Having It All Together … Right!

You probably know someone who seems to always have it together.  They are everywhere and in everything. To the naked eye they always seem to excel at everything they do.  

There is no slowing down! Is there a committee? They’re on it. Have an event that needs organizing? Ready to go! They are raising 55 children and spent quality time with each of them. Working two full-time jobs. Volunteer at the local shelter. Raising money to fight some disease. Writing a book. And have the happiest spouse in the world.

Social media amplifies this picture. Not only do we get descriptions but also vivid pictures of their perfect life, perfect children, perfect job, and idyllic state of mind.

In reality, there are parts of their lives that are neglected. That’s not a maybe, it’s a certainty. The picture we see, often filled in with our own perceptions, is a flawed photo.  I exaggerated the description above intentionally because that’s what we often do when we think about those high achieving types. We make them bigger than they are. Then we compare ourselves to them, imagining that they have everything in their perfect life while our lives are hollow shells full of meaningless events and a cesspool of problems.  It’s unfair!

The law of sacrifice cannot be violated

It’s also unreal.  The truth is that people who seem to have it together are not living perfect lives.  They may be accomplishing more than we are right now, but that’s not because they have it all together.  It’s not because they are necessarily more talented than we are; in fact, often they may be less talented.  And they have problems too, they just don’t share them around as much as some others do. THEY KNOW THAT EVERY THOUGHT THAT HITS THEIR HEAD DOESN’T HAVE TO HIT SOCIAL MEDIA!

Applying the Law

But what they really have that helps them succeed is an good understanding and effective application of the Law of Sacrifice.  As one of my mentors John Maxwell says, “You must give up to go up“.  You have to let go of some things in order to have other better things.

That’s a scary prospect for many of us and perhaps even a little depressing.  When we think about the Law of Sacrifice or giving up, we picture big things.  We can become a CEO but our family life is non-existent. If we want to make a lot of money we have to get rid of our moral compass.

Again, it’s that penchant for exaggeration.  And it’s also good old resistance helping us find reasons to not make any changes.

Simplicity in the law of Sacrifice

Even a time turner can't save you from the Law of SacrificeIn truth, the Law of Sacrifice is actually pretty simple. It’s all about priorities. Every single one of us has the same 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Barring Hermione Granger passing down her Time Turner to us (which you can actually buy) we cannot change that restriction on our lives.

That being the case, we change what we can. If we can’t change time, we change how we invest our time. Most of what takes up our time aren’t major things, they are trivial things. Therefore, most of the sacrifices we have to make are not between two high priorities, but between a high priority and a low priority.

Giving Up Good for Better

You actually look at giving up lesser things in order to get greater things.  You sacrifice an hour of television time every day in order to read a personal growth book.  Give up a couple of free evenings each week to work on a master’s degree.  When you learn to really apply the Law of Sacrifice, what you are really doing is simply learning to

Say No to the Good So You Can Say Yes to the Best

My father excelled in the credit union business during his career.  He was President and CEO of several credit unions over the span of many years and also was a high demand consultant to credit unions nationwide for many years after that.  He was a pioneer in the industry. We have the largest ATM network in the country due to his efforts.

To get there, he had to spend long hours working. He gave up some evenings of watching TV to earn a GED and then a degree.  Yet, he was never an absentee husband or father.  He coached Drum Corps and Little League.  He was a Scoutmaster. We went on trips.  Dad was at dance recitals for my sister.  While there were sacrifices to reach the level he achieved the sacrifices were giving up lesser things to get those greater things.  He did not give up one great thing to achieve another. Was he perfect? Did he mess up the choices sometimes? Certainly. Yet he made the decision and honored the commitment.

Obey the Law and Love It

Know that you have to give up to go up. The Law of Sacrifice is alive and well and it is immutable.

Embrace that. While it sounds like you are being deprived you are actually being set free. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice and set your priorities it frees you from what isn’t a priority. When you shape your schedule around those things that are priorities, it frees you up to say no to scheduling lesser priorities.

Some laws are intended to provide liberty instead of tyranny. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice there will be hard choices to make. But the good news is that the choice is always yours.

do you have trouble finding clarity on your priorities? Not sure where to start? contact me today for a free discovery strategy session.

Finding Leadership Time

now clock.. Demands on our leadership time are everywhere. There’s lots of information out there about time management and how to find more time and get the best out of your available time.  In our world, we have lots of things that demand our time and want a piece of our day.

