When I think about the choices that have had the greatest impact my life, they stem from being able to follow a path of personal excellence. Excellence can seem a distant quality, probably because our flaws are most visible to ourselves. Consider these tips as stepping stones towards your path of personal excellence – as Coach Wooden said, perfection is impossible but striving towards perfection is available to everyone.
The single greatest change I made this year was improving my relationship with technology, in general, and email, in particular. The changes I’ve made have given me an extra 500 hours per year (!) of available time, which I chose not to fill immediately. Here’s how I did it:
Acknowledged that I was hooked on the reactive nature of email. That was a big step. I need to discipline myself not to check email constantly. It’s a huge time sink.
When I check email – I have four actions that I do:
- Unsubscribe/filter/delete – I unsubscribe from as many automatic emails as possible (if you miss them then operate on a go-to basis). I set up filters for repeat emails that I want to batch review at a later date (athlete workouts, financial notifications, subscriber updates). I also set up filters for banned senders. I’m running two levels of spam protection software (SpamSoap and Mail Client).
- Move To Action – For items that require me to think, or type more than a short answer, I move to an Action folder. I batch process these (mainly on Wednesdays and the Weekend).
- Reply Immediately – There are some emails that are time sensitive – I reply to those immediately. Using my iPhone for gMail has proven to be a blessing because I don’t have the keyboard to over-reply. I pause, think about what the writer needs and reply directly.
- Refer – As I wrote in my Structuring Your Business article, we’ve set up a team forum. This leverages both the expert replies to our team as well as the combined knowledge of the team, itself. Its proven to be a high effective resource for improving knowledge and leveraging everyone’s time.
The next tip stems from a shift in my business and investing philosophy. In 2010, I deepened a choice to shift my focus towards creating opportunities for people to use their skills successfully. When we founded Endurance Corner, the original motto was “helping people help themselves”. The method has changed as we’ve learned more about ourselves.
I’m still very focused on cash flow – however, I think beyond pure profits and use my time/capital/energy to support the team in making positive changes in their life. This belief drives many aspects of my own life, including asset allocation. When I moved to Asia in 1993, I was advised:
- Be willing to make less money to maintain your principles; and
- Learn, succeed, then return home.
Seventeen years later, the wisdom of those tips is becoming more apparent. By the way, Bogle’s book on Enough, is as good an explanation as I’ve read. Having completed Mr. Bogle’s book the week before riding Hillsboro Beach to Jupiter Island made the message even more apparent. The contrast, of the strip on Daytona Beach vs the castles of Palm Beach county, reminded me of pre-revolutionary France.
I’ve continued to find it difficult to improve my listening and this is probably because I’m not focusing on the step that comes before listening. So, I’ve been trying to cultivate stillness. I’ve found that I listen best when my mind is still. Five tips that help me reduce the noise in my life:
- Turn off the television/computer
- Mute/power down the phone
- Exercise without music
- Schedule less
- Walk rather than drive
My relationship with technology will remain a focus. There’s a lot of upside for mental clarity if I’m not filling my head with my twitter feed every eight minutes!++
My ride across Florida last week made me realize how much of an outlier I am, as well as the sheltered life that I lead. The basis of populism (dismissed in my peer group) becomes clear when riding Key West to Panama City.
As endurance athletes we have unique definitions of fun as well as our fair share of idiosyncrasies – (lists and schedules for everything). I remind myself (with a list and schedule, of course) to be willing to compromise to share experiences with people that are close to me. I allocate my time deliberately and share fun things with the people close to me. This requires effort as I’ll simply work, work, work – if I don’t schedule down time.Looking at the big picture, it all boils down to:
- reduce noise;
- serve others; and
- demonstrate love.