x
x
x
x
x
x
Beating Parkinson’s Law

Beating Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law has been recited as “work expands as to fill the time available for its completion.”  What the heck does that even mean and why does it matter? It means that if something must be completed in a year, it will be done in a year.  If something must be done tomorrow, it will be done tomorrow.

We tend to create plans based on how much time we have and when the deadline approaches, we start to make tradeoffs to finish the task by the deadline.

Is this true for you?  I know it is true for me and for our company, and for the clients we have the privilege of serving.

Here’s What Parkinson’s Law is NOT.  It is certainly not a reason to set unreasonable deadlines for projects you have.  It is, however, a tremendous evaluation tool, and a fantastic optimization tool.   Here’s how to use it as such…

2 Steps to Start Beating Parkinson’s Law:

Step 1: Start asking yourself counterfactual simulation questions. You’re thinking, what is a Counterfactual Simulation? It is a sophisticated way to simply apply your imagination by consciously asking a “what if” question, and letting your mind imagine the rest.  Counterfactuals can be very useful because of their flexibility: you can simulate anything you want.  The answers to these types of questions help us to stop wasting unnecessary time by using all the time we have, instead of all the time we need.  Big difference between the two.

    • Sample 1: What would it look like if you finished the project on a very aggressive timescale?
    • Sample 2: What If you had to write an entire book in a day, how would you go about doing it?

Step 2: Inject the Pomodoro Technique into your daily planning routine. Perhaps you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro technique before. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally into 25 minute segments of intentional productivity separated by short breaks before you launch into the next segment of productivity.  All you need is a simple timer.  We recommend not using your phone and using an old-fashioned timer.  And here’s the process:

    • Choose a task to be accomplished
    • Set the timer to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
    • Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings
    • Take a short break (3 – 5 minutes)
    • After every 4 “Pomodoros” take an extended break.

So if you are like the rest of the world and you start to procrastinate on something, you’ll automatically default to using all the time you have to complete a task, instead of just the time you need.  When that starts to become your problem, simply remember these two things:

1. Counterfactual Simulations

2. The Pomodoro Technique

Follow those two steps and watch your overall output skyrocket. Be great!

Love,

-MV

Narrow Your Focus

Narrow Your Focus

December 29, 1972.  Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing 101 passengers.

That crash was the first ever of a wide-body aircraft and one of the most horrific airline crashes in the history of the United States.  So, what happened?

After an intense investigation, analyzing the components of the aircraft, the researchers were shocked to discover that all the vital functions and parts of the plane were in perfect working condition.  This discovery led to a deeper question.  What exactly went wrong?

The Lockheed jet was preparing to land when the first officer Albert Stockstill noticed that the landing gear indicator light, was not lighting up.  This particular little green light was designed to signal that the nose gear was locked down.  Even though the light wasn’t working properly, the nose was locked.   In other words, the problem was the indicator light, not the actual gear function.

While the officers were intensely focused on the gear indicator, they failed to notice that the autopilot had had been deactivated until it was too late.

Here is an exact excerpt from the Aviation Safety Network: “Preoccupation with a malfunction of the nose landing gear position indicating system distracted the crew’s attention from the instruments and allowed the descent to go unnoticed.”

Long story short, the nose gear did not cause the crash.  The officers losing sight of the altitude of the plane caused the disaster.

Did you know that millions of people in the US make New Year’s resolutions each year.  They say nearly 65% of all adult Americans make resolutions on a yearly basis but only a small fraction of them manage to keep them.  According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February and only 8% actually accomplish the goal they set forth.

Why? In today’s world, our firm belief is that we allow ourselves to become too distracted, just like Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 did.  We get sidetracked and allow our descent to go unnoticed.

Action – Simplify Your Approach:

It is time to simplify your life and work by narrowing your focus area to just one outcome you want to achieve for the year (or your desired timeframe).  By living for just one outcome, you’ll find simplicity in approaching your goals and resolutions, and it will ultimately help you minimize all of the distractions.

