How is it that we always seem to get into work on Monday morning, pumped up, re-charged and ready to go, determined to tick off every item on our ‘to do’ list and make this the week that we really achieve all our aims and then some, only to get to Friday afternoon, fagged out and fretful, with a metaphorical briefcase full of broken promises, half-finished projects and extended deadlines?
And then we chill out over the week-end, re-charge those work batteries again and bounce back in on Monday morning, making all those meaningless mental promises all over again.
It’s just like our annual New Year’s resolutions which basically are the same as the weekly ones, only more zealous and usually more personal.
Things like Give Up Smoking, Start Gym, Give Up Alcohol, Start To Build Better Relationships, Give Up Your Job, Start A New One. It’s all about giving up one thing so you can take up another. Makes you wonder why you ever started those bad things in the first place, doesn’t it?
And this invariably leads to feelings of guilt over past behavior, followed by even more when you break those personal promises and slip back into your bad old ways.
The big mistake is to make those New Years resolutions all about tangible goals like quitting smoking and regular excursions to the gym and it’s the same with our Monday morning maps.
We need to start with a little self-examination and a resolution to get our attitude right and change the way we see the world – not external attitudes and behaviour, but getting to the root of where our ingrained attitudes and behaviour come from.
At HRMC we often test people’s cognitive process ability. This means that to really understand the way people process information and solve problems you need to take away everything familiar – get back to basics if you will. It means taking away people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes (competencies) and measuring how they process information in completely unfamiliar environments.
It is done by means of playing an unfamiliar game where the rules differ from what is known or expected and you have to interpret using not memory or experiences, but your brain or natural aptitude. In effect it’s measuring how people respond without the shackles and inhibitions of conventional wisdom.
People talk about their ‘comfort zone’ ÔÇô a reluctance to change something major or minor in their lives because of some irrational fear of the consequences. For example, I know a couple who built a house in one part of Gabs years ago and they’ve lived there ever since.
But recently they built what they themselves describe as a dream house in another area yet they can’t bring themselves to move so they rent out this dream property to some lucky strangers.
They’re stuck inevitably in their housing comfort zone and it would take a paradigm shift in attitude and a big shot of bravery medicine to ever make them move.
It’s the same in the workplace. How many people do you know who’ve held down the same job with the same company for donkey’s years, despite the fact that career-wise they aren’t heading anywhere? It’s easy, it’s comfortable, and change would mean a big, scary decision ÔÇô a leap into the unknown.
Even though it might be a move for the better, in the back of their mousey minds, it just might not! So instead they stick it out in their dull yet safe environments, stuck in their corporate comfort zone. If they have a Monday morning ‘to do’ list, it’s simply not ambitious enough.
Their only ambition is to try and hold on to their jobs, hoping that the workload never increases and that they aren’t asked to do anything too creative or innovative over and above their run-of-the-mill duties.
I’m not suggesting you should storm into work tomorrow morning and hand in your notice ÔÇô not unless you really want to, that is. Nor am I saying you should draw up a list of unachievable fleeting personal goals just to prove you’re out of the box and not in the zone.
What I am suggesting is that Monday lists and New Year resolutions should both involve working to your potential and personal and professional fulfilment.
It’s no good determining to have that contract signed before the week is out, only to find that the co-signatory is out of town and the client has changed some of the conditional clauses. Rather ask yourself, have you made significant progress on the bigger issue, ensuring that not only will it eventually happen, but that when it does it will be a success?
In other words, don’t set yourself impossible set-in-stone targets. Instead, make sure you set personal goals which will challenge you and keep you moving forward.
So when you get into the office tomorrow morning, mentally separate out your aide-memoire diary list and your mental challenge list. Make the phone calls, attend the meetings and keep the appointments ÔÇô that’s the easy bit.
The hard part is being able to see the progress as a process and to just keep on working through it, whatever day of the week or month of the year it happens to be. After all, if the list were that easy to achieve, anybody could do it and you’re not just anybody, are you?
Agree or disagree with this? Don’t twitter amongst yourselves ÔÇô tweet your chirps to http://twitter.com/Stuart_Botswana
*STUART WHITE is Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on Phone: 395 1640 or on www.hrmc.co.bw