I’m working on writing another book. It started as an idea for a project I had to create for my MBA program and has morphed into a giant opus that is consuming my life.
OK, that last part isn’t really true, but it does feel like a pretty daunting task sometimes.
This morning I decided to set aside a couple hours to just write. As a completely freelance independent contractor, I’m trying to have more personal discipline with the things I do, starting by setting aside blocks of time to work on a specific thing: Finance Homework, 9a-noon; Book/Writing, noon-3p, that kind of thing. It doesn’t always work (I’m not sure if you’re aware but there are a LOT of interesting things on the internet), but I think the self-control of a regimen is really great.
I’m all about viewing ourselves as a “brand,” as an “enterprise.” YOU are the business. Even if you get paid as an employee, think of yourself as a contractor: lending your talents to the project at hand.
The benefits to this way of thinking are astronomical. I’ll explore this concept more in future posts, but in a nutshell it’s simply more empowering. It’s one thing to say, “This is what I do, and this how I can bring value to your company if we partner together.” It’s another thing altogether to be sending out resumes all day, getting, or feeling, rejected one after the other. (If you’ve ever been unemployed you know exactly what I’m talking about; it’s literally inhumane.)
It’s not easy to think of ourselves in this new way, though. There’s a lot of sociological baggage we’ve got to ditch (our culture focuses primarily on weaknesses over strengths, for example), and good time management is a really tough skill to learn. Also, we’re taught that a 60 hour work week is what it takes to be successful. But some very prosperous people don’t do that. We’re told that we get out of something what we put into it. But due to things like the concept of leverage and the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), we know that’s not really true either. We’ll talk more on that another day.
There’s usually a lot of re-training that has to happen before we can learn how to build a better personal leadership brand.
For today, I think we start with simply questioning the assumptions. Does your work have to be done the way it’s always been done? Do you have to live the way you’ve been living?
There’s a cool moment at the end of a film with two brothers sitting on the beach talking about recent frustrating circumstances, and one says to the other: “This is your life. Right now. It doesn’t wait for you to get back on your feet.”
I’ll leave you with some thoughts from the principles of Kaizen (Japanese for “improvement”):
- Get rid of old assumptions; ask “Why?” five times to get to the root cause.
- Don’t look for excuses, look for ways to make things happen.
- Say “NO” to the status quo.
- Don’t worry about being perfect—even if you only get it half right, start now.
- If something is wrong, fix it on the spot.