Winners' Wisdom
by Jim Stovall

The Constant of Change

The only thing that has remained consistent throughout the course of time is change. The only certainty you and I have in our personal and professional lives is the fact that nothing will remain the same; therefore, things can get better or they can get worse. But whether things are better or worse, is not always readily apparent.

Think back in your past of all the changes that were thrust into your life. Many times, you thought the immediate change was bringing disaster when, in fact, as you look back today, that seemingly disastrous change has brought many positive things into your life. On the other hand, think of those changes in your past that you just knew were going to be wonderful developments that turned out to be less than positive as time revealed the reality of the situation.

In order to move ahead, grow, and develop, we must embrace change. This is difficult to do because we human beings always seek our comfort zone. Our comfort zone could be defined as a safe, constant, dependable place. Anything that threatens to upset our comfort zone we immediately view as a threat. We must always remind ourselves that all growth and improvement involves change. While this change may not seem positive in the beginning, or may not feel comfortable, it can turn out to be a wonderful improvement.

The good old days weren’t really that good, and the frightening, scary future is full of untold promise. We need to simply embrace change as the messenger of good instead of disaster. We always seek the known vs. the unknown and the familiar vs. the unfamiliar; but those individuals who have maintained a safe, stable, consistent environment have rarely achieved greatness.

Think of all of the individuals throughout history that you admire. Whether they be scientists, artists, philosophers, soldiers, or politicians, those who we deem to be great were, invariably, at the forefront of change. They ushered in a new era. As we look back on them from the perspective of history, we simply note their single, great accomplishment. But if you will study the details of history, you will realize that every great person through the ages who had a new invention, development, or idea was met with opposition and scorn from those individuals who wanted to maintain the status quo and avoid change.

As you go through your day today, look at each change as an opportunity.

Cost and Value

People in our society today know the cost of everything and the value of virtually nothing. We treasure things that bring us very little, if any, pleasure, and we ignore the truly priceless.

When you establish your financial goals, it is important that they really be "your goals," not someone else's. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us to feel good or be important we must drive a certain car, drink a certain beverage, or wear a certain brand of clothes. These messages have an impact.

I am in the television business, and I am constantly amazed how our industry underestimates the intelligence of the viewing audience. The average young person, upon their graduation from high school, has witnessed thousands of murders and violent crimes via the television. The television industry would have you believe that this has no impact on them as "they understand the difference between fiction and reality." On the other hand, these same television executives will justify charging you well in excess of $1 million for one minute of air time during the Super Bowl to sell your latest breakfast cereal.

We must understand that we are in a battle of cost and value, and it is a battle for the mind. If we truly are a product of what we think about all day, the most valuable property we can ever own would be a positive, self-affirming thought.

In a recent survey of the top executives of the Fortune 500 Companies, it was determined that the characteristic that these business leaders have most in common is not their education, skill level, or work ethic. It was discovered that the single characteristic shared by more top executives is the fact that they read or listen to positive, motivational, affirming material on a regular basis.

The next time you have the choice between feeding your ego, feeding your body, or feeding your mind, try feeding your mind and you will find that it will result in a permanent change that will be manifested in every area of your life.

Do It, Skip It, or Move It

As busy businesspeople pursuing our professional goals and objectives, we are all faced with the inevitable time vs. task dilemma. There are more things to do than the time allotted will allow.

One of the greatest factors I find in the amazing success of high-performance individuals is their ability to sift through and categorize potential tasks. Via the mail, telephone, e-mail, or face-to-face meetings, all of us have dozens of opportunities to invest our time every workday. How we invest this time will determine our eventual success or failure.

The old saying that "Time is money" still applies. There are more and more people who want to take up your time with their opportunity, their problem, their connection, their crisis, etc. While we certainly want to get involved with those around us, we have to realize that time is a finite commodity. There are many good things to do. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours to do them all, so we must replace the good with the best.

Whenever you are presented with an opportunity to invest your time, you should immediately do one of three things. Either do it now, skip it entirely, or move it to a point in the future. Handling paper, e-mail, or telephone interactions one time and immediately is, by far, the most efficient way to conduct your business. Too many people let things pile up on their desk or in their briefcase to be considered later. Much time is wasted by these people simply getting "back up to speed" on the matter at hand. It would have taken no more time or effort to have just handled the issue when it was first presented.

Time is wasted when we are not able to make a decisive decision at that very moment. Therefore, we should: (1) Recognize a task or opportunity as valid and handle it immediately. (2) Recognize it as invalid, a time-waster, or simply something that is not as good as the other things we are pursuing. These items should be eliminated from our landscape. (3) Recognize it as something that is not urgent or immediate but may have some merit. These items should be diaried on our calendar for some future point when we will have more information and either do it, skip it, or move it.

In the business world, much is made of time management. In reality, we cannot manage time. It is a constant force in all of our lives. The only thing we can manage is ourselves and how we choose to invest the time we have been given.

Enjoy Your Work; Plan Your Fun

In the high pressure of our busy, fast-paced society, it is often easy to lose one's perspective. Too often, we are controlled by our jobs and careers instead of controlling them. We somehow come to believe that there is something noble about working too many long, hard hours while ignoring our personal and recreational lives.

It is important to remember that the distinction between our personal and professional lives is only in our mind. We have one life with a limited number of years, weeks, days, and minutes. How we invest this precious time can make all the difference. Most of us have intense schedules with lists or day planners that budget every moment throughout the day. We have tasks that demand our attention that we struggle to find time to deal with. In this environment, our recreational time or personal time often gets relegated to whatever is left over. Unfortunately, too often there is no time left over, and we find ourselves getting rundown and burned out.

If you go to your work every day and allow the job to control your time instead of you controlling your time, you may find that it will take every bit of time, effort, and energy you have--and maybe a little bit more. There is always more to do and something awaiting your attention.

You have got to ask yourself the critical questions. 1. What if I don't do this now? 2. What if I don't do this at all? 3. Is this my project or priority or is it someone else's? 4. Is this activity critical to get me from where I am to where I want to be? 5. Can anyone accomplish this task other than me?

May I suggest that we apply at least as much focus and energy to our personal and recreational time as we do to our business and professional lives. Hopefully, you have a maintenance schedule for your car, your home appliances, etc. These are important because they help us take care of valuable, expensive equipment; however, your most valuable equipment is you. Recreation, vacation, and personal time are critical to your success. You may find that you can get more done in less time if you will take care of your own mental and physical health than you can by overworking and not maintaining your own equipment.

As you go through your day today, be sure to enjoy your work and plan your fun.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at . Visit for additional information.

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2004 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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