Many years ago when I was working as a union organizer, I developed a set of rules that I shared with the teams I was tasked with leading. They were more than rules, they were the guiding principles for how we operated not only with each other, but also the workers we were assigned to serve. Over the years and the many changes that I have experienced, I continue to find that these simple, but timeless guidepost, serve as beacons of light on those dark nights-always bringing us through safely. As always, I hope that you are able to take these “rules” and apply them to your circumstance and you are served as well as I have been.
- Be on Time
Nothing speaks more loudly about the value we place on others than whether or not we show up on time. When we are on time, we are demonstrating respect for the persons involved, the task at hand, as well as our care and concern for others. Showing up late, sends the unequivocal message that we are more important than anything else.
- Be prepared
As the saying goes, fortune favors the prepared. Have you ever sat through a class, presentation, or meeting when the facilitator, trainer, or group member came unprepared? What was your emotional response? Disrespected, betrayed, hurt, disillusioned…angry? Much like being on time, being prepared means that you matter. Likewise, being unprepared means you don’t.
- Plan your work and work your plan.
Poor planning promotes poor performance. Doing first things first, seems like the obvious, “common sense” approach to anything, right?! Then let me ask, how many days do we go about our day, going from task, to task, to task; only to find we hadn’t accomplished anything but getting exhausted? Too many!! Planning my work means just that, I identify in writing what task need to be accomplished and then prioritize those according to essentials task completed before the less or non-essential task. Deviating from the plan is bad practice and can only lead to problems.
- Do one thing at a time
Where are my multitaskers at? Listen up and listen good, knock it off! When we are attempting to complete multiple task or engage in multiple activities, we are doing a disservice to ourselves, those whom we serve and/or whom we are accountable to in addition to those with whom we are engaged. We cannot serve two masters-everything suffers. The damage resulting from violating this rule on relationships is devastating.
- Stay on task
Don’t go chasing waterfalls, rabbits, squirrels or beating dead horses. When we allow ourselves to be uprooted at every “crisis” we feed into that sickness that feeds off chaos creation and we become reactionary. Breathe, we don’t have to respond or engage to everything that comes our direction. Ask, how this fits into your work plan and if it doesn’t don’t do it. True emergencies should only be handled by trained first responders.
- There are NO victims ONLY volunteers
Owning our part in all of our circumstances is freeing. It removes the need to assign blame- we know who is responsible-we are! When we practice this principle we become more mindful, present, in tune and in touch.
- Do more than is expected (Persist)
Every spiritual or faith tradition speaks to this practice (i.e going the second mile). We also know from stories of people like Fred Ross Sr. who persisted in doing more than was expected while dealing with the constant evading and eluding that this guy Cesar was doing. We would have never known Cesar Chavez. How about all of the stories from recovery or success, people not giving up. I wonder what inventions have we missed, what cures haven’t been discovered, or world leader passed over because we were doing the bare minimum.
- Remember your Purpose
Our primary purpose, regardless or chosen field or endeavor, is building and maintaining relationships. Science tells us that we are hardwired for connection. Each of us is engaged in the people business. When we lose sight of this principle and other things take precedent over people it would be a good time to do a values check; it’s a clear indicator that we are off course.
- Turn your phone off
How many places do you go to and see couples, parents and children, and groups of friends all together but totally absorbed in their phones. No engagement, no connection, no real relationship. Follow this rule for every meeting, training, and conversation. Like the cut and dry nature of all of these rules, we make it abundantly clear to all those with whom we are engaged how much value we place on them as persons and the dynamics of that relationship. It is such a simple thing that pays off exponentially.
- Have fun
We are together for such a short amount of time. We forget this fact deluding ourselves into thinking that we will go see that relative, call that friend, spend quality time with the family, go skydiving, take up scuba diving, painting, or gardening. Only to wake up to a reality where putting something off is no longer an option. We work hard and the reward for that is play. So get out there and have some fun!!