Two weeks ago we reviewed the superb list the Gallup Organization has put together regarding employee engagement. As you wrote and considered what specific area you could work on, what was your major focus? How are you going to go about getting to where you need to be in that focus?
As noted before, this is a busy time of year and it is easy, especially with fourth quarter/end-of-year pressures bearing down to go into survival mode and say, “this can wait until next year”. However, in the last couple of weeks, I ran across a talk given by John Maxwell given to one of his mentorship groups within the John Maxwell team.
The major point was called the Rule of Five. Let me share it with you.
Imagine that you have a tree, of any size, in your back yard. While most of us are used to using a chain saw to take down a tree, this time you only have an axe. For those of you who have chopped down a tree with an axe, it takes time and is very tiring.
Now imagine that instead of being asked to chop down the entire tree this morning, all that I am asking you to do is take five swings. In fact, that is all I want you to do. You are busy and you have other tasks. All you have to do is take five swings a day with the axe. You do have to use the axe, not a baseball bat, or a hammer. Have to have the right tool, that sometimes is heavy, and necessary.
Over time, regardless of the size of that tree, the five swings a day will cause it to fall. Now the analogy is clear, but I don’t want the point to be lost in the simplicity. It applies to what you need to do over the next few weeks and months. Just five swings a day. But what constitutes a swing?
John Maxwell is a prolific author, having written over 100 books on leadership, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which is best-selling leadership book of all time with over 23 million copies sold.
He is many times asked how he is able to write as much as he does. His answer personifies the Rule of Five. These are the five swings he takes. He says:
1. I write – Every day, without fail.
2. I read – Although nearly 70 years of age, with an international-class reputation as a thought leader, he still gets excited about new sources of information.
3. I file – When asked why he is so intelligent and successful, Maxwell replied, “I am not smart, I file. And I file every day”. What is filing? Everything he reads that interests him and he wants to remember, he clips and files, either electronically or physically.
4. I ask questions – He is a committed fanatic about questions. Even wrote a book about it: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.
5. I reflect – He takes time to evaluate every day. Then at the end of the year, he takes a week evaluates the year based on his daily reflections accumulated throughout the year.
And he has done these five things for decades. Any questions as to where the source of the success comes from? Not a bit. These five “axe swings” exercised over the years, have resulted in some impressive, life changing gains.
What will be the ‘tree’ you want to fall? What obstacle keeps you up at night? Is it worth starting to swing to solve this problem?
What will constitute your five swings a day? What behaviors will you chose to do every single day, without exception?
Please don’t consider this just another simplistic approach to serious situations. This will be one of the hardest changes to implement, since it takes discipline and accountability.
Again the question: what will be your five swings?