Ever heard the phrase “it’s the little things that matter most”? Of course you have, unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life; no judgments here. Is it true? Yes, yes it is. That’s not to say big moments don’t matter but it’s often the little moments that add up and create big moments. So why then, as human beings, are we stuck in a vicious cycle of oversimplifying the complexities of life? We can say criminals are evil but that’s an easy answer that doesn’t add up. If I volunteer on the weekends, I’m perceived as a good person. As flattering as that is, that’s a generalization. So what makes everything add up, where you can say, “oh, now that makes a lot of sense”? Well, my friends, it’s context. We are not always good and we are not always evil. Context explains why “good” people do “bad” things and “bad” people do “good” things.
Why Context Matters:
Context matters because it allows us to make better sense of the world. Instead of saying someone did something out of “character”, we can analyze and break down what they did and why they did it. When we make generalizations, we are left scratching our heads. If I’m perceived as a good person people will dismiss when I do something out of line, or worse, change their view of who I am with this one instance. If, for example, I call someone a “bad” name, rather than trying to understand the context and what lead to the name calling, they can simply say I’m a “bad” person. And due to personal bias, once they make this new assumption, they will look for anything that will reaffirm their new belief that I am a “bad” person. Yet, flip the story around. Let’s say I compliment that person and reaffirm their world views. Then I am a “good” person. So, simple. Just be a “good” person. This would work in a perfect world. Yet what as human beings do we tend to do? We focus on the negative. We are hard-wired to do so. Everyone wants to feel as though they have worth and we seek this through the approval of our peers. Humans are social creatures, so it makes sense. In a perfect world, we would be 100% intrinsically motivated and not care what others thought of us, but once again, we do not live in a perfect world. So back to my previous example. We can have a thousand positive interactions with an individual yet it only takes one moment to destroy a relationship. Does this seem logical? No, yet we do it all the time. We hold grudges and we put up walls. So an understanding of context in a sense can overwrite what we are hard-wired to do and make forgiving others much easier.
Asking the right questions:
A question we don’t ask enough is why. Such a simple question yet so powerful. Why is a question of trying to understand context. It encourages discussion and facilitates results. It not only helps you understand the situation better but shows appreciation of the other party. Ask why enough times and you have an answer. Instead of “good” or “bad” we get “Oh, I never saw it that way” or “Oh, that makes a lot of sense”. That’s the power of understanding context. It’s understanding. Context encourages us to break down labels and try to understand the other person on a situation-by-situation basis. “Heat of the moment” now makes a lot more sense. So go ahead, ask the question “why” and let the results speak for themselves.
So , there are many ways to be successful. This happens to be what’s worked best for me and I truly believe if you do this you can find success wherever that might be. What is it? It’s learning how to tell a good story.
Yes, from the dawn of time we have been story tellers. A story can take any form, it can be a painting, a photo, a blog post, literally anything. Let me clarify, just because you have something to say doesn’t make it a story. A story is a process of organizing information, tailoring a message to your specific audience. This audience can be yourself or others. We are constantly absorbing new information and this information is just noise until we break down the noise and organize. So what do stories need?
Stories need focus
One story at a time. Yes we have a lot to say and want to say it all at once, but this almost always ends in disaster. You end up having too much to say and end up spreading yourself too thin. You end up jumping from topic to topic and lose the interest of your audience.
Stories need a message
There is no point in telling a story if it doesn’t have a message. People want application. A story without a message is simply put, a waste of everyone’s time. You don’t tell a joke without a punchline and the same applies here.
Stories need to matter
You must tailor your story to your audience. Some stories are best left untold if they don’t add value to the other person. That’s not to say the story doesn’t matter, but it might be a story for another day and a different audience. If you find value in the story, great, that’s your own personal story. This said, my advice is try to find universal interests to frame your stories. Like, for example, everyone can relate to wanting to feel valued, to know that they have worth. You can tell many stories from this frame, whether that be giving advice through a blog or telling someone how much you appreciate their work and listing specifics.
So there you have it, a simple guide on what stories are and what to watch out for so you’re not giving people word vomit. I would like to note that this post is just one story. There very well has probably been another blogger who’s written about telling stories and reached a completely different outcome. Life isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about valuing the differences! Now go out and tell your story (or stories) whatever that (those) may be! Thanks for reading!
So, what is the one thing? Well, that’s the idea behind this book. People are constantly making themselves busier and busier but for what? People try to achieve a work life balance but only find themselves stressed and frustrated. This book challenges this belief and instead refers to the “work-life” counterbalance. If you’re working, your focus should be on work. If you’re “living” your focus should be on life (family, friends, yourself, etc). This is just one of many ideas touched upon in this book.
The book is easy to read and is very engaging, often riddled with pictures and diagrams. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan take the time to literally underline important concepts in the book, as if you were making notes in the book yourself. It’s a cool and memorable idea, and makes it easy if you want to refer to the book later on. The end of each chapter has a “big ideas” section that covers all the key concepts.
This book is extremely useful. I read the book a few weeks ago and a lot of the concepts have stuck with me even though I haven’t been practicing all of them. This is a book that gives you specific techniques to do more with less and really helps you manage your time more efficiently.
Amazing book, I’d put it high on my list for “must reads”. I’d say it was just as helpful as “how to win friends and influence people” and “7 habits for highly effective people”. If you’re someone who feels like you want to make the most of your time and not waste it doing things that don’t matter to you, pick up this book!
So “Good to Great”, was it good or was it great? Well, that’s a tough call. As an “essential” business book I found it a little meh when compared to the works of Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie. Th basic premise behind “Good to Great” is that in order to make the leap from good to great, a company must have “disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action”. It’s a fun idea and what I liked is the book found this information through extensive research into companies. For that fact alone it’s worth a read. This is a data driven book that tries (and largely succeeds) to marry the data to “universal rules”. I thought Jim Collins was a good author, being honest and transparent in his language. He does tend to repeat a lot of the concepts but for the most part I never felt like it was going in circles. So what’s my recommendation?
Recommendation: Worth a Buy, but I’d definitely wait until you’ve read some other “essential” business books. The book can get dry at times but there’s a lot of good material to read. Can also apply what you learn to your everyday life (although not to the same extent as “7 Habits” and “How to Win Friends”).
Note: I listened to the audible version, which was fun because Jim Collins himself narrated it and added extra snippets that weren’t in the original book. As far as content, there are a few diagrams which couldn’t be shown that are in the book but that Jim Collins took the time to describe in detail. As far as using this book as a reference, I would most likely recommend the hard cover.
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