Thursday, September 20, 2007

Help Me, Mr. Covey...I can't focus!

So today I spent most of the day in training learning the Franklin Covey method to focusing. I tend to like Franklin Covey and his work. I have taken his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course. I even read the 8th Habit book. I have seen some of his workshops (on video of course) and have shopped at the stores that sell his products. Hell...I have even been known to quote him and his teachings from time to time and occasionally it is not in jest. Overall...I think that he was a pretty cool dude. Which is why I am slightly bummed that I left today's training feeling that it was a complete waste of time. I can't even get excited about the planner that they give you because I am staring at the last one that I got...realizing that I am about two years behind on that one!

It didn't help that I was on leave yesterday so I already felt behind, but I will be a conference all next week so that makes the workload seem even more endless. Another strike would be the fact that I was late to the training because I was enduring an eye exam (I HATE all things having to do with eyes!) and walked in with dilated pupils and couldn't really see. The downside to showing up to anything late is that your choice of seats is limited. In this case, there was one seat left, closest to the screen and next to the boss. I actually enjoy LCDR M however it didn't make it that much easier. No one is comfortable sitting next to their boss while discussing reasons why you struggle to do your job. Oh well.

So the consultant (I loathe that word!) started on the whole quadrant thing. Which quadrant should you be to eliminate certain quadrants...etc. Clearly I don't buy off on that and honestly doubt that she does either. After all, if we all heeded her training she will be out of job. Repeat customers like me are what keep her employed so it really isn't in her best interested to teach me well. Not to say that she didn't have some good things to say and teacher...she had some moments...but at no point did I believe that she was truly invested in our group. But I digress...
I think that the whole quadrant theory makes senses...but it is not practical. It is not achievable like the Franklin Covey crew would like you to believe. I don't care how in control of my life and my goals I am in...there will always be outside factors that will force me into crisis mode. No matter what examples we gave to illustrate this...she always defaulted to nurturing relationships and being control of our own priorities, etc....better described as Hippie Talk.

I think my biggest frustration is civilian contractors coming in and trying to pass off this kind of Hippie Talk as the golden key to success when they have no military experience or insight. Nurturing relationships is not easy when you are bound by rank structure. Too much nurturing and you will be investigated for inappropriate relationships. Not only that...but I highly doubt that anyone in my chain of command would accept me telling them that I couldn't obey an order right away because it wasn't on my daily task list. Don't get me wrong...I get the idea behind the methods...but I don't think that it is practical in the military environment. Oh well.

The planner part sucks. I am not one of those people who takes pride in building my own planner. In fact...I think that it is self-defeating and slightly insulting. The whole basis of the class is maximize my time right? Give me the damn planner put together and trust that I am smart enough to figure out what is inside of it on my own! Seriously...if I can't flip through it and figure out the little tabs on my own then I have no business keeping my own schedule in the first place. Aside from the building your own planner spend hours discussing how they think you should use the damn thing. They make using the planner far too much work. I will stick with Microsoft Outlook schedule thank you very much. Let's see that leather planner beep at me when I am running late for a meeting! My final complaint with the planner is what good is a note to do something in a closed book? A post-it on my computer or phone works just as well.

And now in effort to be nice...I will admit that the primary reason that this method doesn't work for me is because of operator error. I bet that if I really tried, and really committed to using it that I would succeed. The problem is my own paradigm. (See...I do use Covey references in day to day life!) It is my own fault and I acknowledge that. I just don't get why I should take on another task with hopes that it will makes things better. It just adds to my list of shit that needs to get done every week. I will stick the SMART Goal sheets that decorate my mirrors for goal planning.

Most job is putting out fires. (Not fact I have started more REAL fires that put out...but again I digress.) People call me with their "fires" and I fix it. No amount of planning on my part will ever completely solve that. It doesn't matter how many hours I spend on that damn planner with its weekly is not going to make reservists stop showing up for duty without orders. I don't enjoy fires (real or otherwise) but at the same time I take pride in the fact that I can put them out. It is not an ego thing...anymore than the orthopedic who takes pride in rebuilding destroyed knees. Nobody accuses the doc of sitting around wishing that more people would rupture their ACLs so he can have his moment to shine. So why should Yeoman be accused of stroking the admin fires in order to put them out? Oh well. That is another topic for another night. My hat goes off to the Covey followers and offer them my planners should they be able to use them.

Alas...I will never be super organized but I can't say that I really care.

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