Journey to the top

Climbing a mountain like Mount Everest, requires occasional going back down for part of your trek in order to get to another place where more upward progress is possible.

John A. Stewart tells us in his book called “Journey to the Top” about climbing Mount Everest . . .

As we continued to climb towards Base Camp, I discovered that there would be a series of setbacks, that we would encounter. As we ascended higher up into the Khumbu Valley, these setbacks were in the form of elevation. As you climbed higher up the valley, following the Dudh Koshi River, the trail would periodically cross the river to the other side of the valley. When climbing these mountains, ascending fifteen hundred feet up the side of the mountain means that you have gained fifteen hundred feet of the seventeen thousand five hundred feet that it takes to reach base camp       . . .

How do you cross the river? You cross the river on a suspension bridge. But the suspension bridge is not fifteen hundred feet above the river; it might be one or two hundred feet above the river. . . We now had to descend down to where the bridge crossed the river. Going down to the bridge was not a big deal, but once you cross the bridge you soon realize that you had to go back up the other side of the valley.

John also shares two ways to stay motivated as you work toward your goal. The one that works for you will depend on your personality. The first is to keep you eye focused on where you are going, and keep moving forward. This requires an unwavering focus on your goal even when you cannot physically see it, and it may be days away.

The second way, when you are tired and feeling like you have not made any progress, is to look back at where you have come from, and in John’s words,

“Wow look at the ground I have gained since I crossed that river a couple of hours ago”.

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Mountain top experiences or hill top adventures?

Are you still looking for your mountain top experience?

Do you think it will come to you while you are working in the valley? Have you made any attempt to climb the hill to see what the view is like from up there? I hope you can imagine where your mountain is. Have you been training on the smaller hills? Are you expecting a helicopter to come and lift you to the top? Would you accept a ride on a hot air balloon if it was offered to you, would you even recognize it as a way to where you wanted to go or would you reject it because your plan said it had to be a helicopter? Maybe you are afraid of heights and prefer to stay in the valley.

If you are content to be just good, then you will never take the required effort to raise yourself to great.   Good is the enemy of great.  – Jim Collins “Good to Great”

How many hills are there near you that you can climb to get a different view of where you are and where you want to go or can go? Can you even look over the fence to see what is happening on the other side? If you know a flood is coming, do you move to higher ground? Remember if you cannot save yourself, how can you save others? If you cannot help your self, how can you help others? Yesterday a man told me; when the wind blows, some people make walls, and others make windmills. What are you making?

These are questions to you from me, and the answers are for you and from you. Being a good coach is about having good questions. Being a success is about finding great answers.

Are you reading this because you are looking for the answers, or because you are bored and have nothing better to do?  I hope you are looking for the answers because they are your questions, formed from within and the answers are also within. You can find many mentors who have travelled the path and had success. You can find coaches who will keep you accountable to following your path. You can find answers about what your path is, and the answers are within you. You can find a counselor to help pull you out of the ditch when you have strayed from your path, but remember, it is your path.

“You can do this, and you know you can.”  – Vic Johnson

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More attention units.

How can we get more time to do the things we love to do?

Employers expect their employees to multitask, hopefully to do two or more things at the same time. Then they wonder why your mind wanders, and you are not focused on your task and not giving good quality work or service. Usually it involves handling several projects at one time. To switch from one to another when a natural break occurs in one project or the demand or priority rises to the top in another project. As a customer do you ever feel the person serving you is trying to answer the phone and serve you at the same time, or serve two customers at the same time?

True progress is made at the fastest rate when the mind is focused on the challenge at hand. So focused that there is no attention paid to what is happening, other than on the task at hand. In this state all sense of time is lost. Several hours of uninterrupted work can seem like it has only taken a few minutes, or in only a few minutes three or four times the normal amount of work has been accomplished. This is referred to as being in the flow, or in the zone.

Coming back to attention units, your life is made up of units of time devoted to specific activities. Activities like dressing, bathing, eating, preparing meals, cleaning, driving, waiting, writing, reading, watching and listening.

