Money Hours

“Time Management” is a bit of a misnomer since time most certainly cannot be managed. We all have exactly the same amount of time in a day. We get 1440 minutes in a day whether we use them or not. Nobody gets more, nobody gets less. 

Successful people don’t actually manage that time better but they do manage the events that use that time better, often much better. They prioritize the events doing the most important ones first. They set aside time during a day to work uninterrupted on an important event or events to make certain that the event is completed within a given 1440 minute period, what most of us call a day.

It’s important to understand that when I say “event” what I actually mean is all the “stuff” that you do during a normal day. A phone call is an event, making a decision is an event, answering email is an event, lunch is an event, driving to and from work is an event. Whatever activities or tasks you do in a day should be considered an event and prioritized according to what’s actually important to you. 

Most people, and yes that is a generalization but the research is overwhelming, most people do their best work and make their best decisions early in the first half of those 1440 minutes. If an event is important to you or particularly challenging then consider doing it early in the day. Truth be told, many of the hardest things I do and my biggest decisions of the day are completed before most people’s alarm clock goes off.

Without getting real deep into using your time more effectively let me share a concept that I think will help you immensely. It’s the concept I call “money hours.” 

The concept comes from my years as a full-time salesperson when using my time effectively could be the difference between a successful year and a year far less than successful. (By the way, that’s true whether you’re in sales or not.) 

A salesperson’s 1440 minute period is loaded with various tasks that must be completed on a timely basis in order to be successful. The problem is most salespeople like some of those tasks a lot more than others. So they do the things they like more often than they do the things they don’t. I think that’s called “being human.”

The most important thing a salesperson can do is be face-to-face with a customer. There are a limited number of minutes within their 1440 minutes when that’s possible. If your customer is only in their office from 7:00am to 3:00pm then those eight hours are your “money hours.” If you’re doing anything other the being face-to-face with a customer during those hours than you’re not being as productive as you could be. 

I know there are other important things as well, getting those quotes out, responding to phone calls, answering emails, and of course those exciting call reports are all important. The question that successful people are constantly asking themselves however is “what’s most important?” 

Even if you’re not is sales the odds are overwhelming that you have some sort of “money hours” within your own 1440 minute period. You almost certainly have things to do that are more important than others, things that the require the help of other people that can only be done at certain times of the day, those are your money hours. 

If you don’t have any of these limitations then it’s important to know which of those 1440 minutes you are performing at your peak. That portion of your 1440 minutes make up your money hours and it’s in those minutes that you should be making your biggest decisions and undertaking your most challenging tasks. 

While we all get 1440 minutes everyday it’s vital to understand that those 1440 minutes are not equal. Some are far more important than others. When you use your money hours more effectively you’ll see a big difference in your productivity, even if you’re not so effective at using the rest of your day.

Who is Influencing You?

My last post concerned your level of influence with the people you lead. This post is about who is influencing you.

You are shaped and influenced by the experiences of your life and the people you share them with.

If you have ever responded to someone by saying, “I had never thought of it like that,” then you have been influenced by that person. If you’ve ever changed your thinking to match someone else’s then you have been seriously influenced by them.

I don’t think I’m going to like how this sounds but here’s the thing….if you want to be more successful then don’t hang around with less successful people. It’s a sad reality that you just can’t afford some of the people who may be in your life.

You, your life and your level of success are very likely the average of the five people you spend the majority of your time with. Many things and many people can bring you down but they need a whole lot of help from you to keep you down. Don’t help other people keep you down, stay away from those who do not have your best interests in mind. 

Now, there is an argument to be made that you help less successful people by hanging out with them. That may be true…IF your influence on them is greater than their influence on you. In every relationship you are involved in you had best be very honest with yourself about who is the greater influence. The other person’s negative influence may be more powerful than your positive influence, especially if your own success and self-confidence is a bit immature.

The key to determining who is influencing you is to realize that most everyone you interact with is influencing you to some extent. There are virtually no neutral human interactions. Every interaction causes you to feel better about yourself and your circumstances or it causes you to feel worse. 

You are a product of your environment, there is just no escaping that fact. If you want to be more positive and successful then place yourself in a successful and positive environment. You may need to leave some people behind but it’s not likely that they were true friends anyway.

It’s a hard but true fact.

