Saturday, April 16, 2016

You lack discipline!

Gary Keller's The One Thing ( has become the new buzz around our office and I've been slowly reading it a page at a time for several months in order to try and understand all of the analogies that are being thrown in our corporate slideware.  In that time I've managed to make it to chapter 6 which is centered around the idea that self-discipline is nothing more than sticking with something long enough for it to form into a habit that becomes part of your daily routine. My initial reaction to this like many of the other concepts in the book (including the debunking of multitasking which struck a nerve as I'm one of those people who typically has 100 things open on his computer at any given time) was "that's BS" but like all of the other times Keller had convinced me otherwise a few pages later.

The line that really got me thinking was "The trick to success is to choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it."  Looking back at the things that have been most beneficial in my life recently, that's exactly how it went down.  

Getting up early--I signed up for a men's study that met at 6am on Wednesdays last year and while the first several weeks were pretty rough, here I am over a year later still getting up before 6 every (ok most) day.  This has given me time to connect with God and get my heart and mind in the right place before the chaos of the morning begins and has also allowed me to get into work before everyone else so I can actually get some stuff done before the barrage of meetings begins.

Friday lunches--over the summer during the break in our small group, some of the guys and I began meeting at lunch to catch up and do a study.  It was tough at first breaking away from the office and once away freeing my mind from all that had transpired through the morning, but flash forward almost a year and those lunches are the highlight of my week and the topics and prayer requests are the subject of most of my prayers throughout the week in those early morning hours.  I've seen significant growth in relationships and my own faith in that time and as a side effect have gotten much better at putting work worries aside to focus on other things, including my family when I arrive home in the evenings.

Being relational--through one of our lunch studies, God has really started pressing me to be more relational in my daily life.  Work, home, out in the driveway wrenching when I see a neighbor.  Being a very task oriented person, it's really tough for me to break away from what I'm doing or what I've planned for the day and do something completely unnatural, but time after time recently God has come hard after me on this.  With deadlines and numerous projects afloat, it's a challenge to remain focused on relationships as a primary mission at work so I started putting my task management system (MS OneNote) to work to help me stay focused:

Using Keller's One Thing idea, I narrowed in on the fact that my primary purpose in my role is to remove roadblocks to the progress of my team and their projects and each day I figure out what the most pressing is and set it as my only objective.  I also try to target one person on the team (or sometimes outside) to focus on and guide any spare time I may have.  Over time I've found that even on days where I don't get around to recording these goals, it still happens.  A perfect example was yesterday, I was headed from one meeting to another and ran into someone I hadn't talked to in a while who wanted to chat for a bit.  My first inclination was to bail on the conversation and rush off to my meeting but instead stuck around for a great conversation and showed up for a meeting 10mins late that had coincidentally been delayed by about the same amount.

Being relational is also a big challenge for me on the weekend and I've used this same technique to aid in not overdoing it (i.e. Work on Monday feeling like a break after the weekend) as well as focus time where I should on those that I love and don't get to see as much as I'd like during the week.  I used to measure how good a weekend was by how much I checked off the to do list and would get frustrated when my plans were thwarted but have made good progress using this technique to get the essentials done while balancing other more important things.

All in all, Mr Keller has once again convinced me that a little discipline goes a long way and is all we need to form habits that can make a big impact on our lives!

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