Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 153, May 2012 )
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Techniques for balance
So many people ask me, "How can you do so much? You are extremely well organized."
Highly productive people are confident that what they produce will help, even if not perfect, justified, or certified. Have you ever heard the person in the meeting who must justify every point with three references, an example from a client, and the words of an ancient Greek philosopher? That's because that person doesn't feel acceptance can be based merely on insight and analysis, but must be "anointed" by a respected third-party source.
The human condition: Reverse adaptingI wouldn't be surprised if the biography of Steve Jobs earned a second Pulitzer Prize for Walter Isaacson. It's an immensely fascinating book about an iconic American figure who will be installed by history in the business Pantheon among Bell, Ford, Edison, Sloan, Drucker, and the Wright Brothers.
The most remarkable aspect of the book for me is that Jobs could be absolutely horrid for prolonged periods. He (literally) stank because of bizarre diets and sanitary habits; berated others mercilessly and obscenely in public; lied and broke promises; often ignored (or at first didn't recognize) his family; and threatened others physically and emotionally.
Yet he forged the most powerful and valuable business entity in the world, and surrounded himself with intensely loyal, high caliber talent. He seemed to always have the consumer in mind and was clearly more dedicated to great products than merely making money.
I believe that Jobs created an environment that suited his particular, idiosyncratic personality. (For example, his board has titular but not real power and he could dismiss his own board members at will.) Many people have pointed out that I actually educate my clients in how I want to work with them, to my great benefit.
This is no small issue or minor trait. The degree to which people can organize their environment and the people in it to behavior most consistently supportive of their own objectives, the more successful and time efficient they are going to be. And this is a prerogative especially available for entrepreneurs and those not working in nine-to-five, hierarchical, organizational environments.
We often put a premium on people's ability to adapt to the world around them. I'm suggesting (and Jobs certainly proves) that a reverse adaptation is extremely powerful, wherein the world around you adapts to you. My guess is that this is what happened with Franklin Roosevelt, Donald Trump, Michael Jordon, Oprah Winfrey, and Gandhi.
Issacson calls Jobs's trait "reality distortion," in that he simply did not accept what others believed to be empirically true (e.g., you can't rewrite a program's code in two weeks), which can also be deadly (e.g., he refused to believe the advice about his cancer and put off the initial operation until it was too late to be effective).
Are you constantly dancing to the beat of others' needs, or are you playing the music that directs their movement?
And this terrific session authorized by Alan:
I'm sitting in the back of the room waiting to be introduced at a business meeting while the hosts are running an icebreaker with the group. They ask people to get up and find a partner whom they haven't yet met.
Copyright 2011 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.
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