01 August 2021

Managing Oneself--First

 "Self-control is strength; right thought is mastery, and calmness is power.

--James Allen

Peter Drucker, the famed management consultant, and author took the month of August each year to review his life and profession.  Why not December?  Most likely he found the end of the year to be too busy and too late.  A crowded holiday season doesn't lend itself to contemplation.    

So consider making the dog days of summer (in my hemisphere) a time for intentional reflection and renewal as we look at managing oneself--first. 

Crises are revealing

Looking back over the past 18 months what have you learned about yourself?  What have the different types of crises, social and economic, revealed about you?  And how are you transitioning from crisis mode to focusing on the future? 

Perhaps now is the moment to look deeper into your life and habits to see what should stay the same, be strengthened, or removed.

Holding sway

One way to improve your personal and professional life is to consider desired outcomes for yourself and the organization.  Then determine where to allocate hours, days, and weeks to achieve those ends.  

Positive influence over the behavior of others comes from knowing where time should be spent, its purpose, and with whom.  That's the first step in managing yourself. 

Here are questions for you and others to think about:  

-Internally, where does leadership have the most influence?  The least influence? 

-In which area are you spending most of your time now? With what result?

-How do self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-discipline contribute to being different? 

Observations on human behavior

1.  It's difficult if not impossible to manage or influence others without the ability to control yourself.  Proverbial wisdom says that a person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.

2.  By temperament or wiring, a few have a head start with a disposition toward making themselves work.  They behave in a particular way without anyone telling them what to do.  These individuals are more settled, more mature at an earlier stage of life.  

3.  In developing the right behaviors some need more time than others.  Or the right experiences.  Interpreting those moments is often a delayed process.  A trusted friend or mentor can play a pivotal role in helping us get to where we need to be. 

But rewiring our brains is also a possibility.  A lot has to do with how you think of yourself, and less about the circumstances into which you were born.

4.  Knowing who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, is absolutely essential for moral leadership.

5.  Time is the most important non-renewable resource we have.  Where to spend it?

Too much time on the least controllable areas and not enough time on the more controllable areas hinders executive performance.  And those misplaced priorities give permission for associates to do the same.    

If your time allocation is out of balance, how to reset the leadership clock? 

What gets your attention

The world entangles the mind.  Technology scatters the mind.  Pandemics and politics confuse the mind.   

What are you thinking? (C)

Leaders tend to be confronted by too many distractions.  Employees and customers are in the same predicament.  Digital is a culprit, but not the only one.

On average our minds wander almost 50% of the time.  That includes thinking about things that are not going on directly around us, contemplating events that happened in the past, that might happen in the future or will never happen at all.  This analysis comes from Ness Labs.  

There's good to be gained from intentional mind-wandering.  Your brain needs that type of exercise, according to the research. However, wandering too much and too afar comes with an emotional cost, their report concludes.

Shifting gears, how do you get your brain to concentrate on what matters?

To improve focus, Ness Labs recommend the following--

  • Manage your distractions.  Put the phone away--although you may work better with background noise or music.
  • Monitor your mind. To wherever you drift, learn to return to the task at hand.  It's not about never losing your focus--which would be unrealistic--but about monitoring your attention.
  • Strengthen your brain's circuitry.  Focus on your breath. The reality of losing focus and bringing your focus back to breath improves concentration.  
An August refresh

Here's a closing thought from philosopher, Tom Morris--

If grit keeps you going, and resilience picks you up, self-renewal helps you stay energized.  And it's ironically easiest when you're working for something greater than self. 


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