  • Our work which can take 40 or more hours a week
  • Our house which demands we clean it occasionally
  • Our family which would like meals every now and then
  • Our kid that would like us to take them to dance class
  • Our other kid that would like us to them to football practice
  • Our other other kid who would like a playdate
  • Our elderly parents who would like use to drop by and help them with something
  • Our church committee that wants us to volunteer to help out with the rummage sale
  • Our spouse who would like us to pay a little attention to them while they tell us about THEIR day
  • The dog who would like to go for a walk
  • Our laundry that needs to be washed
  • Our friend who would like to catch up over coffee/beer
  • Our local charity that wants us to participate in a fund raiser

And the list goes on.  From the moment we rise until we collapse exhausted in our bed, there are demands on our time.  They come at us from all directions and call us to action on their behalf.  And we respond, because we are people of action and people of action take action when called upon in the service of others, right?

Too Much

So, how do you deal with all that?  Isn’t there some special trick or time management technique that is going to help me get all this in?  Isn’t that some super secret technique that I can apply that will help me manage and free up my time?

The Time Management Solution

Well, as a matter of fact, there is!  This is actually a secret that has been available for centuries but little used as of late.  

In fact, it seems like many people aren’t even aware of this secret, not even sure of its existence.  

It is both simple and hard.  

Yet if you apply it constructively, you will be amazed at how much time it will free up.  

Do you wanna know what this secret is; the key to handling your time with skill and clarity?

Here it is.

Listen up!

Come closer!

The secret is:

Say NO.

no is one of the best time savers in the world

No joke! It’s that simple.  Say NO.  When someone says, you are such a go-getter can I convince you take on another project for our church committee?


You don’t owe an explanation.  They are not entitled to one.

You are not an evil person for saying NO.  You are not selfish.  

In fact, you are being considerate and caring.  You are wanting to save yourself for the things where you can really add value by choosing the places you serve and when you serve.   A Mayo Clinic report even suggests that learning to say NO is healthy, allowing you to be at your best for others.

In context, the key is you are not going to say NO to everything.  However, you are going to say NO when the activity is not the best use of your time, talents, and abilities.  

You will say YES where the opportunities to serve allow you to provide maximum value.  As John Maxwell says, you must learn to

Say NO to the good so you can say YES to the best!

A Story of Not Saying NO

Years ago, I was asked by my church to serve as the church treasurer.   A high profile role and I was lured by the promise that such a position would bring me to the forefront of the leadership within the church.  Let’s be clear. I will likely never be known as a financial wizard.  My wife, Sherry, balances the checkbook and handles accounts.  She is good at that.  I am not and don’t really want to be.  Despite all that, I said yes.

Big mistake! 

Because of my lack of skill, it took way too long to complete any of the responsibilities of the role.  Balancing accounts became an all-nighter.  This was not made easier by my general distaste for doing any of it anyway.  So my motivation waned, the job suffered, and eventually I left the role by mutual agreement.  

I said yes to the wrong thing.  It was not the best use of my skills and abilities and did not allow me to provide maximum value to the church, so we all suffered as a result.

Get Your Leadership Time Back

Employ the secret today.

Expect the best out of yourself and refuse to be placed where you cannot give it.

Do yourself and others a big favor and employ the strongest leadership time management tool you have: your ability to make a choice.

How to Say No Gracefully

I learned this secret from Bob Burg. I have applied it many times and it works just great! If it works for you, the credit goes to Bob.

When someone makes a request you wish to say no to, use a response that is both gracious and polite. Simply say,

“Thank you so much for considering me. While it is not something I choose to pursue, I want you to know how grateful I am that you thought of me.”

If they press the matter, give a shorter but final response. Still polite and gentle.

“I would rather not. Thank you.”

As I mentioned earlier, the one thing you NEVER DO is give a reason for saying no. When you give a reason, you have now opened discussion for someone to convince why your reason is wrong, ill conceived, or thoughtless. Don’t. 

Choose to give your best by saying no.

Struggling with how to communicate effectively with the people who matter? I can help you with strategies to make you more effective. Contact me TODAY for a free Discovery Strategy Session.


Recipe Disaster

Caramel FlanOne of the things I like to do to relax is cook.  A couple of years ago I decided to make a special treat for everyone and I wanted to make a Caramel Flan for dessert.  Now I had never made one before and so I had to find a recipe and follow it closely.  One of the ingredients in the recipe was one cap (capfull) of Vanilla Extract.  Well, I misread the recipe and thought it said one cup of Vanilla Extract.  I thought that was extraordinary but the recipe must be right.  So I had to run to store and buy more vanilla and added one cup of Vanilla Extract to the mix.
Well, as you may guess, the result was horrible.  The smell and taste of the vanilla was so overpowering that no one could eat it and we had to throw it out!
I had the right ingredients but I didn’t have them in the right balance.

