“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter Drucker
Ahhh…time. Time management is prevalent in the productivity literature, but frankly, like many of my literary heroes have stated, time management is a misnomer. We don’t manage time. We manage ourselves. Yeah, sure, we schedule things on our calendar, we have our to-do lists, we have our productivity apps, but what do any of these things do, if we don’t execute?
Time management is prevalent in the productivity literature, but frankly, like many of my literary heroes have stated, time management is a misnomer. We don’t manage time. We manage ourselves. Yeah, sure, we schedule things on our calendar, we have our to-do lists, we have our productivity apps, but what do any of these things do, if we don’t execute?
The key is execution. To really do what we say we need to do when we need to do it. Over the last 40 years I’ve tried every trick, every hack, everything you can think of to plan, calendar, create lists, and all the rest, but what happens when reality kicks in? In the Army, there’s this guy called Murphy. No one knows who Murphy is, but Murphy is the all-knowing Oracle known across the military. I know you’ve heard of him. He’s responsible for the creation of Murphy’s Law, which states: “The worst possible thing will happen at the worst possible moment.” In a nutshell, this translates into another proverb: “Plans do not survive reality.”
So how do we get anything done? The key is to improvise and adapt. This is where the Pareto Principle comes into play. What makes the Pareto Principle so powerful? It can be applied to anything. This includes managing ourselves.
I had a commander during an exercise with the Minnesota National Guard (we were there to evaluate them) state: “A good commander will give you 80% of the plan. You’ll have to come up with the other 20%.” This is the Pareto Principle in action. If anyone reading this has been in a combat scenario, you know exactly what this 20% is. It is Murphy’s Law, it is chaos, it is the unexpected stuff that can turn units into heroes or corpses.
To brighten this up a bit, let’s think about a personal situation. Let’s say you have a goal you want to achieve this year. It doesn’t matter what the goal is. The point is you come up with your plan, which is 80% of the solution. The remaining 20% you’ll have to come up with on the fly. Why? Goals are meant to stretch us into territory we’ve never been before. We just want to do it, because we believe it will help us be better, stronger, feel better about ourselves, or whatever else is driving you. You will make mistakes, while you learn. Things will happen that cause you to deviate from your plan. This is what happens when your plan meets reality.
Whether it’s a trip you want to take, a financial goal you have, or maybe even in this audience, the number of followers you get on your blog. The 20% is that gray area that represents your ignorance, the other folks you need to get there who may or may not assist, or any other unpredicted piece of reality that will stick its ugly head up right before the finish line.
With all this ranting, I still haven’t given you the solution. The solution is desire. With desire, you can achieve anything you want to. But the desire, the hunger, the outright guts must be there to accomplish what you want to achieve. Without guts, a unit who is fighting for its life on some god-forsaken piece of land will succumb to the enemy. Without the desire to get up in the morning to hit the weight room when it’s snowing outside will test your desire to truly get in shape. Without the hunger, you’ll let the most insignificant excuse cloud your judgment and that 20% will be an impossible obstacle to climb.
How do we get desire or the motivation to do something? Honestly, this is a personal issue. What do you value? What do you want? What are you willing to do to achieve what you want?
There is more than enough literature on to-do lists, planning techniques, mobile apps, and all the rest for putting together a framework of the what you will do when, but without desire, these tools are useless. Do some soul searching. What do you really value? What really wakes you up in the morning? Is it creating art? Is it teaching others? Is it a challenge? Travel? Reading?
Take some time this weekend and really dig into that. Dig deep. My bet is when you find this thing, you’ll realize you’ve always known what that thing is. Once you begin pursuing what you really, really want, nothing will stop you. You’ll love every minute you put into it and not care if you make any money doing it. But you will succeed because it’s what you were put on this Earth to do in this lifetime.
I love to write. Lately, I’ve been using quotes as a prompt for my writing. What do you think? Is this something that is interesting to you? If not, tell me what you’d like me to explore with you in my writing. Daily Ramblings is nothing more than an outlet for my creativity. I enjoy writing about anything and everything, so don’t be shy.
I wish you the very best in 2017 and beyond. I hope you achieve whatever you want for yourself and your family.
Until next time…