3 Things I wish I had learned sooner

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I started in the business world when I left the Marines in 1968. Since then I’ve learned a lot. Here are three things I wish I had learned sooner.

How to Balance People Concerns and Productivity

The Marines taught me that a leader’s job is to accomplish the mission and care for the people. I got that. What I had to learn was how to do it.

Most of us naturally gravitate to one or the other: people or productivity. For me, it’s productivity. I’ll pay attention to helping the team be productive naturally. But I had to work at giving time and attention to the people and relationships. That’s still a challenge today.

I’ve learned that I need reminders and checklists and developed habits to help me give enough attention to relationships. My advice: figure out which you do naturally and develop systems so you do the other well. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

The Importance of Sleep and Recovery Time

I’ve been blessed with a strong constitution and relatively high energy levels. I was able to get the job done even when I was tired. I thought that because I could get by on very little rest and sleep, that it was it a good idea. It wasn’t.

I learned that I do more good work more easily when I’m fit and getting enough rest. I learned that it’s a good idea to allow time for recovery after a period of intense work. My advice: get enough sleep and allow time to recover after an intense period of work. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

How to Keep Routine Things from Becoming Emergencies

I’m good at paying attention to “the important stuff.” But, I often did that by letting routine things slide. Bad idea. For years there were cycles where I let routine things go until they turned into a crisis.

I learned that it’s important to get the routine things done routinely. My advice: set up systems so you do all those recurring and routine things on a regular basis. You can let them slip a little, but not much. I wish I’d learned that sooner.

Now it’s your turn

What things have you learned in your life that you wish you had learned sooner?

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What People Are Saying

Tom Pryor   |   18 Sep 2014   |   Reply

I wish someone would have told and shown me The Power of Multiplication when I was in high school. If I had started investing $50 per month in mutual funds earning 10% when I was in high school (50 years ago), I would have an extra $750,000 today.

Wally Bock   |   18 Sep 2014   |   Reply

Thanks, Tom.

Peter Davids   |   20 Sep 2014   |   Reply

It is nice to see that you have mentioned the importance of sleep for improving your productivity. Recovery time is probably the single most important factor that can make or break your business.

Wally Bock   |   20 Sep 2014   |   Reply

Thanks for the comment, Peter. What I discovered, almost by accident, was that when I didn’t get enough sleep, the number of hours I could be productive the next day was severely limited compared to days after a good night’s sleep.

Highway Worker   |   22 Sep 2014   |   Reply

People are the most important commodity in today’s world, whether it is construction, buisiness, etc. It took me awhile to figure out what may seem trivial to me is the ‘world’ to the person who is voicing their concerns. You need to visualize what their role is to fully understand their point of view. No employee is beneath you because everyone is a valuable part of the system too.

Wally Bock   |   22 Sep 2014   |   Reply

Good points. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

Charles Cleaver   |   23 Sep 2014   |   Reply

Understated but very important along with sleep is exercise. I have been doing group aerobic exercise for three decades. It clears the mental “palette”, vigorously pushes the sedntary work body, and aids in getting a good night’s sleep.

Wally Bock   |   23 Sep 2014   |   Reply

Thanks, Charles. I agree. Human beings were not designed for sitting for extended periods. We do better when we use our bodies as well as our brains and behinds.