Activity Matrix

Urgent Not Urgent
Important

I

  • Crises
  • Pressing Problems
  • Deadline-driven projects, meeting, preparations

II

  • Preparation
  • Prevention
  • Values clarification
  • Planning
  • Relationship building
  • True re-creation
  • Empowerment
Not Important

III

  • Interruptions, some phone calls
  • Some mail, some reports
  • Some meetings
  • Many proximate, pressing matters
  • Many popular activities

IV

  • Trivia, busywork
  • Some phone calls
  • Time wasters
  • “Escape” activities
  • Irrelevant mail
  • Excessive TV

 

Introduction to the 7 Habits

Briefly, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Dr. Stephen Covey, are a framework to help plan your life. The Seven Habits, in conjunction with other concepts help provide a holistic way of looking at your life, values, roles, goals and relationships.

The Seven Habits are:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin With the End in Mind.
  3. First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood
  6. Synergy
  7. Sharpen the Saw

These habits provide us a process to move ourselves along the Maturity Continuum, starting with Dependence, moving to Independence, and finally, Interdependence.

Let’s take a short look at this. Starting with Habit 1, we have proactivity. Proactive is the state of mind that says, “I am responsible for my situation, or my response to it

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Where do you want to go? Not just today, but in the long haul.

Habit 3: First Things First. These are planning and execution. We want to expand, grow, and generally have fun.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win. I will not win at your expense. BUT … I will also not lose to satisfy you. I will not be hard-nosed, nor will I be a martyr!

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, THEN to be Understood. This order is not accidental. By taking the proactive stance of listening first, we allow the other party to express themselves, without them feeling they are competing with us for expression. Once they feel they are understood, then we have all the time in the world to express ourselves. They are ready to truly listen, as we truly listened to them. Now we have a real foundation for problem solving.

Habit 6: Synergy. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, or 1+1 is greater than 2. We utilize habits 4 and 5 to find a better answer to our situation, thus allowing both of us to get all we wanted and then some!

And finally, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. The habit of renewal and balance. Here is where we keep ourselves “sharp”. No just technically, but mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Future Journaling

Take a blank page in your Planner or journal, enter the date at the top, one year from now, IE: February 27, 1998, and write in the present tense. Write your thoughts as if you were reflecting back on the year that has just passed, and during which all your goals were met!

Suggested Reading List

  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-70863-5
  • Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-79280-6
  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill; published by Simon and Schuster ISBN: 0-671-86441-6
  • Autoimmune Illness – Playing the Hand Life Dealt and Winning the Jackpot! by Barbara j. Mascio; published by Harmony Publishing ISBN: 0-9653612-4-1
  • The Holy Bible (or any spiritual literature)
  • The Three Phase Manual by Scott Ohlgren; published by NaviQuest Corporation
  • Connections: QII Time Management by Roger Merrill
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

I am an entrepreneur. I hereby give up my right to complain, base my life on what is not working, feel overly sorry for myself, indulge in a rich tapestry of excuses — and instead, commit myself from this day forth to the active pursuit of what is working. When problems occur, I don’t go into denial about it, but use them as springboards for becoming more resourceful. I can afford no more than 10 minutes per day for whining. Any more then that is costing me my dreams.

Signed and dated:

From “The Three Phase Manual” by Scott Ohlgren

Burn out

A common problem in our field. I’ve seen it chew up many good Systems Administrators over the years, and I’m sure it will take a corresponding toll on the NT SEs as well. Why?

No matter how good you are, there are always more fires, more machines to install/upgrade, more users to assist. It is the classic problem in just about any customer support position. No wonder SAs have a history of only being in the field for about 2 years, or in a company for 2 years before moving on. (I can not speak for NT SEs, but only time will tell…)

Long hours, fire fighting, unhappy users, emotional labor, and stress all add up to burn out in time. How do we avoid this?

By following the “Principle of Balance”. In the Seven Habits parlance, it is the core of “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”. Habit 7 ties all of the habits together and builds the strength we need for our lives. It also can renew and rebuild a life that has seen a few, or too many, hard knocks.

