Managing oneself well isn’t easy.
One CEO I know and work with keeps a small clock in front of him and the person he is meeting with at all times. If he is having a one-hour meeting, the meeting lasts for exactly one hour. This CEO is polite. He is professional. He is disciplined. He is structured. And he is rigid when it comes to his time. He is also overworked and under enough stress that his health suffers from time to time.
I know another CEO, who is perpetually late. Not only does he show up late for meetings that he called, but he also misses meetings that other people have scheduled with him. He exercises little control over his calendar, and less control over himself. He is also overworked and stressed out.
Too Much To Control
The first CEO is doing too much. It feels to him like he has everything under control. But control is an illusion. His grip is too tight, and what slips through his fingers is often his health.
What this CEO needs more than anything is margin. He needs to loosen up the control and give himself space to breathe. That space is not wasted; it’s room to reflect and be creative. It’s room to meditate, renew and recharge.
Neither the mind or the body is like an engine that can run endlessly. Too much is a recipe for burnout.
Too Little Control
Living in a reactive mode is no better. Not only can you end up doing too much, but you can also end up doing too much poorly. Worse still, you can end up doing work that you shouldn’t be doing it all.
The problem with living in a reactive mode is that by exercising too little control, you never invest enough time in the most important, most strategic, and most meaningful work that you should be doing.
Without control, you miss commitments, and you damage relationships.
One of the keys to getting things done is to have a careful balance between controlling your calendar and your work while leaving room for yourself and other people.
It might feel like the blank spaces on your calendar should all be filled with something, but that would crowd out the time you need to recharge, renew, and respond to people who need your help.
Managing oneself well isn’t about too much control or too little control. It’s about making strategic decisions to do some things and not to do others.
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