Tag Archives: behavior change

Reclaim quality, productivity, efficiency, and sanity…


reality

Differentiating what’s important to us from what’s urgent to others lets us take situational control by not confusing the two, and helps us to decide what to do next!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But take a look at your to-do list. And how are you doing on your bucket list? Do you find that you keep putting off things that you really, really want to do or must do? Do you catch yourself first doing things that feel more urgent but just for the moment?

Separating your Critical Few “must do” tasks from your Minor Many “nice to do” tasks is an essential step in the process and is my version of the 80/20 Rule. It’s a fact of life that applies across the board from business to your personal life—80% of your stress is caused by 20% of your problems. In network television, it’s the concept of “prime time”—the three hours of prime time produce 80% of the revenues despite being only 20% of the programming. In time allocation, the idea is for you to allocate 80% of your time to 20% of your tasks that deliver the greatest return on your effort. In other words, you shouldn’t just “work smart,” you should “work smart on the right things.”

So let’s say you’ve identified your Critical Few. When was the last time you had enough time for all of them? Prioritizing them is next. If you can’t get them all done, to which do you allocate your time first?

I don’t know the answer for you. But I do know a reliable method for arriving at the right conclusion. I call it the Given Reality Test.

“Given” because our Critical Few don’t appear in a vacuum. We develop them based on some givens – assumptions accepted as facts. There’s a due date we can’t change. We have role-based responsibilities that are inescapable. If your daughter is counting on seeing you on the sidelines of her soccer game, sending your assistant is no substitute. If you’re the corporate lawyer, you have to read the regs. If you’re the press liaison, you have to return that reporter’s call.

“Reality” because our wishes don’t govern our surroundings. Reality persists in defining what we can and cannot do. We might wish we could enact culture change overnight, but reality says otherwise. We wish our family commitments would not conflict with our work priorities, but often they do. We wish our strategy off-sites didn’t get interrupted by urgent calls from clients, but they usually do.

“Test” because testing means we don’t have to choose the wrong Critical Few and experience the bad effects before realizing we made a big mistake. We can put our toe in the water and then decide if we want to proceed.

Here’s how the Given Reality Test goes: First you define the problem clearly in your own mind. Then you articulate and calculate the effects of not doing each of the activities that is demanding your attention. When you analyze those effects, you’ll end up clear and committed as to what your priority should be. If circumstances change, you might have to repeat the Given Reality Test, but it still works.

That’s the process in the abstract, but let’s give it some color—some context so that you can apply it in your own circumstances. Let’s say you have three activities vying to be your Critical One for an afternoon. 1) Keep your promise to attend your best friend’s gallery exhibition. 2) Participate in an impromptu meeting called by your biggest distributor who is getting customer complaints about your products. 3) Try to get in and see your doctor about a worrisome pain you noticed earlier this week and haven’t had time to deal with.

  1. Define the problem: I can’t be three places at once. So I have to tolerate two of the following: keenly disappoint my best friend, push the distributor problem on to a colleague, stress out about that pain.
  1. Calculate the effects of not addressing each of them now: My 30-year friendship will not be altered by a single disappointment. This distributor wants to be heard and acknowledged, not fire us, and my colleague is a better listener and relationship builder than I. This will be my fourth sleepless night worrying about what that pain could portend—I’m too worried to enjoy the exhibition or even pay attention in the meeting.

So, there’s your answer, inescapably: Go see your doctor. It might be a different answer for somebody else, or different for you if the circumstances were slightly altered. But articulating the effects that way is its own revelation. It keeps you from ruminating in endless circles that all start out with “But maybe I should…” It lets you arrive at a conclusion that you can live with about how to allocate your afternoon.

Do this, and you will find yourself allocating your precious time better. You can claim your own time and reclaim the quality of your work, your productivity, and your sanity.

5 Behaviors That Effect Change – My Personal Journey


This website usually provides readers with tips and tools on business issues, challenges, or interests.

However, allow me to share a story with you about how the business practices in my world as a Results Consultant helped me on a more personal level.

It involves a lifelong struggle I have had with weight, particularly keeping it off and finding the right balance through diet and exercise.

It was a moment of enlightenment that took years to realize.

One day something clicked, and I realized that my efforts at weight loss and sustaining it were so similar to the behavior changes I was expecting of my clients. I took a step back and changed my approach.

As a company, we speak ‘against’ flavor-of-the-month training and teach and instill behavioral embedding techniques to sustain behavior change.

We talk about viewing behavior change as a gradual, long-term process rather than a one-off training event.