What Not To Do

Strategic thinking has as much to do with deciding what not to do as it does with deciding what to do. I’ve sat in literally hundreds of planning meetings where the discussion centered on what we should do to increase our success. I’ve seldom, if ever, heard a discussion on things we should not do. 

The reality is that what you don’t do can contribute as much to your success as what you choose to do. When we do not strategize about the “don’t do” activities we end of doing them without any consideration of the cost. 

Many of the costs are “opportunity costs;” when we are doing things we shouldn’t be doing we’re not doing things that we should. It’s at that point we use the always popular “time” excuse as in “we just don’t the time to do everything we planned to do.” 

Well, you might if you stopped doing the things you didn’t plan to do. 

Authentic leaders understand the difference between the “need to do” things and the “nice to do” things and they work hard at NOT doing the nice to do until the need to do things are complete. 

The real challenge is, and this is a big one for me, the “nice to do” things are usually easier and more fun to do than the “need to do.” Because the “nice” things are indeed nice we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve accomplished something when in fact we’ve skipped over something we had planned to do.  

While doing the “nice” thing might even be productive in some way truly effective leaders know it probably wasn’t the most productive thing they could have done. 

If you want to improve your productivity, and your level of success then stop yourself every now and then and ask, “is this the most productive thing I could be doing at this very moment?” If you’re like me you will likely be shocked at how often your answer is NO! 

The answer to that question may not always tell you what to do but it will certainly help you understand what not to do.

 

When Resources are Too Few

One of the biggest “problems” I hear about from people in businesses big and small is that they have too few resources to accomplish what they want.

That statement either directly follows or precedes a word I pretty much despise. That word is “can’t.” It doesn’t matter if it’s “we can’t” or “I can’t,” the word itself becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Lack of resources may be a true statement but so what. It doesn’t mean you can’t, it just means you need to find a different way. Lack of resources has become the easy way out, the easy way to explain away a lack of initiative or creativity. 

Now, some people reading this are already getting mad. To you I would say stop looking for reasons why you can’t and start looking for ways that you can. If you have to get mad then don’t get mad at me for telling you the truth, get mad at yourself for not accepting it.

You indeed may not be able to accomplish every single thing you would like but never use that as an excuse for not accomplishing every single thing that you can. 

A lack of resources can make it harder to begin; when we don’t know how to get past a roadblock 3 miles down the road it can make it harder to take that first step. Take the first step anyway. The first step builds the momentum that can carry you past obstacles that you thought were impossible to pass. But you must take that first step for it to happen.

Make certain that “lack of resources” isn’t actually “lack of priorities” in disguise. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s likely that your ultimate success won’t be either. Do what you can do today and worry about what you can’t do tomorrow.

Priorities come from goals and objectives. If you don’t have goals, solid, realistic, written goals, then it’s likely you’ll find it nearly impossible to prioritize. So set goals. Develop a plan to reach those goals. Most importantly, implement the plan. 

When you as a leader hear “we don’t have enough…. your reply should be “enough for what.” Every person and every organization has enough to do something, that something may not be everything you want it to be but it will get you closer to it. 

Remember, more often than not limited progress comes from a lack of creativity and initiative, not a lack of resources. Do everything you can with everything you’ve got and you may just surprise yourself. 

But your success won’t be a surprise to me.

Where Success Comes From

Success comes from commitment. 100% commitment. 

Yoda said it best, there is no try, there is do or do not but there is no try. Committed people don’t try, they do. When they fail they take stock of the causes of the failure, learn what they can, make a new, better plan and try again. 

I’ve often heard that relationships are a 50-50 deal. If you do your part and the other person does their part then it should all work out. That might sound good but when was the last time anything worked out when someone give it a 50% effort. 50% effort doesn’t get it done, it doesn’t get anything done.

Successful relationships require a 100-100 commitment. When both sides of a relationship are 100% committed to it’s success then you have a real chance at success.

It’s like that in every part of life, business, sports, achieving goals, your own health, whatever the case may be anything less than a 100% commitment makes you vulnerable to failure. 

Success comes from commitment, a commitment to do. The best of intentions and the best thought out plans mean nothing without a commitment to take action.

Commitment is not easy so don’t be afraid to ask for help to stay committed. Find someone who cares enough about you to hold you accountable for those things you’ve committed to do… or not to do. Ask them to help you stay on course. This is where a coach or mentor can really help. 

Share your commitments broadly, let lots people know about your commitments. Yes, that adds pressure but the pressure of accountability is one of the keys to success in any area of your life.

