Friday, October 06, 2006

Get Out of Your Own Way

This book, by Robert K. Cooper, was on the library's newly arrived shelf. It's pretty good, although if you read biz books a lot, there's a lot you'll want to skim. Still, the principles he talks about are good to think on.

The subtitle of the book is "the five keys to surpassing everyone's expectations." These keys are:

1. Direction, not motion

2. Focus, not time

3. Capacity, not conformity

4. Energy, not effort

5. Impact, not intentions

Each key has three or four supporting chapters that talk about subprinciples. Some things that I identified with from key one is that a) "good and great are the enemies of possible," a quote Cooper attributes to his grandfather. It's pretty self-explanatory though. The other thing
is he talks about "what's automatic, accelerates." Basically, if you can put effort into something until it becomes automatic, you've won the battle. So focus resources on issues and behaviors that will eventually run themselves, and thus produce payouts. He makes this point very well, so I would suggest if you're curious about that to get the book.

Under key two, I really liked the idea of "emphasizing the right moments, not the clock." Although I love my current position and I have a great deal of freedom, those around me are not always as fortunate. They seem to have employers who don't get this point at all. People have pent-up frustration about not being able to apply this principle in their paid employment. The visionary in me says watch out for this issue, because we will see problems with it in the future.

For key three (capacity, not conformity) I want to underline the point that "constructive discontent drives growth." In the literature, the need to accept change is a yawn-making bore at this point. However, the concept of "constructive discontent" is a, if not the, causal force behind this change. So, to quote scripture, we can "act or be acted upon."

Keys four and five are pretty self-explanatory.

I did enjoy the book, which helped me to articulate some of my personal philosophy and things I've observed to work.

In the mail: We've Always Done it That Way: 101 Things about Associations We Must Change