Habit Five: Understand First

There’s a common expression “you have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk”. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you will start to believe you should be talking a lot. It’s a rather self-centred viewpoint. From the moment we are born, we are surrounded by people. Granted, some of those people are idiots, but the reason they are that way is because they give their own opinion too much credit.

When we spend our time and energy talking and thinking about what we want to say, we lose. This folk wisdom is heading in the right direction, but it doesn’t take into account that there is often a lot more than two people around you. The math of listening twice as much as you talk only allows you to work in groups of three. Beyond that, you’ll be ignoring people who could likely create value for you.

I prefer to realise that people are always able to offer something, and even children will challenge our assumptions and biases if we allow them to. Some people are more qualified than others to provide insight, advice and instruction – and I want to gain everything I can from them. But my time is limited, and life places many demands on me. So I need to choose carefully who I will listen to.

I choose to listen to those who have experience where it’s recognisable. I choose to listen to those who have put time and effort into understanding the topic before speaking (i.e. the speaker at a talk rather than the heckler in the crowd. The one who posted the video or wrote the article rather than the one commenting on the part). It’s not a perfect filter, and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot because of it, but I’d say it is rather efficient, and should be accurate enough to provide some value.

So when I read Covey advising me to understand first, then to be understood, I think that there is likely to be something to it. He’s a recognised expert, and he’s written a book including this as a key topic.

It’s not really a difficult subject to understand, but it’s not always easy to do. Staying focused on understanding and listening may add more value than almost any other habit, but it’s so easy to get stuck on your own head because your thoughts are so accessible. However, to build teams and relationships that will last, that will do great things – it’s vital to understand first.

How do you practice this skill in your life?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

If you’ve missed the previous posts, you can see them here:

Habit Four: Think Win-Win

You’ve probably heard it said that “nice guys finish last”, but the truth is that when everyone is only out for themselves, nobody can really achieve anything great. We’d never be able to create any of the amazing things that fill our world without people working together with a sense of a higher purpose than individuals trying to take advantage of those around them. Progress and innovation is slowed and stifled where there is a lack of trust.

There’s a wonderful book titled “the five dysfunctions of a team“, in which the author (Patrick Lencioni) points out that all teamwork has to be built on a foundation of trust. I’ve seen environments with high levels of trust, and I’ve seen environments so full of distrust it’s amazing that the businesses were still operating at all. Owners and managers asking for honest feedback to improve operations, but then blaming people and becoming aggressive when they are given an answer. An overwhelming majority of larger businesses have identified CULTURE as one of the most critical keys to their success.

Thinking win-win isn’t just about building a culture of trust though. Gary Vanyerchuk talks about how he always aims for a 49/51 split in terms of value – because he knows that by giving away something now, he’s creating a long-term partnership that will grow over time. He’s in a position that he can think long term, and he’s gained real influence and success because he’s been able to do so. For him, this is a win-win.

As an employer, what are you willing to give up in the short term to gain value in the long term? Investing in culture, training, and creating opportunities for staff to advance will build a workplace which people will not want to leave, and they will improve their skills and create a long term value for your business.

As an employee, what are you willing to give up in the short term to gain value in the long term? Working unpaid overtime to ensure customer satisfaction could mean that the customer stays with your company instead of leaving. Studying after hours to improve your skills and contribute more to your team makes you more valuable, and will make your own working life easier.

Often the best way to get to a win-win scenario is to make sure you are thinking long term, and to truly understand what the other party needs and wants from the partnership.

Covey draws a hard line with his “win-win or no deal” stance, but if you’ve got the flexibility to choose, there’s no other way to do business.

Check out the previous articles in the series Habit One, Habit Two, and Habit Three

Habit Three: First things First!

One of the most popular baby toys I remember from my childhood was a red and blue ball that had cutouts for different shapes that you could put inside it like a puzzle. In fact, most people give simple puzzles to their toddlers, and have done for decades. There’s something inherently good in learning about how things interact in our world, and how we can make things fit if we use our sense of space, our vision, and our ability to move things around. We cheer our children on when they get it right, and encourage them to persist when they’re struggling to make things fit. This week’s habit is all about how important it is to keep working on that skill as an adult, and especially as a leader or business owner.

