Saturday, February 16, 2008


We – you and I – are managers. We’re professionals in the management business. Lately I’ve been on the periphery of an experience in another person’s life and have been watching what I evaluate as “gross mismanagement” which has lead to thoughts about personal management.

Let me tell you about my management experience to illustrate the thoughts rolling around in my head. I manage money, health, knowledge, relationships, time and attitude.

I find managing money the easiest and the least rewarding. The principles are simple. Spend less than one earns. Don’t make impulse purchases. Read the fine print. Etc, etc, etc, boring, boring. Money is simply a necessary tool.

Managing physical health is more interesting, takes more effort and is more rewarding. Eat right, get at least seven hours of sleep and move. That’s a simple formula with opportunity for personal creativity in eating and moving. I enjoy trying new recipes and foods. Moving involves using steps rather than elevators, walking rather than riding, doing daily chores, going to the weight room, hiking and a multitude of other options. The rewards are immediate and pleasant.

I am required to manage knowledge. I remember my fear when trying to cross the first four-lane street I confronted at the age of 7, my curiosity at the first doorbell I discovered at the age of eight and my amazement at my first escalator ride at the age of 10. When young I learned the knowledge and skills required to cross streets and operate simple equipment. Now, I live in a highly technical computerized world but I find the technology uninteresting and the knowledge easy to acquire. However, I’m gaining knowledge about more complex issues with more serious consequences -- global warming, my impact on the universe, changing an outdated and flawed political system, seeking accurate knowledge now that the news media have transformed into marketing and entertainment. Life is always evolving and learning new skills and knowledge are mandatory.

Managing social relationships with family, friends and coworkers is difficult. Each of us is a complex creation with different genetics, varying experiences and dissonant values. I find I tend to prefer solitude and short interactions with people other than my wife. This can be a formula for disaster and I struggle to stay connected in healthy relationships in constructive ways.

Time management is a function of values. What do I value and therefore want to devote time? In my later years I’m less productive in some areas because, more and more, I value simplicity, a slow pace, marriage and self. Years ago I started the day with a list of tasks. Now I prefer to start the day with bird feeders, breakfast with Julie and a walk.

The most difficult and challenging management responsibility is attitude. Benjamin Franklin said “He that best understands the world, least likes it.” I can consume the media, focus on the negative and put myself into a dark mood. I can but I choose not. I read books and watch movies that lift my spirits. I mask an unhappy vocal coworker with music. I get a dose of endorphins with exercise. I participate in a men’s group to draw myself out of my innate tendency toward disconnect. I avoid reading rants that don't offer hope. Managing my attitude is the most important thing I do. It’s the basis for everything above.

Here’s my bottom line. Life is a series of self management choices. Bad choices have bad results. Good choices don’t necessarily have good results but they maximize the probability for good results.


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


I love this post. I am going to print it out and make several copies and spread them around my home and my office, putting them in obvious and non-obvious places. That way it will catch my attention for awhile and also surprise me from time to time when I come across them again.

A few other management thoughts:

change happens and it's ongoing;
one thing leads to another;
the knee bone's connected to the hip bone to the back bone to the head bone and to the brain bone;
and keep asking yourself: what are you doing which you've been doing all along just because you have been doing it all along and ask yourself if you could do without it; then recycle to the top of the list.


2/16/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Actually, Life sucks and then you die.

But hey, let's suck it up and run from the devil!

2/16/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I don't believe I've looked on life quite this way. Interesting analogy.

2/17/2008 12:36:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home