'Exceptional achievers
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.


QUIT smoking.

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 you.

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 ditching cigarettes.

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 ...

CHILDLIKE CURIOSITY.

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 does happen.

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 myself.'

After another short pause, the kid piped up again: 'Dad ...? Oh, never mind.'

'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 ideas.

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.

Don't
allow past
expertise to crowd
out new
input

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 poured tea.

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 next century.'

McCoy concluded that most important political choices have to do with human values, not just 'expert' information, and have to be made with heart.

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 and madmen.'

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.

So... 

HAVE HEART.
Persevere
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 ...

GALAXY CLASS.

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.

SUCCESS IS
NOT ALWAYS
FINAL. IF YOU
BUILD A BETTER
MOUSETRAP, NATURE
WILL BUILD A
SMARTER MOUSE.

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 line.

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 more.

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 only thing.'

Constantly pushing yourself to the limit by sticking to a punishing regime knocks hell out of you.

MODERATE
STRESS PUSHES
YOU TO HEIGHTS
THAT YOU
NEVER KNEW
WERE POSSIBLE.

So take time off to ...

UNWIND.

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.

MAKE
YOUR WORK
ENTERTAINING.
STAY LOOSE
AND LAUGH
A LOT.

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.

How?

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 all.'

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 necessarily so.'

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 Symphonie Concertante, 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.. to crave. 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.'

Schools produce the first type of singer and, as he puts it, 'thy have all the pyrotechnics'.

So?

'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.'

Improve. 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

Previous  

  Authors Note
    Introduction: Prepare Yourself for the New Business Order
     
1. The Evolution of Change
     
2. Give your Company a 'New Look' Profile
     
3. Run Your Own Show
     
4. Lead, Don't Manage
     
5. Cross Train Yourself
     
6. Become a Self-Contained Profit Centre
     
7. Think Network
     
8. Benchmark Yourself
     
9._ Have Heart
     
  Return to FunZone!