Bits and Pieces

Bits and Pieces (Video)

An old management adage is: “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  All this refers to is that you take something large and complex, such as a project, and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Broken down into smaller pieces, it is not as formidable and is easier to accomplish.

I have done this successfully for years for business.  I rarely have enough time to complete a project all at once.  However, by working on one section at a time, I complete the project.  In addition, it is completed more quickly than if I waited until I had enough time to do it all at once.

Another example is education.  Few adults have the luxury of going back to school full time.  I did not.  However, by taking one class per semester, in a few years I completed my MBA.  Had I waited until I could devote full time to it, I would still be waiting.

I have discovered that this philosophy works just as well for personal projects.  For example, I have wanted to clean out and rearrange the kitchen cupboards and pantry for a couple of years.  Finally, I just started doing one cupboard or shelf when I had 15-20 minutes.  This usually occurred while cooking dinner.  Within a few weeks, I had accomplished more than in the previous two years.

These are just a few examples of how strategies that help us meet our goals in one area of our lives can be used to achieve success in others.

Aim Accurately

Aim Accurately (Video)

A problem that I have in golf is aiming.  Whenever I think that I am aiming at the pin, the ball goes to the right.  Consistently.  When I aim to the left of the pin, the ball goes straight for the pin.

As I thought about his, I realized that this could happen in our professional and personal lives as well.  We may think we are aiming for our goals.  However, if we consistently miss our goals, then something is wrong. 

Remember, there is no reality, only perception.  Our perception may be that we are aiming for our goals, but if the reality is that we are missing our goals, our aim may be off.

The most common correction is to change how or where we are aiming.

When I change how I am aiming for the pin, the ball goes toward the pin.  I have found that this is true in life, too.  There have been times when no matter how hard I try, I cannot reach a goal.  When I stop and analyze the situation, and how or where I am aiming, often I can then reach the goal.

If you are not meeting a professional or personal goal, stop and analyze how and where you are aiming.  You may have more success if you modify your aim.  Where you think you are aiming may not be where you are actually aiming.  It is the reality and perception concept again!

20/20 Hindsight

20/20 Hindsight (Video)

Our vision on what we should have done is usually 20/20.  Because we know what we did and what happened because of it, we know what we should have done.

We cannot change what has already happened.  However, how often do we use the lessons learned when similar situations occur?

If we apply what we learned from 20/20 hindsight, we can greatly improve our vision of current situations.  Better vision leads to better decisions.

What is Your ROTI?

What is Your ROTI? (video)

Return on investment (ROI) is used in business frequently to evaluate the profitability of a decision.  Will the return be worth the investment?  This is something that can be used in our personal lives as well.  For example, what will our ROI be on a purchase we make?

Another aspect to consider is our ROTI–return on time investment.  (I do not think this is a real business term.  But it is a good concept!)

Is what we are doing giving us a good return?  We all have the same minutes in each day.  Are we spending our time wisely?  Are we making the most of our time?  Are we spending our time in such a way that we will meet our professional and personal goals?

We are all busy.  This is something that can help us prioritize how to spend our time.  If we ask, “What return will I get on the time I invest doing this?” it may help us make better decisions.



Stop Digging

Stop Digging (Video)

One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “If you find that you have dug yourself into a hole, the very first thing you have to do is stop digging.”  (I am not sure where he heard that, but I know I heard it from him frequently.)

We all get ourselves into trouble sometimes.  It may be in our professional or personal lives.  It may be in big ways or small.  It happens to all of us.

When we realize we have dug ourselves into a hole, we need to determine what we did that got us into that situation, and then stop doing it!  It sounds so simple, and yet it can be very difficult.  It forces us to honestly look at ourselves and our actions.  It then forces us to evaluate what we did, why, and make corrections.

Self-evaluation and change are difficult.  If we do not, however, we will find that we will never get out of the hole that we have dug for ourselves.




Achieving Your Goals

Achieving Your Goals (Video)

There is so much that can be written about setting and achieving goals.  What I would like to do today is to try to simplify goal achievement.

Our goals really revolve around the following:

  • What do we want to do?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • Who do we want to be?

We answer these questions.  These are our goals.

Our plan describes how we are going to achieve these goals.

