mardi 15 novembre 2011

ToDay with E.G: First Things First, then what? Part 6

Today is my last post on building character by integrating habits through personal leadership. Briefly, I'll recapitulate the three basic habits:

1.      Be Proactive: you are in charge
2.      First Creation: The Mission Statement (vision) of what we can become.
3.      First things first: ???

This post will deal with the last habit. Before I do that I'd like to remind my readers of what i once heard from Rick Godwin in 2003, 'did you know that a man without weapons but who has the will to fight can beat up and overpower a man with weapon but lacks the will to fight?' These words ringed in my mind since then and i have been meditating that for a while. You see, Christians get all excited when they hear that Satan and his acolytes have been disarmed by the Lord (Colossians 2:15), and that we as Saints of God are equipped beyond imaginations with powerful weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4) and authority (Luke 10:19). Having been Christians for almost two decades i know very well that when you fight Satan you have the impression that he is armed and weaponized to the teeth with all kinds of new war gadgets and that we have nothing!

I'll tell you why it feels like that even though it is not the case. Our arch-enemy is a formidable fighter. An amazing street-fighter. I have always said that and I ain't about to change my decade long verdict on him. He proved me beyond the shadow of the doubt that he is committed to an unreachable and unsuccessful victory. Despite that he fights teeth and nails despite being in the looser camp, striped away of his weapons. Because of his ardent desire to beat out the hell out of us - who by the way are equipped with all graces and powers to the utmost (Ephesians 1:3 ; 6:11) - and his resilience and will to fight (Ephesians 6:12) we get overwhelmed because of our lack of persistent desire to fight back. Satan is committed and disciplined. He is willing to go the extra mile and do some extra hours of work. He doesn't mind taking the night shift for work as long as he knows that someone is going to pay for his hard work. In this case it is the Christians. Really, we have an unfair advantage on him but still we quit the fight before him. Verse 12 of Ephesians 6 doesn't say we have the armor of Christians but that we have the God's armor. This should make us feel pretty invincible, but hélas ... the Christian's lack of strength is not in the gifts or graces or the resources we have received from God, but it is in our character, "if you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small." Proverbs 24:10 (NKJV). Failing to endure under pressure shows how limited one's strength is. Not if one has resources or not.

So being proactive by taking initiative based on your resources and  knowing what you want is capital to your progress but it is incomplete to withstand arduous war we are engaged in against the Kingdom of Darkness. You also have to add to your two previous habits this last one. This one will help you consistently be proactive for a long season. In the old testament the Children of Ephraim had all the resources to fight a good fight but they nevertheless failed because they lacked proper vision, endurance, persistence - discipline. They forgot about this habit of priority - First things First! "The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle." Psalms 78:9 (NKJV). They had the weapons - resources - but they quit the fight and abandoned the battle despite being part of the blessed people to whom victory was guaranteed as part of the inheritance. This is a typical example of what was said in Proverbs 24:10 earlier on. The children of Ephraim fainted not by lack of resources but by lack of resourcefulness (character).

I'll recommend St. Paul attitude. He knew his ressources but he also had endurance and discipline to work hard and fight back to the very end. Notice the use of words such as labour, striving, fighting in his letters despite the reality of the ultimate victory on his side.  "Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Colossians 1:29. Covey said, 'The human will is an amazing thing. Time after time, it has triumphed against unbelievable odds.'

B) First things First: The Four Quadrants
Will you take just a moment and write down a short answer to the following two questions? - What is the one thing you could do (but aren't doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life? Think about it for a moment before carrying on with your reading.
So now that you have clarified your mind about the kind of life you'd like to have by the end of your life (first creation - mental vision), i'll suggest you a small 4 part quadrants that will help you manage efficiently your progress toward your mission statement (second creation - practical steps).

 The importance of order is well captured by Covey in this way:

The degree to which we have developed our independent will in our everyday lives is measured by our personal integrity. Integrity is, fundamentally, the value we place on ourselves. It's our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves, to "walk our talk." It's honor with self, a fundamental part of the character ethic, the essence of proactive growth. Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what "first things" are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out. Discipline derives from disciple -- disciple to a philosophy, disciple to a set of principles, disciple to a set of values, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a superordinate goal or a person who represents that goal. In other words, if you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a disciple, a follower, of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.

Personal leadership is the first creation. Leadership is not management. Management is the second creation, which we'll discuss shortly. But leadership has to come first. Management is a bottom-line focus. It says essentially this: "How can I best accomplish certain things?" Leadership deals with the top line: "What are the things I want to accomplish?" In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. 

Envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They're the producers, the problem solvers. They're cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies, and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders. The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, "Wrong jungle!" But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? "Shut up! We're making progress." As individuals, groups, and businesses, we're often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don't even realize we're in the wrong jungle."

Let's assume that you guys are on the right jungle, that you have the right map, the right paradigm, that you are leaning against the right wall .. in brief that you have the correct vision of your life - the proper personal leadership. The next steps is to learn to prioritize. Leadership, 'what is first?' And Management, 'Do the first things first!'

