A single moment can change your life. A single decision can have a lasting impact. A single relationship can define you in ways you would never expect.
That single moment happened in Laura Schroff’s life over 25 years ago. She was a successful advertising executive living in Manhattan. Her life was full and her schedule even more so.
Crossing 56th street one day, she heard a panhandler’s voice. “Excuse me, lady, I’m really hungry. Do you have any spare change?” She dismissed the request, moving quickly through the intersection.
Somewhere in the middle of the intersection is where that moment happened for Laura. That decision. Where the relationship started. Laura stopped, turned around and went back to meet the panhandler. His name was Maurice, and he was only 11 years old. She said she didn’t want to give him money, but she would buy him some food at McDonald’s.
For many, that would be it. A single act of goodwill. Not for Laura and Maurice. The one meal became a weekly dinner for years. Their relationship has continued to grow over the past twenty-five years.
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Getting any time by myself seems to be impossible. The pressures are just always there. I never have an empty plate. I never think, “What will I do today?” My to-do lists are never ending.
To get that time, I have finally realized that I need to make an appointment with myself. I have to get away. When I do, I find that my performance everywhere goes up.
Here are 7 Steps for An Effective Appointment with yourself:
1. Make an appointment with yourself. Put it on the calendar and block the time.
2. Have a specific goal in mind. When you review your calendar for the upcoming week, your mind takes note of that upcoming appointment. If you have a goal in mind, your subconscious begins to work on it for you.
Chrissie Wellington is the greatest female endurance athlete on the planet. She has won all thirteen Ironman competitions she has entered and four World Championships. She smashes through world records with a margin that is so large it resets the definition of what is possible.
Her book A Life Without Limits isn’t only a book for sports enthusiasts and triathletes. It’s written for anyone with the desire to achieve big goals. Chrissie’s story of getting to the top of the Ironman competition is one sure to inspire everyone.
It doesn’t matter where you start.
Chrissie grew up liking sports, but her focus was more on her studies.
Her unlikely rise to the top of the sporting world started in her first job. As what?
A government bureaucrat focused on international development.
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Clay Christensen is one of the world’s authorities on disruptive innovation. His book The Innovator’s Dilemma won the Global Business Book Award for the Best Business Book of the Year in 1997, and it went on to be one of the top selling business books for years. Recently, Professor Christensen teamed up with a former student, James Allworth and the editor of the Harvard Business Review, Karen Dillon to write How Will You Measure Your Life? It’s about applying business principles to create a better life.
You end your courses—and began this book—with a set of three fundamental “How can I be sure that…” questions. Can you give us some background of how your thinking led to these three specific questions?
Clay: The questions actually emerged from two of my experiences at Harvard Business School. The first was as a result of being a student here. Every five years, the school hosts reunions and it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends. At our first reunion — five years out from graduation — everyone seemed to be so successful, prosperous and happy: the promise of our years at school seemed destined to pay off. But at subsequent reunions, things started to change. Cracks in that promise started to become apparent.
Now, I don’t want to mislead you — many of my classmates have gone on to incredible successes, have happy families and have raised wonderful children. But more of us than I would have hoped seemed to have made choices that haven’t led us to those outcomes. That led to the questions: how can I be sure that I find happiness in my career, find happiness in my relationships, and be sure that I live a life of integrity? Those seemed to be the questions that some of us had either never thought to ask, or had lost track of.
Now, with that as context, the second source was the class that I teach today at the Harvard Business School. Using the business theory that we’ve gone through all semester, I’ve enlisted my students to help answer—both for my benefit, and for theirs—the questions that so many of my classmates seemed to have lost track of.
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Do you remember the Road Runner cartoon? Wile E. Coyote would be chasing Road Runner who would “beep, beep!” and manage to slip away. Always two steps ahead of the coyote, Road Runner just outmaneuvered him in every episode.
I remember when the coyote would run right off a cliff in pursuit. And he would dramatically just keep running on air, not realizing that he wasn’t on solid ground. Though it was predictable, you would see the sudden realization, the pause, the expression and then the inevitable fall.
As a kid, I identified with the road runner. We were outsmarting our opponent. We just laughed at that coyote. How could he be so stupid? Every single week, he repeated the same mistakes. How could you be running so fast that you don’t realize you just ran off a cliff?
I watched one of those old cartoons today, and I looked at it from a completely different perspective. Instead of identifying with the road runner, I saw the coyote with new empathy.