What’s Your Calendar Made Of?

Is your calendar a friend or a foe?  Does it make your life more or less stressful? If you use it to optimize your time, to strategically prioritize your activities and to be your accountability partner, it’s your best friend.  It’s your worst enemy if its main use is reminding you how busy you are and manufacturing excuses for turning down opportunities!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I behave as if my calendar is a large chunk of granite where I carve my upcoming activities. A rock calendar might seem friendly because its solid and stable.  On the other hand, the limitations of living life according to what is carved in stone is a life of confinement and missed opportunities.

The rock calendar philosophy is a limiting belief that can spread confinement to others. How? Suppose an opportunity comes along that conflicts with something you’ve already blocked out on your calendar. You know how much work it takes to change calendar entries carved in stone. At this point it’s simply too late to change the calendar.  Then factor in the human tendency to project one’s  own feelings onto others (i.e. I assume others will feel the same as me.) “If it’s too late for me, it’s too late for everyone else. I won’t bother them because I care about them.” You just made a decision for someone else and took away their right to choose without asking simple questions such as: “Are you interested? Is this important to you?” The truth is, you are probably justifying your decision based on your limiting belief, your assumption and your paradigm. How self-centered is that?

Why do human beings make assumptions about what others think, feel and need? God knows everything, but I don’t and you don’t. So why do we behave as if we are the all-knowing God?  I guess it’s easier to assume rather than ask.

Here’s my conclusion: A stone calendar is NOT your friend. Your true friend is that sense of loss that challenges your limiting beliefs and helps you discover and adopt a better paradigm, such as knowing why our decisions don’t have to be limited by a rigid calendar?

I’ll leave you with the following question and three principles:

What are the long-term consequences of living life
according to a stone calendar?

Three Principles That Make Your Calendar Work Better:

  • See your calendar as flexible, not rigid.
  • Learn the difference between urgent and important. Then assign high priority status to only those which are both urgent and important.
  • Schedule immediately that which seems most important.  If it turns out to be less important, reschedule as necessary to make room for something you know IS important.

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Decisions, Decisions

I have faced some interesting and challenging decisions these past several months and observed others in the same boat. This got me thinking about how people go about making decisions. Is it rational? Is it emotional? Certainly both come into play. Which one should play the dominant role?

Decision making should include at least three perspectives: 1) moral, 2) risk vs. reward, and 3) probability. I believe the first question should always relate to one’s moral standards, that is, whether something is morally right or wrong. This is often all that is needed to make the correct decision.

“In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.” — Thomas Jefferson, Third U.S. president

If a course of action is neither right nor wrong in the moral sense, the next step would be to compare the risks and the rewards. Here’s a method that might help. For each alternative, make a two-column list. Write down rewards in the left column and risks in the right column. Are the potential rewards more valuable than the risks? People play the lottery because they value the remote chance of becoming rich more than they value the money spent on lottery tickets. This is a risk vs. reward decision.

“What you risk reveals what you value.” — Jeanette Winterson

Finally, look at the choices from the probability perspective. From your list, cross off the ridiculously improbable risks. Also eliminate those with consequences you could live with if they did occur. Circle the rewards with the greatest personal value. Compare the remaining risks with the circled rewards. Your best choice should be much easier to discern.

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” — George S. Patton (1885-1945)

I think people usually make bad decisions because they overlook one or two of these dimensions. Here are some reasons people make bad decisions:

  • They don’t know what they want.
  • They value pleasure more than their own integrity.
  • They prefer immediate rewards over long-term rewards.
  • They don’t see the potential rewards.
  • They don’t see the risks.
  • They don’t understand the probability of the risks and rewards.
  • They allow fear to dominate and distort their thinking.
  • They fear making a wrong decision above all else.

Before I wrap-up, reflect on these quotes about decisions.

“The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.” — Ben Stein

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” — H. L. Hunt

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” — George Eliot (1819-1880)

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” — J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, 1999

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” — John Dewey

“An executive is a person who always decides; sometimes he decides correctly, but he always decides.” — John H. Patterson

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” — Robert Fritz

Even though this decision-making process uses a framework of logic, it reserves plenty of room for emotions. How so? The moral perspective is possible because of emotion, which strengthens a person’s grip on his moral convictions. In the second perspective, reward is a value judgment influenced heavily by emotion. Good or bad, the third perspective will probably be colored by emotions. For example, fear can fool one’s mind into overestimating the probability of certain risks. This process is not perfect. But it can help achieve a healthy balance between logic and emotion.

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Parable of the Jar

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Some make every minute count, while others fritter it away. The finiteness of our personal time creates a unique type of claustrophobia where time, rather than space, closes in. Job pressures, the expectations of others, and our own time mismanagement all contribute to “time anxiety.” How one views time and uses time determines his destination in life.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” — Leonard Bernstein

“The longer you wait to decide what you want to do, the more time you’re wasting. It’s up to you to want something so badly that your passion shows through in your actions. Your actions, not your words, will do the shouting for you.” — Derek Jeter

“The less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.” — Lord Chesterfield

“If you don’t choose to do it in leadership time up front, you do it in crisis management time down the road.” — Stephen Covey

Well, when life presents exciting new choices to consider or when life is hectic and seems almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

“A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

“The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

“The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

“The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff. ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’

“‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

“One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. ‘I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'”

— Source: Internet

Have some great time this week!

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com