask especially in the home. So the necessity is to be aware of “everything” but to know what demands your focused attention.

 

  1. Important vs Urgent
    In his amazing [and I think last] book the late Stephen Covey provides a matrix of Urgent vs Important things. First Things First, he called the book and he leaves a legacy for each of us. I suggest you read it if Life means much to you. He makes the point that our emails these days often capture the first spot in our daily lives. Clearing the inbox used to mean moving the paper-mail with some written comments on the top to your PA or subordinates, into the outbox from which Internal Mail department would distribute the hard work. You’d come in early to do that before the phone rings. Little wonder that Microsoft uses the same terms in Outlook – even Bill Gates grew up with the first priority being to “clear my mail”. Be honest, doing your emails is often your daily first priority. To such an extent that you even take them around with you on your mobile phone. Instant access at a whole new level. I often receive emails timed after 11 pm at night and guess what, when I remove my phone from charge, I scan them.

    And the list goes on. Gym first thing in the morning, dropping the kids at school first thing I the morning, coffee first thing in the morning – and so the list goes on until I catch even you. Juxtapose the email example to the necessity to develop character in your child. Huh! You see, what Covey does is he matrixes the urgent stuff against the critically important stuff and then he posts something really obvious – the more important the Important things, the longer they probably take. Buying an ice-cream for a screaming child or teaching the child discipline – one is as instant as it gets, the other takes a lifetime. The problem with this “lifetime stuff” is that it gets boring, requires consistency and perseverance to know that the end result will be worth it despite short-term setbacks.

    Building your career or business, relationships with your parents or siblings or in-laws, losing and maintaining your weight or fitness, eating the right food, improving yourself academically, et al. They take time and dedication way beyond the Urgent.

 

  1. Your brain needs Focus to focus
    If ever there was a multi-tasking organism, it is your brain. Billions of synapses speed off per minute most of them keeping you alive. Breathing, five senses working and synthesizing, walking, thinking – all at once, always. And into that crowded space of thinking you throw in 10 other things, some more Urgent than Important, and definitely some more emotional than others. And you know what, your brain loves it. Built for speed, it can take you to worry, calm, action and passivity in nanoseconds. Throw in what you imagine and what is true and what you imagine is true and you have a cocktail of distraction. You can dream of buying a new house while worrying about the future of the country; your brain just loves the journeys.

    Bringing your brain to attention takes effort. It’s amazing how easy it is in love and hate. Just think of when you fell in love – you could only think about him or her; every SMS confirms your attitude and every rose blooms bright red. Hate focusses us in the same way but let’s not go there. That intent drives all we are, through our brains, to give attention to our goal.

 

  1. Zero needs Focus
    Just to remind readers, Zero was the name I gave to a series of blogs. It referred to the zero-growth scenario in which we have found ourselves over a long period of time and the tendency to ignore the signs in our lives and businesses. What has happened is that we have surprisingly slumped into recession and had the scoreboard confirm, after years of pedestrian growth, just how bad this economy is. I raise this issue because now, more than ever before, “busy” must give way to “focus” in our businesses. Being busy is not enough if all we’re honestly doing is creating the excuse for our activity and our activity stills our concerns. Action casts out fear I believe, but busyness can simply exhaust us. Focus settles us and whilst it may not alleviate concerns, it at least provides the comfort we require to do the Right Things and not just everything. Zero needs Focus and Recession only drives home the time-proven truth.

    There is so much more to say about this thing called Focus but I would like to make one comment on Frazzled before I present some thoughts for your consideration.

 

Here’s my one thought. If you want Frazzled and you believe that doing everything as the Go-To Man is meaningful and efficient then keep going for everything at once and all the time. I really have nothing more to say.

 

Some thoughts on Focus:

 

  1. Nothing beats deep breathing to calm you down. “Take a deep breath and count to 10” demands the answer, “Yes Granny!” How often we “let rip” in our tension and then take the time to say sorry. Breathe 10X, deeply and intentionally, and feel the difference. And by the way, this is exactly what Exercise does for you.
  2. Keep notes. Don’t burden your brain with remembering and your conscience with saying sorry when you forget. Keep a note in your pocket, in your Tasks, wherever and then do what you can every day.
  3. Keep a 2Do List and split the Important from the Urgent. I used to have a page and a half on an executive pad of stuff to do. I hammered myself for not doing it all every day and properly. I know Frazzled! Split your 2Do List into I and U first thing in the morning and then do the “I’s”. At least then you stretch your brain and energy doing the stuff that cannot wait. Your efficiency blossoms and your confidence grows.
  4. Yes, you….who believes that you’re the only person who “can do the job properly”. If that’s truly the case, you have the wrong people on the bus or you have the right people and they are not fully trained. Delegation involves Right Person – Right Task – Right Expectation. I have never been disappointed when giving a delegation to a person
    1. who is trained and equipped for the task;
    2. having had the task explained in sufficient detail and;
    3. informed of what I expect from them;
    4. who has failed to deliver pretty close to the perfect performance? Style and nuance may be different but what they come up with is more than reasonable for completion or continuance of the work.

