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Six Keys To Personal & Professional Achievement

Author(s):

Daniel O. Coleman, C.P.M.
Daniel O. Coleman, C.P.M., Purchasing Manager, Enron Gas Pipeline Group, www.enron.com, Houston, TX, 77002, (713) 646-7028, dcolema@enron.com

84th Annual International Conference Proceedings - 1999 

Abstract. The Six Keys to Achievement in your personal life as well as in your professional life are Setting Goals, Leadership Skills, Managing Change, Attitude Maintenance, Communication Skills and Networking. People fail to set goals for many reasons - the fear of failure, the fear of success, or, simply not knowing how to properly set goals. If you've never kept a written set of goals before, you'll have them when you leave this workshop! Your leadership skills not only make you effective with others, but they direct you toward achievement for yourself. If you think you have no leadership skills, think again, because they exist. You simply have to exercise them! It is human nature to be comfortable with the status quo, but opportunity comes with change. You can Manage Change, or it will manage you. Do we have any control over our attitude, or is our attitude a function of external influences? Your attitude keeps you focused on achievement; keep control of it at all times. Do you know the Seven Degrees of Separation principle? It does make a difference who you know, and when you know them. Do you listen, or do you wait to speak? What you communicate is how you are perceived.

Setting Goals. What good is a roadmap, if there isn't a destination? If we drive carefully, wear our safety belts, keep gasoline in the tank, obey the speed limits, slow down in school zones, and come to a complete stop at stop signs, we may still drive in circles and never arrive anyplace. And life is the same way. We can be punctual, polite, busy, conscientious, intelligent, honest, and hardworking, and still never accomplish anything.

Some of us are reluctant to set goals out of fear we will not be able to attain them. The avoidance of failure. If we don't set out to achieve anything, we can't fail. The other extreme is setting goals so ridiculously high that there is no practical way to begin, and so fail by design. So we never set goals, and therefore never fail to achieve them. Along life's path we accidentally encounter isolated episodes of success by being punctual, polite, busy, conscientious, intelligent, honest, and hardworking. But we don't know where we are going, and so generally accept whatever comes our way.

Simple Guidelines for Writing Goals

  • Specify a single key result to be achieved.M
  • Specify a completion target date.
  • Make it as specific, measurable and verifiable as possible.
  • Define supporting activities, if necessary.
  • Make it realistic and attainable, but still representing a significant challenge.

Example:

Marie's Goal For 1999: To win the lottery and retire by 12-31-99.

Supporting Activities

  1. Select winning lottery numbers by 12-1-99.
  2. Buy lottery ticket by 12-3-99.
  3. Win lottery on 12-5-99.
  4. Pick up winnings on 12-7-99.
  5. Retire on 12-8-99.
  6. Begin spending winnings (evergreen).

There was an element of mirth in Marie's goal, however, it is clearly stated, specific, measurable, and includes appropriate supporting activities. Commit your goals to paper, and keep them in a place where you ca look at them every week. Every day ask yourself, "What can I do today to move closer to one of my goals?"

Leadership Skills. "Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better." - Harry S Truman

People are interested in managing change, and being an integral part of initiating change through leadership. Leadership skills are just that, skills, and like any skills they can be practiced and improved. These skills have proven time and again to be most valuable for effective leaders.

Leadership Skills & Behaviors

  • Vision Into The Future
  • Enthusiasm
  • Spirit of Teamwork
  • Understand Individual Motivation
  • Encourage Risk-taking
  • Results Oriented
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Make it Fun

Managing Change. What is in store for the future? They say that the factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog. The dog is there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

There are very few business environments left where it is acceptable to continue practices because they are consistent with practices of the past. Continuous improvement measures are called for in what seems to be an increasingly competitive world. The ability to be flexible and to Manage Change are important skills.

God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; Give us the courage to change what should be changed; Give us the wisdom to distinguish one from the other. -- Reinhold Niebuhr

Attitude. Driving across town one morning I was inadvertently cut off by a commuter rushing downtown. I slammed on the brakes and everything inside the car hurtled forward--cell phone, CD's, dry cleaning. I was furious and would have remained that way until I realized I was letting external events control my attitude.

How is your attitude?? What kind of attitude are you going to have? Do we have any control over our attitude, or is our attitude a function of our surroundings?

Don't let other people or events control your attitude. That's destructive, and it puts the power over you in the hands of somebody else. If you put someone else in charge of your attitude, you disempower yourself.

Networking. Sometimes it really is who you know, or when you know them. Do you know of anybody who is in a job they do not seem qualified for? And you wonder how did they get there? Networking is important, and your people skills are important. And it doesn't always need to take a lot of time.

Tips For Networking

Keep a pad of note cards in your desk, and write one every day. Thank a supplier for outstanding service. A note to a volunteer thanking them for their efforts.

Use the Internet to send brief "stay in touch" notes.

Make phone calls after hours when you know you'll get voice mail, and "just say hello."

Socially, watch your body language. Avoid the "I'm unapproachable" look.

Target to learn 1 or 2 new names.

Go ahead and ask for what you need.

Listen, listen.

Become a valuable resource to others.

Learn to introduce yourself and describe your occupation in 25 words or less. Communication Skills. How you communicate is more important than what you communicate. I've seen people put across poor ideas successfully, and others make such garbage out of good ideas that they are disregarded.

More and more writing tools are available to us, but be careful not to write the same way you talk. Remember, there is no vocal tone on written communications, you have to insert your tone into your writing.

Other Thoughts on Communication I wish that people who cannot communicate clearly would just shut up! - Tom Lehrer

Most of us know how to say nothing; few of us know when. - Anon. -

That man can put the fewest thoughts into the most words of anybody I ever met. - Mark Twain

Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment. - Pearl S. Buck

These signs seen... ...in the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox Monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

...in a Paris hotel elevator: Please leave your values at the front desk.

...in a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.


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