Here is a simple yet powerful tool to establish habits, learn a skill, or complete a project. I used it to reinforce my daily meditation practice and to write two books.
The method is as old as procrastination but has been attributed recently to billionaire comedian Jerry Seinfeld, as in this frequently cited LifeHacker article, where it is called Don’t Break the Chain. I prefer positive instructions, so let’s name it Link-a-Day.
Buy or make a simple, clean one-year calendar. Do not just print your Outlook or Google calendar; those have too many distracting details for this purpose. You can start your own on any date and fit 365 days on one sheet by downloading my template here in Excel format or use the Google Sheets version here.
Print your calendar and place it in the physical world rather than hide it in a computer or app where it can be too easily ignored. Hang it where you will see it every day. I put mine on the wall right next to my computer monitor.
After you complete the promised activity for the day, mark it complete. When you miss a day or two, start again. No regrets, no excuses. Just start again. You can play games with Link-a-Day by playing for a longer unbroken chain or a shorter gap than last time.
That’s it. As Aristotle observed, a person is what she consistently does. Use this to start doing something you will be proud to be.
How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one but the light bulb must truly want to change.
How many executive coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
Executive coaches know better than to change anyone. Clients don’t need more changes. They want more and better choices.
The distinction between therapy and executive coaching was established early and is important to respect. The International Coach Federation states it clearly, “Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals.” Therapists discover what’s wrong and fix it. Coaches nurture what’s right and unleash it. Fundamental to my executive coaching is, “The most powerful stance for effective action is: I’m fine and I choose to try something else.” As Carl Rogers emphasized, growth requires a safe environment. If the adviser’s job is to find the client’s flaws and errors, he must adopt an attitude of detachment and superiority. On the other hand, great executive coaches have so much respect and admiration for their clients that I can’t help loving mine.
The differences between fixing people and respecting them, between finding problems and generating possibilities, between change and choice, between labeling and loving, between consulting and coaching make all the difference in the world.
Someone posted the most amazing review of my book. Not only is the writer not my mother, I’ve never even met him.
Did I laugh out loud? Yes, a lot, but this novel is not pure comedy. There will be many interpretations about the heartbeat of this story because it’s written in such a way that each reader will get hooked in his/her own personal way. I see it as a story of … <click here to read the rest>
I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”
My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”
“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)
* What changed in the 1980s that made so many of today’s jobs inhumane
* How consulting to MCI inspired the story
* Influence of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
* Tools for Personal Transformation
* Choosing a stand or “Way of Being”
* The useful coaching concept of “game”
* How physical spaces engender specific behaviors
* How personal relationships can enrich business effectiveness
* Transform pain and disappointment into growth
* Finding time and focus to write a novel
* Pre-meeting meetings and after action reviews
* The “Slow / Fast” Method vs. typical business behavior
* Tony’s next book: “The Conversation Contract”
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be corporate cowboys. Or make ’em be bankers and lawyers and such.
In the 1980s, I was a minor participant in major trends that would blow up the world economy in 2008, determine the dehumanizing workplace culture of today, and establish the Wall Street plutocracy that still guides governments and blames the poor for the plight of the middle class. Our descent began in the eighties, from endless e-mails to mind-numbing meetings, deregulated banks to defunded pensions, mortgage-backed securities to job insecurity, hedge fund royalty to vanishing loyalty, private equity to income inequality, even Starbucks ubiquity and business books’ vacuity.
I reluctantly admit that I eagerly supported every aspect of it. I ate the dog food and drank the Kool-Aid™. I believed in and tried to practice the free market economics and financial engineering I had been taught at the University of Chicago. I worked nights and weekends at an investment bank to help create a trading platform for one of the first derivatives. I willfully immersed myself in the toxic corporate culture of MCI. I was a true believer who gave thanks to capitalist economists Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, cowboy capitalists Bill McGowan and Michael Milken, and most of all to cowboy president Ronald Reagan for making the 1980s “Morning in America.”
I was wrong. Now, I am mourning for America. This novel, detailing a descent and incipient redemption similar to my own, is partial penance and restitution. I hope this story encourages my readers to make better choices and a better world than I did.
After experiencing MCI, I began my search for a way of working that encouraged people to produce results while feeling appreciated, connected, and healthy. That quest made me an executive coach and gave me a life dedicated to workplaces of humanity and prosperity.
Lurking amongst the thousands of words in this book are a few dozen that are considered profanity, including certain stalwart Anglo-Saxon four letter words beginning with f and s. Since a major goal of this story is to convey a sense of the time and environment in which events are set, I chose to use herein the exact, if impolite, language I heard and occasionally used. I regret any upset or disturbance this accuracy may cause the sensitive reader but expressing your objection is likely to incite the author to use these very same words in reference to the complainant.
Fast-paced, funny, and smart. This novel puts you into the world of a young MBA striving to succeed at a famous high-tech company. Brash and confident yet comically inept, Tony clashes with colleagues, clients, and even his biggest supporters. He fires his most loyal employee, derails the career of his only friend, and nearly destroys his young marriage before transforming from chilly corporate collaborator to empathetic executive coach. Laugh and learn as his clients turn criminal, corporations collapse, and compassion triumphs.
It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social-betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.
–Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
A veteran executive coach draws on his years inside Arthur Andersen, Wall Street, and MCI to share a moving story that explains why your 401k shrank, your house is underwater, and your job stinks. The comedy and conflict illustrate management methods and personal practices that can improve your career and deepen your personal relationships.