Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflections: Three Solid Principles

Today is a rare day for me; I woke up at 6:30 in the morning fresh and energized! Thank God! The mere fact that I woke up that early (yeah, for me that's really early) is a miracle enough, but to feel energized and ready to take on the day is something else all together!

Anyway, because of this, I had time to do laundry and clean up the condominium unit I share with my brothers a little bit more. As I was going through these tasks, I began to think, is there any way for me to more effectively do all these? Can I think of a few basic principles that are general enough that I can apply them to any task or endeavor, but simple enough that anybody wouldn't have a hard time remembering them? This got my gears turning; last faculty Bible Study, we discussed L.A.B.S., which is an acronym I came up with  that stands for Listening, Asking, Believing and Seeking, all good practices for spirit-filled leadership. Can I come up with something as simple as that, but for general tasks?

Well, while I don't claim that what I thought of is as good as L.A.B.S., I think what I came up with is decent enough. It revolves around the principle of before, during and after, what do you do before every task, during every task and after every task. Three simple principles that I think can improve any process, task or endeavor.

Here is what I thought of:

Before: Think before every action. Do not act with ignorance

I have the tendency to wing it, to just go through a task and just let circumstances take its course. It has served me well on occasion, but more often than not, I end up with something mediocre in the end, something I cannot be proud of. The simple solution I can think of for this is to give every action thought. Make sure very action has a purpose. No, you don't have to spend five minutes to thinking about how to do a one minute action (though if it is high risk enough, doing so might be prudent, even necessary), it just means that you must make it a point to be deliberate at all times.

It's trivial to find one self going on auto pilot. It's easy to have the "I've done this task multiple times, I don't need to think about it" mentality. This, I think, however, is very self-destructive. It makes us lazy and complacent, making our actions loose and purposeless. It clouds our ability to look beyond what we are doing, to think about it's consequences in the future, making us short-sighted. Giving every action a little bit of thought and consideration, a little bit of purpose, will go a long way into remedying that.

During: Act with urgency, not with haste

Perhaps due to not really thinking about my actions, I also tend to be lax and slow. During the times when I need to rush or hurry, I do things hastily, ending up with something mediocre. The solution I thought of is to simply act with urgency every time, but not with haste. To have no wasted motion, and connected to the first, to have a purpose for every action.

The simplest way to go about this is to imagine what you would normally ideally do if you have to attend a meeting in an hour. What's the ideal way of going about it? How would you ideally prepare for it? You wouldn't want to rush, or else you'd end up missing a lot of details, but you wouldn't want to be lax as well. You'd want to pace yourself to accomplish as much as you can while still being effective and efficient. This is what I meant with urgency, and I think this will go a long way into remedying laziness and carelessness.

After: Clean up after yourself, as soon as you can

Often, I fall into the trap of simply accomplishing what I have set myself out to do. Like a tornado, I go through my task without thinking about what I leave behind. The solution I thought of for this is to simply take that extra minute to clean up after yourself. Are we really too busy that we cannot take the extra minute to clean up after our actions? And yet we still have time for recreation; games, gym or simply dilly dallying around. No, I don't think we are, and even on those occasions where we absolutely cannot be bothered to clean up immediately, these occasions are what they are, occasions, and if we do find ourselves perpetually in this state, then we might be taking up more than we could handle (which the first principle and second principle solves quite handily).

I think a good measure of our efficiency isn't only how much we have accomplished, but how cleanly we do it. Because if we act without cleaning up after ourselves, clean up becomes a separate task all on its own! So, true, we're able to do a lot of tasks quickly, but if it's at the cost of adding another task (and a non-trivial one at that!) at the end of a certain span of time, I think it defeats the purpose.

So there. Three simple and easy to follow principles. I hope I can keep these in mind as I go about my day today, and the rest of my days in the weeks, months and years to come. I want to constantly make myself better in a non-superficial way, and these three are a good first step!

Have a great day today!