If you’ve been following along so far, you’ve started to take more control of your day-to-day life, and you’re starting to really develop your vision for the future. And today, we get to think about how we put things in place that will move us towards this vision we are developing.

Question: What are the first things?

Life is full of opportunity, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the choices we have to make. The term “decision fatigue” is used to describe how we tend towards a lower quality of decision making throughout the day. The idea builds on “ego depletion”, which suggests that we have a limited pool of mental resources for decision making and self regulation. Many public leaders including Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and even Barack Obama limited their wardrobe purely so they would not spend any time or energy thinking about what to wear on a given day.

For the most part it is easy to recognize the trivial decisions we make and the time-wasting tasks that we give our attention to throughout the day. You may already know which tasks are the most important ones to give your attention to (because you’re actively avoiding them!), but you may struggle to identify which are truly important. This is where Covey’s famous time matrix comes into play.

priorities

Use this tool to focus your work on things that are most effective, put them in your diary. And honestly, if you’re not using a calendar, scheduling tool or diary of some kind you might as well just stop reading and give up now. You are nowhere near as organized as you think you are, and you’re not as determined as you’d like to believe. And if you are, using a diary to plan things out ahead of time will only magnify your incredible power!

Use this time matrix and decide how much time you’re going to give to each quadrant. Then fill in the squares with the tasks you need to take action on THIS WEEK. Then put it in your diary, and go do it. There’s no need to over-complicate it – it will take you less time and effort to practice doing it now than it would to finish reading this article.

If you think about what your vision is, you should be able to come up with a few tasks that will move you towards that goal. I recently listened to an excellent podcast by James Altucher with his guest Frank Shamrock, in which Frank shared how he changed his whole life around with nothing more than a manila folder and some determination. His method was essentially to write on the front of the folder what his current state was. He used words like “liar”, “cheat”, “criminal”. On the back of the folder, he wrote what he wanted to become – who he wanted to be in the future. He used words like “World Champion”, “honest” – you get the idea. The thing that stood out for me though, was how he would use that folder to motivate his decision making. He’d ask himself “does this move me towards the front of this folder, or towards the back?” He filled that folder with decisions, commitments, and I’m sure a whole lot of other things – but they were his motivation and proof of change. That’s what gave him confidence when he’d encounter self doubt about who he was – because he could see where he was going, and he could see how far he’d already come.

Essentially it doesn’t matter what tools you use to prioritize your life, but if you’re trying to work it out on the fly, you’re almost guaranteed to be leaving important things out. Spend 20 minutes at the end (or start if that’s your thing) of each week (yes, book it in!) to use some tool to think about your progress. Share it with someone to keep you accountable to it, and to be encouraged in how you’re progressing.

And keep in mind – these things take practice, so don’t expect it to be a super simple 5 minute job if it’s the first time you’re doing this. Spend the time to get good before you try going fast. A lot of managers hear about how important speed is in decision making, and we want to rush things to prove how effective we are. Slow down. Spend the time to get it right, and you’ll see the benefits build up over time as you continue to push yourself to improve in your ability to plan the first things first.

If you’ve missed it, here’s the post for Habit One and Habit Two.

If you still don’t have the book, why not? Get it here.

 

Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind

Starting at the end is a method that has been used in critical thinking and problem solving for generations. Very smart and successful people like Richard Feynman and Charlie Munger refer to this as “Inversion” when it comes to problem solving. And when we look at designing our lives, we need to consider the fact that it is actually a problem that needs a solution.

By starting at the end, we’re able to better identify those areas in which we are currently lacking – to see what needs to change for us to start “living the dream”. But for many of us, we may not believe we have the level of control required to work with this kind of tool. But if we are able to recall, Habit One asks us to be proactive and take control of what we’re able to, rather than looking for excuses about why things are the way they are.

