Friday, March 25, 2011

Begin with the end in mind

The second habit of highly effective people as presented in Steven Covey's book the Seven Habits is " begin with the end in mind." Now just how does that apply? I remember when I worked as a lowly clerk in the dairy industry we had office memo pads that said " Plan your work and work your plan. "

How much time do you spend planning? For thirty years I was required by my management to submit goals and objectives to my manager at the start of every new business year. There were check points along the way that were called sub-objectives. I still do that at the beginning of each year. Only now they stop with me the CEO of my own little company. It does help to set some stepping stones along the way. Education, certification, social mixing.

I wonder if people ever set as a goal: " I want to be an abject failure in life." I suppose that is a pretty silly thought. I think that people simply fail to plan. You know the old saw. " Fail to plan and plan to fail."

Somtimes people are just destined to fall short from their birth. As in the case of 3rd and 4th generation welfare recipients. My wife is a former social worker. She worked for the old HRS division Aid to Families With Dependent Children. There were and are people who criticize welfare recipients as sorry, lazy, low-down, trash. That always made my wife a little miffed because she actually went into the homes of these people and saw the conditions of their lives. There were little children who literally would go hungry were it not for the State of Florida's monthly check.

There is a story told about two brothers. One of them was a very successful businessman who rose to weighty responsibility with the Fortune 400 company he worked for thirty years. He lived well and had a lovely and successful family. The other brother was a drug addicted former convict. His family lived in poverty. His children became either drug addicts or alcoholics and a couple of them went to prison like their Father. A reporter became interested in the contrast between these brothers. He interviewed both of them independently. The successful brother started the interview by saying, " My Father was an alcoholic and I wanted to do better......................." The other brother started by saying, " My Father was an alcoholic and that paved the way for my failure.................."

Isn't that interesting? I believe that the primary difference between those two brothers was that one of them set goals and the other just got up every day and putzed about willy nilly.

Goals must be realistic. How many people do you know that never got married because their goal was to marry Miss America? or Kirk Douglas or the actor du jour? You may want to be president of the United States. Might you settle for being the president of the Little League or your neighborhood association?

The bottom line on all this is that you must visualize yourself accomplishing some specific goal. I want to get married. Perhaps it would be a good idea to start to date people. I want to be a surgeon. Perhaps it would be a good idea to get into medical school. You get the general idea. No revelations in this post. Just a recant of a very solid and specific management approach. Begin with the end of mind.

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