Everything you do makes a difference

English: William James (January 11, 1842 – Aug...

Act as if what you do makes a difference.
It does.
William James

What you believe makes a difference because your beliefs guide your actions and your actions–everything you do and say–make a difference. They make a difference to the results you achieve, to the success you experience, to the way others perceive you.

What you do as a manager makes a difference in another way, too. Everything you say and do makes a difference to the people around you. Your team watches everything you say and do closely: Are you really confident in their abilities? Are you really confident the new corporate vision is a good one? Are you really confident the plan will succeed?

Discussion questions

Do you walk your talk? Do your actions as well as your words support the corporate values and vision? Do your actions and words help people perform at their  best?

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How to make the most of your time

Here are the ‘efficiency’ principles I discussed with Annette Marner on her ABC Radio show. (For more info see Time Tips.)

Keep a To Do list. Just about everyone these days probably uses an electronic task management system of some sort. Make the most of it by colour-coding different categories and scheduling follow-ups. Highlight the most important items and concentrate on them.

Keep it clear. I’m a great believer in having a clean, clear work space. I know some people like to think they work better in clutter, but I think they’re kidding themselves! Clutter makes your brain ‘antsy’ and when your brain is antsy, you can’t do your best work.

Don’t be a slave to technology. Emails, the Internet, your smartphone and all the other whizz bang communication and social networking tools are for your convenience, not to waste your time and take control of your ife.

Don’t multitask. Whatever you may think, you can’t SMS, talk on the phone, listen to music and solve a tricky problem all at the same time. Do one thing at a time and do it properly.

Discussion questions

What are your favourite techniques for making the most of your time? Have you organised your To Do list so that it’s maximally helpful to you? Do you have ‘tidy work habits’, use technology to help you manage your time, and avoid multitasking?

How to make the most of learning

The late US President John F Kennedy pointed out that ‘leadership and learning are indispensible to each other.’ And there can be no doubt that learning is a life-long necessity in today’s changing world. And whether it’s technical, management, interpersonal or personal skills you’re learning, you need to put what you’re learning to use. Here are some tips for more effective and efficient learning:

  • Reading isn’t a race against the clock—How fast can I get through this? When you’re reading, take the time every few paragraphs to stop and put what you’ve read into your own words. (If you have trouble, read it again.) Then think about what the information means to you and how you can put the information to use.
  • When you’re reading up on a topic, say risk management or people management, think about what you already know about that topic first.
  • When you attend a training program or a lecture, or read a book, list the ideas that make sense to you and that you intend to apply.
  • Don’t scatter your efforts by trying to learn and apply everything at once. Select one or two improvement areas at a time.
  • Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try out new skills, and know that when you try out a new skill for the first time, it doesn’t have to be (and probably won’t be) perfect.
  • Help what you’ve learned stick by explaining it to someone else, for example, to someone in your study group, a colleague or a team member.
  • Think about why what you’re learning is important to you or why it will be useful to you.
  • Set learning goals and keep track of your progress.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Remove distractions.
  • Be selective in the sources you learn from. For example, as we all know, some Internet sites offer reliable information and others are highly suspect; When learning from the Internet, consider three things: 1) who the author is and their motivation for writing that information; 2) how reliable the information is, e.g. whether its based on scientific evidence and whether similar information is given by other reliable sources; 3) how well the site explains the information and whether the information fits with any prior knowledge you have or with information from other reliable sites.

Questions for discussion

How effective and efficient are you at learning? Which of these tips do you intend to try first?

Learning from career failure

In an interesting 10-minute Ted Talk, Canadian engineer and entrepreneur Michael Litt explains ‘Why you have to fail to have a great career’. Failure, he says provides the experience you need to ultimately succeed. To prove it, he shares his own experience of career failure.

This puts an end to ‘fear of failure’ stopping you from having a go!

Discussion questions

What have you learned from the mistakes you’ve made and from your failures? How have they ultimately helped you along the road to success?