If you work in a job, you may feel powerless to change your situation. Your employer has employed you to fulfill certain obligations or duties, and that’s what you’re there to do. Your manager is there to ensure you do them consistently, and that you don’t spend all your time reading WordPress articles on how effective you could be if you were working.

But the truth is that you are in that role because you chose it. You’re there because you CAN be. And that gives you power. Do the work required, but don’t ignore the opportunity you have to influence your business and your workplace.

By now, you should be all fired up because you’ve achieved the impossible and created that mythical 8th day of the week (if you’ve been able to get yourself moving 60 minutes earlier each day), and you’ve been using that to train your mind and body into a potent weapon.

The best part of this is that the extra day you created is JUST FOR YOU. It’s not for your boss, your kids, or anyone else – it’s there for you to take control of your life and build something amazing.

So what are you going to do with this newfound power?

Dream.

What is your perfect day? Not your perfect holiday, but a day where you have provided real value to people you care about. A day where you have contributed to something meaningful, beautiful or even eternal?

Imagine.

What could your legacy be if you actually lived like that? How could your family exist in the future because of your efforts here and now? How many lives could be changed (or even saved) in part because of your work?

Be Inspired.

Because the rest of it is hard work. You’re not living that life now, because you aren’t ready for it. So take a breath, and realize that you CAN do the impossible, but you may need some more time to get there.

Consider the tools, the skills, the networks and the resources you’d need to live that dream life. Look at what you have in your hand today. And chart your course, because you’re already on your way – so you’d better start steering soon!

Keep your dream alive, feed it every day. Add it to your morning routine – envision it. Write it down. Draw it. Let it inspire you. You have opportunities every day to step towards it, but you’ve got to see them. And you’ve got to be willing to become the person who lives those dreams, not the person who just dreams of that life.

You’ve already started – by implementing Habit One by shifting your morning one hour earlier than the “old” you for the last three weeks, you have literally created an extra working day every week. It’s not imaginary – those minutes are real, and you will change your life if you take advantage of them.

Don’t let it slip, build on it.

Go back and check out Habit One, or look out for the amazing benefits of Habit Three coming soon!

If you don’t yet have it, you can get Covey’s inspirational book here.

Habit One: Be Proactive

Stephen Covey wrote a foundational performance book called the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” after extensive research. This book has been used to coach high performers in almost every field there is. The next few posts are a summary of each of the habits, and my thoughts and experience on how I’ve seen them applied (and misapplied!) in my own life and by my colleagues. Let me know in the comments how you’ve applied these principles.

Habit One: Be Proactive

It’s important to first understand what it means to have a habit. A habit isn’t like an addiction (although some call their drug use their “habit”), it doesn’t come with a built in compulsion. A habit is more like a well practiced default behaviour. Think about bad habits you’ve had in the past (because we all know you’re done with them now!), and you’ll quickly identify that there were triggers involved. For example, you might have bitten your nails when you were nervous, or when you noticed that you were scratching your hands. There was a signal that your body interpreted as a green light for you to engage in your habit.

The same thing is true when you’re wanting to start up a new habit – especially one as important as this. In fact, without first establishing this one habit, you will have a hard time seeing consistent results from any of the others.

Why?

Because without a launch-pad of ownership and responsibility, it’s easy to miss days and excuse yourself. And these habits have a way of compounding that means you’re only going to experience the benefit if you put in the work on a daily basis. Now that’s not to say that there are no exceptions, but you should understand that the exceptions are costing you something, and avoid them wherever possible.

By being proactive, you are taking control of your own situation – no longer responding to the events of your morning, but settling into your environment with a sense of purpose. Events no longer drive you, but now you choose where to put your energy, and your investment of time will be rewarded with success as you reduce wasted energy.

This is why there has been so much attention on morning routines recently.

If you’re looking to establish a morning routine to take ownership of your day, I would suggest the following single thing as the most important step:

Get up an hour before you have to.

