Self governance can mean many things but in my case it meant hard work, long hours, alcohol fuelled stress recovery and expensive apologetic family holidays. We went to France, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Canada, Germany and Switzerland, kids in tow, trying to make up for lost time. Time I lost by not being home and not being present when I was home. Stress does that to you and if the only solution we are aware of to handle stress is to either back off work (impossible for a small business owner) or party harder (which I did), the road is leading to a crunch time. (and it did).
Looking back on it now I shake my head in the lost productivity and inefficiency of my work process. Stress is inevitable but if it leads to more time doing things inefficiently or unproductively, then - mouse in mouse wheel - we just make things worse by trying to make them better. It's not to suggest I didn't try stuff. I did hypnosis, hired management consultants, engaged a HR trainer for my staff, rebuilt and refocussed the business frequently. Our results were astonishingly good and so, I thought, as a normal person would, that by measuring the outcome of the business in profit margin and growth percentages, I was right on track. But I was wrong.
If I was doing 400 meter sprints around an oval, I'd have no problem with my metric of $ results, but business life is never a sprint, especially with family taking the toll of tiredness and not turning up at home. The issue of sustainable growth is far more important for a metric in business life and that applies to us individually as well. So, instead of learning to hit the ball better, I just kept trying to hit it harder and that's not efficient or effective in business leadership or life.
In an article about me in Success Magazine, the journalist chose an often used quote I had become comfortable with sharing, obviously once too often: "I worked my little butt off" - well that became the headline and the story focussed on the rise and fall of an entrepreneur, Chris Walker, who built a business and wealth from nothing, to something and then went back to nothing. Not the best story, but it was the truth.
I can't separate business management from family life, and I certainly feel that most personal awareness programs offer the generic "one idea fixes everything" model of self management. I'm here, 25 years after that article in the Success Magazine to say no, "no, one idea doesn't fix everything." We are far more complex and sophisticated than that. Sadly for HR managers, each of us is an individual and we deserve to be treated as such.
There are some groundbreakingly simple ideas about productivity and effectiveness. Simple because they can be used and applied by anyone from top to bottom in an organisation. Groundbreaking because they shatter false notions of what makes people effective and efficient. Let's share a few now:
1. Blame and victim don't work
Empowerment is such a great word and yet, in business parlance it is made to sound like someone empowers someone to do something. That's wrong: the only person who can empower someone, is ourselves. We empower ourselves because we can take the bull by the horns and see that we cause and can create the changes we want. That's empowerment, but most people blame their boss, the company, the customer or the competitor. All of which disempowers.
2. Long hours teaches us to go slow
Ineffective execs work long hours and learn to operate in slow twitch mode of mind. They, the ones who lack sleep, fun, exercise and family time, lack the wholeness and fulfillment that underpins great thinking, human genius and creative inspired thought. So, they become the grumpy, urgent, sensitive disrupter. This self determined "over-worker" becomes the antagonist, the never happy and always resistant individual who slows everyone down through thought redirection and distraction. One tired individual can corrupt many.
3. Ask the right questions
There is no question about it, nature abhors imbalance. She also destroys anything that isn't living its purpose. Nature isn't kind. She evolves everything. Including organisations and people. We evolve at the border of chaos and order so the real questions one needs to be asking about organisational effectiveness and individual efficiency are ones of a mix of support and challenge. Regrettably, most people see weekends as the relief of the challenge of work, which is like saying on Monday "I'll just keep running until the weekend." Even the mythical notion of "I'll go to yoga after work" encourages inefficiency and productivity loss. Studies demonstrate that over any given day, productivity and efficiency declines with time. One hour is when exponential decay ramps up. Work life balance is a myth, Work work balance is how effective and efficient people stay focussed.
Innerwealth consulting presents a comprehensive overview of personal and organisational effectiveness. To hear Chris speak on this, please email us on the contact form at the top of this page.
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