What is Balance in our lives? Quite simply it is TAKING the time, to do all those things you need to do to balance out your life. In our careers and society, with all the demands being placed on us, there will never be enough time to “have the time to do whatever”. If we remember the first three habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First

They provide the foundation for self-mastery. I believe this is the key. If we have self-mastery, we take responsibility for our lives and actions (Habit 1), know what we want in life (Habit 2), know how to do (Habit 2) and are doing it (Habit 3). By taking the time to decide what we want in life, and setting out course, we will move directly in to Habit 7. If we have purpose, we can not avoid Balance. If we have Balance, we have purpose and mastery. Sound like something an old Eastern Master of Philosophy or Martial Arts would say? Well, that may be true, but it is also the same thing the Christian Bible says. As well as the Koran. And the Tao Te Ching. Not to mention more modern works as well. Why does this keep coming up? Because it works! And builds strong lives and strong people.

If you have that balance, fight to keep it. Balance is never something you “just have”, it is something you have to fight to have. But anything worth having is worth fighting for. This is actually the easy route in the long run.

If you do not have balance, this is the tougher road. It is the one I am traveling.

If you are a fellow traveler on this road, welcome. You have picked a tough one. But one with many valuable lessons and experiences. Some of them I am glad to have had, even though the better road would have been to keep the Balance and proceed forward.

It is tough to overcome imbalance in your life. The problem with imbalance, is that it is an easily self-perpetuating situation. One that can rob you of your personal power. I know, this is the second time for me. I guess I like falling off of wagons. 😉 The first time took a wake up call of Infectious Mononucleosis (mono). I recovered and rebuilt. This time, I fortunately did not need a wake up call, but saw the signs. Unfortunately, this one is tougher. The first time I was not married and a home owner with all that comes with it. Nor was I a consultant, and all that it entails.

Why am I spilling my guts to all of you? Well, I stood in front of many of you and claimed to be a “expert of sorts” on the 7 habits material. Whether or not I wanted the title, I claimed it by standing in front of you claiming to believe in the material. So I have to be honest with all of you. I’ve been out of balance for almost four years, and walking the edge of burn out the whole time. (OK, so I’m slow at waking up.)

Because of this, I am working on getting back away from the burn out stage. Not an easy road. How does one do this?

Well, by getting back to the basics. For me, that is re-immersing myself back in the 7 Habits material. (Now you understand why I am studying the material and encouraging others to do so.) Where do I go from here? For me, it is to return to my various studies, mostly philosophical and spiritual, some physical. In this way I am starting to feed 3 of the four areas we all have, the mental, spiritual, physical, and the social/emotional. The latter one is being partially filled by my wife, Charrie. It is also being partially filled by “talking” to all of you in this fashion. It enables me to give a piece of myself to others. I have a lot of work to do, but I hope this message will help some of you, as it does me. I helps me by reaffirming myself to my purpose and committing myself in front of my peers. I have a lot of work and welcome all of you to join me on my journey. All of you have a journey to travel, and I hope that your journey is filled with Balance and Purpose. (And don’t forget the fun along the way!)

Superman/Superwoman

No, this is not wedding announcement. But a hint of what each of us can be. Superman (and his lesser known cousin) can exist in each of us. (I’m NOT going to get into which one you want to pick. I am just NOT going to go there!)

Well, since this column is related to the Seven Habits, what do I mean? Think about it for a moment. Other then the super powers, what is the most notable characteristic of super heros?

Give up?

Try a little harder …

OK?

PURPOSE
One word. Two syllables. Seven characters. Not much ink on a standard piece of notebook paper, even with how large _I_ write. One word, but so-o-o-o much meaning.

Purpose gives meaning to life. Purpose gives direction. Purpose provides motivation. Purpose is POWER. Think about a powerful person you know, not necessarily in a political or monitary sense. Powerful people create change in society. They are people with a personal vision and mission.

Psstt! (whispering) You want to know a secret? … Come over here…. (talking conspiratorially) We all can have it. Yep. All of us.