Yet in my personal life, I was following fads, one-off dieting fads… one after another… I remained frustrated to find myself losing motivation, reverting to old unhealthy habits, never finding a balance or making a change that I could sustain.

I had a wakeup call. If I am going to practice and preach ‘behavior change’ with organizations made up of different individuals, personalities, roles and a spectrum of motivation levels, I need to tackle my Challenge with Weight using the SAME APPROACH!

Let me see how I can apply the business principles to my own life.

  • Do I have a structured approach? Yes
  • Is it easy to manage and easy to apply? Yes
  • Is it a process, rather than a one-off event? Yes
  • Is the Objective in Place? Yes

The Goal/Change: Adapt my personal eating habits to impact positive weight loss & sustain the weight loss

So my approach used Cohen Brown’s The Success TriangleSM.

The Success Triangle, performance,

Success is the outcome of consistently utilizing the three sides of the triangle: Clarity, Capability, and Motivation.

Losing weight for me meant changing what I ate, why I ate, and how much I ate.

I lost 35 kilos (75 lbs.) in the first 8 months. The part I’m really proud of is that in the last 4 months I have found my balance and the weight has remained off.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about sharing such a personal story, but if it can be of benefit in any aspect of your life, then consider it a gift.

Here is my approach:

  1. Clarity: Be honest about why you’re trying to lose weight. Make the change for yourself. Relying on others for motivation is a fickle thing. If you are doing this for yourself, the likelihood of success is much higher. Take responsibility for the change. Track what you are eating each week, why you are eating, and how much. Acknowledge and face the fears you have, not only about starting your diet, but what you expect might happen during the diet and afterwards. Ask for support to handle your fears when needed.
  1. Clarity: Set yourself a goal you would like to achieve and be clear about what that goal means and what you expect from yourself. The goal should be realistic. Including several small steps (mini-goals) in your overall goal is advisable as well.
  1. Motivation: Make a daily plan of what you would like to eat and how much. Failure to plan is planning to fail. And that’s no cliché! Include healthy snacks during the day to keep you motivated and avoid being hungry. If necessary, including incentives throughout the day or week can also help keep you motivated.
  1. Capability: Keep tracking your goal and activities and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Change what didn’t work and keep on doing what worked. Ask for support/ideas/input from family and friends (or experts) when needed.
  1. Motivation: Compliment and reward yourself when achieving the small steps in your goal (in my case, new clothes, a healthy dinner at a restaurant, etc.). Of course, compliments from others help a lot as well. Identify the people and places or activities that keep you motivated not only during the weight-loss period but also afterwards.

If you have any questions about my approach, please let me know.

If you want to learn more about Cohen Brown’s behavioral change processes for any challenge you may have, please contact me.

Good luck to all of you who want to make a long-lasting, positive change!

Brenda Schäfer is a Results Consultant with the Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. covering the territory of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Do you say it’s urgent?


eisenhowerDwight David Eisenhower had a pretty decent career. Supreme Commander of the forces that defeated one of the vilest regimes ever to threaten civilization. 34th President of the United States during one of the most prosperous periods ever experienced by any country in the history of the world.

So who better to turn to as a model for how we use the precious time of our lives? I’m referring of course to the Eisenhower Principle that distinguishes between urgent and important activities. It goes like this: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Rendered as a graphic, the Eisenhower Principle might have looked like this on June 5, 1944.

With all the claims on his time, Ike needed a simple, clarifying way to make sure that things that appeared to be urgent didn’t divert him from things that were assuredly more important—and at the same time, not procrastinate matters that were both urgent and important.

He also recognized that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. We must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, we need to understand this distinction.

When I began to teach managers and employees how to manage their time most productively, I was working with executives from one of the country’s greatest brokerage organizations – ambitious, hard-charging, intelligent executives. But they had in common a failing endemic among high achievers who are not skilled in managing their time: They had trouble distinguishing between urgent and important. So I adapted the Eisenhower Principle to the workplace in the form of Critical Few versus Minor Many.

Our Critical Few are those which, if we neglect them, will have dire consequences for us, whether in business or our personal lives. Our Minor Many are not necessarily insignificant, but they can wait, and their neglect might be disappointing but not dire.

Personal preferences can complicate our reasoning. I get great intellectual stimulation from floating new ideas with my team, and I consider time spent this way to be of the utmost importance. One of my colleagues likes to work out problems alone, doing solitary research. Another likes to solve business problems by putting a pencil to them – working them out in financial terms. Who doubts that these preferences cause all three of us to consider work that we enjoy to be more “critical” than work we dislike?

So, to separate our Critical Few from our Minor Many, the first step is to subject our too-long to-do list to an 80/20 analysis that obviates personal preferences: Which ones deliver more value than the time, energy, and expense it takes to accomplish them?

When clients wrestle with priorities, I take them through the DERSSIM Logic System.

  • Define the problem.
  • Understand the Effects of not solving the problem.
  • Identify the Reason for the problem.
  • Conceive a Solution.
  • SIM stands for the Solution Implementation Methodology.

Which problem, if not solved, has the greatest negative or positive effect? Sometimes the reason for the problem isn’t immediately identifiable, but the effect may require immediate attention.

If an individual is having difficulty breathing, the reason may not be immediately apparent; however, getting the individual to breathe is of utmost importance. In other words, act now on urgent matters.

Even when the reason is apparent, remember that a solution for a problem without a solution implementation methodology is worthless.

So the next time you are faced with way too many obligations, all of which “feel” urgent, take a deep breath, and run them through the DERSSIM Logic System. It won’t take long, and it will quickly clarify things for you. You will end up knowing, with confidence, how you should allocate your next minutes and hours. You will know what is urgent for you when you apply the Important vs. Urgent Test, taking care to apply it objectively to your own situation and needs. We all know people for whom almost everything seems urgent. When my wife answers calls for me at home at inopportune times, she has a habit of cupping her hand over the phone to whisper a reminder to me: “He says it’s urgent, but it might be HIS urgent and not YOUR urgent.” I find that immensely helpful.

Just remember – nobody else can decide your urgent. Learn how to quickly draw those distinctions for yourself so that you don’t suffer those agonizing moments of wondering what to do for whom and when – and almost inevitably, out of a desire to please or clear the decks for your own purposes, doing other people’s urgent, not your own. That’s not the path to career success or life happiness!

Businesses Strive for Lean and Continuous Improvement


Cohen Brown President and Co-Chairman, Edward G. Brown and Independent Publisher, Jim Barnes.

Cohen Brown President and Co-Chairman, Edward G. Brown, and Independent Publisher, Jim Barnes.

The Axiom Business Book Awards are the most respected critical guidepost for business books in the publishing industry. These prestigious and competitive awards are presented in 21 categories and serve as the premier forum to help readers discover new and innovative works. Axiom Award-winning books will help them to understand changing trends and technologies affecting the business world and to recognize opportunities in our complicated new economy.

When Cohen Brown Management Group’s president and co-chairman, Edward G. Brown, learned he was the recipient of an Axiom Award for his book, The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had, he was thrilled. The book won in the category of Operations Management, Lean, and Continuous Improvement. The perfect category for a man who, for more than 36 years, has trained and consulted Fortune 500 companies on behavior and culture change. The Time Bandit Solution provides the definitive “how to” for time management. It’s not just a day planner but rather contains specific tools and techniques to assist corporations and individuals who want to learn how to stop unwanted interruptions and gain back their time. The Time Bandit Solution teaches how to put an end to interruptions and maximize the resulting time surplus.

Oprah’s biggest regret…wasting time!


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Even Oprah, a woman who has inarguably made a great deal of her allotted time on this earth, rues time wasted.  On turning 60 she lamented, “I think the hardest part of aging really is recognizing the time that you wasted and the things that you worried about that really didn’t matter…. That’s really the only regret that I have.”

I love her for admitting that.  Because who doesn’t think that way some times?  Who doesn’t cringe to think of how they misspent time, especially when they get a little older and truly realize their time is finite?

I’m 78 and I’m still trying to live up to Oprah’s aspiration.  Time remains my greatest challenge.  Not that I just fritter it away, but managing it isn’t simple.  Just because you know the 80/20 Rule doesn’t mean you know what truly is critical (i.e., your Critical Few tasks that if left undone create serious problems in your life, work, family) or what’s less critical (i.e., your Minor Many).

That is why I am pleased that I have found the solution for both protecting your time as well as improving upon 80/20 planning.

What happens to most people when they try to decide which of the slew of tasks facing them are truly their Critical Few?  When they try to calculate which 20% of those activities will deliver 80% of the value of their endeavors?

They either freeze and can’t decide, or they get into a do-loop where they pick all of them!  Everything looks equally important.  Even if you come to understand the 80/20 Rule, you still need to categorize your Critical Few (the 20%) vs. your Minor Many (the 80%).  Otherwise you will, like Oprah and many other people, end up regretting your misspent time.

Here are five tips for sparing you such regrets:

Tip #1.  Use “Quiet Time” to Make Important Decisions

You cannot freely contemplate how to best spend your precious time when you are surrounded by the events of your “life.”  Things vie for your time day in and day out.

When this happens seclude yourself, if necessary, to find “Quiet Time,” especially if the decisions you’re making are life-altering.  That means go into a relaxed, calm, meditative state of mind.  If you utilize the mantra “calm,” a form of bliss replaces whatever chaos or confusion was an obstacle to your Quiet Time.

Utilize positive self-visualization so that you can receive advice from your very best consultant, that familiar “little voice within” that you typically ignore.  Listen to it.  Now you’re ready for some decisions.

Tip #2.  Differentiate Your Critical Few from Your Minor Many

Lose a job, health, or loved one – that’s when you know with certainty what truly matters.  That’s when you see what I call our “Critical Few” starkly.

But in the absence of a dramatic event, what happens to those Critical Few?  They get lost in the busy-ness of our lives.  Ask me at 7:00 in the morning for my Critical Few, and I reel them off confidently.  Ask me at 2:00 in the afternoon, and I might forget one, add two, throw in a problem that just erupted, and tell you what I want for dinner.  That’s not Critical Few.  It’s Aspiration Salad or what I call the “Minor Many.”

Your Critical Few are those tasks that if left undone will jeopardize your health, job, family, or success.  Everything else is Minor Many.

Tip #3.  Understand Your Priorities

If someone (God forbid) told you your house was on fire, your kid was on his way to jail, and all your clients were leaving, how should you prioritize your actions?  Naturally, all three would make your Critical Few, and maybe you know exactly what you would do first, but some of you would stop and think about the possible outcomes.

When clients wrestle with priorities, I take them through the DERSSIM Logic System.

  • Define the problem.
  • Understand the Effects of not solving the problem.
  • Identify the Reason for the problem.
  • Conceive a Solution
  • SIM stands for the Solution Implementation Methodology.

Which problem, if not solved, has the greatest negative or positive effect?  Sometimes the reason for the problem isn’t immediately identifiable, but the effect may require immediate attention.

If an individual is having difficulty breathing, the reason may not be immediately apparent; however, getting the individual to breathe is of utmost importance.  In other words, act now on urgent matters.

Even when the reason is apparent, remember that a solution without a solution implementation methodology is worthless.

Tip #4.  Establish Time Lock Agreements with Your Time Bandits

A Time Bandit is anyone responsible for wasting your precious time with unwanted, unplanned, and unproductive interruptions. The Time Lock solution provides blocks of uninterrupted time guaranteed by the Time Bandits.  To work successfully, you and your Time Bandits have to mutually agree that during certain times of the day, good friends, colleagues, even your boss, have to abide by the Time Lock Agreement.

Because of Mental Leakage, very often we are our worst Time Bandits.  Thus, we have to make Time Lock Agreements with ourselves.  The method is called Focal Locking, which means bearing down and focusing on your critical tasks during your Time Lock period.

Tip #5.  Train Your Time Bandits

A Basex Research study says U.S. companies lost $588 billion in 2005 because of interruptions.  That number is probably $1 trillion today.  There’s the interruption that throws you off task.  There’s loss of momentum due to the work stoppage.  There’s the time wasted reassembling your thoughts and resources. There’s frustration at having to rebuild them, which dissipates the energy that work thrives on. There is the distress and fatigue of having to make up for time lost.  All of these things can cause errors and the need to do the task over again, which of course takes even more time.

Learn how to handle that deceptively small question by doing what you do with big Time Bandits – be honest, polite, and cheerful in declining.  The cheerful part will be easy once you realize that it feels good to have protected time for your precious Critical Few and to have benefited your Time Bandit as well by restoring focused time to attend to his needs.

The 800-lb Gorilla


gorilla800

The value of human capital in companies worldwide is significantly more appreciated now than in the past.  Having highly skilled employees is essential.

However, in reality, the majority of corporate training does not result in consistent behavior change but instead, at best, an increased clarity and increased motivation.  And neither of these in and of themselves necessarily increase capability and competence at selling.  Eventually, a sales person that “feels” confident but is ineffective at selling will soon lose that confidence if he or she cannot produce results.

So, what is the 800-lb gorilla sitting in corporate training and ignored, that is a way of life within successful organizations that produce significant and lasting behavioral changes?  The answer:  Deliberate and Focused Practice and Rehearsal!

Performance Drilling: http://ow.ly/AZoCI

smPD