Food for Thought

It is early December and it is highly likely that food will play an important part in your life in the next few weeks. This may well be succeeded by some reflection on how you might live your life better in 2010. So I would like to share with you some “thought food” to nourish your reflection time, not just in the few weeks ahead, but for the year beyond.

This “thought food” comes from Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” and also a new book “How the Mighty Fall”. As keynote speaker at the massive CIPD HR Conference last month, Collins offered the audience ten challenges for 2010.  Here are three to think about.

  1. Create a “stop doing” list. Many of us have a to-do list. We have processes around writing and reviewing these and gadgets to help us order and manage them. Often we get great satisfaction in ticking off items on this list. It feels like progress. But you can only use an hour once. A “stop-doing” list encourages you to reflect carefully on the choices you are making with your time and energy. Which activities truly match with what you want to achieve or be in your life? Which are possibly old habits or assumptions that are no longer necessary?
  2. Take time to think. How often do you give yourself real thinking time, uninhibited by distractions, mobile phones, computers, music? If you think best by talking things through then create opportunities for dialogue. If thinking on your own is best then create that time slot to do it. Many of us would find the 3 days in every 2 weeks advocated by Collins a big challenge to implement.  But what about 3 hours every 2 weeks? How would that reflective time boost your clarity of thought and action?
  3. Give yourself long-term goals. Big, hairy, audacious goals may not turn on everyone. But having a clear sense of purpose and direction in your life leads to greater achievement, satisfaction and longevity. Create for yourself a clear picture of what you would like to make happen, or be involved in or have around you 10 or 15 years from now. This clarity of direction allows you to make wise choices and chose the path most aligned to these outcomes.

This third point brings me to Collin’s closing thought. When looking at the complete works of the late Peter Drucker, he noticed that only one third of Drucker’s books were written before he was 65 years old. So his question is “how would it be to think that two thirds of your usefulness could happen after you are 65?”

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