The Management Table of Priority

Not important
Quadrant 1
Quadrant 3
Not Urgent
Quadrant 2
Quadrant 4
Write in them all the items you consider to fit with corresponding quadrant:
Q1: Things that are important and urgent

Q2: Things that are important but not urgent

Q3: Things that are not important but urgent

Q4: Things that are not important and not urgent

Dr. Covey explains it better this way:

"Urgent means it requires immediate attention. It's "Now!" Urgent things act on us. A ringing phone is urgent. Most people can't stand the thought of just allowing the phone to ring. You could spend hours preparing materials, you could get all dressed up and travel to a person's office to discuss a particular issue, but if the phone were to ring while you were there, it would generally take precedence over your personal visit. If you were to phone someone, there aren't many people who would say, "I'll get to you in 15 minutes; just hold." But those same people would probably let you wait in an office for at least that long while they completed a telephone conversation with someone else. Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action. They're often popular with others. They're usually right in front of us. And often they are pleasant, easy, fun to do. But so often they are unimportant! 

Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals. We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity. We must act to seize opportunity, to make things happen. If we don't practice Habit of First Creation (mentally projecting yourself in the future), if we don't have a clear idea of what is important, of the results we desire in our lives, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent."

1.Quadrant I & IV:
 It deals with significant results that require immediate attention. We usually call the activities in Quadrant I "crises" or "problems." We all have some Quadrant I activities in our lives. But Quadrant I consumes many people. They are crisis managers, problem-minded people, the deadline-driven producers. As long as you focus on Quadrant I, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates you. It's like the pounding surf. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you're wiped out. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and slams you to the ground. Some people are literally beaten up by the problems all day every day. The only relief they have is in escaping to the not important, not urgent activities of Quadrant IV. So when you look at their total matrix, 90 percent of their time is in Quadrant I and most of the remaining 10 percent is in Quadrant IV with only negligible attention paid to Quadrants II and III. That's how people who manage their lives by crisis live.

2. Quadrant II & III:
 People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives. Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they aren't important. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more time in Quadrant II. There are other people who spend a great deal of time in "urgent, but not important" Quadrant III, thinking they're in Quadrant I. They spend most of their time reacting to things that are urgent, assuming they are also important. But the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others. Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation -- all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren't urgent. 

So to be effective during your next week and the rest of month, filling your person Priority Table and do the best to stay of Quadrant II. Jesus never seemed to be in hurry but he always did the most important thing. He had his priority properly line up. If you can function essentially in Q.II, you'll have less stress and you'll seldom feel the need to quit your battles. Good students are those who function on Q. II (important but not urgent). They study with time and master their lessons long before they are on exam seasons. It is the lazy students that are 'studying hard' at the last moment because they operate in Q. I (important and urgent). It is these last ones that mostly find the academic system unfair and tough. This is relevant to teachers, preachers, apologists etc. As Lyzette likes to remind me, "Don't work hard (Q.I), work smart (Q.II)!" 

I end this with Dr. Covey insightful comments. I wish it wasn't already long so that i could have shared what happened to me since i started doing the four quadrants in 2003. But i prefer to share Covey last words,
"The only place to get time for Quadrant II in the beginning is from Quadrants III and IV. You can't ignore the urgent and important activities of Quadrant I, although it will shrink in size as you spend more time with prevention and preparation in Quadrant II. But the initial time for Quadrant II has come out of III and IV.
You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II because Quadrant I and III work on you. To say "yes" to important Quadrant II priorities, you have to learn to say "no" to other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things. Some time ago, my wife was invited to serve as chairman of a committee in a community endeavor. She had a number of truly important things she was trying to work on, and she really didn't want to do it. But she felt pressured into it and finally agreed. Then she called one of her dear friends to ask if she would serve on her committee. Her friend listened for a long time and then said, "Sandra, that sounds like a wonderful project, a really worthy undertaking. I appreciate so much your inviting me to be a part of it. I feel honored by it. For a number of reasons, I won't be participating myself, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your invitation." Sandra was ready for anything but a pleasant "no." She turned to me and sighed, "I wish I'd said that."

I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't be involved in significant service projects. Those things are important. But you have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage -- pleasantly, smiling, nonapologetically -- to say "no" to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger "yes" burning inside. The enemy of the "best" is often the "good." Keep in mind that you are always saying "no" to something. If it isn't to the apparent, urgent things in your life, it is probably to the more fundamental, highly important things. Even when the urgent is good, the good can keep you from your best, keep you from your unique contributions, if you let it.

When I was Director of University Relations at a large university, I hired a very talented, proactive, creative writer. One day, after he had been on the job for a few months, I went into his office and asked him to work on some urgent matters that were pressing on me. He said, "Stephen, I'll do whatever you want me to do. Just let me share with you my situation." Then he took me over to his wall board, where he had listed over two dozen projects he was working on, together with performance criteria and deadline dates that had been clearly negotiated before. He was highly disciplined, which is why I went to see him in the first place. "If you want to get something done, give it to a busy man." Then he said, "Stephen, to do the jobs that you want done right would take several days. Which of these projects would you like me to delay or cancel to satisfy your request?" Well, I didn't want to take the responsibility for that. I didn't want to put a cog in the wheel of one of the most productive people on the staff just because I happened to be managing by crisis at the time. The jobs I wanted done were urgent, but not important. So I went and found another crisis manager and gave the job to him.

We say "yes" or "no" to things daily, usually many times a day. A center of correct principles and a focus on our personal mission empowers us with wisdom to make those judgments effectively. As I work with different groups, I tell them that the essence of effective time and life management is to organize and execute around balanced priorities."

I hope these posts at ToDay with E.G has helped you build your inner integrity and encouraged you to change and that the path to change was clear enough and understandable to the point that you could walk on it from now on. If that is the case then I have succeed my task.
Have a nice weekend in Jesus' name!

2 commentaires:

  1. Amazing piece. The introduction really struck a cord for me personally. What great practical advice...!

  2. I'm pleased that you like it! Thanks for the feedback.