Rethinking productivity: How to balance the list with life

Hourglass time clock with sandEverything we have or do depends on one or more of these three resources:

Time – Money – Energy

It is easy to miscalculate their priority because we don’t understand an essential fact. Only one of these resources is actually limited. The other two can and are continuously replenished and are really available to us in far greater quantities than we can even imagine in many cases. But one resource is universally finite: Time.

In my own personal journey, coming to terms with time being the most precious resource I will ever have caused me to re-evaluate and re-organize how I approach just about everything in my life. The investment of time is far more critical than anything else. That understanding also created a marked change in my personal productivity. It begin to feel like time wasn’t really finite because I was getting so much more accomplished! Where did all of that time come from?

As I look back, it comes down to five essential keys that have unlocked true productivity for me. They aren’t the usual suspects.  It’s not about “touching things once” or having a killer app on your phone or calendar reminder for “what’s next”.  Those are important but they aren’t the essentials.  What I have learned and embraced is the importance of partnering with time as an ally. Seeing time as our most valuable resource and loving it for what it allows us to do creates a powerful partnership with it.  Perhaps these keys will open some life locks for you as well.   (I’m writing it in first person, counting down in importance. Try reading this out loud as if you are saying it for YOU!)

#5 – I don’t have to do everything.  This point isn’t about delegation.  This is about choice.  I do not have to do everything.  Long to do lists do not make my day matter more.  They only clutter the day with things that diminish other things and the time I can give them. It is far more satisfying to have 5 things finished than to have 10 things started.

#4 – I am serving others more effectively sometimes by NOT helping them.  (This was my hardest one to learn..) Allowing others to DO for themselves or even to be served by OTHERS is quite often a better choice.  Being a facilitator can be just as satisfying as anything else.

#3 – Things sometimes take longer than I planned.  And that’s okay.  It’s important to be prepared to miss cutoffs or deadlines and to have a backup plan.  Delays are not failures.  They are just delays.  Accept them for what they are:  a change in the schedule, not a change in the plan.

#2 – New information needs to be factored into existing plans.  New knowledge can show up in many forms.  My ability to remain fluid to change and to be able to discern when it is creating a “new” decision point is an important skill with managing my investment of time.

#1 – Being clear about what I want to accomplish is ultimately the most important factor in true productivity. Being clear means more than a general feeling or desire to “be” something or someone.  It means being really clear.  Less impressionistic – more photographic. Sharpen every pixel in the image.  This is what makes all of the decisions along the way productive in their outcome even as I am being productive in my partnering with time.

Five essential keys that have unlocked time as a partner in my life.  Perhaps they will for you, too.  Which of these would make the most productive difference for you? Start there.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well.

 

 

 

Behind the quote: What is courage?

CourageWhat comes to mind when you think about courage?  Do you think of soldiers in battle defending freedom at any cost?  Those that have taken great risks to affect social change? People that have proven through their own fortitude that not giving up matters?

Those are some of the examples I found when researching around the idea of courage – these people that engaged in their lives and in their world. We are the benefactors of their choices, their courage.

It is easier to recognize courage when the battles fought have been won. But that is not where it begins.  It begins in the essence of our character. That is where courage is born. That is why the stories of these heroes matter. Their stories allow us to draw from their example to find courage of our own.

Here are seven quotes on the subject from some proven champions from history.  Each one has a kernel of universal truth in it about courage.  We will need courage to become everything we are meant to be now and in the future.  It takes courage to grow, to change, to speak, even to love.  Do some research – learn more about the life behind the quote.   Their example and words can be a catalyst for change in our own lives if we allow ourselves to be open, to have courage.  Let these become a touchstone to spur you on to your own greatness.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  (Winston Churchill)

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”  (Margaret Thatcher)

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King)

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  (Rosa Parks)

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” (Henry Ford)

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” (Dale Carnegie)

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

 

Kathi C. Laughman, Founder of The Mackenzie Circle LLC accepted into Forbes Coaches Council

Kathi Cooper Laughman

Forbes Coaches Council Is an Invitation-Only Community for Leading Business and Career Coaches

Houston, TX October 17, 2017 — Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches accepts Kathi C. Laughman, Founder of The Mackenzie Circle LLC, a consultancy and executive coaching practice.

Kathi Laughman joins other Forbes Coaches Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers publishing thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics on Forbes.com.

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Kathi Laughman into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

About Kathi C. Laughman & The Mackenzie Circle LLC

Kathi Laughman is an established business leader and founder of The Mackenzie Circle LLC, a consultancy and coaching practice that specializes in the melding of business and life intelligence for business executives and the companies they lead. Built around the need for relevance in a continuously changing marketplace, Mackenzie Circle partners with clients to develop a plan for cultivating and leveraging a resilience culture using a proprietary framework of innovation, integration and intelligence.  Working as their possibility partner, they help them realize more sustainable value than they ever thought possible.

Kathi Laughman is also a best-selling author and professional speaker. Her upcoming book Adjusted Sails: What does this make possible? is due for release in late 2017.

You can learn more about their work and contact Kathi C. Laughman at http://mackenziecircle.com.

About Forbes Councils 

Forbes partnered with the founders of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to launch Forbes Councils, invitation-only communities for world-class business professionals in a variety of industries. Members, who are hand-selected by each Council’s community team, receive personalized introductions to each other based on their specific needs and gain access to a wide range of business benefits and services, including best-in-class concierge teams, personalized connections, peer-to-peer learning, a business services marketplace, and the opportunity to share thought leadership content on Forbes.com. For more information about Forbes Coaches Council, visit https://forbescoachescouncil.com/. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit http://forbescouncils.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Resiliency: Creating perspective with gratitude

Nothing challenges our beliefs like pain.

