Earning the chance to be productive

I wasn’t very nice to someone last Friday.  It was a high-stress, finger-pointing exchange that I did not handle well.  Today I fixed the underlying problem and I apologized.

In the corporate setting I’m definitely this person’s superior by every measure.  But that does not entitle me to shame the person.  Or even respond to the shame coming from that person with my own shaming words.  I need to take the high road.

So today I did.  And this person may well get in trouble but I won’t, which I want to head off as well by talking with the authorities.  So it’s not over.

Now, process is always on my mind.  I want to notice how I/we are doing things even as we’re doing them.  That’s because if you don’t do that, you will forever be in the left side of Covey’s quadrants:

That is my favorite business diagram; really it describes most of life.  If you dwell in the right bottom quadrant, you’ll likely be a deadbeat human and they’ll fire you from your job.  And they should.  You’re not getting it.  This is not the same as resting, which I’d put in the upper right.

But it is the bane of life and business that we are all ruled by the urgent, whether it is important or not.  The left bottom quadrant is a travesty because it burns our time and our patience.  It’s needless stress.  We hate it.  And we should.  Stuff there has no real reason for being important other than politics, misused power or other your-time-is-my-toy scenarios.

The upper left is legitimate urgency; stuff that needs to be done now because it’s essential.  So we do it and it actually feels like we accomplished something.  But it drains us because of the stress, albeit appropriate and “productive”.

So the right upper quadrant is the gold.  It’s where, if we can go there, we get better at all the stuff on the left.  If we never get there, we will burn out.  And that’s where I have won awards, been my happiest and delivered my best work in the best temperament.  Trust me, if you can identify the things you need to do in the upper right and do them, you will be glad you did.

I realized sometime over the weekend that pretty much all enterprises in 2014 that I know of do not have enough people to do what needs doing.  That means working smarter, not harder because harder will kill you.

But what I did Friday was to try to do the upper right quadrant when I was supposed to be doing the upper left.  Oops.

Note to self: You need to win the time to do the non-urgent, important stuff by doing the urgent, important stuff first.

Lesson learned.