If you are not delegating, you are failing yourself and others.

  1. Set goals. I understand the commerciality of goal setting. Turnover, expense cuts, NPBT etc. But why not set some goals that give you enjoyment and some hope – where you’re going to go on holiday next and when, when you’re going to retire etc. Good goals with good thoughts driving them.
  2. Have a quiet time every morning. If you disagree with the morning, then have the quiet time when it suits you. But please don’t disagree with the notion of a quiet time no matter what you prefer to call it. This time with you and yourself brings home more than you will imagine. Sifting, for the sake of this blog focus, the stuff from the important stuff, the essential/s from the peripheral and just reminding your brain and heart what you really want to achieve in the day and in the years ahead. You see, the lovely thing about your being is that you become what you think about most – if you believe that, then take the time to focus your thoughts with wisdom and consideration.

Lots more to say, but more importantly, consider what you have read. If you’re frazzled then un-frazzle. You can! If your Intentionality has been lacking in the heat of life and business, take a quiet time and breathe some new areas of Focus into your being. You are after all, not a Human Doing but a Human Being.

 

Yours in Property.

 

Personal Effectiveness [Part 3]

The best news thus far is the holding of the Repo rate at 7 %. We know the SARB could cut it but they are hamstrung by politics, none the least of it, being our own. The Rand is hanging in and we’re about to get a Fuel decrease. If I couple that with the best Maize crop for 40 years, I would love to say we are on our way to 1+% growth. What a pleasure that would be just to heighten our sense of normality with global trends and give us a bit of Confidence in our country and its future. Never lose hope that we can change and be aware that, at this stage at least, a great President could turn this ship around quickly and efficiently. There is resource and intent in this country like nothing on earth if we created Vision and Hope in the future.

We continue with our series of blogs on Personal Effectiveness. So far we have spoken about physical aspects [EDES] and the mental perspective that Altitude and Attitude bring. Today we deep dive into a question that may be too serious for some, too much information for others and for yet others, life-changing.

PURPOSE or DEFAULT?

I was in conversation with a man the other day and I mentioned the need to have purpose in life. He stopped me and asked me why I thought that was important – why not just live each day at a time, think ahead for obvious things like retirement, but let the rest work itself out? I was flabbergasted especially as I was speaking to a very successful man. I guess I have become so used to speaking to people individually or in groups, to whom purpose is natural. Perhaps it is natural to talk about it but for many, they give very little thought to its outworking in their lives.

Purpose for me is critical. It gets me up in the morning, energises my day and gives me direction, focus, determination, and meaning. A few comments:

 

