A quick glance at nature now and then will tell us that living things are always growing and changing. The world changes. Society changes. Our lives change from one season to the next.
When I left school (years ago!) someone advised me to get a job with a big successful company and work for them for life. That was the route to security apparently. But since that conversation those jobs have all evaporated. Big companies have downsized and reduced employees to a bare minimum.
Wiser advice today would be to work out what your gifts and skills are, develop them, and then see who is willing to pay you to do those things. And it may be several people or jobs rather than just one these days.
One danger with success is that it feels so good we don’t want that season to change. But it will, so get ready.
Kodak dominated the photographic world for over one hundred years. It had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in America. Almost everyone used the brand.
What followed was a colossal story of failure and missed opportunities. Kodak was a gigantic casualty in the wake of digital photography – a technology that Kodak invented!
Kodak engineer Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975. But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.’
As a result the company entered into decades of decline, unable to perceive and respond to the advancing digital revolution.
In 2012 Kodak filed for bankruptcy.
Simple steps to avoiding your Kodak moment:
Understand your passion
Kodak’s leaders thought they were in the film business – instead of the image business. They misunderstood the essence of who they were. When you boil it right down, what is your passion in life? Write it down. Stick it on your fridge.
Kodak thought their success was fixed. Life and technology are changing all the time. They made a lot of money from selling film so it was hard for them to think of a world where no one used film.
How is your world changing? What trends are happening in society? True, we don’t always want to be following the crowd but, if a sea-change is going on that affects you, shouldn’t you try and understand it?
Don’t be paralysed by fear
Kodak was so afraid of losing their lucrative film sales they buried their head in the sand. Don’t cling to the past when the past way of doing things is already passing away. Find someone who knows about the new way and learn from them.
Take some risks and experiment
In 1994, in my spare time, I set up a charity to develop my work in Africa and the UK. I wanted to see lives transformed and people rescued from poverty. Four years later, in 1998, my job contract came to an end. I was about to lose my home, which went with the job, and my monthly income.
I decided to try and go full time with the charity I had founded. I’m glad I experimented and set up the charity four years previously. I didn’t have to start from scratch. Although it was a big risk and a scary time, it worked. We now employ three people and are not only still viable but also still growing, these seventeen years later.
As we start 2015, is it time to do an audit of where you are going in life?
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Every morning just before you wake, the energy fairy visits you and gives you a portion of emotional energy for the day. Each one of us is allotted a similar amount of emotional energy every morning. When you have spent that emotional energy it’s more or less gone until the next day.
When that emotional energy is gone, everything you try to do seems harder. There are a few things you can do to recharge your emotional batteries and there are a few things you can do that will drain your emotional batteries.
This energy is limited so we need to be wise in how we spend each day’s allotted energy.
It is the source and power of all your creativity. So we need to understand that our best work will normally be achieved within three to four hours of waking.
This means that, where possible, we should do the most important things for the day in the morning, when our emotional energy is fully charged. Get up earlier if you have to.
Professional negotiators often plan important negotiations for late afternoon when the people they are trying to negotiate with will have fewer resources to argue with them. It’s easier for them to sell their ideas to people running on low emotional energy. So beware of agreeing in the afternoon to doing something you may later regret.
Depending on where you fit on the introvert/extrovert scale of things, you will likely gain energy in different ways. By the way, no one is either extrovert or introvert, but these are opposite ends of a scale, and all of us fit somewhere between to two. And please don’t confuse introversion with being shy or quiet either. Basically, the nearer to the extrovert end of the scale you are, the more likely that you gain energy through outside stimulus and being with a crowd. By contrast, the nearer you are to the introvert end of the scale, the more you are likely to gain energy from solitude and time to think.
For example, I’m nearer the introvert end of the scale. This surprises some people because I do a lot of public speaking, so I don’t appear shy. But that’s a misconception about introverts anyway. But I do need a daily dose of solitude and quietness to survive emotionally. I need to think and process the day.
By contrast, a friend of mine is more extrovert. He gains energy from outside stimulus. When he feels low, he’ll invite a load of people round for a barbeque. This recharges his emotional energy, whereas for me it would be quite draining after a while.
