Often success is the results of staying in the game and playing one more play, when everything in you feels like stopping. It’s natural to get discouraged when you’re working to reach the next level to create breakthrough, and progress seems glacial. Not everything you do will meet with success. In fact, much of what you do will likely have limited impact initially. The key word is initially.
In the chapter on Intentionality in our book The 12 Week Year, Mike and I argue, that “to realize your potential, you must be mindful about how you spend your time.” This is because everything that you accomplish in life is heavily influenced by the way you allocate time. To be intentional about your results is to first be intentional with your time. The supply of time is inelastic, perishable, and limited, and that’s what makes it the most valuable resource that you possess.
Henry Ford once famously said "If you think you can, or if you think you can't; you're right." He knew that your belief in your capability determined what you would achieve. Not your skill, talents, education, or opportunities; your beliefs determine your future!
Expectations are powerful. We tend to perform according to expectations. Research has shown that expectations of an event can actually cause it to happen. Over fifty years ago Robert K. Merten, a sociologist at Columbia University, first documented the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The essence of the self-fulfilling prophecy starts with a belief that is not necessarily true at the time it is held. But, when the belief is acted on it tends to produce a situation that becomes true. Beliefs create reality.
Are you one of the over 130 million Americans that set New Year’s Resolutions? If so, it’s likely that you’ve failed with them in the past. How do I know this? Because 92% of those that set resolutions, fail. And, by-the-way, that same statistic holds true for goal setting in general.
The end of the year is a great time to take stock and determine the areas that we would like to improve. January rolls around and millions make commitments to lose weight, be a better spouse or parent, to quit smoking, get a new job, stick to the budget, the list goes on.
I remember back when I was a young boy in fifth grade and how I yearned for a new ten-speed bicycle. Boy, was it a beauty; metal-flake green paint with racing tires and a black leather saddle. The problem was it was a hundred bucks, which was a lot of money for a 10-year old kid back then. But that didn’t stop me. I had to have that bike. I did anything and everything I could to earn money.
There was no way I was not going to own that bike. There were times when I thought about quitting, and sometimes those thoughts almost won-out. Work, or go the movies with my friends, play baseball, or just watch Saturday morning cartoons? What kept me going was a mental picture of that bike beneath me as I was riding around the neighborhood – the ultimate definition of freedom for a 10-year old! I’ll never forget how excited I was buying the bike and bringing it home, and how proud I was as I rode it down my street.
I recently returned from a fabulous trip to San Diego. I was invited to speak at one of my client’s conferences: their Leader’s Forum. The purpose of this Leader’s Forum was to bring people together to celebrate their success, and build their capabilities to achieve even more. I love meetings like this! The whole notion of leaders and leadership is at the heart of why the 12 Week Year exists.
With all the books and articles written about leadership and the characteristics of effective leaders it becomes almost overwhelming trying to keep up with the “habits” and “laws” of what makes for good leaders. And yet, two characteristics that I’ve seen that are fairly consistent across all levels of leadership are celebration and development.
Viewing the year as 12 weeks rather than 12 months can make you four times as efficient.
Want to reach your goals four times faster this year than you did in 2013? You can make it happen by treating every quarter as though it were a year unto itself, says Brian Moran, author of ‘The 12 Week Year.’
This insight came to him, he says, after he observed his executive coaching clients had lots of great ideas but fell down when it came time to execute them. Now, he says, "Everything we do is designed to help people execute better. "Knowledge is only power if you act on it."
To help people act on their plans more, Moran suggests thinking of the "year" as 12 weeks instead of 12 months. Otherwise, you may fall victim to what he calls "annualized thinking."
It was a fun summer for the Moran family. Unfortunately, the fun included too much food and drink, and now I’m faced with losing a few pounds of extra me. So I’m back training and eating better.
As I was out for one of my runs the other day I had a revelation (as I sometimes do when I run), actually a double revelation – sounds like quite a run, I know. Nevertheless, I had two insights that I want to share with you. To start with you need to know that I don’t enjoy running. I don’t look forward to it, or feel like I miss it when I don’t do it. And I most certainly don’t get a “runners high,” not even close. What I get might be better classified as an “unpleasant experience that can’t end soon enough; high,” if you can call that a high; anyway, my revelations.
What if we switched to a different personal calendar? By adopting a 12 week perspective, we might finally abandon the futile, misery-inducing notion of "work-life balance."
At this very special point in the calendar – as a new year lies waiting, full of promise, undisturbed like freshly fallen snow – I like to indulge my contrarianism by pointing out that New Year is a completely arbitrary marker, with no meaning beyond any we choose to give it. The year begins on 1 January because the Romans decided it would – and isn't it vaguely troubling that the rhythms of your life are partly determined by men in togas who cleaned their teeth with urine? Admittedly, the length of the year is less arbitrary: one year every four seasons makes sense if you're a farmer. But for those of us who till the fields of the modern knowledge economy – we information farmers, to use a phrase I plan to trademark and make millions from – neither the New Year nor the year-long perspective need be seen as non-negotiable. Which prompts a question: what if you switched to a different personal calendar instead?