There are points when there is a transition from one activity to another. This would be an excellent time to stop and measure your emotional level. Is it high because you enjoyed the previous activity in the previous attention unit, or is it low because of the previous activity? Is it high because you really enjoy the next activity and are looking forward to it? Or is it low because you real do not like to do what you have to do next. These emotional levels are traits, not states, because they can change with each activity. The state is the overall level for the day, or the level that you spent most of your day at.

Each time you change from one unit of attention to a different unit, you can choose a different level of emotion to bring into that activity. Choose a higher level, and at the end of your day, the total energy level for the day will be higher.

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Attention Units

Attention units.

What do you love? How can you measure how much you love something? Log it; manually by the minute, or automatically by Visa statements.

This may sound materialistic, and it is out of date. Remember when things were paid by cheque. By looking at the cheque book record over a period of a year, you would find a record of where you spent your money. When the essentials like food, housing, transportation, utilities, were removed, the rest of the record would be the things you gave your attention to. Even in the items that were removed there may be an indication that you loved your house, or your car, or if the food bill included eating out at restaurants too frequently. Look for how much is spent on hobbies, sports events, theater, concerts, boats, recreation, church, charities, and causes or lost causes.

The rational here is that you spend your discretionary money on the things you love to do, or your loved loves to do, like children’s activities.  You do not spend your money on things you do not like to do, unless you have to. Today, this record would be found in your Visa statement.

Time log.

If you were to create a daily log of how you spent every hour of your day, you could see where you were spending your attention. That should be 5 or 6 minute intervals. There would be the sleep times, the travel times, the chore times the meal times, the work time, the TV time, the email time, the facebook time, the read a book time, your hobby time, golf time, fishing time, exercise time and so on. With the 6 minutes interval, each hour is divided into tenths of an hour. Here you should find the interruptions from telemarketers, the time to answer an email, text or tweet that just arrived, resolving a dispute between the children, stopping for a cup of coffee or tea. In this record there would be an indication of where you were spending your time on the things you love to do. You give attention to the things you love.

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Looking for the key?

Are you looking for the key to success?

Well the quick and safe answer is, “that depends”.

First of all, what is your lock that stops you from getting access to success?

Second, is there only one lock? Each block probably has a different key or set of keys. (Lock is physical, block is personal)

I have recently given four keys for controlling the paper clutter that blocks us from achieving excellence. Only one block was identified, paper clutter, but there were four keys. Applying only one key will not solve the problem. The best results are attained when all of the keys are applied together. Think of a four digit lock on a briefcase or travel luggage. All four digits must be correct before the lock will open.  And all of them must be correct at the same time and every time. If only one of them changes, the lock will no longer open.

Is it correct to expect only one key to open all of the locks? A “master key” or “skeleton key” will open all locks of a similar type, but is ineffective when faced with a different style of lock.

If there was one key for all locks, and we all had a copy of it, there would be no point in having locks. So why have we built our own blocks? And if we have built them, we can un-build them!

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Delay it.

How are you doing with the clutter in your life?

Previous blogs talked about three of four methods to deal with your clutter. They are :

  1. Do it
  2. Delete it
  3. Delegate it
  4. Delay it.

This is the delay it part of the tasks to be done on your TODO list. Which ones have to be done today? Which ones do not have to be done until next week, or must be done by the end of the month? I hope you are not wasting energy thinking about that bill that has to be paid by the end of the month. If it can be done in ten minutes or less, you should have already done it and been free of it.

You have not delegated it, and you have decided that you cannot just delete it. But maybe it is a service that you no longer need like a cable television service, or a FAX line.

This is probably the type of task that can be delayed.

The delay procedure is simple and effective. It may require you to develop a new habit or create a system that you can delegate to someone else.  Here is how it works,

Set up a filing drawer with 31 folders. Number the folders with the numbers from one through thirty one. In each folder insert a sheet of paper to record the things that have to be done that day. So far, so good? At this point we are all caught up for the month ahead. Don’t you feel great!  Everything  has been done on the lists in each folder.

