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.

Are You Responsible?

I saw an advertisement for a law firm on television the other day. The ad said that if you had lost money in the stock market or other investments that you “shouldn’t blame yourself,” you should sue your investment advisor. It said “you’re not responsible.” 

That pretty much sums up where many of today’s problems come from. No one blames themselves for anything. Nothing is anyone’s fault. Responsibility, for way too many people, is a thing of the past. 

When kids mess up it’s not their fault, it is the parents. When parents mess up it’s the “systems” responsibility. When the system is screwed up it’s the politicians inability to get anything done that’s the problem. When the politicians don’t get anything done one party blames the other….and on and on it goes. 

Where there is no responsibility there is no success. Responsibility removes productivity blocking excuses. Responsibility leads to learning and the elimination of mistakes. Responsibility is a direct road to success. 

Fewer and fewer people are willing to stand up and accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong. If you’re not a fan of long lines then step right into the line of responsibility because there will be almost no one in line with you. Meanwhile the no responsibility line goes on forever these days.

Sometimes, rarely, not accepting responsibility can be a sign of humility, especially when it is responsibility for something that went right. It was interesting watching the New England Patriots celebrate their amazing comeback victory in this year’s Super Bowl. It appeared most of the team, even their biggest stars, were playing a game of “hot potato” with the credit for their success. Every player interviewed claimed someone else was more responsible for the comeback than them. 

But here’s where their true success comes from. If they had lost I’d bet you nearly every player on that team would have accepted responsibility themselves. Authentic Leaders and successful people accept more than their share of  the responsibility for a failure and giveaway virtually all the credit for any success. 

If you truly want to be a leader then admit your mistakes, accept responsibility for your actions, and never never blame someone else for something you did wrong.

Accepting responsibility for your decision making, choices, actions and their outcome indeed adds pressure to your life but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of pressure helps you excel. Accept the pressure of responsibility and the odds are you will be more successful as a result. 

 

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.

 

Ditch the Resolutions

Want more success in 2017? Then ditch the New Years Resolutions and replace them with a mentor. 

There is so much evidence that New Years Resolutions have no lasting impact that I won’t even bother with explaining why they are almost always a complete waste of time.

There is also ample evidence that having a mentor does have long term impact on the mentees future success. If you truly want greater success in the coming year then your first step is to get yourself a mentor. 

I’ve been blessed throughout my career with mentors who cared as much about me as they cared about their own success. That perhaps is the single greatest attribute a mentor must have, they really need to care about the person they are mentoring.

I get asked on average at least once a week to mentor someone and one of my biggest regrets is that I have to say no. I’m mentoring a few people already and I couldn’t truly be effective mentoring more. Mentoring is serious stuff and requires a serious time commitment on the both of both the mentor and the mentee. 

If you’re serious about having a mentor in 2017 then look for a person who is willing to share their knowledge, skills and expertise. Sadly, too many people in organizations see passing along their knowledge and skills to be a risk to their job security. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. If you have the ability to help others grow then you will always be needed somewhere.

Your mentor needs to be a person who will take a personal interest in you and who desires a personal relationship with you. They must invest themselves in your success. If your mentor frequently needs to cancel or change the time of your meeting then you likely need a different mentor. 

Your mentor needs to be someone who cares enough about you to offer you constructive feedback. They have to have the courage to potentially tell you some things that you may not want to hear. They also need to have the compassion and communication skills to tell you it in such a way as to allow you to hear it, understand it, believe it, and act upon it. 

A good mentor is a person who sets a good example. They regularly achieve their own goals, they are respected by others and they demonstrate successful habits. They “walk their talk” while challenging their mentees to do the same. They never ask someone else to do something that are unwilling to do themselves.

Regardless of your age or level of success you’ll be better off in 2017 if you have a mentor. A real mentor. Formalize a mentoring relationship with someone who can help you grow personally and professionally and see for yourself the difference it will make in your level of success in the New Year!

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?