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Confront The Brutal Facts



In his bestselling book Good To Great, Jim Collins and his team of researchers identify 5 common characteristics shared by companies that make the leap from just being good to being great.   Of these 5, my personal favorite is #3 – Confront the Brutal Facts. It is impossible to make good decisions without first an honest confrontation of the brutal facts. Once this step is taken the right decision or action to take often becomes self-evident.

This key characteristic of greatness in companies also carries over and applies equally well in our personal lives. It is so simple – first, Confront the Brutal Facts, then, based on these facts, what is the next action to take? It’s simple in concept but difficult in practice because Emotions get in the way.   The Facts often distress us, annoy us, stress us out, depress us, etc., etc. The result is that decisions are often made based upon Emotions rather than on the Facts and these decisions rarely lead to success.

On the subject of Time Management, the mantra of Confront the Brutal Facts is particularly useful.   Here are some of the typical Brutal Facts of Time Management where success hinges upon confronting them without emotion.   In other words, assume that you are an impartial third party reviewing the facts.   As an impartial third party, what action would you choose when Confronting these Brutal Facts:

  1. You can’t do it all.   At work or at home, there are more demands, options and alternatives clamoring for your attention than there are hours in the day.
  1. It’s either you or them. Are you in control of your calendar or are you a victim reacting to the requests or demands of others? Electronic communication is both a friend and a demon. It facilitates communication but overwhelms because there is just too much.
  1. Recognize bad habits. Bad habits are activities that are enjoyable, but do not contribute to the result that you want to accomplish.   For example, do you allow your time to be sabotaged by checking text messages or social media while at work? Are you distracted by internet searches that take you off subject? Are you a procrastinator?
  1. Multi-tasking doesn’t work.   Studies have shown that concentrated focus is more effective and more personally satisfying that multi-tasking.   The brain simply can’t be in two places at once.
  1. You can’t please everyone.   Making choices among competing demands based upon the best result for your personal goals will necessarily require practicing the skill of saying no tactfully. Ignoring, avoiding or delaying this action leads to stress and feelings of being completely overwhelmed.

Once you take emotion out of the picture and simply observe the facts as if you were a third party consultant, the next step typically emerges with greater clarity. The next challenge then is to follow-through with the identified action in the face of the emotions that may emerge along with it. When this happens, repeat the mantra: Confront the Brutal Facts.



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