Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Another interesting article in "The Star" & wanted to share with you all..
IN the last week of 2009, someone posed four questions to me: “What surprised you in 2009? What was most difficult for you in 2009? What was most life-giving to you in 2009? What would you take with you in 2010 and what will you leave behind?
These questions are by no means only for those who are either too free or retired. I believe we can and should reflect on them if we are to start the new year in the right spirit.
For those of us in the workforce – whether we are just an ordinary worker doing routine things in the office or a CEO who has to make profound decisions that will affect the livelihood of the thousands working in the company – these questions actually are an audit on our performance and help us plan for our future.
For example, the one thing that could surprise a CEO in 2009 may be the fact that someone down the line was prepared to tell him that he got it all wrong when the coterie of Yes Men around him said otherwise.
A difficult moment could be getting bypassed for promotion.
Life-giving? How about getting the CSR assignment and finding the passion as work connects with your personal philosophy for the greater good?
The fourth question is interesting because it challenges us to leave our burdens behind and not carry baggage into the future. This could be something as simple as not holding a grudge, or forgiving a colleague who stabbed us in the back.
On a more practical level, it could also be about how we do our work. When I first started work as a journalist straight out of school some 30 years ago, one of the most empowering moments was realising that as a reporter, there was no such thing as work held over. Each day begins and closes with that day’s issue of the newspaper.
If you get scooped by the competitor, you just have to face the wrath of your boss. When I looked at people with administrative or management duties in the same office, I noted that work can pile up.
If he or she goes on leave, the files just get thicker. Sometime in the early part of my career, I saved enough to go backpacking in Europe for two months. No one missed me at the office.
Now that’s real freedom.
Of course, reality sinks in as we are placed in more responsible positions. Somehow, with each title added to our names, our freedom begins to shrink, as work seems to be always dominant.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng laments in his interview withStarBizWeek’s 10 Questions (Jan 2) that while multi-tasking and time management help him oversee a 10,000-strong administration, he still cannot spend enough quality or quantity time with his growing children.
Because of my early training and exposure to doing things fast and not procrastinating, I find that it is possible for me to manage my duties without too much of a carry-on effect. It is good to not put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Look at the fourth question again, about what you want to take forward and what you want to leave behind. This need not be an annual exercise, it can be a daily commitment.
If you get it right, you will have less stress and more freedom. No matter how senior you are, you should be able to leave the office knowing that things will work out well in your absence because the people take the tasks you delegate to them seriously and responsibly. If a staff has done well, encourage; if he screws up, correct immediately.
Some of the most stress-free individuals I know are those who happily subscribe to the philosophy that no one is indispensible and that their main function in the workplace is to work themselves out of the job, and then move on.
A New Year SMS reminded me that 2010 will have 52 weeks, the equivalent of 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds. What portion of that is spent in your workplace or thinking about work even after you leave the office?
And what is left for the many important things in life? Think about that.