Sun Tzu on Our Calendar

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“Know the enemy and know yourself…”

          –     Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC), Chinese general, military strategist and “author” of “The Art of War

Know the enemy…  And, I’ll bet you a $6 latte that our calendar is public enemy #1 for many of us.

Warren Buffet’s calendar is the model.  Ours is likely the anti-model.

Going from meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting, back-to-back-to-back gives us a false sense of importance.  It’s busyness at it’s absolute worst and it tricks us in to thinking that we’re A) more important than we are and B) that we don’t have time for the stuff we want or need to get to.

Buffet’s calendar is, essentially, blank.  According to Forbes and other interviews with Buffet over the years, he spends 80% of his time reading.  His calendar looks like a brand-new journal the day before you start journaling in it! And no, he didn’t just start that when he became one of the world’s wealthiest people.  It’s how he became one of the world’s wealthiest people.

I met with one of our city’s most successful CEO’s earlier this week.  We set aside 45 minutes for a meeting he was gracious enough to have.  In 20 minutes, we’d covered everything that was important to me, a couple things that were important to him, and we’d uncovered one new thing that will be important to us both.  Then we took the other 25 minutes and we each used it for something that wasn’t the “next meeting.”  It was energizing and empowering for us both.

Buffet-izing our calendar likely won’t be easy.  There are real competitors.  There are internal challenges.  There are market events.  There are client issues.  There are sales presentations and networking events.  Yet there are also only 24 hours in today.   Look it up.  It’s true.  And some of those we ought to use for sleep, family, exercise, friends….  Do we really want to spend them in an “update meeting,” or a “meeting to determine that no one did anything since the last meeting but they feel compelled to give a 15-minute update on what they didn’t do so that it sounds like they did something meeting?”  You get it.  And since the number of hours we have available to us won’t change, day-to-day, perhaps we can look at how we spend them.

What if the calendar stops being the enemy?  What if it becomes an asset?  Isn’t a couple weeks of uncomfortably saying, “No, I can’t / don’t need to be / don’t want to be in that meeting…” worth having the time to make a difference?

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up the week with a tip or two on converting our calendar to be an asset, not an enemy.  Until then, comment below.  Let’s make this one a conversation.  Let’s brainstorm ideas on knowing ourselves well enough to know our calendar well enough to make it our friend, and not our enemy.

 


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