It almost doesn’t matter what you do next – the simple fact of getting yourself out of bed before you’re obliged to do so gives you the foundation of success that you will build your routine on.

From there, you have a plethora of options that are all valuable in their own way. Good options are:

  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Morning Pages (as described in the Artists Way) or any other form of  journalling
  • Physical Exercise

I strongly recommend that you take control of your morning to express your own creativity in some way. I’ve heard that your brain is in a transition in the morning between your dreams and your consciousness, and this is the most creative time for your brain. Even if that’s not true, by choosing to create as your first action in the morning, you are reminding yourself that you are in control of your own life. If you spend your morning reading news feeds, articles and even personal development books you’ll find that those things will immediately set the tone for your day. If you are truly stuck and don’t have the energy to create, I’d suggest reading something spiritually uplifting to ensure that you are not starting out your day with a mindset of excuses, negativity and complaining.

Like I said earlier, it’s really not important what you do with the morning, it’s mostly about the fact that you have started your day with a victory of self discipline. You are your own worst enemy, so don’t get in your own way with excuses on this one.

Finally, this is one of the hardest habits to establish – especially if you’re more of a night owl. Don’t let yourself get caught up in guilt, shame or blame here. The whole point of this exercise is to remind you of just how amazing you are, and how much success is waiting for you to take hold of it. It may take some time to get this habit nailed, but unlocking this one habit is life-changing all on it’s own. Push through the pain and the excuses, and make this a priority.

For the next 7 days, set your alarm at least 30m earlier than it is right now, and commit to getting up without using the snooze button. If you miss one morning, just start again and keep going. If you can do this for 14 days in a row, you will be sleeping better, feeling better, and you will have planted the seed for a life changing habit that will enable you to move on to Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.

If you don’t yet have a copy of Covey’s book, get one here. If you are looking for some extra content covering this habit, I strongly recommend Jocko Willink‘s books “Extreme Ownership” and his latest “Discipline Equals Freedom“.

Prioritizing Risks and Opportunities

There are a lot of tools available to help businesses and managers prioritize changes, but one of the most helpful tools is the simplest – a two dimensional matrix that can easily be used to map out where risks and opportunities sit in comparison to each other. It’s extremely effective when used in a strategy workshop or brainstorming session, drawing on the input of the full leadership team.

Depending on how mature your process and data management is in your business, you may be able to generate these graphs from existing business cases and your risk register. If you don’t have a data store that allows for this, don’t worry – I’ll show you how you can use these tools “off the cuff” to make sure you’re focusing your efforts on the most strategic changes possible.

Background

The basic concept used here is a high level matrix similar to the “BCG Matrix” (Boston Consulting Group) developed in 1986. Although it’s simple, the matrix allows for very quick analysis and decision making for strategic decision making.

BCG Matrix.jpg

The focus is to identify products or opportunities that have good market growth, and which allow the business to obtain a high level of market share. Note that this chart is used to compare opportunities that exist for YOUR business – it’s for identifying the best opportunity for YOU to focus on, so don’t compare your market share to other businesses when using this tool. Place each opportunity relative to the other opportunities you have available. It’s important to also understand that because the chart shows comparative values, your “Stars” and “Cash Cows” may not actually be viable – it’s up to you to develop a more complete business case. If your best opportunities are not viable, you’re going to need to spend more time coming up with better opportunities!

Use Case 1 – Risk Assessment

If you already have a risk register, you’ll have measured your risk on at least two axis – probability and cost / impact. If you don’t yet have a risk register in place, this is a perfect place to start one! Draw up your quadrants, but this time your horizontal (x) axis will be “probability”, and your vertical (y) axis will be cost / impact.

Risk Assessment

It’s important to think about as many risks as you possibly can to make sure you’re covering your bases. The value here is that you can talk about the most ridiculous risks (briefly, depending on the workshop host). Including a risk for alien invasion just makes things like flooding and natural disasters more likely – which means you’re more likely going to plan for it. After you’ve brainstormed on what belongs where, you may decide to limit the scope of the quadrants anyway and decide that some things are simply too low risk or too low cost to even include in your register and analysis.

