in almost any domain
consider their endeavours
their main hobby.'
Professor Keith Siminton,
Dean of Psychology,
University of California.
Love what you do.
Do what you love.
No big deal. A lot of people around the work kick the habit every
day. America's charismatic 'do-it-now' business consultant Tom Peters, for
example. He junked the weed 'just like that'. In nanoseconds.
It took me longer. I loved a good smoke. An infusion of nicotine
helped me unwind, aided my thought processes and, at times, soothed my shattered
nerves. So, after I'd taken the momentous decision, I hated everyone and
everything. It took at least two weeks of hell for the craving to fade. It
took 14 days for me to rejoin the human race.
But I'd done it. I'd faced the terror of what to me was a major
change. I overcame the obstacles. And I'd succeeded.
It took persistence and commitment. And it took time to adapt to
life without cigarettes. I'd thrown my psychological crutch away and I had
to learn to live without it.
The key elements in my fight against addiction to tobacco - persistence,
commitment, time and adaptation - also apply to the change that confronts
On the surface, the changes that are revolutionising the way you're
accustomed to run your business lives appear to be a lot more traumatic than
It's not going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. And it will
take time. Certainly a lot longer than Peters' nanoseconds. But not a lifetime.
We're talking weeks, perhaps months.
Let's face it, it takes work to change. Hard work. So be prepared
to work harder than you've ever worked before. It also means that you have
to change the way you think. And that's difficult.
No one said it would be easy
But, hey, you can have a heck of a lot fun en route to realising
strategic visions and goals. For a start, a lot of the goodies you're going
to encounter along the way will be new - things you've never before experienced.
So drain all preconceived ideas from your mind and develop a ...
You're about to set sail on a voyage of discovery into a new world
... a world of adventure and excitement where anything can happen. And usually
Like a kid, you'll have to ask a lot of questions to find out what's
potting. Which reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me.
He and his young son, then at the four-year-old question asking
stage, were strolling around the Zoo Lake one Sunday afternoon. The young
lad asked his father how electricity went through wires.
'Don't know,' said Dad. 'I never knew much about electricity.'
A few minutes later the boy asked what caused thunder and lightning.
'To tell truth,' said the father, 'I never fully understood that
After another short pause, the kid piped up again: 'Dad ...? Oh,
'Go ahead, son ask questions. Ask a lot of questions,' said the
father. 'How else are you going to learn?'
Dad was right. You learn by asking questions. You don't always get
the right answers, or any answers at all. But it pays to keep an open mind
to absorb every scrap of useful knowledge that's thrown your way.
Rudyard Kippling had some good advice:
I keep six honest serving men;
They taught me all I knew:
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
But please don't jettison your expertise. Not completely. You'll
need in the new world of business. Just leave space for new thoughts and
One day a very bright student - a devout Buddhist - went to
visit his master. After they were seated, the master offered his visitor
a cup of tea.
expertise to crowd
|While the student poured out his extensive knowledge, the master poured
tea into the cup. And the more the student rambled on, the more the master
After a while the student's cup ran over and the saucer overflowed, spilling
tea onto the student's clothes.
The student, annoyed, asked the master why he'd kept pouring tea
after the cup was full.
''When the mind is filled to overflowing, like the tea cup,' the
master replied, 'there is no room for anything new in it.'
A few years back Elaine McCoy, the Minister of Labour in Alberta,
Canada, encountered problems of the closed mind kind when she sought expert
help on troublesome labour matters that had beset the province for 50 years.
'Experts are often too full of facts about what didn't work in the
past to make the leap into the future,' she complained. 'But what these experts
can never tell you is where to go from here.
'We needed a fresh perspective. So I spent a year talking with people
from all walks of life to develop a vision of where we want to go in the
McCoy concluded that most important political choices have to do
with human values, not just 'expert' information, and have to be made with
So if you get a business idea - now matter how outlandish -
play with it, toss it around in your mind. It could prove to be a winner.
Thousands, if not millions, of people had seen apples fall from
trees before Isaac Newton was around. But he was the first person to think
about the phenomenon. And he discovered the law of gravity.
And don't worry what other people think of your ideas. You won't
be the first - or last - genius to be treated like a nut.