Whether physical, mental or emotional, when pain strikes, all bets are off when it comes to what we might have expected in our responses.

That is why it’s crucial for us to have a tool to create context and perspective for those moments.

That tool is gratitude.

You cannot be stressed and genuinely grateful at the same time. You cannot be angry and grateful at the same time. They are counter-intuitive emotions.

It can be hard to find gratitude when your world seems to be crumbling. And it’s maddening when others tell you about the silver lining in your cloud; or that there’s a purpose to everything. We know that of course. But at that moment, that’s not what we need to hear. What we feel in that moment is that nothing matters except the moment and its pain.

The most helpful thing we can do is to contain the moment and gain some perspective, even distance from the pain.

The fastest path to that wisdom is gratitude. This is not about being grateful for the pain. In fact, sometimes it’s about anything but the pain. Sometimes we need to rest the eyes of our soul for a moment. We need a life lens that takes away the harsh painful glare. Simple gratitude can do that for us.

However, I know from personal experience that gratitude will not always come naturally. It too is a skill that must be honed and developed. It is also one of the most vital prerequisites for resilience.

If we are not grateful we will not see the point in creating good. In the end, that’s what gratitude is really about – finding the good.

It may not be about everything in the moment, but it can be about something.

I remember during some dark days when it took all of my strength just to get through the day that the corner of light was always there because of gratitude. It was my diversion from pain to peace. Even if just for a moment, it immersed me in something outside of the pain.

Taking time to seek the good and be grateful begins to balance the scales.

It was during these days that I began a life practice that still sustains me now and that is my gratitude journal. Each day I express gratitude. A journal is a natural expression for me as a writer. It can take many forms but once we develop this life practice the skill becomes a part of us and something very special begins to happen.

We begin to seek the good in everything. We search for those reminders and we find them. After all, whatever it is we seek, that is what we find.

This is what begins to establish a life that is centered around gratitude as a core value. It takes us beyond the moment and into a deeper and richer experience of life. When someone asks how I am able to see possibilities where others may not, it usually comes back to this. When we begin to seek the good, we begin to find it. Not only in those days and times as an antidote to pain, but everyday and how we see our world overall.

Our thoughts are like magnets. When they are about what is good, that will be what we attract. Even when on the surface, we may not see it. The good is there. And we will find it. That’s the power of gratitude. It changes our perspective about pain but even more, it changes our perspective about life.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

 

5 Clues You May Need A Balance Check

Work and life balance is a popular topic for executive and life coaches. It’s not a concept that I fully embrace even though I’m trained to help others achieve it. There seems, at times, to be a belief that we can proportion ourselves out in some measured way across all the demands of life. That hasn’t really been successful in my experience. Life doesn’t happen that way.

It has been my experience that the more we attempt to create silos or compartmentalize our various roles, the more we face conflicting priorities and ultimately, always feel like we are failing somewhere or someone. Quite frankly, it’s not how I live or even want to live.

What I do believe is important is an awareness that we are a multi-dimensional being that needs our care and attention. That can be achieved when instead of creating unsustainable boundaries we create an integrated view of who we are and the value we bring to our world.

Victor Hugo expressed it well when he said: “To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.”

The balance I think about is rather like how an aircraft balances and levels itself during flight, constantly adjusting its positioning to stay on course.

When we look at it from that perspective, there are some clues that will tell us if we need to make some adjustments in our lives to remain on course.

Here are five checkpoints I invite you to consider:

  • The first one is in fact the most important and if this isn’t in check, there’s no reason to go further until it’s addressed. I learned this one from life and success mentor, Jim Rohn, and it is simply this: Wherever you are, be there. That’s my first check. If I’m working and thinking about something else, I’m not going to be effective. If I’m with friends and family but thinking about work, I’m not going to be engaged. There’s a balance issue and I need to adjust by shutting something down to course correct.
  • The second one is what I call my calendar check. When I review my plan for the week each Sunday, I check my values against my calendar. Where are my health goals showing up? My learning goals? My relationship goals? If all the parts of my life aren’t there it’s time for a tuning. Rather like a flight plan before take-off. We need to know we’ve got everything working as needed for a successful journey.
  • My third check-in focuses on my core value of personal growth. I want to ensure that I am growing across multiple disciplines. My growth needs to be aligned to my goals and not just my profession. Whatever it is we seek we also need to study. I found that I wanted to grow in my knowledge around finance and investment. But my personal development plan didn’t reflect that. Now there are books in my library, I regularly attend seminars and have several podcasts I follow.
  • The fourth check point is related to the first one but its importance merits its own reflection and that is relationships. Each week I check in with my inner circle and also review where I’m growing and need to expand that circle.
  • The last point is less specific but matters a great deal and it is this: Am I happy? Do I feel satisfied with how I am showing up in the world and the contribution I am making? We can get so busy with the demands of life we forget to enjoy life.

Five check points – clues in each one for adjusting and calibrating how we are living our lives to ensure we are making our highest possible contribution in each moment.

These are the disciplines of legacy and are deserving of our attention. Balance? Perhaps not. Harmonized? Guarding that everyday.

Live (harmonize) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (harmonize) well.