Use Case 2 – Opportunity Assessment

By now you should have a good grasp of how to use this tool, and hopefully have already started thinking about the many applications. Opportunity Assessment is another perfect fit for strategic workshops, as it allows for a comparison of products, portfolios, departments, or literally any other topic that needs to be invested in to get a return. Often we pursue the opportunities that are presented well, or that are being pushed by someone with a sense of determination. Unfortunately this can lead to incredible opportunities being missed because they’re not considered in context with the most important elements being measured. This is actually the most important discussion – what do you want the axis to be? You can choose – just make sure you’re choosing the things that are actually important to the business, otherwise you’ll start implementing the “best” changes or opportunities and find that there’s little to no energy to actually complete them. For most of my clients, I start with a basic combination of “Difficulty” on the vertical (y) axis, and “Impact” on the horizontal (x) axis.

Opportunity Assessment

This creates a visual that maps well to a very instinctive understanding of the opportunities being considered. You may choose to reverse the direction of the “Difficulty” vertical (y) axis to keep the quadrants the same in terms of which area is the best to focus on – especially if you’re running these sessions back to back or concurrently. As an alternative, you may want to measure something more specific like time costs, commercial costs, expertise / training required, return rates (low / high), return timeline (short term / long term), alignment to core business, or any other metric that is likely to create a comparative separation on this chart, and which will provide insight to the management team. Feel free to mix and match, particularly if you’re working off a business case data set that includes specific variables – but it’s best to do this kind of work either on your own in preparation, or with only a very small group who are actively involved in selecting the criteria for analysis with you, as it can be very time consuming.

Extending the Use Cases

As mentioned in Use Case 2, the options for assessment are limitless using the two dimensions listed, but what happens when you want to add a third metric for comparison? For example, what if you wanted to show your risk analysis including some measure of preparedness or skill level to troubleshoot and resolve the risks? This is simpler in a digital framework using spreadsheets and bubble charts, but can be done manually on a whiteboard (although likely with less accuracy) using size, shapes or colours to add additional dimensions.

You’d use smaller dots to represent those things you are extremely well equipped for, and larger dots to represent risks that you’d have to contract a 3rd party to resolve. You’d use an even larger dot if you don’t even know who to ask for help.

You could use the classic RED, AMBER, GREEN colour coding to identify opportunities that have strong backing within the team, as motivation will most certainly affect the end results.

You could use Triangles, Squares and Circles to highlight geographic locations, allowing you to easily balance or focus investment.

Conclusion

Charts based on this concept allow for a high degree of confidence in analysis and assessment of risks and opportunities, and are an incredibly powerful tool for any strategic planning you do. You don’t need to have a fully developed risk register or project backlog with business cases to use them either – you can literally develop new thoughts on risk and opportunity while you’re brainstorming and running these strategic workshops. Once you’re comfortable working in two dimensions, try adding third, fourth and fifth dimensions to see how much more insight you can gain. Use the output from these workshops to develop a prioritized roadmap and action plan, and record everything into your risk register and project backlog so you’re not repeating work unnecessarily next time you run the workshop. Most of all, set aside time to actually use the tools – knowing about how you COULD prioritize is not particularly helpful. Ideas are commodities, execution is where the real value is.

If you’re looking for better ways to plan strategically, let us know and we’ll work with you to get you moving in the best direction.

Three Mindsets that Limit Growth

I’ve been working with a few different clients over the last two weeks who all seem to have a similar struggle. They are unable to make the shift from being an employee of their business into a higher level owner or manager who directs their business.

I’ve always had a disapproving view of “mindset coaching”, but the more time I spend working with business owners in particular, the more I realize this is a fundamental part of growth.

When I consider the various situations I’ve encountered recently, the simple truth is that without spending time working with owners on their sense of self, on their identity, no amount of process and system improvement will create the freedom they’re seeking.