  • A Purpose needs to be written down so it can be read, considered, altered when required, memorised, referenced and affirmed. I cannot see how purpose which drives a person can simply be “remembered”.
  • A Purpose is a statement, crafted with care and melded over the years, to indicate an intentionality to our lives and to those whose lives we touch. Such a statement is not definite; not a SMART [Specific, Measurable, Agreed/Accepted, Reasonable, Timed] goal. Something which is almost unnegotiable and “the only way”. It is more like a dart board. In the middle is the bullseye, and around it, the segments of higher and lower scores. Often we hang a dart board on soft board. Why? – because we miss! So it is we start out playing darts and battle to hit the board. Just like Life, we set out to win, stumble and sometimes fall, but we always get up to press on. In darts, we practice and play and improve. One thing about hitting the wall, or the soft board or better still, the dart board is we know where we are. Just our ears make that clear J. Thus, a Purpose Statement need not be the bullseye but it needs to let you know where you are expending your energy and that would enable you to win the game of Life. It can be broad but it needs to be stated in order to be effective.
  • A Purpose creates boundaries. Like a horse racing track has white fences on either side, purpose boundaries our decisions and actions. Imagine a thoroughbred racehorse, shiny and muscled, reined in and ridden by a highly skilled jockey – what need is there to control its race? From start to finish it knows where to go and how to win. So why the fences? Surely they provide more than just a safeguard “in case” the horse decides to bolt? Surely they contain the energy of the race and purposefully direct all the participants to the end goal? How much more the need to direct and channel a person’s energy to that which is meaningful to them and only them; to raise the bar, to channel a person to the outcome for which they were uniquely destined?
  • A Purpose energises focus. Our brains are like heat-seeking, ground-to-air missiles. Sourcing the target like the back of a jet fighter, the missile locks onto its target and takes it out. In 1967, Israeli jets dropped phosphorous balls and the missiles blew up harmlessly. Distractions confuse our brains and diffuse our energies. Even more frightening is that if a missile misses a jet, it self-destructs before it hits the ground. The reason is simply that it could be headed for our own forces. Similarly, old age homes are full of people who have given up and become disillusioned by life. Yet, I know 80+ people who are energetic, determined and aware; driven by the sense that life is to be lived to the full and it’s not over yet. Purpose energises focus and energised people know what they want from life.
  • Purpose blesses others. Perhaps the most contentious of these thoughts but I would simply leave with the naysayers that a life without purpose is inward-focussed and self-centred. Purpose raises the bar. It satisfies the individual who, whilst aware of what he or she needs, also knows that from their strength others are nourished. A sandwich to a beggar or a company that employs thousands – both come from the vision of purpose. I have been at the funerals of highly successful businessmen and lowly Moms. Listening to the stories of the deceased, one is struck that Purpose is neither big nor small, neither important nor unimportant. A business person who makes millions or a Mom who holds a family close together with little, both have this one thing in a common – a life of purpose.

So much more can be written but let’s have a quick look at Default.

You wake up in the morning, rush for coffee, shoot off to work and come back tired and frazzled in the evening. The good news is that tomorrow is totally predictable; it’s just the same. Ten and forty years later, the default position has either been the result of “luck”, being “the right person at the right time” or, is simply “someone else’s fault”. Success or failure, all is in the hands of the gods.

Default deserves some comment:

  • We have spoken before of Locus of Control [Google it for more insight]. Essentially, our locus of control is the way we view the world and how we impact on it. An external locus results in us being impacted by what happens “outside” of ourselves. I get an increase, I’m happy. I miss a promotion, I’m sad. Etcetera. An internal locus implies that we can influence our world and life circumstances. We can study, work hard and self-develop so as to get the increase or the promotion. We live in a sense of self-preparedness and are attuned to opportunity; we believe we have impact and influence. Default says “Que sara, sara, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sara, sara” like the old song.
  • “Life happens while we make other plans”. The saying of John Lennon is simply true for Default. In fact, why stir the pot when stuff happens anyway? Just let it be. Purpose never guarantees success or breakthroughs but Default leaves such triumphs to chance or others. Theodore Rooseveldt’s quote always comes to mind:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither endure nor suffer much as they live in the cold twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Default looks to others and circumstances to make us happy. In short, imagine a world in which every war was simply permitted to be won by the one who starts it and every country left to its own devices to develop by mediocracy.

  • Default is not bad. I put to you that we all know Default people. Some have given up on themselves, some have had hope and confidence knocked out of them by life’s trials and some have just never considered anything else. I would be the last person to denigrate such people. Purpose and Default both have their victims and neither implies success or failure in and of themselves. However, living in default leaves our self-belief in the hands of others and circumstances and perhaps, to chance. Jack Welsh of General Electric fame said, “Take control of your life or someone else will.” At least give yourself the chance to be all you were intended to be and even more, rather than to be a victim of circumstances.
  • Default is probably the majority status. You see, like factory settings, we come with DNA that enlivens us. What we do with it, how we tap into our personal uniqueness largely depends on us. Most people, I would surmise, do not have a purpose statement or a radical, driven sense of purpose. The absence thereof is a Default position. Frankly, not bad for the greater majority of us on this earth but, unless seriously “by chance”, such a position has probably seldom achieved greatness, whether Penicillin, a bread toaster or a skyscraper.

The wonderful thing about personal effectiveness is that it can be developed and enhanced over time. Whether it is weight, fitness, business success or relationships, we can all become more effective. I would put to you that a sense of purpose, backed by goals and mentors and role-models, could drive effectiveness to higher and higher levels. Purpose resets our factory settings and whilst you may never hit the bullseye of your life, you will surely live a life that scores whilst it loves to play its own game.

Homeloan Junction was born of Purpose. Not flashy, not overstated, maybe not even written down but always there. The grit and guts that make it [and each of you in the team] a winner was planned and purposed from the beginning. Defeat was not an option and success never went to its head. Stedfast and focus, it has grown into one of the leading originators in the country.

Yours in Property.