Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Art of Smart Living

Why are some more successful than others? What makes the difference? How could we go about our life getting more of what we want?

Some people just get to where they want to go a lot faster than others. For some it's simply because they cheat on life itself. That's not what I'm talking about. The question is: How can I do what I do in a smarter way?

In 1995 I discovered a two-sided key that has been priceless to me...

In my opinion, some of the secret behind a happy life is the principle of a proactive lifestyle. Proactive meaning what? Most people view proactive as being "ahead of the game", but to me proactive means so much more. Consider this scenario that explains the dilemma we're all struggling with on a daily basis:

Picture yourself in a boat. Rowing is your main task, which eventually brings you to your destination. Oaring a steady course on the rippling water, you discover the boat is leaking. In fact, there are several holes causing the vessel to sink. Consequently, you hose water and then you row a little. Rowing and hosing works, but slow as it is, unstopping the hole would be smart. Also, every so often, you're forced to apply one of the oars to hit and fight off some Alligators circling around.

In Stephen Covey and Roger Merrill's book "First Things First" they present their findings in what is called "Time Management Matrix". What's the secret? Well, in relation to the above scenario, hosing water is important, but more pressing than anything is unstopping the hole(s). If you can organize yourself in such a way that you repair the leaks on a regular basis, the dividends on all the other key activities as a whole is phenomenal.

Therefore, the ongoing battle is "freeing up time to stop the leaks". That's secret part #1. Below are some examples of where you want to invest your time:
  • Delegate and educate others + clarify expectations
  • Build strong relationships with key people
  • Evaluate and implement that new learning
  • Establish systems and routines
  • Set long term and short term goals, write them down, communicate them
  • Plan yearly, monthly, weekly and daily
  • Sharpen the saw (renew your spirit, body, social and mental capacity)
  • Stay on top of information (organize regular and automatic updates)
Notice that secret part #2 is just as important, which is: "Most of the time you invest is found when you want to relax and usually tend to do less important things".

What's the difference then? Successful people are willing to give up less important things (often spare time) doing more of the above - unstopping the holes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The New Digital Age

The years ahead will confront us with potentially life altering questions. Much more so, major international events and change, if not immediate, are in our future.

Lillian and I have been married for a little more than 17 years, and yesterday we briefly looked back on what has happened during that time. For sure, much has changed, and change only seems to speed up - in every respect.

Having read Eric Schmidt's and Jared Cohen's book "The New Digital Age" my awareness of what the future holds has again grown to a higher level. Coupled with the recent news about PRISM and Edward Snowden's courageous whistleblowing, we are witnesses to a complex situation which plays out on "both sides" (depending on how one sees the world).

In particular, I believe Schmidt and Cohen are right about China:

"...China's future will not necessarily be bright. Some interpret projections of declining economic growth, an aging population and technology-driven change as indications that the Chinese state will soon be fighting for survival in its current form, while others suggest instead that these impending challenges will ultimately spur even more innovation and problem-solving from China. But ultimately it is difficult for us to imagine how a closed system with 1.3 billion people, huge socioeconomic challenges, internal ethnic issues and robust censorship will survive the transition to the new digital age in its current form. With greater connectivity will come greater expectations, demands and accountability that even the world's largest surveillance state will not be able to control fully. In instances where law enforcement goes too far or cronies of the regime engage in reckless behavior that causes physical harm to Chinese citizens, we will see more public movements demanding accountability. Because ministers loathe embarrassment, pressure from weibos and other online forums can result in more pressure and change, eventually curbing the excesses of one-party rule."

Change is upon us, and, certainly, in ever increasing speed.

Today I'm adding Edward Snowden to my List of Great People - not because he wants the recognition, but because he's willing to dedicate his life to liberty. May we all be united in the same noble cause.