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by Alan Hargreaves

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Mindfulness: how doing nothing can help

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Should you start a business?

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Type “business plan” into your search engine and you’ll find thousands of templates. People write lots of business plans. It's something you have to do if you are going to start a business. But before you do all that, there is one key question you have to answer: should I actually do this?

At a rough guess, probably two out of every three people I know who have started a business wish they hadn’t. That’s not necessarily because the business failed. A lot do, but a lot don’t. And a lot make very little money.

Nor is it because they didn’t have a good idea, or lacked commitment or energy. It is more that it just didn’t turn out to be as wonderful as they thought it was going to be. It’s a little like having a best-ever holiday. If you go back to the same place two years later expecting the same, chances are you’ll be disappointed.

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The Fullback

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Ever have days when you can’t seem to get focused?

We take a dim view of distraction. We think we should be constantly paying attention – as if we were all hard wired for acute focus.

What if distraction is our brain telling us we need to take a broader view; that there is a lot going on and we need to monitor our entire environment, not just the minutiae.

What if we embraced our distraction?

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Creating action: make the first step the biggest

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Action creates action. We probably all know that. Once you get on a roll, you tend to keep on rolling. It’s the first action that’s the hardest part.

 The fuel for motivation is found in the tiniest rays of hope – that sense that we are moving in the right direction, or heading toward actually achieving something. Unfortunately, hope only gets rolling when things have started happening. It’s all very chicken-and-egg.

The good news is that you don’t have to progress very far to raise some hope. Taking the very smallest step chips away at mental and emotional inertia.

Without hope, we are easily overwhelmed by the size of the mountain we have to climb. We view the entire ascent as one massive obstacle rather than something that is achieved through piecing together a number – possibly even a large number -- of very simple steps. 

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What happens if you don’t delegate?

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I once asked a colleague of mine how he kept his desk so clean

There was all sorts of clutter on my own desk. I think I knew where everything was, but it didn’t look that great. New piles seemed to sprout like weeds and there was an array of folders parked there like old cars in the bottom paddock. Some had been there for months. Compared to my desk, his looked like a freshly mown lawn.  How did he do it?

The answer was simple enough: Every time a piece of paper landed on his desk, he asked himself ‘Who is the best person to handle this?’. If it wasn’t him, it got sent off to them.

You could argue that that’s about all there is to management.

Deciding what is yours and what is theirs isn’t that hard. There are only two things that should determine your role:

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Personal organisation #101 - the single best idea

Do you know this internal dialogue?

In the meeting: That’s great info. I must look up that website before the next meeting.

Next week: Where did I put that URL? I know I wrote it down in the meeting. Where was it?

The week after: I’d better log on again and print off that download. What did I do with the password? I scribbled it on a post-it note. Where’s that? 

Just prior to the next meeting: What were the key points I took down from that website? I wrote them on a pad. Where’s that pad?

It might not have been a URL. It might have been someone’s contact number, or their address. Or maybe it was the outline of that absolutely brilliant idea you had for a presentation while you were waiting in the departure lounge. It was so clear in my head after I had drawn all the circles and arrows. How did it work again? 

For me, those dialogues stopped in 1995, when someone made a simple suggestion.

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