Seeking Balance

As an entrepreneur, as a small businessman, and as a leader we make those choices for balance on a daily basis.  We recognize the importance of balance but it is very hard to achieve.
We need to keep things in perspective and understand first of all that you are never going to achieve perfect balance in our lives.  There are always going to be things that happen daily that tip the scale one way or the other.  No matter how good our plans are, life will get in the way of our quest to achieve balance.
What’s important to us is progress, not perfection.

Right Ingredients, Right Mix

A key to making progress is having the right ingredients in the right mixture.
  • The right skills in the right quantities
  • The right knowledge and information we need to make good decisions
  • The right spirtual foundation
  • The right team members around us
  • The right environment
Again, understand it will be a continual struggle. We want progress and not perfection.  You will make balance choices each day and the scales will tip first to one side and then the other.  The real balance is in the choices of how we spend our time and where it is most important to spend it now.  Being consistent with those choices will help move us towards balance.


Don’t try to balance your life; work, home, church, community, friends. Instead, try to be consistent. Consistency seeks its own balance.


Here’s a few things that will help you along towards making progress on achieving balance:
  1. Establish priorities in advance – when your priorities are clear, decisions about where to spend your time become easier.
  2. Gather an effective team – Without the support of people around you, you tend to view yourself as indispensable.  When you do that, leaving work becomes harder to do.  A good team gives you confidence.
  3. Seek wise counsel to give you perspective – We all need someone to take our blinders off and see other points of view.
  4. Find an accountability partner – Someone to help hold your responsible for your commitments.  Someone who is preferably not your spouse or business partner.

Have you achieved balance? What things do you do on a daily basis to balance you life?

Multitasking Comes to a Screeching Halt

About a year ago, I was driving my son and I home from a scout meeting.  We turned through an intersection and proceeded a few hundred yards forward I looked down to change the radio station.  At the same time, the car in front of me decided suddenly that they wanted to turn right into a parking lot and hit their brakes.  Lots of noise later, they have a beat up rear-end and my car is totaled.  Thankfully, no one was hurt.

A Do Everything World

Our world of multi-taskingWe all do it.  Folding laundry and watching TV.  Driving and changing the radio station.  Working on the laptop while talking to a co-worker on the phone.  Sitting in a meeting and sending an email.  Trying to do more than one thing at the same time because we don’t think there are enough hours in the day.  It’s called Multitasking and it is the biggest time waster of all!

“Wait”, you might say, “multitasking is a critical part of functioning in work and life today!  How can you say that it is a time waster?”

Because it is.

Your Bad Multitasking Self

The idea is that if we are multitasking then we are working on multiple things at the same time, juggling everything and keeping things going.  But that’s not what happens.  In most cases what happens is it simply means that you are doing multiple things badly.

It doesn’t help that multitasking is encourage by many employers today.  First, many companies advertise jobs where they specifically state in the job requirements that they want someone who can effectively multitask.  I guess my question is, how exactly do they measure that?  Secondly, with layoffs and streamlining, employers tell the survivors they must learn to do more with less, which unfortunately includes less staff.  But not less work.  While they don’t explicitly say it, they expect you to pick up all the slack and still do it within the same time frames.  So your choices at either to put in twice as much time or “multitask”.

The Case Against Multitasking

There are many reasons why multitasking simply doesn’t work.  The reasons run from the logical and practical to the medical and psychological.  We’ll cover just a few.

task switchingFirst, understand that what you are doing is not actually multitasking.  It is actually just task-switching.  What it reminds me of is Microsoft Windows operating system on computers.  Early versions of Windows offered a way to jump between tasks.  You could still only run one thing at a time, but you could jump between applications.  That was called task-switching.  It wasn’t until later versions where Windows would allow you to actually run multiple applications at the same time.  What we do when we allegedly multitask is the first one – we are simply task-switching.  Problem is, we aren’t a computer with an operating system designed to do that, so we have a lot more trouble than Windows did jumping from one task to another.  And that’s saying something.

Other reasons:

  • Multitasking does not increase productivity, it decreases it.  There is research to suggest that multitasking actually reduces productivity by as much as 40%.
  • Studies show that task-switching rapidly actually increases the time it takes to complete a task.
  • Task-switching slows you down because you have to re-align yourself each time you jump to the next task.  That means reaction times are slower, so if you are performing any task that requires quick reaction and reflex your performance suffers greatly.
  • Evidence shows more mistakes are made when multitasking instead of focused work.
  • Multitasking is stressful.  When multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment, your heart rate increases and stays higher longer than normal.  There is also emotional stress caused by the fallout of mistakes and failure while multitasking.
  • We are designed to focus on one thing at a time.  Again, lots of research to support this.  Health Magazine cites a 2013 University of Utah study that found the better you thought you were at multitasking, the worse you actually were.

