March 10, 2008
News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - The Life Guide
Today's challenge deals with how to manage the insanity of work demands on top of other things, you know, like life and happiness:
"My biggest challenge right now is keeping my 6-8 bosses happy. Why 6-8 bosses? That's how many active projects I typically have as a consultant. Each boss wants to be the 'special' one, the one I'll bend the rules for -- "Mary, we know that you usually don't fly on Sundays, but can you be here on Monday morning to attend a meeting with our President?" -or- "Mary, we know that you're booked six weeks in advance, but can you shake a couple of days loose to help us out of a jam?" How do I maintain a life, and keep everyone happy, while still trying to go 'above and beyond' for my clients? - Mary
6-8 bosses? Many of us find it difficult enough to deal with one, so this challenge really jumped out at me. It's likely that Mary has very little time for non-work related, but equally important things such as health, family, and leisure, but how does she even begin to manage the demands and requests of her 8 bosses during working hours?
Robert Ashton has written a helpful, jam-packed little book called The Life Guide: 10 Things You Need to Know About Everything That Matters. In it, he covers both realms of Mary's dilemma - personal time, investing, retirement, entertainment, relationships as well as the daytime grind of setting priorities, making time, making changes, avoiding pitfalls, managing the boss, enjoying your work, and getting things done. Importantly, Ashton uses this guide to help the reader understand what success means, and how to accomplish it for themselves. It's different for everyone, after all.
A big part of Ashton's approach deals with how to make changes. By reevaluating things and re-prioritizing them, a broad improvement takes place. Regarding this improvement, he states, "In reality, it's not a straight ladder. You rarely want to change just one aspect of your life and leave everything else undisturbed. However you build your ladder, you want to make sure the rungs are equally spaced and not too far apart. Equally, it must be accepted that if no one else knows what you're trying to change in your life, it will be harder for you to stay on track. To make sure you're going to follow through, you need to be realistic in the goals you set and make sure you allow other people the opportunity to give you the occasional nudge in the right direction."
Even this point alone could help Mary have a conversation with her bosses and let them know her concerns, while stressing the positive impact her changes will have on her work (the benefits to them). All in all, this is a book we can all refer to that will keep us on the path, our head above water, and our lives (all parts of it) in order.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.