Whether dealing with bereavement or a project going off-track or someone cut you up on the way to work. The solution is the same. Remember that you get to decide your reaction.
Prepare for them ahead of time. Yet without bringing the suffering forward.
Deal with them in the appropriate time. Yet without labouring the pain longer than necessary.
Remember that you too are going to die someday. And live accordingly.
"Had you lost a friend (which is the greatest blow of all), you would have had to endeavour rather to rejoice because you had possessed him than to mourn because you had lost him."
"...Again, it is foolish to lament one's loss, when there is such a slight interval between the lost and the loser. Hence we should be more resigned in spirit, because we follow closely those whom we have lost."
"...How much of this time is taken up with weeping, how much with worry! How much with prayers for death before death arrives, how much with our health, how much with our fears! How much is occupied by our years of inexperience or of useless endeavour! And half of all this time is wasted in sleeping. Add, besides, our toils, our griefs, our dangers – and you will comprehend that even in the longest life real living is the least portion thereof."
~ Seneca, Letter XCIX
There are some things that I now need to do daily just to get back to normal:
Drink apple cider vinegar
Take vitamins (B12 and D-3)
Avoid refined sugar
Eat slow carb
Avoid gluten and grains
Wake up at the same time every day
Write a blog post
Write morning pages
Go for a walk
Have a cold shower
Reach out to my network
Of course, these things make everything else possible…if done consistently.
Ordinary things done consistently produce extraordinary results.
Why do meetings start on the hour? And last an hour? Because someone at Microsoft made the calendar default that way when Office was ubiquitous and no one has ever changed it.
The problem is that other people's meetings finish on the hour. You cannot be in the meeting room at the exact time that someone else finishes. So, there is a very high chance that you are going to start late. Others have back-to-back meetings all day even if you are conscientious enough to avoid them.
Why not start at 2mins past, 5mins past or 10mins past? People might actually turn up early thinking it starts on the hour. You might actually be set up to start on time.
Similarly, why finish on the hour. Knowing that your colleagues do not have the time management skills that you do, help them out by finishing at 5mins or 10mins to the hour so they can get to their next meeting. Anything you need an hour for can be done in 30-45mins anyway.
Give someone the gift of time. Make your meetings that ones that start and finish on time. Schedule.
1. No one comes to work trying to do a bad job and they are likely better than your immediate impression of them. But they might also not come to work prepared to give their all or be very good in their current position. How can you help them either way?
2. Be incredibly grateful for what you have. Know that you can always do better. Continually work on both.
3. Enjoy yourself in the present and prepare for the future.
4. Realise you can be frugal and extravagant.
5. Focus… and do both. Realise that they are only one thing. Reframe them into one.
6. Give all of yourself to those closest to you… by looking after yourself first.
You plan your workouts. You plan what you are going to watch on Netflix. You plan where you want to go on holiday for 10 days of the year.
You don’t plan your daily “why is someone making me sit through this” meetings. You don’t plan your “if only I had more time I would start” side hustle. You don’t plan your “if only…x I could have y” life that you want.
You are planning. Just the wrong things. Do the opposite for a week and see where you get to.
When I first started work after University it was as a Sales Ledger Clerk in a small accounts department of a door handle manufacturer.
As it was an entry level job and I knew nothing I used to have tasks given to me. And I used to do them as fast as humanly possible, like a game, before jumping up and asking for the next task.
I remember being so amazed that the other people in the office were not working as fast as they could that I told my mom when I got home. She said, “yes, that’s what people do.”
If you get through your work, guess what there is no more work. You don’t have to be here, in the office, if there is no more work to do. Or you get to do better work.
Now we have the internet. It was not invented when I started work. And you can do whatever you want from wherever you are. It is like a travelator.
And you can still run on a travelator to go even faster. Why wouldn’t you?
Three’s a crowd,
Four, or more, is either a shit-storm or a successful meeting. And you get to decide which.
Less than four people do not need much structure. It is more of a chat. Once you get to four or more, that's when time stretches.
Cut. Prepare. Run. Repeat.
Cut the number of attendees. Everyone does not need a say. Be bold. Someone will be upset whatever decision is made.
Prepare the agenda and make sure everyone else has prepared.
Run the meeting to time. Be mindful that this is not the work. The meeting is organising the work. Get back to work as soon as possible.
Repeat. As infrequently as possible.
Checking someone’s work is both short-term and not scalable. If you are in the middle of a “crisis” then it may be necessary.
But first, is it really a crisis? Do you really not have the time for someone to fail and find their own mistakes? Because that is how they are going to get better the fastest.
Better to increase capability. If you are spending time being a bottleneck then you are not spending enough time improving things or getting to the root cause of the error.
Checking is the worst resolution. But this is not the same as not being in the detail.
You should know the detail well enough that you know how long things should take, you know the right questions to ask, you know who should be accountable for which metrics.
You should be in a position to help people fix the bureaucratic processes that drain them; fix the outdated systems that cause extra work; fix the expectations of the people they serve to cut out the noise and provide air cover.
Know. Fix. Don’t check.
I have just finished Antifragile and realised the reason why document versus create works.
Usually, the people on TV are blowhards with no skin in the game. Instagram and YouTube vlogs have allowed the doers to document what actually happens rather than an author interpreting what happened after the fact (although there are obviously a lot of people that can teach you how to make money by teaching people how to make money... ad infinitum).
This is the first time this has happened in history. Before, the doers did and the theoreticians pontificated and changed history through retrospective writing.
Just like the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote though, be the one documenting (or creating). Not the one consuming the content.
People want more. More money, more people, more time.
Corporate life consists of people who throw more people at a problem. Mostly without realising this can make things worse. Or alternatively, this mindset can be complicit in promoting activities that do not need doing in the first place.
More money. Buying TV ads that no one watches because we did it last year and we need to do something otherwise what are we getting paid for?
More time. Consistently insisting on ever increasing meeting lengths rather than looking to cut out the unnecessary peacocking of Dave the over confident and uninformed account manager or the dithering of Deborah the delayer of decisions.
More time needed leads to more people needed. More people needed leads to more fixed cost. More fixed cost leads to more reliance on hitting forecast.
Things are not always good - you can do more than you think with less. But when you try to do less with more, that’s when the "restructuring" and the layoffs begin.
Unfortunately, like a government bailout or the collapse of a public service, it is those that made the organisation fragile in the first place the ones that usually escape unharmed.
You are not employed to only get results in perfect circumstances. Cut the unnecessary and do more with what you already have.