He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.
It is said that you resist what you need the most. So for example if you are reading an article and skip a paragraph about patience, you had better take note of your actions. Are you the kind of person that could do with more patience.
However it is also said that when the student is ready the teacher will come. So if you find yourself gravitating towards something it could be that you are finally ready. A teacher need not be a wizened old person carrying a beatific smile and wearing white clothes. It could be anyone, anything, even your own past experiences if you are prone to reflection.
One funny thing is that you may not even realize you are ready.
‘The Art of War- Sun Tzu” is a military classic that has important lessons in every area of our life provided we assume the right attitude. And what is the right attitude – life is not a game to be played and enjoyed but a war to be won. Your opponents are enemies that need to be ruthlessly eliminated by all means including direct confrontation and subterfuge.
Several years back I led a book discussion at work. It was an uneventful meeting except for one remarkable thing I witnessed that stayed in my memory long after it occurred. During the discussion I made an observation that was not well received by one of the participants. In response someone else spoke up. Now what he said was very unremarkable. But the way he said it struck such a chord that the person miffed with me remarked at how well he spoke. I just witnessed someone performing verbal ju jitsu on me. I didn’t even have a fight in me.
I am not pretty handy around the house. I tried putting down a wood floor and messed it up so badly that the mere act of walking on it loosened up the boards. Just in case you thought it was too ambitious a project I am a dunce even when it comes to installing curtain rods. The same sad story prevails with my attempts to green my lawn or plant shrubs.
But give me a problem to solve at work any problem and I will have it solved and ready for you. This sounds like a brag but I am so good with systems analysis and problem solving that I once solved a problem estimated to take 6 weeks to resolve by a simple 2 minute workaround. I am a pretty decent writer as my friends would have it.
One of the most important things you can do to achieve sustained success is to ensure your ‘Yes’ list is much shorter than your ‘No’ list.
In his book ‘The One Thing You Need To Know’ Marcus Buckingham offers this up as the single most important distinction to enable individual peak performance. Impressive. It brings to my mind the reaction I had when I first heard a Jim Rohn recording. In it he exhorts us to be loyal, have integrity, work hard and a dozen more such homilies. All fine but was he referring to the Buddha! Who on earth would possess all these qualities in one person. It was a very underwhelming presentation.
But to get back to basics Marcus defines sustained success as ‘Creating the greatest possible impact for the longest possible time’. I find that this automatically eliminates fads. Also it permits wider interpretation and appeals to people like me that are still interested in old fashioned material and career success. We don’t need to reach our inner authentic self, or expect less and be happy, etc.
I like history so I was struck by how this principle relates to an event from World War II.During one of the battles the Germans were trounced by the Soviets. The reason, the German Panzer tanks were no match to the superior T-34 Soviet tanks. So the Germans reverse engineered the T-34 into one of the greatest military tanks ever produced, the Panthers.
Eager to press them into service the Germans planned to use them in the Battles of Kursk, the greatest tank battle in World War II. Only problem was that the Panther was still not production ready. The German engineers being well German engineers kept tinkering with it. Hitler however could not get himself to say no to the PR value and the morale boosting impact of the Panther.
The Germans were massacred in the battle of Kursk. They lost the battle due more to engine issues with the Panther than due to enemy action!
Marcus makes his argument pretty credible by demolishing other factors such as personality traits, talents, interest, correcting your weaknesses, focusing on tactics or cultivating strengths.
I will cover these in an another post.
But the key takeaway, anti climactic as it might be, from the leading research reviewed by Marcus for personal performance is this:
Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.