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Archive for August, 2015

I’ve seen it in pictures before, but on Saturday, but when we stopped at Kardoesie in the Piekenierskloof Pass, and I saw the dog in the picture, it made me think…

2015-08-29 16.10.24I did not ask the owner what had happened to the dog, but is was obvious that its hind legs were paralysed and it had been fitted with a “dog wheel chair” so that it could still be mobile and enjoy life.

Seeing the hind legs just hanging there, unable to do what they have originally been “designed” for, was sad.  But fortunately the owner did something about it.

Think about your own life – are there some parts of your life that have become “paralysed”?  Friendships, your own intellectual development, physical activity, mental activity, spiritual growth?  Are you just allowing it to “hang there”?  Is it possible to get yourself some kind of support so that you can live that part of your life fully again?

And think about people you work with, especially people who report to you.  When they are struggling with something, are you just letting it “hang there” and they remain “paralysed” for whatever reason (maybe they don’t know exactly what to do, or how to do it, or maybe the task is too complex), or can you provide them with some kind of support to help them to get going again?

Never be afraid to ask others for help when you are stuck, and never be afraid to ask other people if they can do with a little bit of help when you notice they are struggling, rather than thinking that they are useless (like the dog’s hind legs) and cannot do the job.

How can we do that?  On the Forbes web site John Hall suggests 10 ways in which you can help others:

  • Sharing your knowledge.
  • Finding out what’s valuable to them
  • Sharing your resources
  • Making them aware of an opportunity
  • Giving them transparent feedback
  • Being a brand advocate
  • Giving introductions
  • Volunteering your time
  • Recognizing them
  • Giving gifts

Have a fun week helping others!

Quote: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”  – Charles Dickens

What’s happening? Talking about help – we can help you save 40 minutes every day, have less stress, get more of the right things done with less effort…  in short (like so many clients tell us) to make your work life easier.  Click here for more info.

Enjoy reviving “paralysed” bits of your life!

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Allow me a personal note today…

Is it not ironical that on the day that I went to the funeral service of my former father-in-law, Jack Wickens, I woke up at 04:30 to work on the seventh module of my Productivity Breakthrough programme, that has the theme of “finish what you start”.

jwHis death on Thursday made me so aware again that life is fragile and finite.  This has created a renewed sense of urgency in my life, as well as a resolve to tame procrastination and stop striving for perfection.  Message to Gerrit: If you are serious about doing something, just start, get “version one is better than version none” out there and improve it by asking for feedback.

I want to pay tribute to Jack Wickens today for the formidable role he has played and contributions that he has made to me, his family, and the bigger community of church, school, farming, politics, friends and everyone that visited their open air restaurant “Kliphuis Boesmangrot” on the family farm Groenvlei on the banks of the Olifants River in Koekenaap.

 

He built Groenvlei up from nothing. He started the Kliphuis Boesmangrot project and finished it.  He started the tomato season by planting and finished it by harvesting.  khHe made a decision and  then acted.  And he was always willing to learn and improve.

He finished what he started.

When I think back of our times together I cannot tell you how many hours we spent together but I can tell you that we had many braais, made music, enjoyed a glass of wine, went for drives in the veld, just talked about things… it’s what we do that is important, not how long it takes.

It’s not how long we live, but what we get done that matters.

Gegroet, Pa Jack!

Quote: Click here to read the inspirational poem THE DASH about making the most of your life by Linda Ellis.

What’s happening?

Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity workshops

I wish you a great week – with a touch of urgency to get the things that matter most to you DONE.

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There was a great response to the “Work Habit Evaluation” I suggested on Monday – thank you!

I am happy to share the results with you.  The Work Habits are arranged  from the one people find the most challenging at the top.  (Note: percentages are rounded so won’t add up to 100.)

28% Work Habit 4 Focus: Stay with the task at hand – no multitasking, minimal distractions and interruptions.  Turn off notifications.  Say “no”.

21% Work Habit 2 Clarity: Make your work visible and actionable.  Your Inbox is not your work; you have to process your Inbox and then work in your Calendar and Tasks.

20% Work Habit 6 Completion: Finish what you start.  Beware of perfectionism and procrastination.

11% Work Habit 3 Alignment: Make sure that the actions in your calendar and task lists support the achievement of your current priorities.  Delete the rest.

10% Work Habit 7 Slow down to speed up: This is the paradox of high performance.  Things need to be done at the appropriate pace.  People who rush make 25% more mistakes.

4% Work Habit 1 Think “Productive”

3% Work Habit 5 Adaptability: Be flexible and adapt to changes in context. Renegotiate commitments with yourself and others. Under-schedule.

3% Work Habit 8 Lifelong learning: There is always a better way of doing things; continuous improvement.

 

I really appreciate all the feedback because it helps me to review the content and focus of our new “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” workshop to ensure we address the  areas where you and others who will do the workshop will benefit from most.

Information about our public workshops in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Upington is available here in case you are interested.

