Confucius gave us sage advice many centuries ago, which is as relevant today as it was in antiquity: “They must often change, who would be content in happiness and wisdom.” The secret to enjoying the greatest benefits of life is to smell the roses through the journey and not wait for the destination. The consensus is that the two great tragedies in life are never to have had a great dream to strive for and ever to have fully reached it. You see, happiness seems to be associated more with the daily experience of the journey than the fleeting moment of the recognition of having arrived. Success, then, is the process of learning, sharing, growing and welcoming change.
Our mission in this program is to help you empower yourself and those who look to you for leadership to be inspired to embrace excellence as authentic Change Masters. In Module One we stressed that you as future leaders will welcome change rather than try to resist it. You will learnhow to make change work for you rather than against you. And you will develop unique strategies and skills that enable you to create opportunities from challenges. Like surfers, you will ride the waves, using your knowledge and skills to take you where they want to go. In response to rapid change, you as change masters will introduce it in the form of new methods that increase effectiveness and efficiency, create new products and new services, lower costs, and encourage ideas to enhance productivity. You will continue to learn how, why, and where things are changing so you can exploit the possibilities. Instead of fighting for market share, you willcreate new markets. You will respond to global competition by determining what you are best at, then doing it.
Module Two, on Personal Benchmarking, encouraged you to look at yourself from the inside, assessing your own unique talents and skills, seeking out the best in your field and putting those examples to work for you. You found that what stands in the way of reaching your greatest aspirations is past conditioning and psychological limitations, rather than physical limits. You realize that your self-image is like a thermostat that you can reset for peak performance.
Module Three reminded you that winners make it happen and losers let it happen. Taking personal responsibility for the outcomes in your life means that change masters life by choice, not by chance, and exercise their free wills to control their destinies. Module Four, dealt with one of the most important concepts of all – Internal Values. We stressed that the diamonds you seek are waiting to be uncovered in your own back yard–the back yard of your mind, where your sense of values and your self-worth are embedded. The simple truth is that if we have no internalized feelings of value, we have nothing to share with others. We can need them, depend on them, look for security in them — but we can’t share or give emotion to anyone unless we possess it. The diamond is inside us, waiting to be discovered, shaped, and polished.
Module Five discussed one of the most difficult human qualities to attain, which is Non-situational integrity. All relationships are based on mutual trust. Break that trust and you break the relationship. Creating a long-term relationship takes two or more people–whether executives, representatives of labor and management, or husband and wife who are grounded in and operating on the same non–situational integrity. Nothing less will last. None of us is perfect, however, you are the sum total of your actions and, like an unfailing boomerang, what you throw out as choices will come full circle as consequences. We must teach our children and our subordinates self-respect and the supreme value of a clean conscience as early as possible. They are powerful components of integrity. Module Six helped you face your fears and focused on dwelling on the rewards of success, not the penalties of failure. Motivation is best when the desired result is your motive in action. Module Seven was all about the development of healthy habits and the incredible power of the mind to make winning a reflex by observation, imitation and repetition. Self-discipline is doing within, while you are doing without and how practicewinning images, thoughts and emotions to create permanent success.
Module Eight put your self-discipline to the test by asking you to set meaningful goals important to your career and personal life. A goal is a dream with a deadline and should be specific, measureable, achievable, really yours, and time-based, if is a material achievement. You, more than others in many cultures, are used to sacrifice and delayed gratification. All you need now is to think of your brain as a target-seeking GPS system. Tell your mind, where you are and where you want to go, and it will take you there. And, Module Nine was all about empowering others to become change masters like you. Leadership is the process of freeing your team members to do the best work they possibly can. Today’s business team members, say they want, more than anything else, the autonomy to do their jobs without the boss’s interference. Empowered teams require a new communication style. In the old, traditional work group, you want compliance. In an empowered team, you want initiative. The best leaders and managers in the world look for value and pay value often to members of their team. Their motto is: If you win then I win too.
In this tenth and final module, I have saved my most critical message for last. Of all the wisdom I have gained, the most important is the knowledge that time and health are two precious assets that we rarely recognize or appreciate until they have been depleted. As with health, time is the raw material of life. You can use it wisely, waste it or even kill it. To accomplish all we are capable of, we would need a hundred lifetimes. If we had forever there would be no need to set goals, plan effectively or set priorities. Yet in reality, we’re given only this one life span on earth to do our earthly best. Each human being now living has exactly 168 hours per week. Scientists can’t invent new minutes, and even the super rich can’t buy more hours. Queen Elizabeth the First of England, the richest, most powerful woman on earth of her era, whispered these final words on her deathbed: “All my possessions for a moment of time!”
We worry about things we want to do – but can’t – instead of doing the things we can do – but don’t. How often have you said to yourself, “Where did the day go? I accomplished nothing,” or “I can’t even remember what I did yesterday.” That time is gone, and you never get it back.
Staring at the compelling distractions on a television screen or your computer or tablet screen is one of the major consumers of time. You can enjoy and benefit from the very best it has to offer in about seven total hours of viewing per week The irony is that the entertainers and athletes we are watching are having fun achieving their own goals, making money, having us look at them enjoying their careers.
Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire today. Time management contains one great paradox: No one has enough time, and yet everyone alive has all there is. Time is not the problem; the problem is separating the urgent from the important. Every decision we make has an “opportunity cost.” Every decision forfeits all other opportunities we had before we made it. We can’t be two places at the same time. We all face tradeoffs. There’s a true example I like to quote called Bicycle versus Mother. “Lee is a precocious eight-year-old boy. Both his parents work. His mother is a management consultant and travels frequently. After being away for several days, she arrived home late one night and hugged her son. “He said, ‘Mom, I missed you. Why were you away so long?’ “She smiled and replied, ‘One of the reasons I was away was to make enough money to buy you the bicycle you wanted.’ “Young Lee looked at her reflectively and stated, ‘Mom, I really did want the bicycle. But mothers are more important than bicycles. So please stay home more.’”
