Go Back to the Simplest Advice

If Stephen Covey isn't working, try Plato.

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Advice seems to get more and more sophisticated with time.

Plato says: "Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly."

Stephen Covey says:

I recommend a time management credo that says: "I will not be governed by the efficiency of the clock; I will be governed by my conscience. Because my conscience deals with the totality of my life. And since it is well educated from study and from experience, it will help me make wise decisions." Under the influence of a well-developed conscience, you make decisions on a daily, hourly, and moment-to-moment basis to be governed by principles. If you are immersed in an extremely productive or creative work, don't let anything interrupt. Can you imagine a surgeon taking a telephone call in the middle of surgery? Most people are buried in urgency. Most production and management jobs call for quick reactions to what is urgent and important. The net effect of a reactionary, urgent lifestyle is stress, burnout, crisis management, and always putting out fires.

When it comes to our careers, we often tend to read the newest book or search the newest job site. There's usually a good reason for that. Things change and some tips become outdated. But I think sometimes we need to return to the simplest devices, the old-fashioned, no-brainer wisdom, and try it out again.

Last night I was on the phone with my parents, who were trying to watch a DVD at our family's lake house. The system wasn't working, and they called me because I'd used it last. I offered my suggestions, which involved using a complicated system of button pressing from multiple remotes, along with unplugging and replugging the DVD player. I even called someone else for additional advice. In the end, the picture still wasn't working.

"Bang it," I said to my mom.

"Bang it," she told my father. She turned back to the phone: "Bang what?"

"The DVD player," I said.

"Bang the DVD player," she repeated back to him. He's got a very sophisticated intellect, but he was willing to try anything at this point.

I heard a hoot. It worked. They watched the DVD. Sometimes the best way to fix your problem is the simplest way.


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