Example Desired Outcome: Thankfulness

  • Personal Growth Implication: Daily Prayer and Gratitude Journal – 10 Minutes Monday – Sunday
  • Family and Community Implications:  Hand Written Gratitude Notes – 5 days/week (Monday – Friday)
  • Business Implications: Monday – Friday, Write for 30 Minutes Each Day (ultimately to publish a book and give it to my clients for free to express appreciation for them)

It’s time for you to stop being in the 92% of people that fail with their goals each year and it is finally your turn to jump into the 8% by narrowing your focus to just one outcome with a few simple daily disciplines.  Don’t wait, your success and your future depend on what you do today.

Love,

-MV

Goal Setting Precision

Goal Setting Precision

When we lack precision in vision-casting, it is easy for us to wander aimlessly through life.

Remember: Intentional > Incidental

We have read various research studies on the significance of writing goals and the results of individuals who make that a priority.  The general conclusion is that people who have written goals and maintain well-defined goals seem to accomplish them at a much higher rate. These studies further indicate that people without written goals accomplish less – and what they do accomplish is more aimless with more time invested.

Based on that research, it is obvious that everyone writes down their goals, laminates them, and reviews them daily – right? Wrong!

3% of people define their goals in writing.  That means 97% of people fail to establish their goals with a pen and on paper.  3%. Remarkable.

We all have visions, dreams, and desires for how our life might look one day.  Some of us might even have the view broken down in terms of time frames; maybe six-months, one year, and even five year marking points.

The more clarity in our pursuit of our goals, the more direct the path is to achieving them. Let’s be sure we make it into that 3% group this year.

If you know your desired destination (vision) but are struggling to clearly identify your roadmap (mission) to get you there, we have created a proven process to help you do just that. We would be honored to help you increase your winning percentage in 2020!

As you embark on your 2020 journey, remember this quote from Rory Vaden. “Success is never owned, only rented – and the rent is due every single day.”

Happy Goal-Setting!

Distractions

Distractions

In 1981, the late Henri Nouwen wrote these words in his book, Way of the Heart (pages 37 – 38):

“Over the last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words.  Wherever we go we are surrounded by words: words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited or sung; words on records, in books, on walls, or in the sky; words in many sounds, many colors, or many forms; words to be heard, read, seen, or glanced at; words which flicker off and on, move slowly, dance, jump, or wiggle.  Words, words, words! They form the floor of the walls, and the ceiling of our existence.  It has not always been this way.  There was a time not too long ago without radios and televisions, stop signs, yield signs, merge signs, bumper stickers, and the ever present announcements indicating price increases or special sales.  There was a time without the advertisements which now cover whole cities with words.”

It is true.  We live in a world full of words.   Words quickly subduing every crevasse of our lives. This oversaturation of words creates a reality that words begin to lose their meaning and we suddenly lose discernment of what is valuable.  This quote was written nearly forty years ago, before the advent of the internet.  Today, our computers, phones, tablets, and TVs offer us more distractions than ever before.

In light of such a reality, I must pose this question.  Why would anyone choose to read these words? Do we truly need more words? No.  We don’t.

Modern society is infused with meaningless communication that removes the depth of gravity and importance.  Our minds are trashed with innumerable ideas, opinions, and perspectives – all of which are fighting for our uninterrupted focus and attention.   They are vying for our time, energy, belief, and response.

The crisis we face today is not that we don’t have good options to choose to invest our time and energy.  We have plenty.  The challenge today is that we have too many good options and too little discernment to help us choose, and focus on the best option.

My prayer is that these words would draw you into a deep silence, that would cause you to think about why you were created, and how to live out your purpose.  I pray that these words would captivate you to flee from the normalcies of our culture and provoke you to remove the numerous distractions keeping you from living the life you were created to live.