Both these steps are relatively easy.  The difficulty is in implementing the plan.  Successful implementation requires that we ask ourselves throughout the day if our actions will help us reach our goals.  If yes, then continue with the action.  If no, then do not.

As a very simple example, pretend that your goal is to go on vacation.  You have determined where you want to go and how much it will cost.  Later, you are shopping and see a pair of shoes you really like, but do not need.  Will buying the shoes help you reach your goal of saving money to go on vacation?  No.  So do not buy the shoes.

As another example, pretend that your goal is to get a promotion at work.  You have a project that is due Monday.  You can work over the weekend and complete it or tell your supervisor it will not be ready Monday and ask for an extension.  Which decision will help you reach your goal of a promotion?

Our goal achievement is based on all the little decisions we make each day.  Are you making decisions that will help you reach your goals?

Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis (Video)

In medicine, it is critical that an accurate diagnosis be made so that the disease can be treated and not just the symptoms.  For example, if you go to a doctor with stomach pains and she simply gives you something to make the pain go away, it will not do you any good if you have cancer.  The cancer needs to be treated, not just the pain.

Also, the best treatment would depend upon the disease.  The treatment would be different if you had an ulcer or if you had cancer.  An accurate diagnosis is critical.

In business, root cause analysis is often used to determine why something went wrong.  In essence, the process involves determining what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again.  Of course, the same process can be used when good things happen.  Determine what happened, why it happened, and how to repeat the positive results.

Root cause analysis is very similar to making an accurate diagnosis.

These same concepts can be used in our personal and professional lives.  If we define what happened (or is not happening) and can pinpoint why, we can develop a plan to achieve the results we want.  The critical aspect is determining why.

It does not matter whether you want to look at the process as diagnosing what is happening in your life or as root cause analysis.  The important thing is that you do analyze what is happening and why.  You may need to ask yourself, “And why else” multiple times before you get a complete answer.  Once you do have a complete answer, act on the information.

You cannot make good decisions with bad or incomplete information.  Make sure your analysis is complete and that you have all the “whys” before developing a plan to address them. 

This can be painful as it may show that we have weaknesses that we do not want to admit.  But it is necessary to achieve the success we want.

Do you Make Things Happen, or Do You Wait for Things to Happen?

Make Things Happen (Video)

People that make things happen know what they want, they develop a plan to make it happen, they implement the plan, and they regularly evaluate their results.  If they are achieving the results they want, great.  If not, they reevaluate their plan, revise it as necessary, and implement the new plan.  They continuously do this.  Because of this, they make things happen.  They get what they want.

People that make things happen go after life, they go after what they want.  They also take full and complete responsibility for their life.

Other people may go through the motions of developing and implementing plans, but mostly they are waiting for things to happen.  They are waiting for someone else to do things for them, provide for them, care for them.  They are waiting for that perfect job or relationship to simply appear.  They are waiting for life to come to them.

What type of person are you?  Do you make things happen?  Or do you wait for things to happen?

I am proud to say that I am someone that makes things happen.  If you are, too, great!  If you are not, I suggest that you decide to become someone who makes things happen.  Personal and professional life is much fuller and more satisfying when you make the life you want rather than waiting for it to magically appear.  Even at Hogwarts, magic did not just happen.  Someone had to make it happen; someone had to wave a wand, incant a spell, or stir a potion.

Take control of your life and make things happen!

Write Your Epitaph

Write Your Epitaph (Video)

An exercise to help in goal setting is to write your own obituary.  When you pass away at age 80, 90, 100, or whatever you desire, what do you want your obituary to say?  What accomplishments do you want to have recorded?  What do you want people to say about you?

This can help you determine what your life goals are.  Once you know what your goals are, you can develop and implement a plan to achieve them.

A similar exercise, and one that may require more thought, is to write your epitaph.  What one sentence do you want on your grave marker to sum up who you were?  This can be harder to do because of the limited number of words.  It becomes necessary to distill your essence.  This describes you as a person, not necessarily your accomplishments.

I think this may be what I will want:  “Susan was a wise woman of integrity.”  I am not wise yet, although I do well with the integrity part.  I may change my mind as time goes on, but for now, I think striving for this is worthwhile.

What do you want your epitaph to be?