The Best Way to Be Authentic, Even Within a System

creativity effectiveness how to be more productive at home how to be more productive at work personal productivity tools plan preparation productivity self discipline system systems for success time work ethic Sep 22, 2021
Personal Productivity Tools

Several years ago, Cindy and I were leading a group through a fairly in depth study of John Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect when one of the folks in the group expressed concern about how applying the five principles and five practices outlined in the book could be viewed as manipulative. My response was simple… The best way I know to not come across as being manipulative is to not have a manipulative motive when you’re applying the principles or practices. When we’re genuine in our intent, the people we’re interacting with usually sense that. But when someone is trying to slip something by us, don’t we typically sense that too? Even the best principles and practices only work over the long haul when our motives are right! As a quick side note, while I do still like the individual who shared that concern, I have seen them do several things in the years since that have come across as manipulative...

Last time I shared about how much of a calendar nerd I’ve been for over twenty years. That all started for me with a PalmPilot. Next was a Blackberry and now it’s my iPhone. That said, I know a bunch of folks who swear by a printed calendar instead since they can have that physical page in front of them. I couldn’t care less which you choose; but it needs to work for YOU! I use the one in my phone simply because I can set various reminders to help me keep things from falling off my radar; that’s just the tool I’ve gotten used to.

Regardless of what type or even how the calendar is used though, I’ve heard folks express concern that being that meticulous to a schedule would prevent them from being creative with the new things they come up with or authentic in the interaction they schedule with others. My response to that is similar to my response about being viewed as manipulative: if we want to appear genuine when we interact with others, then we’d better be genuine. 

I kinda get the concern about creativity. I’ve frequently heard people say that they prefer going off the cuff or speaking from the heart. OK, fair enough. Both make sense but after training thousands of people over the last twenty-plus years, I can honestly say the only things I can train on effectively off the cuff today are the topics that I’ve covered so many times that I know the content inside and out so I can put my focus on the individuals I’m with. That’s where I’ve really felt like it comes from the heart! And getting that familiar with the content takes a tremendous amount of preparation or a whole lot of experience - and usually both!

In almost every case (I won’t go as far as to say absolutely every case), the person who prefers going off the cuff or speaking from the heart is actually saying they don’t want to invest the time to prepare. Preparation is the hard part! It can also be really boring. But developing a system to prepare effectively, then being disciplined about scheduling time for it, can often be the difference between mediocre results and extraordinary results!

I’ve found that just making sure it’s part of my routine, and disciplining myself to dedicate time to being creative every day, has helped me become more and more creative over time. That system has become a habit! Now I have to invest far less energy into forcing myself to get started and I can focus that energy on the actual creative part.

I won’t go into it here right now, but Cindy and I also developed a few lessons in our Leading At The Next Level program that go deeper into calendar planning as well as learning to identify which times of day we can be more effective at different types of tasks - like being creative… Next time we’ll look at how we can start creating our systems so that we actually enjoy sticking with them over time!