What does it take? Not much and a lot. The not much is what you already have: A brain, a body (healthy or not, hmm, probably could say that about the brain, too), an imagination, and dreams. The a lot is also what you already have: drive, determination, and the REST OF YOUR LIFE!

How do you get started? Easy – start dreaming. Decide what is important to you. Plan for it to come true. And execute, execute, execute!

In other words, Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind, and Habit #3: Put First Things First.

You practiced Habit #1: Be Proactive when you decided to take that power for yourself.

Another little secret: No one has the power to take it from you!

If you decide to be a superman or superwoman, there is no Kryptonite except yourself. No one can take it from you, unless you let them. Hmm… That means … if you have a purpose in life, and you are proactive, no one CAN stop you. Unless you let them.

Guess what? You have just become an unstoppable force in the world.

Wow! We just gained a second power! Maybe invulnerablity is not to far off…

Consider the story of someone who had a major impact in my life. A man with a purpose in life, who not only make a difference in life, but make a difference in how he died.

When I first met Coach Delserone, it was in an art class. Little did I know how important this man was to become. Coach Delserone was a good sized man. He was very much like the football players he coached. Big, strong, quick on his feet. He also had a heart, a mind and a powerful mission.

Over the years, I went from Jr. High School to High School and I saw him everyday in my art classes. Im not an artist, but he never let that stop me. He encouraged the meager artistic talents I had and praised me when I was able to do something that exceeded my limits and grew, no matter how small it was.

He was the same way on the football field. He never referred to the team as “the team”, but “my boys”. He helped the football players who were in trouble. He never had an ill word for anyone. He was an inspiration to us all, in quiet ways. We celebrated with him when he had his first child. His son. You could see the family values he had for “his boys” , were there in his home life. The football team adopted Coach Delserone’s son, as if he was one of them.

Time passed, Coach Delserone’s son was two years old. We were all struck by a terrible blow – Coach Delserone was diagnosed with Lou Gering’s Disease. This is a terrible wasting disease that slowly destroys your voluntary nervous system, and continues into your involuntary system, leaving your central nervous system intact, until one day everything shuts down. Your body slowly betrays you, and you are fully aware of what is happening to you. A terrible disease.

Coach Delserone was diagnosed at having about 6 – 12 months to live. We were all in shock.

Coach Delserone always told “his boys”, his son, his friends, and his students, “Never Give Up.” That had always been his motto. This is important.

I graduated and went on to college, but I stayed in touch with another teacher who was Coach Delserone’s friend. I later learned, that he lived on for several years. Even when he was forced to live in a wheelchair, he kept coaching. Even when he did not have the strength to lift his hand to shake yours on greeting, his eyes never lost their fire. He became an inspiration to us.

In his last year of coaching, his football team played against Hubbard, our biggest rival and State Championship contender. In the week before the game, the school almost held its breath. There were no banners, there were no slogans, just one phrase was almost whispered: “Win it for _him_.” When our team entered the field, it was in almost silence. No one expected us to win.

Hubbard never knew what hit them! Because one man had a mission in life to help others, this team with no chance to win, but a meaningful purpose, literally slaughtered a team that should have run right over them.

I could go on from here, but this man, with only voluntary control of his eyelids, with the help of his wife, wrote a book.

When I got word that he had died, I cried. I still almost do, whenever I think of it. Some in sadness, because the world lost a man I would call a saint. But mostly in awe and inspiration of what can be done in life, if you never let the fire go out.

Find your purpose, and make a difference. Be “super“.

NB: Special Thanks to Carolyn Hennings for editing assistance, especially on such an emotional issue for me.

I Am Your Customer

I Am Your Customer

Satisfy my wants, add personal attention and a friendly touch, and I will become a walking advertisement for your products and services. Ignore my wants, show carelessness, inattention and poor manners, and I will simply cease to exist, as far as you are concerned.

I Am Sophisticated

Much more so than I was a few years ago. My needs are more complex. I have grown accustomed to better things. I have money to spend. I am an egotist. I am sensitive. I am proud. My ego needs the nourishment of a friendly, personal greeting from you. It is important to me that you appreciate my business. After all, when I buy your products and services, my money is feeding you.