Controversial American thinker and writer Aldous Huxley had been
there. 'The vast majority of human beings,' he said, 'dislike and even actually
dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about
that at their first appearance innovators have always been derided as fools
Even if your idea is wildly offbeat, ignore criticism, no matter
how well-intentioned. Critics are very much like eunuchs in a harem. They
reckon they know how it's done because they've seen it done every day. But
they're totally incapable of doing it themselves.
You may not get it right the first time.
But you'll get there in the end.
If your ideas are from out of this world and you can bring them
down to earth, you're entitled to orbit in ...
It begins with a vision. Picture yourself as you want be. Then make
the decision - the commitment - to be what you want to be.
|Making the commitment is one thing. It only takes a second or two.
Getting into orbit is something else. You have to pursue your goal with passion.
And maintaining your momentum - standing still is the kiss of death -
is a lifetime occupation. That means learning something new every day, day
in and day out.
However, knowledge for knowledge sake is worthless. You have to
have a purpose. You have to set goals.
FINAL. IF YOU
BUILD A BETTER
WILL BUILD A
Goals are funny things. When you first set them, a lot of people
- let's call them earthlings - will say they're impossible to reach.
That's what happened with the four-minute mile. For a long time people, even
the experts, said no one could ever run that fast.
They were wrong.
Roger Bannister did it.
And since he crossed the finish line in four minutes, athletes have
been getting faster and faster. For instance, Steve Cram topped Bannister's
effort by running the mile in 3 minutes 46 seconds. Since then, several other
runners shave seconds off his record.
The same thing happened in high jump. No one believed anybody could
leap over eight feet. With one exception. Cuban Javier Sotomayor. He did
it in 1989. Now high jumpers around the world are determined jump even higher.
As I said, goals are funny things. As soon as you reach them, someone
pushes them further away. Your initial destination is never the end of the
So have faith in your dreams. Pursue your visions with everything
you've got. Listen to what Henry David Thoreau, the provocative, 19th century
American essayist had to say on the subject: 'If one advances confidently
in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he
imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected.'
It may not happen overnight or the day after. But if you keep pitching,
you will join the high and mighty in Galaxy Class.
If you want to get there, you've got to stay the distance. This
means you have to ...
BE TOUGH ON YOURSELF.
The road to the stars in business is pitted with craters and lined
with disappointments. To make the journey, you've got to be tough.
YOU'VE GOT TO PLAY TO WIN
Muhammad Ali would tell anyone who asked that a champion boxer has
to be able to take a good punch.
'A lot of fighters,' he said, 'can throw good punches. But a champion
has to be able to take a good punch and then another good punch, and still
keep on going.'
He's has withstand constant battering for 15 rounds. His sole objective:
to clobber his opponent. To stay the distance, he has to remain lean and
mean. He has train until he feels like dropping. Then he has to train some
This requires total commitment and the perseverance that makes you
come back for no matter what punishment your opponent deals out.
A friend of mine doesn't have the necessary commitment. I met him
in a Rosebank pub the other night. Although he's stout and bald, he's a tennis
freak. When I joined the conversation, he was discussing his on-court technique.
'My brain,' he declared, 'tells me: "Run forward. Start immediately.
Move quickly. Slam the ball over the net".'
'And then what happens?' I asked.
'And then,' my bloated friend replied, 'my body says: "who, me?"
As a tennis player, my friend is a washout. He'll never grace the
centre court at Wimbledon. As a new-age business person you won't make championship
level either unless you pull out all the stops ... unless you constantly
train to capture the big prize.
To be a winner you have to become a bad loser. The reason: good
losers get into the habit of losing.
|An American baseball team executive summed up the situation neatly:
'I do not think that winning is the most important thing. I think it is the
Constantly pushing yourself to the limit by sticking to a punishing
regime knocks hell out of you.
YOU TO HEIGHTS
So take time off to ...
A little stress, doctors tell us, is a good thing. It can hype up
your productivity. It gives you the 'high' you encounter when you really
exert yourself to reach your goal.
It gets your adrenaline flowing. But don't overdose on stress. Keep
it under control. Take time off to do a bit of nothing.
Rest and relaxation on crucial to recharge your batteries. Britain's
wartime leader, Sir Winston Churchill made no secret of the fact that he
took a long nap every day to clear his mind and keep himself on the go.
