Archive for priorities

Priorities and promotions

I reveled in the promotion of two friends to general officer today. I worked with both of them in my past and knew they were destined for greatness. Partly because of skill and talent, partly because of the fate of assignments being at the right place at the right time, partly because of the mentoring of the people they worked with and worked for in the past. If that were the only reason for their promotions, though, they would be poor leaders. Both will be great leaders, not because of those things, but because they genuinely care about people and know how to balance their priorities.

They learned a long time ago not to let the urgent take the place of the important. They learned to think strategically. What does that mean in practical terms? It means they don’t let the calendar run them, they run the calendar. Important things like time for planning, time for family, time for themselves, time for vacation, time for staff, time for education, time for spiritual renewal, all get put on the calendar before they can get crowded out by the mundane activities of life. Generals’ calendars are unbelievably packed. They have little or no white space which is why these two women learned early to schedule the big things first. Put the important stuff on the calendar so it doesn’t get lost.

Another thing these two women understand is the importance of their network. They know hundreds of people, but more important, they know the circle of professionals they can count on in areas where they have weaknesses. All of us have a unique set of skills and all of us have weaknesses. When we know what they are, we can bring the right talent around us to partner with us to create an unstoppable team. That’s exactly what these two do so well. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know how to build the right teams to take advantage of their strengths and partner with the right people to take advantage of others’ strengths. The important part of the partnership, though, is giving them credit. And they ALWAYS give credit to the team.

So as you see, their promotion to general officer is not an accident. Barb and Jimmie nurtured the five dimensions of their life throughout their careers. Congratulations are in order for what they have done in the past, for their bright futures, and for what the Army will gain because of their leadership in the future. They will coach a lot more young officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers, and civilians over the next several years. Hopefully, many will learn the lessons of balance, setting the right priorities, and thinking strategically from them.

Congrats again to the AMEDD’s newest generals.


I Want Desert First!

Over the weekend, my grandson reminded me of how we can sometimes get our lives so out of kilter until we just seem overwhelmed by it all. He’s a great kid. I love him to death. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to eat his dinner, though. What do we do? Like good baby-sitting grandparents, we bribed him with an ice cream sandwich if he would eat all his dinner! Bad thing to do. Now the three year-old wants desert first! 800px-IceCreamSandwich

It’s great being a grandparent. Now I can give sugary stuff to my grand kids and be the hero, give them back to their mom and dad when they’re all wired up, and go home laughing at what I know they will face. Fun stuff! As a side note, he did eat his dinner. But he also ate his ice cream sandwich.

So the point of the story – too many of us “grown ups” scream and throw tantrums (maybe not out loud, but at least internally) to get ice cream first. We satisfy the little kid inside us instead of doing the adult, mature thing with just a little self-discipline and put of the desert until we’ve finished the healthy stuff. We let our lives get out of balance instead of focusing appropriately on nurturing the four dimensions of life allow us to balance life and bring us ultimate fulfillment and joy – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, and social dimensions.

Often our problem lies not just in lacking the self-discipline, but in setting goals for ourselves and understanding the dimensions operate to help us meet them in the first place. When we know the goals we desire, we can set a plan in place to reach those goals. We can use the dimensions of life to map out the plan so as to balance our life in a way that brings fulfillment and joy. We can see how all of the parts fit together as a whole to make us who we were created to be.

If you want to learn more about the dimensions of life and how they can make a difference in helping you meet your life goals, contact me.

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Storms of Life

moore, storms of lifeThe devastation in Moore, OK that happened in just minutes reminds us of our vulnerability and how precious life is. The storm prompted me to write this blog about the storms of life that come to each of us. No one is exempt. We all face events in life that tend to try to rip us apart. They feel like a tornado tearing through our lives. The way we respond to them and the way we work through them in large part reflect the roots we have nurtured in the five dimensions our lives – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, and social.

How the five dimensions help in the storms of life

We’ll start with the physical dimension. It’s long been shown that the better physical shape we are in, the better we are able to handle the stress that comes our way. Being physically fit doesn’t mean being a jock, but it does mean eating right, getting enough sleep, and staying active. Doing these things makes a huge difference in how you feel and how you handle the stresses and storms of life as they come along. Just taking a short walk to clear you head in the middle of a crisis can make the difference between being overwhelmed in the circumstances and allowing yourself to see the priorities clearly to make wiser decisions.life domains

The family dimension might be the cause of the storm or might help you lessen the storms of life. The help from family depends on your relationships with the family. When you have health family relationships, the strength that comes from family helps weather the storms of life in remarkable ways. When relationships are poor, they can add to the fierceness of the storm.