Once again – a sincere thank you for participating!

Have a fun and productive day.

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One of my physics professors often quoted Lord Kelvin: “To measure is to know”. This came to mind over the weekend as I was working on our new workshop “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity”.

We know that these eight work habits lead to increased productivity, and I am thinking of developing some kind of measuring tool that will help people get a feeling for how well they are using these habits.  I may ask you later to participate in a survey and evaluation – so keep your eyes peeled!

For now, you may want to get a sense of the possibility to improve your personal productivity by reflecting on each of the work habits below and “score” yourself from 0 (could not be worse) to 10 (could not be better) on each habit.

Work Habit 1 Think “Productive”

Work Habit 2 Clarity: Make your work visible and actionable.  Your Inbox is not your work; you have to process your Inbox and then work in your Calendar and Tasks.

Work Habit 3 Alignment: Make sure that the actions in your calendar and task lists support the achievement of your current priorities.  Delete the rest.

Work Habit 4 Focus: Stay with the task at hand – no multitasking, minimal distractions and interruptions.  Turn off notifications.  Say “no”.

Work Habit 5 Adaptability: Be flexible and adapt to changes in context. Renegotiate commitments with yourself and others. Under-schedule.

Work Habit 6 Completion: Finish what you start.  Beware of perfectionism and procrastination.

Work Habit 7 Slow down to speed up: This is the paradox of high performance.  Things need to be done at the appropriate pace.  People who rush make 25% more mistakes.

Work Habit 8 Lifelong learning: There is always a better way of doing things; continuous improvement.

Can I ask you a favour?  Please reply to this email and let me know which habit got the lowest score.  This will help me focus on fine tuning the content all the time.  I will respond to your email with one or two tips on how you could improve this habit.

If you work in a team, it may not be a bad idea to ask your team to identify where they think there is room for improvement!

Quote of the day:  “The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.”   –  Charles Duhigg,

What’s happening: As you know, our new workshop based on the 8 Basic Work Habits above has been launched.  It is available both as an in-house and a public programme.  Details are available at this web page.  See you there!

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Call the CIA!

benchWhen I visited my “open plan office” in Kirstenbosch on Sunday I saw that “they” have taken “my” bench away!    In the empty space (see arrow) there used to be a bench where I spent time on 1 January the last few years to look back and think forward.  I also enjoyed sitting there for a breather when walking around there.

Now there was nothing.  What should I do?

Every day things happen that we did not ask for or plan for.  We can choose to go the “negative spiral” route and waste a lot of energy or push “pause” and ask “What can I do about this?” I could not do anything about “the case of the missing bench” – so I looked for another bench.circles

I decided to challenge myself this week to become more aware of my initial response to “unwanted” things that happen and then call in the CIA – can I Control this, can I Influence it or is it something I can do nothing about and just Accept and Adapt to it? (Diagram from CareerAdventuring.)

And then focus only on those things I can control or influence and open the window so everything else can fly away.

I invite you to join me – I think we will have a more productive and fun week!

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I visited my dear friends Anton and Linda Du Preez in Onrusrivier over the weekend.  Our conversations not only took as back 40 years to when we were all playing in our band called “Crazy Pavement” and the good old “do you remember” conversations, but we also reflected on the question of why we (not just the three of us but “we “as in “people”) tend to make life more complex and difficult than it is.

I shared Colin Hall’s story with them – when Colin kicks of his workshops he says to the participants: “Hands up those of you who can sing”.  How many hands do you think go up?  None or maybe one or two out of 25.   Everyone can sing, so all hands should go up, but we are making the question and situation more complex by second-guessing the question… “If I put up my hand, will he ask me to sing?” “Let me first have a look around the group to see if anyone else is putting up their hands…” “I cannot sing all that well – and mostly off key!”  This behaviour is 180 degrees removed from the spontaneous “I can sing!” and all the hands that go up in a class of Grade 1 children when Colin asked them the same question.

Somehow we are conditioned to believe that we cannot sing – yet we can.

How about simplifying our thinking a bit and saving ourselves huge amounts of negative thinking and stress when we over-complicate things.  See things for what they are and not what we think they are or could be.

CP

 

When we started the band (yes that’s us – quality of the pic has faded with the years!) all those years ago we just went into the experience wholeheartedly and practiced and played and had lots of fun – we never wondered if people were going to like us, whether we will be successful etc.  We simply did the job at hand with no hang-ups and debilitating thoughts.

 

 

If parts of this story ring true for you, why not take out some “simply my life” time and think about instances where you are limiting your performance by making things too complex.  And then of course, if you want to, simplify things as much as you can and get real.

Let me know how it goes.

Quote: “Open your eyes: See things for what they really are, thereby sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation.  Stop scaring yourself with impetuous notions, with your reactive impressions of the way things are!  Things and people are not what we wish them to be or not what they seem to be.  They are what they are.” – From The Art of Living by Epictetus, a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell.

Grab yourself a bold, italic, underlined week.

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