Pay Attention To The Numbers – A President’s Message
In January 2011, I advocated paying close attention to the numbers when you are in sales or for that matter whatever your line of business may be. It is through the numbers that we can see what is productive effort and what really just amounts to a waste of time.
That leads me to a larger subject, and that is how we spend our time on this earth, not only in our business lives but also in our personal lives. We all find ourselves in a hyper connected, totally attention deficit disorder culture.
Anything and everything grabs our attention for a short period of time, and then we move on to the next thing. We jump from one thing to another, sometimes not even minute to minute but often even second to second.
In such an environment, old-fashioned values such as restraint, decency and dignity receive the short end of the stick. Instead, there is a sort of hyper vigilance and inquisitiveness. Nothing is out of bounds or off limits.
Privacy, discretion or good taste? Forget it.
There are many advantages of this fast paced culture. You young people may not believe this, but in the old days, people used to write each other letters, mail them, and then wait days or weeks for a reply. Do I want to forgo email and text messages to go back to that system? No, I do not. But among the things that have been compromised in this new world are the concepts of sustained effort and continuity.
If you are one of the founders of Google or Facebook, then you truly have been able to make a mind-boggling fortune in a matter of a few quick years. You were a college student one day and a billionaire seemingly a few days later. For the 99.99% of the rest of us, making a fortune requires sustained effort and continuity over many years and decades. For every overnight sensation, there are many others that took countless years to obtain success.
But if your life is lived moment to moment, jumping inexorably from one diversion to the next, then how the heck do you sustain the kind of effort you need to achieve lasting success? And lasting friendships and lasting relationships for that matter. I have a thought experiment for our young people. Imagine yourself on your deathbed, many years from now, and you are reviewing your life. I would hope that you remember family and friends, maybe seeing some majestic natural wonders, perhaps a great performance or sporting event. Hopefully there will be a great deal of pride over what you accomplished in your life.
But one thing that I can predict with certainty that you will not remember are the countless hours you spent surfing the internet, looking at someone’s face page, or watching TV. Those hours will count as if they were added to the time you slept; lost forever. Except that when you sleep you are refreshing your body for a new day; these mindless diversions serve no purpose whatsoever except obtaining mild amusement at best.
I have a suggestion to make. Sit down somewhere, quiet and alone, and sort out your life into two big categories:
THINGS THAT MATTER and THINGS THAT DON’T MATTER.
When you make even a superficial attempt, it will be quite obvious where things go. Next, analyze your time each day to see if you are spending more than a token amount on things that matter. Most people would be appalled to realize how much of the day is devoted to things that do not matter even in the least.
The trick, then, is to make the changes necessary to devote far more of our precious hours to those things that do matter and far less to those mindless diversions that so easily fill up our days if we are not careful. I would submit that your success in business and in your personal life correlates quite highly to how much effort you have put into this type of thing.
But it takes concerted effort and willpower because the default option is always entropy.
President Tom Londen The Londen Companies Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance
[Reposted from February 2011]