Even though we all are aware of the tradeoffs of “quality time vs. quantity time” in our relationships, we are not used to thinking specifically about how our decisions cost us other opportunities. Without this understanding, our decisions will often be unfocused and unrelated to helping us achieve our most important goals. You may have heard the story about the analogy of the “circus juggler” to each of us as we try to balance our personal and professional priorities.
When the circus juggler drops a ball, he lets it bounce and picks it up on the next bounce without losing his rhythm or concentration. He keeps right on juggling. Many times we do the same thing. We lose our jobs, but get another one on the first or second bounce. We may drop the ball on a sale, an opportunity to move ahead, or in a relationship, and we either pick it up on the rebound or get a new one thrown in to replace what we just dropped.
However, some of the balls or priorities we juggle don’t bounce. The more urgent priorities associated with self-imposed deadlines and workloads have more elasticity than the precious, delicate relationships which are as fragile as fine crystal. Balance involves distinguishing between the priorities we juggle that bounce from the ones labeled “loved ones,” “health,” and “moral character” that may shatter if we drop them. The reason we always ask our seminar attendees to engage in The Wheel of Life Exercise, involving 8 important aspects of your life, isso you can arrange them in the true order of importance to you and give them a sufficient amount of attention as you juggle them within their time constraints. Handle your priorities with care. Some of them just don’t bounce! In your goal setting session in Module 8, we discussed long-term goals for one year, five years and beyond. For the action steps in Module 10, we’ve found a ninety-day cycle of success to be a wonderful unit of time. It’s a time period that is long enough to plan for, begin, work hard at, and accomplish certain objectives. At the same time, it isn’t a year from now or forever. It is a short enough time to generate real motivation and results.
Freedom from urgency …. that’s what will allow us to live a rich and rewarding life. You may have thought your problem was “time starvation,” when in truth, it was in the way you assigned priorities in your decision-making process. Have you allowed the urgent to crowd out the important? Each day we will continue to encounter deadlines we must meet and “fires,” not necessarily of our own making, we must put out. Endless urgent details will always beg for attention, time and energy. What we seldom realize is that the really important things in our life don’t make such strict demands on us, and therefore we usually assign them a lower priority.
Our loved ones understand when we are preoccupied with our urgent business, but it’s hard for us to understand, many years later, why they appear preoccupied when we finally find some time for them. All the important arenas in our life are there awaiting our decisions. But they don’t beg us to give them our time. The local university doesn’t call us to advance our education and improve our life skills. I have never received a call or e-mail from the health club I joined insisting that I show up and work out for thirty minutes each day. My bathroom scale has never insisted that I lose thirty pounds. The grocery clerks have never made me put back on the shelves the junk food I put in the cart, nor has a fast-food restaurant ever refused me a double cheeseburger and large fries because of my high cholesterol. Nor have I ever been subpoenaed by the ocean or the mountains to appear for relaxation and solitude. Yet I receive hundreds of urgent text, voice mail messages and e-mails each week from people with deadlines.
You see, it’s the easiest thing in the world to neglect the important and give in to the urgent. One of the greatest skills you can ever develop in your life is not only to tell the two apart, but to be able to assign the correct amount of time to each. Beginning tomorrow, throughout the day, and every day thereafter, stop and ask yourself this question: “Is what I’m doing right now important to my health, well-being and mission in life, and for my loved ones?” Your affirmative answer will free you forever, from the tyranny of the urgent.
Change masters live in harmony and balance. They learn from the past, but they don’t live there anymore. And they set goals in the specific foreseeable future which gives their everyday activities richness and purpose, and then they live and love and respond and enjoy the present, that only moment of time over which we have any control. Now, and it’s gone. Now, and it’s history. Success is how you collect your minutes. You spend millions of minutes to reach one triumph and then a few hundred minutes enjoying it. If you’re unhappy through the millions of minutes, what good are the hundreds of minutes in triumph?
The true change masters in life see their total person in such a fully formed perspective that they literally become part of the big picture of life and it in them. They’ve learned to know themselves intimately. They’ve learned to see themselves through the eyes of others. Becoming a true change master in life is to look in the mirror and to see the person you wanted you to be. From this moment on, when you talk to yourself, talk with all due respect. If you want respect, set a respectable example. And if you want to be loved, be lovable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a revered American philosopher, captured the essence of fulfillment, which I have above my desk to remind me of my additional mission beyond financial profit. Emerson says, “How do you measure success? To laugh often and much. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn of appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, a redeemed social condition, or a job welldone. To know that even one other life has breathed easier because you lived.”
This is to have succeeded, and this is the real measure of inner wealth. So you and I live every minute as if it were our last, and we look for the good. We help to create change masters among the others that we touch within it. For each of us, a clock is always running. And there are no timeouts and no substitutions, but there’s still time to win. We’ve got to remember to step back from the canvas of life and gain perspective like an artist, constantly shading a painting that’s being improved everyday. Look at the total person and ask yourself, How do I fit into my family? My company? My profession? My community? The nation? The world? It’s creation? And consider the ecological cycle, the double win. If I help you win, I win. If nature wins, then we all win. Since Change is the Rule, why not become its Ruler. The future is in your hands now that you have become a member of that special top one percent in the world who areThe Change Masters.