One of my favorite analogies for commitment is the breakfast analogy…. If you had bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning than two creatures made that possible. A chicken was interested in your breakfast but a pig was committed to it.

People interested in something are often deterred, people committed to something seldom are. 

Are you merely interested in your success or are you committed to it? 

Success is Not Required

So…lots of people will disagree with this but I believe that success is not required of anyone. I also believe that everyone has an opportunity to succeed. That last part there, the part about opportunity, that’s the part that not everyone will agree with.

I understand why, I mean knowing that you actually do have the opportunity to succeed has been known to put pressure on people to try and leverage that opportunity. To a whole lotta people that just looks like too much work.

So instead, they simply say that they don’t have the chance to succeed. 

Let’s talk about those opportunities for a minute. We should all be clear that not every opportunity is created equal. Some people have far more and far better opportunities than others. Depending on where you were born, depending in some cases on when you were born, and sadly, very sadly, even depending all too often on the color of your skin, your opportunities can vary greatly. (yes, I know there are more factors that can come into play but this isn’t intended to be a complete list)

Here’s what all successful people know; regardless of circumstances, regardless of any obstacles, regardless of anything someone else may do to try to stop you, if you want success enough, you can have it.

Hard work, smart work, good planning, and desire can overcome almost ANY circumstance or obstacle. Yes, there are places on this earth where the challenges can make even basic success nearly impossible but “nearly impossible” is not impossible. I should also point out that if you’re reading this you’re not likely reading it from one of those places.

If you’re sitting in Texas, or London, or Rio, or Tokyo and you’re saying “well, what about the people in Syria, (or pick your own place or people) see, not everyone can succeed,” as an excuse for your own lack of success then I have to tell you that’s just an excuse for you not to try and it’s a pretty lame excuse at that.

You have to decide if you’re going to let chance, circumstances, past history and the opinions of others prevent you from achieving the success that is available to you. You also have to decide exactly what success means to you. 

Success is very personal, my success and your success are likely are least somewhat different. You don’t have to do what others expect of you to consider yourself a success but you do have to be honest with yourself. Sitting around wasting your talent and abilities could be someone’s definition of success but most people wouldn’t think it was a good one.

Complaining about what you can’t do has the ability to prevent you from doing what you can do so stop complaining about what isn’t and create what will be…you know you can do it!

There is no requirement that anyone succeed at anything but everyone should know that success is within their reach if they are willing to actually reach for it. YOU are a part of that “everyone” and now that you know you can succeed you have a choice to make. I hope you make it a good one.

I Can and You Can Too

Few things in life give me as much pleasure as doing something someone says I can’t do. Now, I’m not talking about breaking rules although I have been known to improve a few rules by doing something outside the guidelines. What I’m talking about is doing something that someone says I don’t have the ability, knowledge, or tenacity to do.

When someone says I can’t my first thought is I can if I decide I can. You can too!

The very first step in the journey to success is deciding that you will succeed…no matter what. Babe Ruth, the great American Baseball player said “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” You may not be the fastest to the finish line but perseverance, the ability to finish what you start is an absolute necessity when seeking success.

Do you know who won the 1968 Olympic Marathon in Mexico City? I don’t know either…but I do know who came in last. John Stephen Akhwari a Tanzanian runner cramped up during the race due to the high altitude of the city. At the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race, there was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell, badly injuring his knee and shoulder. But he continued running, finishing dead last among the 57 competitors who completed the race. The winner of the race finished in 2:20:26. John Stephen Akhwari finished in 3:25:27, when there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium, and the sun had already set. A television crew was sent out from the medal ceremony when word was received that there was one more runner about to finish.

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” In my book John Stephen Akhwari was a huge success that day. Anyone can start something but it takes a successful person to finish it.

When you think to yourself that “I can’t” you make it much less likely that you will. When you say “I can’t” out loud you make it virtually certain that you won’t. 

Some clever person once said “Success comes in cans…failure comes in “can’ts.” That’s almost too clever to write but the fact is, it’s true. Thinking you “can’t” is like giving yourself permission to fail, worse yet, it could even give you permission to not even try. 

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed and never, never, tell that lie to yourself. 

Remember, winning doesn’t always mean coming in first and winning doesn’t always mean performing the best. Sometimes winning just means finishing what you started even when most everyone else believes you can’t.