In South Africa, busy American-born advertising executive David
Wein, locked his office door between one and two every afternoon, put his
feet on the desk and took what he called 'forty winks'.
'It does me the world of good,' he confided. 'I feel like a new
man when I re-open the door at two o'clock.'
What do I do to unwind?
I watch videos of really good movies. I love listening to good music
and I love reading good novels. And when I want to get a way from it all,
my friend Dael Nathan and I head up to a quiet spot in the Eastern Transvaal
for a weekend of trout fishing.
I also indulge in more physical activity. I play squash every Friday
afternoon if I haven't been booked to make a presentation.
|My friendly neighbourhood doctor says that even a moderate amount
of regular exercise helps relieve stress problems. It apparently increases
the level of essential hormones in your body. And that energises you.
Stick these words of old Zen wisdom
somewhere prominent so they're always visible:
'A bow kept forever taut will break.'
You can also reduce stress levels at work.
By having fun.
Cultivate a sense of fun. Professional mind
probers are adamant that
it raises more than a giggle. An element of playfulness makes you and those
around you more creative, more satisfied and more productive.
People who find work fun are:
- less anxious;
- depressed less often;
- more motivated;
- more creative, and
- better able to withstand the rigours of tight schedules.
Philosopher William Lyon Phelps waxed lyrical about the subject:
'Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love
good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation
- what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.'
Don't be like comedian Woody Allen who complained: 'Most of the
time I don't have much fun. The rest of the time I don't have any fun at
So how do you inject fun into the workplace? Follow the lead given
by North American Tool & Die, a Californian operation that does metal
stamping. The company throws great parties to recognise worker achievements.
It dishes out plenty of awards and slaps a lot of backs. And they keep celebrations
at an informal, spontaneous level. They're more fun that way.
Funster cartoonist Charles Schulz, of
Peanuts fame, had a
bit to say about it: 'My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning,
and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?'
Dr Laurence Peter supplies the answer: 'Happiness is liking what
you do as well as doing what you like.'
So nourish yourself at work on a ...
DAILY DOSE OF HAPPINESS
The way the world of business is moving, change isn't an option.
It's an imperative for survival.
So don't hedge you bets ...
JUST DO IT.
If you sit in the middle of the road, you're likely to be run over
by traffic coming from both sides. By taking the initiative now you can become
someone who makes a difference.
Take a look at the merchandise next time you go into a store. Any
store. Most of them are 'me too' products, churned out
en masse. They're
boring. Without soul, without heart. They're lifeless. They may be functional,
they may even be easy on the eye. But they lack intrinsic beauty.
I met a design engineer when he attended one of my presentations.
He had an unusual philosophy for a technical man.
"When I work on a problem, Peter,' he said, 'I don't think about
beauty. I think only of how I can solve the problem. But when I've finished,
if my solution is not beautiful, I know deep down that it's wrong.'
If you adopt his attitude and put it into practice every day, whatever
you do must come roses.
But business isn't beautiful, you may argue. It's filling in forms,
churning out column after column of figures. It's noisy machines on the factory
floor. It's research and development in drab laboratories. It's trying to
satisfy demanding customers.
But in the words of a popular hit song of yesteryear: 'It ain't
All it takes is a little more thought, a little more effort to add
a great new dimension to whatever you do.
Beauty. Beauty which is more than skin deep. Beauty which has a
practical, marketable side. Beauty that has soul.
It will take guts and grim determination, a firm shift in mindset
and a go-for-broke attitude.
Dancers daily nourish the beauty of
choreographed by George Balanchine, by their own desire 'to be more ... more
lengthened out, more musically precise, more willing to take risks.'
Critic Mindy Aloff says they must find a way to be hungry..
They embrace all the elements of beauty: desire, improvisation, playfulness,
hunger and pain.
According to Luciano Pavarotti, there
are two kinds of singers. There is the type who does everything very
easily. He hits the top notes without batting an eyelid. Then there are
singers who experience a little trouble hitting high notes .
'But,' he says,
'they give you their heart.'
the first type of singer and, as he puts it, 'thy have all the
'So I think you
need a little effort. A cry. Pain. Something in there to make you think
it's true - to the singer and the audience.'
Innovative. Have fun. Maybe cry a little. Try a little harder. Give
whatever you do everything you got ...
HAVE A HEART AND YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE