The 9 Mantras of Business Life
Mantra 1: stop having a job in your own business
What you do instead is build an asset that works for you. Way too many people think that their purpose in life is to be busy. If you think about it, what’s the word we most associate with busy? How about ‘fool’? Don’t be a busy fool conning yourself that because you’re busy everything is good. Instead, think about the difference if you had an asset that worked for you.
Mantra 2: the big rocks are your life, not your job or business
The big rocks are your life, the relationships in your life and the purpose of your life. There isn’t a tombstone on the planet that tells you the deceased wished he had spent more time in the office. Don’t go through life wasting your time negotiating between stones and pebbles whilst you neglect your big rocks. It’s noticeable how some families just get this straight away and others just don’t. The point is to build your life around your big rocks and your business is there to serve you in that life. Not the other way round.
Mantra 3: RICH-ualise your day before work and after work
One of the key tools to help you get your rocks organised is called the Default Diary(DD). It is like an autopilot for your brain. Your RICH-uals are the most important part of your DD. Btw RICH-ual is the way Brad Sugars spells the word ritual. You know what? He’s absolutely right. Your RICH-uals, what happens before work and after work, make sure you really have put your big rocks first. When you RICH-ualise your life you’re installing the autopilot for the most important parts of that life. That means you’re not putting any effort into it, it’s just happening naturally.
Mantra 4: Be the CEO of your job or business, not the COO
If you want to be successful as a senior executive, try thinking about your job in two halves. The first half is your COO job. That’s your chief operating officer role. You’re the chief operating officer of your own job and the COO’s responsibility is to make sure that the day job gets done without any problems. Most people, if they’re too busy, are doing the jobs that their team should be doing. Some of that might be their ego, some of it a lack of trust in the team, and some of it is fear of not being seen to be useful. Whatever your stupid reason is, stop doing it. If your team can’t do the job, there’s something wrong. Fix that and stop doing their jobs for them.
The second half of your job is the CEO part. While the COO is concerned with the present, the CEO is concerned with the future. You will not be able to focus on the future if you’re continually being dragged back into the present to address things which your team should be doing for you.
When you understand that, only then can we ask questions about the opportunities you are seeding for the future. What are the ideas coming out of your part of the business to give options to the wider corporation? What needs to be in place in 3 to 5 years that must be planted now? Which technology, the product range, and the people development need? Where do your scarce resources need to be placed?
Mantra 5: At least 10% On the business (CEO) time
What are the proportions of time you are going to give to your CEO role and to your COO role? As a rule of thumb, the minimum CEO time is four hours a week or 10% 0f a 40-hour week. At the other end of the scale, when you’ve really got things running without you, you get to what I call the Two Hour Corporation. The owner of that corporation invests one hour in the present and one hour in the future, every week, that’s it. As you get the practice you can extend those intervals. Although, I wouldn’t go much further than a month if I was you. What would have to happen in your business for it to run successfully like that?
Mantra 6: Stay in your lane
When you set yourself a task, stick with it. If you are interviewing, do a block of interviews. As it takes an average of 24 minutes to get in the zone, changing subjects is a very effective form of self-sabotage. If you divide your day into four 90-minute blocks with breaks in between, and you design what happens in those blocks, you will start to have very effective days.
Whether it’s your own business or you’re a senior executive in someone else’s business, to a certain degree you can choose how to spend your time. This starts with looking at the basic design of your diary and who is in charge of it. If you’re in sales and you’re selling to large corporations then you’re not going to be in charge of your diary because you’ll be trying to fit into the diaries of multiple stakeholders. Your customers call the shots about when those meetings take place, so you have to do your diary slightly differently from the way everybody else does it. The same principles apply though.
When we look at individual days we want to make sure that we’re staying in our lanes like a swimmer or a car in rush-hour traffic. The point of this is that the more times you change the subject during a given day the more context switching loss your brain goes through. You can think you’ve been really busy, but if you’ve been switching between subjects, you’ll have been really unproductive compared to how productive you could have been with a different organisation.
In summary, there are the proportions of time in the diary by subject, and the organisation of that diary within the subject zone, to make sure you’re as productive as you can be.
The last study I saw on the subject of chief executive performance looked at how often Fortune 500 CEOs were being interrupted. The answer was on average every 11 minutes. The most powerful business people on the planet are either unable to control their environments or don’t want to.
But the real problem with the 11-minute interval is that it typically takes a human brain 24 minutes to get into the alpha state where it’s going to enable you to be really productive so these CEOs are significantly reducing their productivity. The study concluded that your average CEO would be more productive if they were stoned on marijuana but not interrupted than obviously not stoned but interrupted. The effective IQ loss of being interrupted constantly means you’ve got someone with learning difficulties running the company. This just might explain why so many Fortune 500 companies are lumbering giants which don’t seem capable of making any changes happen. The people at the wheel are all brain impaired by disorganisation.
Don’t interrupt yourself – stay focused, and don’t let others interrupt you. Make sure you have some clear red flag time. When you do it, your team will do it. Suddenly all those ‘on the business’ projects suddenly get done because no one is interrupting anyone and people can focus and get their work done. And even better your ‘A’ players will love it because they get to show how good they are. The ‘B’ players of course might react slightly differently but why do you still have ‘B’ players on your team?
Mantra 7: Heroism is for idiots
If you’ve spent your day interrupting yourself or being interrupted by others, just imagine extending that practice to a 12-hour day, five days a week plus some more interruptions at the weekend. Your effective IQ would be so low as to make it not worth working. Give up, play golf. Your business will suffer less and so will you.
Clients have found they can be 30% more productive (cognitive tasks) when working fewer hours. Henry Ford was the first to restrict workers to an eight-hour working day. You should restrict your hours too. Working long hours to impress the boss is very counter-productive. The Scandinavians have it right, you must be incompetent if you can’t get your job done within normal working hours.
Mantra 8: Use the Platinum Rule
Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule – treat other people like you’d like to be treated yourself. That works to a degree, but the platinum rule is to treat other people as they would like to be treated. Simple. You might have to ask first.
Mantra 9: Recruit only ‘A’s
Imagine you’ve been out of the office for half a day. One of your team says, “I’m glad you’re back I was waiting to ask you ABC”. Another team member says “I’m glad you’re back I’ve done XYZ, I just wanted to run it past you to make sure that what I’ve done is what you wanted.”
Which is the dominant type in your business? Your ‘A’ players will use their initiative to get things done, provided you let them.