Example One: Indespensible

This client has an incredible depth of knowledge in his field, and is continually looking for new things to learn. His identity has become ingrained with a sense of value that is based almost entirely on his ability to answer the tough questions and solve the difficult problems. Even though he understands that he needs management structures in place for his business to continue to grow, he’s avoided implementing those changes because he gets a sense of value and purpose when he helps his staff and his customers directly. The challenge here is that he is honestly the most effective employee in his business. But he has dreams and plans for things that will pull on his time and attention, and something is going to need to give. Either he gives up on those dreams, or he has to find a way to let go of that part of himself, allowing his team to grow into the space.

Example Two: Independent

This client is driven, determined, and incredibly efficient. She provides a premium service to her clients, and has only just recently realized that she can (and should) be charging appropriately. But this shift in her self-worth is only the beginning. This client has very high standards, and is afraid to even allow anyone else to represent her business, and still does all her work herself. Many tasks that could be outsourced or automated are completed manually, and even on those rare times she brings someone along to work with her, she sometimes spends as much time reviewing their work as it would take for her to do it herself. This mindset is a hard one to break because it is also going to be true most of the time. Nobody else will do the job as well as this client, but this mindset limits growth to such a degree that she will not ever gain freedom in her business. One option here is for the client to offer a premium and standard service, where the standard services are provided by contractors or staff. This allows her clients to “vote with their feet” and validate the idea that even though others will not perform to the same standard, they’re still going to deliver value.

Example Three: Indoctrinated

This client works in an industry that punishes change. He has already pushed so many boundaries in his approach, and even though he’d like to explore new ways of doing things, he also has to contend with a fear. “It’s not like any other industry”. But the truth is that no industry is like the others – that’s why we categorize as we do. And even in a given industry, there are so many ways to do business, and so many ways to measure success or create differentiation. For this client, the challenge is to find ways to show that he is part of the industry, but he’s not defined by it. He can bring unique perspectives (as he already has), but he can also show others new ways of thinking. The choice to conform to expectations is a limiting choice, and this clients freedom is calling to him from the other side.

If you are finding yourself stuck in your business, or just want someone to help you commit to doing the work of strategic planning, contact us today.

There’s also a special running to the end of December 2017 where you can get a FREE month on our Virtual Operations Manger plan. Call us now to find out how we can help you manage your business better.

How to make Money

It seems like a question with a fairly obvious answer – but that’s exactly why it’s important to think about it. Obvious answers are ones that someone else thought of. If you’ve put the work in to think about something, you won’t consider your conclusion to be obvious. And if you’re working off someone else’s answer to this question, then you’ve given up your greatest ability – the ability to choose.

In today’s world, you’re told that to make money, you should get educated, and do an internship or apprenticeship with a successful business, then you should work the system and get yourself promoted.

But for many people, this story doesn’t work out the way it’s been told. Because if we’re all trying to walk through the same doorway, you know it’s impossible for us all to fit. So we have gatekeepers who decide who’s “in” and who’s “out”. And even if you’re incredibly talented, you can be left “out” because you didn’t marry the right company director’s niece. (or something less specific).

So rather than taking this story as writ, we should consider the primary objectives here. What is our goal? What are we trying to achieve?

It’s important to be specific here – just like with any goal, if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you are assured to miss. In Melbourne (where I live), the cost of living varies between the city and the suburbs, but for most people a livable wage is somewhere between $80k and $100k (AUD), so a reasonable goal would be something like $300k pa.

But this article isn’t about how much money you should be making to be happy with yourself, I just wanted to highlight that you don’t need to be earning 7 figures to be successful.

In a capitalist world (and on any black market for that matter), there are essentially four ways to make money.

  1. Employee
  2. Self Employed
  3. Business Owner
  4. Investor

Think of it like this:

cashflow quadrants

Get a Job

The employee route is the one described in the introduction. You get a job, and someone pays you to do what they ask. They’ll provide the tools, the training (or some of it at least), and the structures needed for you to “create value” for them. In this case, you create value through developing skills and offering services on behalf of someone else.