I Am A Perfectionist

I want the best I can get for the money I spend. When I criticize your products or services, and I will, to anyone who will listen, when I am dissatisfied, then take heed. The source of my discontent lies in something you or the products you sell have failed to do. Find that source and eliminate it or you will lose my business and that of my friends as well.

I Am Fickle

Other business people continually beckon to me with offers of “more” for my money. To keep my business, you must offer something better than they. I am your customer now, but you must prove to me again and again that I have made a wise choice in selecting you, your products and services above all others.

– Author Unknown

Bandit

I don’t have much to say right now, but I’ll be back later. Maybe after I get done chasing Finicky around the house. She acts s-o-o-o-o constipated at times. She says that she is better then a distant cousin, B.C. I can’t imagine someone worse then Finicky!

Any ways, The kitty tease is calling my name!

  Bandit – 08/19/97

Bandit

Originally posted 8/20/97

Hi!  I’m Bandit.  A.K.A. The Prince of Distruction.  I’m the junior member of the operation, but the larger of the two of us.  Unlike Finicky, I’m less picky about how we are refered to.  She is real particular about capitalizing references to us.  She says that is because I am only on my first life, and not very far in to that one.  She says, when I get older and I understand the Universe better, I’ll understand the respect due me as a Cat.  I think she is a bit stuffy. 😉

Anyways, I hope you enjoy my E-Diary!

– Bandit

Finicky

 

My name is Finicky “Flagpole”  Mascio.  I was born on May 15, 1990.  The day after my master started working at Convex Computer Corp.  (Now known as the Convex Technology Center of HP)  I was given the nickname “Flagpole” by my Grandpa Mascio, because my tail is always straight up in the air!

I’m the Queen of the house, and ruler of all I survey.  Bandit (The Usurper) and I decided to “politely” inform John of his oversight in “his” web pages.  Since John has lived with so many of our Kind over the years, he has gotten fairly proficient, as humans go, in our language.  But, unfortunately, so many of the other Cats were negligent in their duties in training him, that he often thinks HE runs the household.  We are now working on training his wife, Charrie.  One of the few humans with a name that is almost worthy of being a Cat Name.  Bandit, by virtue of being a kitten, has sunk His claws in her, so to speak, and is slowly working on getting her trained.  He started with simple requests, like wanting in the entryway closet.  She has proven to be quite trainable, and We have her to the point that she gives Us tuna at their dinner time.  We did that to allow her to think she was being nice to Us.  You humans have such delicate egos.  If you would just get rid of them, We could train you so much easier.

I’ll let you in on a secret, you know how We are often fabled with nine lives?  Well, it is true.  Only it is due to the fact We have nine – separate – lives.  You humans, in your limited way, would refer to it as reincarnation, but in reality, it is more of a different form of conscienceness.  Our conscienceness is passed from Cat to Kitten, in a pattern that only the Goddess Bast (as you know Her) knows.  Unfortunately, you portray Her in the crass likeness of a human body with a Cat’s Head, but then, I guess that is due to your limited perceptions of the Universe.

Anyway, I digress from My point: Our conscienceness is passed from Cat to Kitten nine times.  We regain Our full memories upon adulthood, about 1.5 – 2 of your years.  Upon the end of Our ninth life, we merge in to the Unified Feline Conscience, and help Our still developing Brothers, Sisters,  and yes, you poor humans.  Just think where you would be if it was not for Our adopting you, and attempting to guide you in to a better state of being.  BTW: This is My second life.  The first was with John also.  He showed some promise in My first life, so Bast the Merciful allowed Me to return and continue working on him.

Anyway, if I decide to share any more of Our Secrets, I’ll have John or Charrie transcribe them for your edification.

Until then …

Finicky – 8/19/97

Finicky

Originally posted 08/20/97

Welcome to my E-Diary. This is just some random notes that I have decided to publish, to possibly enlighten you humans. Once you realize your proper place in the Universe, We all will be able to get along quite fine. I’ll have John update these pages from time to time, but, since We are the superior species, you’ll just have to check back once in a while. After all, you never know when I’ll get the whim to “write”.

– Finicky