A quote from Conan O’Brien’s farewell speech.
“if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen”
The full transcrpt can be found here: http://freedomeden.blogspot.com/2010/01/conan-obrien-last-tonight-show-january.html
The basic principle is simple: be conscious about what you do, or do not do.
To put it differently: Think and be aware of what you are doing. Do not just bumble along in an unconscious manner. It is important to be aware (conscious) about the actions that you are currently performing. If I know exactly what I am doing at this moment, then I am managing not only the present, but also my future. It is important for my current actions to contribute to me meeting my goals.
If you want to switch off and relax, go do that. However if you are not relaxing, be conscious about what you are doing, what you are meant to be doing and what others are expecting you to be doing. When you do things with a purpose, it bring a level focus that otherwise might not be there.
So let’s look at some examples of how to implement this behavior.
- When you have a list full of tasks. Be conscious of what tasks will help meet your goals and that not all the tasks are equal. Some of them demand a higher level of diligence while others just need to be good enough.
- Do you approach your important meetings with a purpose and an agenda? Be conscious about what you need to get from the meeting. Now with remember these goals, be clear about how you are communicating your points and how they are being received. Be conscious about what the other peoples needs are. Soliciting feedback and input from the other person is always a good tactic.
- Now let’s look at soft skills and being conscious of the other people’s behaviors and reactions in various situations. Being conscious of other people and your environment starts with being conscious of yourself first. When you sit down in a chair, be aware of how your back feels against the back of the chair. It sounds crazy but this awareness of your body and the chair will help.
- For those of us that attend a lot of meetings: Evaluate each meeting to determine why you need to attend that specific meeting. Although I am cognizant that I might be fighting the culture of some companies, I believe that meetings are not the place for status updates. A far more efficient mechanism is to use a simple, concise and clear emails. If you have a good reason to attend meeting, define what you are going to achieve at that meeting. If you are running the meeting, then define an agenda that ensures that the goals are met and finish the meeting early by keeping people on topic.
Key points of this post:
- Whatever you do, perform the action with purpose and be conscious about your actions.
- Ensure that your actions contribute to your goals.
- Be conscious of the expectations of others.
I was born and raised in Africa and like most places in the developing world (politically correct term for 3rd world) , culturally, we looked to the 1st world countries for leadership and guidance. As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of visitors from various 1st world countries. This exposure allowed me to see, firsthand, some of the cultural generalizations.
Working with American, the first thing I noticed was how they increased the volume of their voice when they perceived that someone did not understand them.
The second thing I noticed was their optimistic mindset. They were always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt and listened to their input, ideas and feedback in a non-judgmental manner. I watched in amazement how these people responded very well to this behavior. They changed from being interested parties to involved participants. It was awesome to see how the energy levels increased and how the folks cooperated together. Needless to say, the goals were achieved quickly and with little fanfare.
I believe that one of the biggest advantages that the Americans have, is their optimistic mindset.
Over time, I have come to realize that the behavior that I was exposed to as a teenager was a combination of the optimistic mindset and also an ability to listen. Listening is a skill that all managers should have in their arsenal and constantly practice. For some of us, this does not come easily, but for the sake of your people please continue to work on it.
Here are some well known folks that Through the ages there have been numerous instances of this rule.
- Abraham Lincoln suffered a nervous breakdown and was defeated numerous times in his political career.
- Henry Ford’s first automobile company was a failure.
- Thomas Edison failed with his phonograph company.
- Albert Einstein suffered from speech difficulties as a young child.
- Babe Ruth held the #1 spot as the best slugger from 1918 to 1928. during this period, he was either in either the #1 or #2 position for strikeouts during these years too.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison
Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense – Winston Churchill