Seven Habits of The Cynical Girl

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Cover of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effectiv...

I think The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is some hoakey shit. Honestly, it’s a little  too invasive and Christian for my taste in business books. But as I look back on my career, I see that I really employ the first three habits in my life.

And that’s what keeps me from stabbing some people in the face.

  1. Be Proactive — Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the subsequent consequences that follow.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind — Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.
  3. Put First Things First — Plan, prioritize, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

Unfortunately, I have always worked in Human Resources — or as a consultant — with clients who need my help. They are at the beginning of a stressful or challenging journey. Slowing down and being methodical is tough, but I always begin a project or a relationship with them while thinking about how it will end.

  • If I do my job right as a Human Resources chick, they won’t need me in the long run.
  • If I do my job right as a consultant, we will create standards for our operations and our behaviors. Out of those standards will come higher productivityefficiences and cost-savings.

But the first part of my job? It’s to stop the insanity. I often need to break my client’s cycle of reacting.

It’s tough. People who react are the last people who recognize themselves as reactionary. We are all prone to seeing ourselves as more strategic than we really are — including me. This is why I try to organize my work with a focus on importance instead of a false sense of urgency.

In the heat of the moment when someone is bothering me with a fake crisis, I really do try to remember that I am smart. I can see the forest for the trees. I make my own timelines and I trust my knowledge, skills and abilities. Nobody tells me what to do or how to react.

The same should apply to you in your job — Human Resources, accounting or waiting tables. Doesn’t matter. Slow the hell down and think about what’s happening around you. Life gets a little easier when you do this.

And I’ve learned one other thing — if you model these behaviors in your life, enough people will notice and it will catch on. Shit will calm down. I promise.

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