I was on the phone with my friend Phil Hodges the other day talking about contentment. Phil believes that contentment can only happen in the present, and I think he is right. Contentment doesn’t happen in the past by remembering the good old days. Having nice memories is pleasant but doesn’t necessarily offer contentment in the present. Also, contentment is not in the future because we don’t know what that will bring.
Real contentment, enjoyment, satisfaction, and happiness happen when we are fully present and living in the now. If you have a positive feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing, then you experience true happiness.
Spencer Johnson, my coauthor of The One Minute Manager, also discusses this in his brilliant parable The Precious Present. In this story, an older man’s wisdom launches a young boy on a lifelong search for the precious present. Eventually the young man discovers what the old man was trying to teach him all along: what you have and what you do in the present is a gift. Living in the past can be destructive or demotivating and can hinder your journey to happiness. Likewise, planning for the future is good but it is impossible to live there. And if you focus only on the future, you miss opportunities right in front of you.
Living in the present allows you to focus on the important and to cherish the moment. I encourage you to consider moments when you were at your best. I’ll bet you’ll recall that you were right there in the moment, fully committed and fully present. If you dwell on what was—the past—or what will be—the future—you’ll miss the power of contentment, happiness, and success in the present.
I’ve talked often of the importance that values play in achieving your corporate vision. Your purpose as an organization tells you where you want to go as a company, but values tell you how you are going to get there. Clearly defined values provide guidelines for how to make daily decisions that impact your future success—or failure.
I recently had the chance to hear Stephen M.R. Covey talk about the impact that the lack of trust has on all of us, and I realized something: there is another layer of underlying behavior that impacts our ability to live by our values. Trust and values actually work hand in hand to create a strong company. Continue reading
Why don’t New Year’s resolutions work? When I ask people how many have made a New Year’s resolution they haven’t kept, everyone raises their hand.
The reason for this is, after you announce your New Year’s resolution, everyone who is important in your life laughs, says, “We’ll believe it when we see it,” and goes to a delegating leadership style where they leave you alone to accomplish your goal.
But if you could handle a delegating leadership style, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s resolution—you would just do it. Therefore, it’s the wrong leadership style. Continue reading
HarperCollins just released our revised edition of Leadership and the One Minute Manager. Much has changed since the original book was published nearly 30 years ago—workforces are more diverse, workplaces are less centralized, and technology has revolutionized business communications. Surprisingly, much has remained the same, especially when it comes to managing people. Today more than ever leaders have to do three important things. First, they have to help people set clear goals. Second, they have to diagnose people’s development level on each task. Third, they have to match their leadership style to the development level of the person they’re leading, to provide that person with what they need to succeed.
Notice I said “diagnose people’s development level on each task.” Even among experienced managers, it’s easy to fall into a trap of seeing people as beginners, or moderately competent, or highly experienced. When we paint people with a broad brush—for example, assuming that because a person is an expert in one aspect of their job, they’re an expert in all aspects of their job—our assumptions often lead to misunderstandings and poor performance. Continue reading
People often ask me how they can be more effective as a manager. One approach I recommend is to meet one-on-one with each of your direct reports for 15 to 30 minutes at least once every two weeks.
Having one-on-one meetings is a simple strategy and just plain common sense—but it’s not common practice, according to polling we conducted together with Training magazine earlier this year. When we asked people what they wanted out of their one-on-ones with their immediate supervisor, we discovered managers aren’t making time to meet with their direct reports on a regular basis—and when they do meet, they aren’t using the time effectively. (See infographic.) Continue reading