7 Things I Learned in 2011
Well it is that time of year where everyone seems to recap their milestones in some way, so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon in my own way.
This list is in no way definitive or complete, but just what came to mind. I will also say that some of the things that made the list are not totally new but I have attained a far greater understanding of them.
1:People pleasing gets you nowhere.
There is a desire in each of us to please others, in some the desire is strong, in others, not so much, but everyone, at some level desires to please other people, this in and of itself is not a problem, but there is a place where it can become one.
For me, people pleasing is a very strong desire, and unfortunately there is a time when it starts to take its toll not only on me but on my family. So this year I have had to learn to choose my battles, say no to some projects in order to be able to properly do what the Lord has inspired me to do.
2:Take the time to understand others motives.
It is easy to judge others by ones own standards, but in my experience this year, while there are absolutes which must be upheld, most interpersonal problems can be averted or minimized by taking the time to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” so to speak.
I think this concept was framed so well by Rudyard Kipling when he wrote;
Ah, we judge each other harshly,
Knowing not life’s hidden force;
Knowing not the fount of action
Is less turbid at it’s source.
His words are still true today, lets remember to consider motives before we judge actions.
3:Deal with issues when they arise
This one is good advice for everyone, but especially good if you are a procrastinator like me. If there is something uncomfortable you don’t really want to do so you have it on indefinite hold, or waiting for a better time… DO IT! I am speaking to myself as much as anyone here, “a convenient time” is nothing more than a dream. as a matter of fact, the longer you wait, the more unpleasant the task will become, and the larger it will seem.
Not only that, if you put it off long enough, other ugly tasks will join it in the back of your mind and ruin every bit of relaxation you will try to enjoy.
You know what that annoying job is, don’t argue with me, just go and do it.
4:Hyper-connectivity is not the answer
There is this lie that most of generation Y and practically all the millenials buy into, and that is
“Your satisfaction in life, your perceived importance and value to others is directly linked to how connected, visible and contactable you are”
My guess is that nobody has said that to you in as many words, but if you examine how you use technology, I think you will find it disturbingly true.
Hyper-connectivity does not actually do any of those things, but it does do something else… it blasts holes in your productivity the size of a small armored vehicle. Every time you change task (moving from “Important task #1″ to checking email/twitter/facebook) you then have to build all that momentum again when you return to your task, this statistically destroys any hope of productivity you may have.
What I have started doing, is walling off bricks of time to focus on one task, during this time, I switch my phone to flight mode, turn off my Gmail notifier, exit twitter, Disconnect from IRC, sign out of Google chat, Skype and WLM. Now this might shock you, but while I was off the grid, nobody fainted, ranted, raved had a heart attack or probably even noticed my absence.
The results are freakishly good, and don’t believe me? try it yourself.
If you want to know more about this (and other productivity goodness) watch this great video of Tony Schwartz.
5:Play to your strengths
In the past, I have fallen into the trap of trying to be a “Jack of all trades” the truth is, it is not possible to truly excel at anything when you are focusing on everything. Identify your “One thing” and cut away the dreams of mastering your secondary lines of work, return to them if you have the time once you are an expert in your field of choice.
There is a great message called “10 Steps to Excellence” By Dr Sam Pipim if you want to hear about following your “One thing” (and the other 9 points of great advice)
6:Success is found in ones own redundancy
This one is a tough one to learn, we like to make ourselves irreplaceable but in reality, all that will do is ensure you never get to progress to bigger and better things. whatever job you have, find somebody willing to learn, and teach them, it will free you up also strengthening your organization.
When I started out, I began by trying to become proficient in as many tasks as possible and gather the various responsibilities to myself, eventually I became capable of more jobs than I physically had the capacity to do and burn-out became a big issue for me.
Learn from my mistake: become a master of succession in leadership, trust me, you will never be out of a job.
7:God is still in control
This is the final, and most important point. Even when things don’t go your way, have the faith to believe some purpose greater than you is being worked out. If you really believe that, it will give you peace and great resilience even in the face of adversity. As one of my favorite passages says
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
I Hope some of the things I have learned this year has been of some interest to you. If you plan on applying any of them yourself, or have some of your own you would like to add, please tell me about it in the comments.