Once we identify what energises us and what drains us, we need to have sufficient periods of the thing that energises us. If we let several days go past without those energising activities we will start to feel stressed.
One more thing, avoid angry, negative or toxic people. Anger, negativity, and toxic behaviour will always drain everyone. Anger drains the angry person as well as those to whom the anger is directed. Everyone loses.
So take a step back. Observe when in the day you feel most alive and energised. When in the day do you feel most drained? Can you plan your day to use your higher energy times for your more creative activities?
I try to write first thing in the morning for an at least an hour. It’s my most creative time and I want to use it well. Things like admin, meetings and other stuff can wait till later in the day.
Social media can drain us too. Taking in lots of unimportant information, amusing cat videos, and similar stuff can use up our precious emotional energy. Chose a less important time in the day for that stuff if you want to maximise your creativity.
What about you? What gives you emotional energy? What drains your emotional energy?
There’s a big problem with email. It constantly distracts us from what we were doing. It wastes thousands of hours of productivity by interrupting our train of thought.
Many people allow email to act like an untrained puppy – yapping and jumping up any time it likes. It poops all over the place and leaves us to clear up the mess.
If you don’t take control of your email, your email will take control of you.
I know there are some jobs out there where people are employed to reply to emails as quickly as possible, perhaps they are the exception. But even so this simple step will help most people take control of unruly email.
Here are a few simple steps I use for email:
1. Switch off automatic email delivery
Some email programs are set to check for email every five minutes! That means every five minutes you could be interrupted by emails that could easily wait.
Our paper mail comes in one bundle every morning around the same time. It gives one interruption. If we are not in it sits and waits on the mat. We open it when it’s convenient.
Now imagine that the mailman brought each letter separately and knocked on the door ten times a day. I would find that really irritating. But that is exactly what most people’s email does!
So here’s the thing. I have switched my email to manual delivery. That means the app only checks for email when I ask it to.
And I only ask it to check for mail once or twice a day – normally first thing in the morning and late afternoon.
It is hard to think of any email being so important that it can’t wait half a day to be read.
That’s my personal email. My office email only gets checked once a day on the three days I am in the office, and normally around 10:30am.
2. Set up an auto-responder if you have to
Set an auto response that says something like, ‘Thanks for your email. To increase productivity email is only read early morning and late afternoon. If your message is extremely urgent and really can’t wait a few hours to be read, please text my cell phone 000-0000-0000.’
Most people won’t text you because 99.99999% of all email is never that urgent.
So instead of your email beeping and putting little read badges on its app icon, distracting you from what you are really working on, just check it once or twice a day.
If you had a puppy that was being disruptive you would quickly train it and put some real boundaries on it. Soon the dog would know to only poop outside, not to jump up all the time, and to stay on its bed when told to. It would know there was a set time for walks.
It is time to put a leash on your email and give it a strict routine so that you are in control, rather than it controlling you.
What about you? How do you control your email?
All of us get down from time to time. It’s hard to get back to a positive feeling about life sometimes. If we get depressed about life there’s a few things we can do. Don’t get me wrong – it’s stupid and hurtful to tell someone who is depressed to ‘snap out of it’. I’ve been depressed myself in the past and I know that is just not possible.
Neither am I talking about clinical depression. I am talking about when we get really low and just can’t seem to break that feeling. I’m going to cover each of these aspects in more detail in the book and on the blog but here’s a quick rundown of a few things that will start to improve your life from day one.
Sleep. Eat properly. Walk.
Eating junk food can cause feelings of depression and flatten our mood. Eat only healthy stuff for a few days. Try a week. Eliminate or seriously limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking to drown your sorrows will only make you feel worse in the morning.
Go for a walk for an hour. Walking is simple, free and available to most people. It has many health benefits and can lift your mood quickly.
If you feel low or depressed, do these three things everyday for a least a week and you will start to feel better about life. Sleep. Eat. Walk. Make them your daily rituals.
There may be all sorts of reasons for why you feel low, but I am convinced these three things each day will help 95% of people when they feel stuck. Often it just takes one small change to our daily routine to significantly change things for the better.
‘One thing you lack.’ – Jesus