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Toward Achievement: Everyone Starts Somewhere

You can take a sequential approach to achieving fabulous goals

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If you feel some days as if you’re making little or no progress on your chosen goal, take heart: The world is full of individuals who followed a sequential approach to achieving fabulous goals. In other words, they went from one accomplishment to the next, almost in step by step fashion, and you can do the same.

Words and Deeds

Lessons from business can be illuminating: In publishing, here are two individuals who achieved one notable goal, and then built upon that achievement in accomplishing something even loftier.

Michael E. Porter, Ph.D., wrote the acclaimed text Competitive Advantage, which detailed how corporations and organizations could identify their strategic assets and use them to establish a market niche. Years afterward, Porter wrote The Competitive Advantage of Nations, a blueprint for governments to have more viable economies.

The late Stephen Covey, Ph.D., conducted seminars for corporate leaders and eventually wrote the bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Covey then established his own publishing house, created and spun off his own literary agency, and developed proprietary products such as calendars, newsletters, software, and guidebooks.

He wrote more best-selling books and produced video programs distributed worldwide. His influence continued to the far reaches of the globe, and The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People is now used in classrooms.

Words and Scenes

In the motion picture industry, the process works much the same way. Jodie Foster was first a childhood actor, then an accomplished actor, the winner of two Academy Awards, then a director, and then a director/producer.

Others who established careers as actors first and then became successful directors and/or producers include Warren Beatty, Woody Allen, Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Barbra Streisand, Ron Howard, Halle Berry, Danny DeVito, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Ben Affleck, Ben Stiller, and many more. Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner, once husband and wife, were successful television sitcom actors who achieved superstar status as major motion picture directors, much like Ron Howard.

In his twenties, Steven Spielberg directed Sugarland Express, starring Goldie Hawn. Though few people saw the movie, it received critical acclaim. A year later he directed Jaws, and two years later, the start of the Indiana Jones trilogy. You already know about many of his achievements, so we won’t delve further into them.

One Step at a Time

The path to fame and fortune among directors is largely made from one film to the next. The takeaway for career professionals: Everybody starts somewhere.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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Business

Micro-tasking for Effective Performance

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand while those who multitask often do a disservice

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Much as been discussed about multitasking and fortunately, much of what has been written exposes the myth that multitasking represents. Instead of making us more productive and having a greater output, we tend to slow down on the very things that were trying to speed up on, and we end up making more errors.

Micro-tasking, by contrast, is the ability to compartmentalize and to focus in quick, short intervals on a variety of items that compete for attention. This is a vital skill for career professionals. While micro-tasking is effective for quick decisions, and for handling routine and short term tasks term nature, multitasking is the attempt to handle two or more important tasks at the same time. It is not to be confused with micro-tasking.

A Skill to Cultivate

Some workers have little choice in the short run but to work in a distracting, noisy environment. Some employees, in particular, were retained to be able to quickly shift their attention from one issue to another, focusing on each issue as needed.

In an interruption-based environment, such as a hospital, police station, retail store, or airline ticket counter, the ability to micro-task is a valuable skill.

Throughout the course of a day, a manager in such settings might encounter a variety of people asking questions and voicing concerns. For sale managers micro-tasking can make all the difference in making quota or not.

Slow Down!

Tasks that require our sharp attention necessitate that we slow down, focus, keep interruptions at bay, and work as effectively as we can, toward completion. Handling two tasks simultaneously, each of which require sharp attention, is a prescription for poor results.

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand. Others, who engage in multitasking, often are doing themselves as well as their organizations, a disservice.

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