Today marks a new decade.  January 1, 2020.  The perfect time to fixate on what truly matters, both today, and also many decades from now.  We challenge you to start this new decade with intentional time in silence.  Remove all of your distractions and interruptions, and focus on choosing God’s best for your life.

Blessings to you and yours on a phenomenal 2020!

Love,

MV

Intentionally Building Myelin

Intentionally Building Myelin

Unless you are a neurologist or psychologist, you have probably never heard of myelin.  You might even be thinking that I misspelled the title of this article.  I didn’t.

Before we discover what myelin is, please know that myelin is the key to understanding how skills are developed.  If you want to be better, faster, smarter, or stronger – you will need to know how to build myelin.

Side Note: All of us that want to improve daily should attempt to be amateur neurologists and psychologists.

So what’s myelin?  It is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse – like a signal traveling through a circuit. Its primary function is to wrap nerve fibers similar to how rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out.

When we fire our circuits the correct way (perfect practice), our myelin responds by wrapping layers of insulation around that neural circuit.  Each new layer adds more skill and enhanced speed. Thus, the thicker the myelin becomes, the faster and more accurate our movements and thoughts become.

So what steps can we take to build myelin?  Here are four key action items to apply.

  1. Encourage Risk – more myelin requires more discomfort. Meaning we must get out of our comfort zones to grow our nerve-wrapping.
  2. Fail Forward – You either win or you learn. Sometimes the best learning comes from learning what not to do.  Give yourself a chance to fail, knowing that the failures will help increase your winning percentage in the long-term.
  3. Promote Learning – to enhance your brain, you must remind yourself to think creatively, analyze new content, synthesize new material, or execute a new task. Block time to do  this every single day.
  4. Celebrate Struggle – the growth is in the sweat. Enjoy the pain and trust the growth process knowing that the end result will be more insulation, and ultimately better results.

You want to be better, stronger, and faster?  Start with these four mission critical execution items and watch the demand for your time and expertise expand along with your nerve insulation layer.

Love,

-MV

Diffusing Responsibility

Diffusing Responsibility

1964: If you like psychology, you’ve probably heard the name Kitty Genovese.  In 1964 she was raped and stabbed to death in front of her apartment complex and the attack lasted over 30 minutes and was witnessed by several dozen people who failed to report the incident.

2009: October 24th, 2009, as many as 20 witnesses watched as a 15 year old girl was brutally assaulted and raped outside a homecoming dance in Richmond, CA. The viciousness of the attack was shocking, but what was even more shocking was the fact that so many people witnessed the attack and yet failed to intervene or call police.

The Surface Level Question: Why did so many people fail to report these issues?

The Answer: Because they assumed that someone else had already taken care of it.

Psychology’s Why: How is it possible that people could just stand by and watch something this horrible happen to young, innocent girls? Social psychological research on the bystander effect may point us to the answer.  Meaning, perhaps there were too many eyewitnesses present. The bystander effect refers to the fact that people are less likely to offer help when they are in a group than when they are alone.

Maximize Value’s Why: Have you ever heard of something called the diffusion of responsibility? In this scenario, it means that even if people recognize that they are witnessing a crime, they may still fail to intervene if they do not take personal responsibility for helping the victim. The problem is that the more bystanders there are, the less responsible each individual feels.

The Great Tragedy in Today’s Marketplace: I see the diffusion of responsibility manifest all the time in the marketplace.  In fact, I’m in Las Vegas right now, and I saw it come alive today.  I was in Canada last week, and I saw it there too.  And guess what, I’ll see the same thing in Cincinnati tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the great injustice in the marketplace today is that people don’t take responsibility for their own growth.  Or their own circumstances.  Or their own paycheck.  Or their own results.

Execution Item: Start looking in the mirror and taking ownership for your own development. Stop diffusing responsibility. The future of your family is on the line. You were created for greatness, don’t settle for anything less!

Love,

-MV