CEO Executive Coach Tony Mayo has shared a great deal of practical information with business people since re-launching his free e-mail newsletter in 2008. Here is a list of topics covered. Just click on any title to read more.
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.
Place your calendar in the physical world rather than in a computer or app where it can hide. Hang it where you will see it everyday. 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.
Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.
The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.
Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.
Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.
Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.
People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
Give up clinging to the illusion of certainty, said executive coach Tony Mayo. Accounting is a black and white world and as such attracts people who like certainty. However, once you move from being a bookkeeper to being a CFO, you are dealing with the future rather than keeping track of the past. “We think we can control the outcomes, but we can’t, so trade certainty for confidence,” Mayo said. “Confidence that you can handle what is coming next. Rather than trying to control and constrain, let’s learn how to respond and create.”
Understand your purpose. “If you identify yourself with a particular number occurring on a particular day, you can’t win,” said Mayo, so get clear about your purpose as a human, as an executive and as an organization.
There is great power in a resolution that has no reservations in it — a strong, persistent, tenacious purpose — which burns all bridges behind it and which clears all obstacles from its path and arrives at its goal, no matter how long it may take, no matter what the sacrifice or the cost.