Monday, February 28, 2011

The Benefit of Being Early

How you begin anything has a determining affect. Image the picture: Over sleeping the first alarm you get up with little time for breakfast before rushing out of the house. You arrive at work breathless and you already have three urgent messages, yet you’re already late and unprepared for your first meeting appointment.  Before you know it you’re the opposite of cool, calm and collected – you’re hot, harassed and dispersed and it’s only 9.30am! The day is leading you, rather you leading the day, and you never catch up with yourself.

The opposite of being collected is being “dispersed.” It means having fragmented thoughts, having six things in your mind competing for attention, rather than being focused on the one thing you’re meant to be doing. It saps energy, leads to irritation and stress, and will definitely over time impair work life balance!

We may all have days like this, but if it becomes a habit, or it becomes part of the culture of your work environment – a definite symptom of which is where you get the symptom of everyone being late for everything – it’s a problem.

Yet there is an appropriately simple solution. Being early. Giving yourself an extra 20 minutes when you get up in the morning – so you can at least register how you are and collect your thoughts for the day ahead; arriving early for appointments and meetings – so you can be prepared and focused on the important objectives; doing something before the deadline so you have a chance to review it for final improvements. Being early will always give you the sense of being ahead and it can give you space to handle the unexpected - such as urgent messages.

If you were the pilot of an aircraft you’d definitely check everything over before taking flight. If you want to pilot your life effectively you’d do the same thing.  Why not try being early for everything just for a day to see how it feels?

Nick Woodeson is a renowned trainer and coach

Choosing Between Right and Right

There is an interesting conversation around risk which is being conducted on a global stage. Bankers, politicians and regulatory bodies are in a heated debate about what sort of risk management we should adopt in our banks. 

Do we want our banking systems to be “Fail Safe” or “Never Fail”? Both could work (and not work), making the choice all the more hard to make.

At the moment some commentators and regulators favour “Fail Safe” and are arguing to split up the banks so that none are “too big to fail”. However this option has its own widespread consequences for the international banking system. While it may reduce the risk of system wide failure it does not necessarily avoid risk at the individual firm level.

Other commentators and regulators favour “Never Fail” strategies but, as opponents point out, that comes at a price in terms of high capital reserves, less flexible rules, and potentially higher cost of doing business. So a “Never Fail “culture can be reassuringly predictable yet low on customer responsiveness and innovation.

Many organisations struggle with exactly this dilemma in their own internal culture.  Should your culture encourage people to experiment and take manageable risks with no loss of credibility, or do you want your managers and leaders to make sure they have no failures? The decision drives not only how the organisation bears risk but also its ability to innovate and to attract and retain different types of talent.

It will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds in the financial industry. To what extent will the decision making be affected by being in the full glare of a critical public eye, amidst the high emotions and painful aftermath of the 2008 crash?

As David Dotlich, Peter Cairo and Stephen Rhinesmith say in their book “Head, Hearts and Guts: How the Worlds’ Best Companies Develop Complete Leaders”:

 “It is easy to choose between right and wrong. The difficult bit is choosing between right and right.”  

Rosie Miller is an international executive coach and author