"It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting," he said. "Why don't you invest more time being interested."
The advice given to Jim Collins in 1988 by John Gardner
John Gardner, then professor at Stanford University and author or Self-Renewal gave Collins this advice during his first year on the Stanford faculty. The simple summary “Stop trying to be interesting and become interested” for me connects directly to working on things you have passion for. Jim is of course author of ‘Good To Great - Why some companies make the leap... and others don't' and co-author with Jerry Porras of ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’, both research based exposes on successful leadership styles certainly seemed to find his passion.
I’ve just had one of those ‘well, it’s all over now’ conversations – referring to the Christmas / New Year celebrations of course. That’s the way some people feel about the Christmas holidays – a bright spot during the winter gloom... fortunately in this particular conversation we had some bright winter sun to brighten the mood.
Gloom does appear to be a somewhat common response to January and I can’t pretend that I’m looking forward to the short days; although even there the shortest day passed on the 21st December – the sun is staying out just a little longer each day (I can see the raised eyebrows now )
I have to say I am looking forward to the year ahead – and that’s as much about being determined to look on the brighter side as anything... just like avoiding the downbeat British soaps it takes some effort, but it’s worth it.
What do you have planned or what are you trying to achieve in the coming months? In my experience New Year resolutions tend to be of the ‘join the gym’ or ‘lose weight’ type rather than the ‘change the world’ type – nothing wrong with the former of course (though ‘working-out at the gym’ is probably a better than just joining), they probably reflect our natural tendency to go with what’s front-of-mind.
Personally I like to make Christmas a long holiday, which post Christmas day leaves plenty of time for contemplation. It’s time to refresh my thoughts on health, family, finance, business and relationships. In reality, being a somewhat slow-burn type (much to my own annoyance) most of the changes are things I’ve been thinking about during the general run of things for some time. The extra space during the holiday is useful to make something of them.
My own process works something like:
- Open my mind
being away from the usual day-day process helps with this as does reading great books like The Creative Habit
- Create a list of all the things I would like or like to do
- Test the list against a ‘how much do I really want it’ criteria
- This helps me prioritise
- So I can list some key actions to get going on the one or two things at the top of the list
- Take the first action quickly
A fuller version of which I cover at my Succeed in 2011 workshop.
This year ‘make a difference’ figured near the top... and my goodness the action list is long. I should have stopped at ‘lose weight’.
Happy New Year!