In summary, you suck at multitasking.  And so do I and so does everyone else.

So, if you were doing something else while you were reading this, stop it until you finish.

Now leave your comments and thoughts.

Okay, now you’re done.  Go back to that other thing.


Too Much Time on Trivia

Spending a little time doing research on this, I wanted to find out what the top time wasters we use are.  While opinions vary there are some items that popped up on pretty much everyone’s list and you probably know which ones.  That said, let’s look at some of the top daily time wasters and how much time they take.

    Is it any surprise that this shows up on the list?  For many people, their world revolves around Facebook and similar social networks.  On a Marketing Charts website article, they report that Americans 18-64 spend an average of 2-3.5 hours per day on social networks.  The number slides higher depending on age group and other demographics.  Interestingly, business owners spend more time on social networks than non-business owners.  In many workplaces, they thought that they had managed this problem early on by blocking social networks.  That worked until people got smartphones with Facebook apps.  Let’s call it 3.5 hours a day.
  2. EMAIL
    time wasters like television destroy productivityAgain, no big surprise.  What do most people do first thing when they get to work or boot up their computer?  Check their email. We check it again an hour later.  And then again an hour after that.  And again.  And again. Many even check it just before they call it a day.  It becomes really time-consuming when we receive mailings from a variety of sources with people who want some of our time and/or money.  We gotta filter through all that and then read the “urgent” stuff.  Another 3 hours per day.
  3. TELEVISIONReally?!  But it is so educational! (yes, that was sarcasm)  Many will tell you that you should find an alternative, like the wonderful recording features on many systems today.  But that just means you will watch it later.  Either way you are wasting time.  Not too long ago our TV went out and was out for a couple of weeks.  We found other things to do.  Most peaceful two weeks in a long time.  Still wondering why I fixed it.  Average of 5 hours per day.

Wow!  Let’s stop there.  Just in those three items we have 11.5 hours of time spent out of our day.  All those things are useful but none of them are critical; if we spend any more than an hour total on any of them we are wasting time.  And this does not take into account the time we spend on other things like instant messaging or texting, pointless meetings, various interruptions during the day, generally surfing the web, and procrastinating.  But there is one that I think is the most critical, first because I think it is the source of most of the others and second because of the effect it has on us overall.  And that time waster is multi-tasking.  We will talk about that on Friday.

Get Time Back

Knowledge is great, but action is better.  How can we manage this a little better?

  1. If Facebook is not part of your work, then you should invoke a no social networking rule during the work day.  Chances are your company does not permit it and even doing it on your smartphone during business hours violates company policy.  Besides that, it’s just not right.  If you simply must, check it during lunch elsewhere.
    If Facebook IS a part of your work, as it is for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, then block time out for it on the schedule in both the morning and afternoon, each one with a 30-minute limit.
  2. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, check your email first thing in the morning.  Save it until mid-morning after you have had the opportunity to eat a few frogs.  Create a tagging system for marking emails.  When you view your inbox, scan the messages and quickly and use your tagging system to mark them as urgent, critical, important, or not important.  Urgent emails you respond to immediately, critical emails within a few hours, important emails by the end of the day, and not important emails either get filed or deleted.  That allows you to get through it within 30 minutes each time, likely even less.  Another thing: nothing stays in the inbox.  Act on it, file it, or delete it.
  3. This one is easy.  Make TV time earned.  Works for children, it will work for you.  Half-hour segments of TV time is earned by meeting objectives or goals.  Or do it by program if you wish.  Either way, the idea is that you don’t watch TV unless you have earned it by accomplishment.  Better yet, just keep it off and find something else to entertain you.  Delegate the time to personal growth.  Read a book or watch a webinar.  Remember the caveat

Really successful people have large libraries and small televisions.

No matter whether you work for a large or small company, are a business owner, network marketer, run a charity, or manage a household; getting things done is a matter of managing the things that can waste your time.  Knowing what they are and developing systems to handle them in definitive periods of time will go a long way towards making your day more productive and helping you find time for things you enjoy.

Action Plan

  1. Buy a journal or notebook and document your time from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.  Do this for at least three days but preferably a week.  Include everything, no matter how insignificant it might seem.  What you want is a good idea of how you are spending ALL your time.
  2. Total up the time you spend per day on non-critical things like the activities above.  Remember, social networking is not essential unless you use it to market yourself or your business IS social networking.
  3. Create time limits and block out time on the schedule for those activities.  Make sure that the beginning of the day is spent doing critical activities for the day, especially the ones you don’t really want to do or procrastinate on (eating the bullfrogs).
  4. Follow the new schedule for 3-5 days and again document your activities.  How much free time did you discover?  Were you more productive and effective?