Name a Book That Changed Your Life

Today’s task is to write a little bit about a book that changed my life.

I happen to enjoy reading and I consider myself a voracious reader, although my focus tends to be more on news than books. My book collection is not the most impressive because I tend to spend the bulk of my time reading news online or on my phone (which tends to drive Mrs. Mac a little nutty). The bulk of that happens to do with soccer and all things related to Liverpool FC.

One book that did have an impact on me was The One Minute Manager, written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. I was working at Home Depot and attending a management training course in the mid 1990’s when this book was given out as a prerequisite for that class. Time is a premium in most jobs, and learning how to manage it effectively is often what separates top performers for their peers. This was the case working at the store level at Home Depot; heck, it was difficult enough to find time for a bathroom break during the course of the day.

The book was a simple read. It was in the ball park of 100 pages with very large print. I flew right through it in less than an hour and I’ve gone back through and reread it quite a few times since. The book is written very simply and designed as a quick read for those with limited time. It doesn’t go in depth with problem solving, rather it tries to pass along some simple tools to help a manager succeed. It came with three core principles:

  1. One Minute Goal Setting–Done weekly.
  2. One Minute Praising–Let subordinates/peers know when they do something right
  3. One Minute Reprimand–Let subordinates know when they don’t meet your expectations & how to fix it. The key is to let them know you value them but not their performance for the particular task at hand.

The point from the book that struck home the most was the urgency to handle something immediately and not letting it fester. The example that I recall is dealing with mail/interoffice memos (not that most of us have those any more with the invent of email, although the principle applies to email as well).

The principle was pretty simple: Touch it once and be done with it. As you read through something and realize you can address it immediately, do so. Don’t set it aside and leave it for a later date. Deal with it right away and then toss the memo into your trash can (or delete the email). If it’s something that requires more work, make it a point to set it to the side until a time in the future where you can dedicate the proper amount of time to it.

Some things deserve a lot more attention and you need to budget time accordingly to deal with it. By addressing smaller tasks immediately, it eliminates clutter and additional noise from your life and frees up more of your time to deal with the really important issues. I’ve actually carried that same concept over to some of my decision making. Instead of letting thoughts fester and preoccupy my time, I try to make quick decisions and move onto the next issue.

One think that helps me with this is simply realizing that I’m wrong almost as much as I’m right, so why waste so much time trying to make the perfect decision? The key is to address those mistakes before they turn into a bigger issue. Until tomorrow…

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