Own your Job

The self-employed route is where a lot of people wind up once they’ve spent some time working for others and realized that it’s a lot like renting a house. It might be cheaper and easier, but you’re ultimately making someone else rich, and all you have to show for it is whatever you’ve managed to save. It’s up to you to find the tools and training, and to find clients to work for. Working for yourself seems wonderful, but often you wind up working for a larger number of “bosses” (each of your clients or customers). In this case, you create value by offering products or services to businesses or individuals on behalf of yourself.

Invest in Your Business

Becoming a Business Owner is the first time you start to trade money for money. You’ll still be very involved, because you need to trust that your staff are willing and capable of doing the job, and you’ll need to manage them to ensure they’re not just spending all that time planning their own business venture! In this case, you create value by employing others to offer products or services to businesses or individuals.

Invest in Other Businesses

The ultimate stage is to operate as an investor, to have enough shares in enough businesses that you’re able to generate wealth through dividend payments and through the increasing value of your shares. In the most extreme case, you’ve entrusted the management of the business to a board, and you’ll occasionally read shareholder reports or attend an AGM. In this case, you create value by providing finances directly to a business so they can fulfil their objectives in offering products or services to businesses or individuals.

Create Value

As you can see, in all cases you create value by contributing a combination of your time and / or money. To “make it” as an investor requires an extremely large pool of wealth, but it’s a lot easier to move into the Self Employed and Business Owner categories.

No matter where you are on this graph, know that you’re not stuck there. You can move in any direction, but you need to put the work in. This is what people mean when they say “work smarter, not harder”. Have a purpose in your work, and move towards your goals every day.

If you want to get a deeper look into this kind of thinking, get a hold of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki.

23rd Psalm for Project Managers

God is my boss, who makes an unlimited budget available to me.

He manages my workload to keep me enjoying my work.

He provides resources and teams that specialize in my requirements, and that work well together.

He is generous in His budget and timelines.

He provides guidance when needed, because He is the one who sponsored my projects.

Even when we are over budget and behind schedule, I have confidence we can still deliver – because You are on my side.

Your standards, processes and resources set me up for success.

You commend me publicly, and are generous in your pay and bonuses.

You protect me from office politics with your support and favour in public.

You have appointed me as a leader with full authority, and you’ve given me a blank cheque for my projects.

You’ve given me tenure that can’t be revoked, and I know that you will always put our relationship above any project, regardless of any success or failure.

Ownership

There are times when I look at how much people achieve, and I’m astounded. I see people sacrificing personal time and freedom to invest in their dreams. I see people giving up their dreams to invest in their family. I see people giving up their dreams and their family time to build someone else’s Empire. 

And yet so many are frustrated or even angry at how they are living their lives. 

Opportunity isn’t just a matter of chance, the successful have always said they’ve “made their own luck”. Being prepared is always a significant part of success, but there is a more significant element. We need to have the courage of our convictions. We need to have the faith to believe we are right, and that whatever we sacrifice, the prize will be worth it in the end. 

And we need to have the ownership of our own decisions. Navy Seal Jocko Willink wrote an inspired book called “Extreme Ownership” which challenges our excuse making culture and gives us a greater sense of control. We all have duties and responsibilities, but we are also responsible to ourselves. When you go through the safety instructions on a flight, you’re told that you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself even if your child is right next to you. Our primary responsibilty is to make sure that we are healthy enough to contribute to whatever we have chosen to prioritise. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, we need to choose how we care for ourselves to be able to give our best. 

Life isn’t a trap, and you’re not as stuck as you might feel. There are always options, but you’ve got to be willing to ask for help. If you want change in your life or your business, you need to be willing to trust someone enough to give you advice and feedback on how you can achieve your goals. And then you need to be willing to work the process to implement change, because you’re the only one who can.

Opportunity always has a cost, but we are the ones who choose.