Next, look at the paper clutter you have left to do after applying the first three steps.

Take each item and decide when it should be done, put the associated paperwork in the file folder for that day, and write on the sheet of paper a short note of what has to be done that day. Put the page into the folder with the related paper work and put the folder back into the file drawer.

Then pick up the next piece of paper from your desk or to do pile and do the same thing. Repeat piece by piece for each item on your desk or TODO list until all have been filed away including the folder for today.

If you have been doing this properly, you should be able to see the top of your desk again, and have a clean workspace. If may be an ideal time to wipe the work space clean. Do it now if you can do it in less than ten minutes.

How do you feel about yourself and your accomplishment? If you have been able to accomplish this by delegating some of the work, even better!

With that energy that you have freed up, remove the folder with today’s date and begin to complete the work for today. You do not have to see and be reminded of tomorrows work, or next week’s work. You should have all of the paper related to this task in the folder, and should not be wasting time searching through the other papers to find what you need for this task.

When the task you are working on reaches a point that you cannot continue until you get more information, or otherwise have to delay work, put the papers into the folder for the day you plan to follow up, continue, or complete the work. It may be later the same day if you expect the answers the same day. When you add the task back into a folder, add a note to the page included to describe where you have to resume the task.

If you have completed all of the work for today, you can start the work for tomorrow. How great is that?

At the end of the day, if you have not been able to complete all you had planned for the day, you may have to work longer if the schedule does not allow for any delays, or add it to the folder for the next day, with a note added to the summary sheet of what has to be done to complete the task.

Until all of your work is in electronic form, with no loose papers attached with each task, this folder system will work better than a file system on your computer. Your file system on your computer should compliment this system, and may be useful in scheduling the day’s work. The folder system is easier if you delegate the work.

There you go! Enjoy your day and feel in control of your paper jungle with the cages you have created to tame the wild ones.

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Delegate it.

What do you have on your TODO list that you can delegate to someone else? Or re-phrasing it, what do you have on your TODO list that would be better delegated to someone else. Maybe they can do it better than you, or faster, with less effort, i.e., more efficiently.

That brings us to your efficiency. Are you doing things in an efficient manner? Defined by dividing results achieved by energy expended. There is a place for doing the things you love just for the pure enjoyment of it. (It is another way to raise your emotional state.) But if you are working to complete your assignment, to achieve your dream, it is important to compare the effort expended against the progress achieved.

For example, there is a bird feeder outside the kitchen window. It has weathered away to the point that it no longer serves its purpose. I have the skills and tools to build another bird feeder to replace the old one. However, that would not advance me toward the goal of writing this book. I have two alternatives. Delegate this to my son to build. Or purchase one already built.

First I try to delegate it to my son. He has his own project that he is working diligently on, and he has developed some of these “get it done” skills as well. So maybe I will have to delegate it to someone else.

Here is another example. Topic, the Thanksgiving Turkey, do I take care of that or delegate it. Simple, there are others who will do a much better job of that than I will.

What task are you doing that should be delegated to someone else so that you can achieve more. Is your time best spent washing your car, cleaning your house, washing the windows, cutting the grass,  shoveling the snow, sweeping the sidewalk, repairing the roof, making the apple jelly, doing the laundry? These all require energy. Does it have to be your energy, or can you pay someone else to do these things for less than you could earn by spending that energy on your unique ability.

Do you see how money becomes a means of exchange for the energy in this case? Maybe a barter system would work here.

Is there some work in your office that could be handled by someone else while you work on a  part of your business that is more suited to your temperament? Look at your to do list. What can you delegate from your column? Remember there is also a column for the Universe TODO.

Last minute update. Between the time this was written, and the time it is posted, the universe has provided a volunteer to buy and pick up the prebuilt bird feeder.

Exactly! This stuff really works! Thank you.

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