ROI By FJR:First Things

R.O.I. By Frank J. Rich
First Things
October 24th, 2012

Success may depend on nothing less than this. Sound like religion? For those who find it hard to admit they have one, fess up. Every repetitive “means to an end” is one; and few things are more powerful in relating to one’s success than “first things.” This habit is one we would all do well to cultivate and keep.


You’ve heard it by any number of epithets: “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” “You snooze, you lose.” “The early bird gets the worm.” “In early, stay late … if you want to get ahead.” And so on…


The route to personal achievement is not perspective, genius, personality, or personal connections. It is simply hard work and the luck that obtains from the joining of preparation with opportunity. Discipline is its genius, personality, and perspective — just plain and simple.


How much does the first thing you do every day matter? A lot. In fact, the first thing you do each day is the thing you did the day before to prepare for it. The “productive” day may start at different times for different people, but most begin their day at home preparing for school or work. It’s in these moments before we arrive at our destination that we prepare our minds and attitudes for what is to come. No pole-vaulter would consider lifting himself on a pole without the preparation necessary to success. It’s frightening how many show up to work or school each day with nothing more than their lunch prepared.


Motivational guru Tony Robbins says, spend the first moments of each day in gratitude for what you have, your skills, and the opportunity to practice them for productive ends. It’s a great model, whose origins are found in scripture. Most prayer begins this way, and when committed to in gratitude, fears over one’s sense of oneself dissolve into the self-confidence of completeness. Clarity comes easier by a focus on what’s good with the world, to take a page from Dewitt Jones, National Geographic photographer, who turned what he saw into how to find what most are looking for — good results.


If email is the first thing you do each day, stop; says author and teacher Julie Morgenstern. It’s the thing that busies us more quickly than any, and which refocuses our energy away from the vital plan of achievement for the day. Oddly, email has lost its urgency in the office and at home. Co-workers can telephone you while at work and friends prefer texting. Thus, email can wait.


Every day has its unlikable tasks. When important enough to schedule them (sic, deadline), tackle them first. Simple logic and experience confirms that children eat those nasty peas before getting to the juicy hamburger that awaits them. The last thing you taste each day should not be the thing that chokes you. Conquer this first and the rest of the day wears a happier face.


Every day’s ardor is better managed when the “value conflict” is behind us. If you’re already doing what you were meant to do and loving it you’re well on your way to fulfillment every day. If your stomach is telling you something else, you’re in the wrong field. Resolve to get busy and move on; the sacrifice is always worth the peace of mind it brings, not least the respite from the Pepcid. To make the unique contribution you have prepared for requires that you have purpose, clear identity, and the opportunity to practice your skills.


First things are made even more valuable by a focus on how to prepare and manage them. It’s your day; wouldn’t you want it to be the best it can be? First things may be the answer!


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Raising Father By Frank J. Rich

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