The social dimension acts much like the family dimension. Close friends can aid you in many ways. They provide sound advice many times or just listen to let you work out the issues you already have answers for but need to verbalize in confidence. They provide safe havens when relationships are solid. This small network of intimate friends is important for all of us as we work through difficult times in life. They can serve as our life-preserver to keep us from drowning during those most difficult days.

The emotional dimension provides appropriate outlets for what we are feeling during those storms of life that come our way. It’s okay to express emotions. Too often we try to check our emotions at the door and never express what we feel until we become to identify our emotions anymore. Life is filled with emotion. It’s okay to experience them all. We can keep our emotions in control, but we need to experience our emotions and not deny they are there.

Finally, the storms of life often push us to rely on our spiritual dimension. Sometimes we find there the repository of belief, trust, character, resilience, hope, faith, that will see us to the end of the crisis we are experiencing. It is in this dimension we set priorities and understand what really holds importance for us. Like those described in the opening paragraph, homes, cars and things no longer hold much value and the people we love become the sole focus of our attention.

Find someone to help during your crisis

The last advice in facing the storms of life comes from the same news coverage in Moore. As I watched the home owners move back to the slabs and debris that once was their home, I watched neighbors helping neighbors. Instead of spending all their time on their own home, they left their site and went next door to help their neighbor. They were hurting. They needed help themselves. They were devastated by loss. But instead of dwelling on their storm, they went those around them that needed help and began pitching in to help others in need.

When we take our eyes off of our own problems and look around at those in similar conditions, we find we are not alone. We can do something to help someone else. We are not helpless and we can do something. As soon as we begin to act on behalf of someone else, we begin to pull our focus away from the storm and toward safer harbors. Does it mean things are better for us? Not necessarily, but understanding we are not along, we can endure whatever we are going through.


Set Priorities with the 95% Rule

Reading one of Talane Miedaner’s Life Coach blogs reminded me of a rule I’ve tried to use for several years to set priorities. It goes something like this: “95% of everything you do today doesn’t matter, so find the 5% and do it well.” When I started using that rule a hundred years ago, it was an 80% rule, but as I’ve matured the number gradually grows. I expect in another few years it will change to the 99% rule.

Some of you are skeptical and don’t quite get it yet, so let me explain the concept in a little more detail. You see, we get overwhelmed with life too often. We allow ourselves to worry about things that no one really cares about in the long run. We lose out on the important because of the urgent when the urgent will disappear without a thought and no one will remember it tomorrow. If you think about it, most of the things you do and most of the things that happen to you today, you won’t remember next week or even this time tomorrow. And no one around you cares about it either.How-to-Set-Priorities

I find it really interesting with what we do for work at the expense of family. I’ll have to admit I’ve been guilty in the past. I had to get that report done. I needed to make one more call. I had to meet one more client. Hogwash! When I left the assignment or the company or the job, my position was filled in no time and no one cared whether I was there or not. Life goes on for the company. But I can never get back the ball games missed, the recitals unheard, the birthday parties where I showed up late, or the anniversaries when I was out of town. Those are gone forever.

How about that report that must be done by close of business? Who’s going to read it at close of business? Will it lay in the inbox until morning anyway? Why miss that important event? Make a deal with the task master and come in early to deliver it so you don’t miss that once in a lifetime special event. If your boss makes you miss the event, you’re probably working for the wrong boss. Start looking for different work! That said, there are certainly times when work needs to come first, but not often. There are times when you need to come first. There are times when family comes first.

Priorities are fluid

Priorities are fluid things based on a lot of factors. I’m not a big fan of a making a hard and fast inflexible priority list except that God is at the top…period. Apart from that, when I was writing the medical support plan to make sure 135,000 soldiers had the right medical care in Desert Storm, that task took priority over my family for the moment because of the gravity of that task. It didn’t mean I didn’t love them or care for them, but the situation dictated they took a back seat for a period of time until that task was done.

Sometimes, I’ll recognize from the tone of text or phone call from a family member that a crisis is unfolding and walk out of a meeting because family is more important than whatever meeting I’m in. If I lose a sale because of it, so what. Family is more important than any amount of money that meeting might have brought to me. One word of caution about living with flexible priorities. You need a strong compass and those close to you must understand how you operate. Communication is key.

So what’s the real secret to discovering the 5%? Usually, normally, most of the time the 5% will deal with eternal things and relationships. That’s it. That’s the magic formula. Nothing else matters much. Material things disappear and just aren’t that important. If you don’t believe that, ask hurricane victims or flood victims. Stuff can be replaced, people can’t. Take care of relationships and the rest will fall into place.

What do you think about the 95% rule?

Do you have a comparable philosophy?

How do you set priorities in your life to keep well-balanced?