Time and Chaos Management


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Am I patient?

Well I thought I was. I strongly believed that I was the most patient person on earth. Why you may ask – because for a very long period in my life, I’ve been leading people. In fact, this is the first time since grade 3 that I am not in any leadership position of any sort. I learnt through my leadership journey that people are divided into two groups:

Group A – Real people. These are the logical, rational, emotionally intelligent beings.

Group B – Goats, Cows, Donkeys and Potatoes. These are people who are extremely difficult to work with for various reasons. They could be stubborn, always late, super lazy or very hard to get a hold of.

Leadership is a practice that generally needs patience. Since 90% of the people I led in my life fell into Group B, this must have meant that I was the most patient person on earth. I realized that I was wrong – partly wrong.

To explain this, I’m going to make reference to the Johari Window (the first time I heard this I thought that’s the name of a reggae singer – it’s not). I learnt about this in my very first leadership workshop many moons ago. The Johari window is a tool (or technique) used in personal productivity and it helps individuals better understand the relationship with themselves and others.

In the Johari window, there are 4 windows as shown below:

These windows are the various parts of your character. There are some things that you know about yourself that you don’t want other people to know e.g. that thing you are thinking of right now. These are the things that you know about yourself and don’t let others know. Then there are things that other people know that you also know. These are the things you let other people know about you. Then come the interesting bits and these are the parts you don’t know about yourself that everyone knows (maybe the way you walk, and talk) and the parts that nobody knows about you, and you also don’t know about. This is the amazing zone where you discover talents you never knew you had and so forth.

So what the hell does all of this have to do with that burnt sausage?

Patience! I’m getting there.

One day, at home I was cooking. Cooking myself a good meal of rice + a sausage plus a bit of soup. I turned the stove on, put the sausage in and waited for it to get ready. I got really impatient and decided to turn up the heat. The end result was a really dirty pot plus a sausage braai. I  wanted to make soup and consulted my board of advisors on what to do next. I was told to use another pot. I didn’t. In the end I had rice, black mud-like “soup” and a sausage surprise : )

Then that got me thinking. I’m a rational human being. I think logically, but I’ve cooked a mess! It was clearly apparent that the main cause was my impatience, but my mind wouldn’t believe it. After all, I was the most patient person on earth. I realized that I was wrong. I had uncovered an area that’s unknown to me and unknown to me – a blind spot. I was patient with everyone but myself.

After doing more thinking, I realized that this trait was common in many areas of my life. I immediately wrote this down – be patient. Then I chanted the words over and over again. That simple change has shown amazing results.

Which leads me to this. Have you had time with yourself? Time to explore your thoughts, find out more about your blind spots? If the answer is no, then here are a two recommendations:

  1. Listen to good podcasts. I wrote a good article about this so click here to have a look at the article.
  2. Take time to think. It sounds really silly but tell me – when did you last actually use your mind to think about what is happening in the moment? We’re usually caught up in the moment worrying about how many people have seen our latest social media post, annoying bosses at work, and other irrelevant stuff.

I was introduced to stoicism (this is not a cult. It is a way of life…just Google it) and the cornerstone of stoicism can be summed up in one very short phrase – FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL, AND IGNORE THE REST. That’s where I found the serenity prayer to be quite powerful. In this prayer they say

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference

Well that's it for today. See you next week Wednesday ! Don't forget to leave a comment if you liked the article.