Entrepreneurship Development: Self-Management (II) – By: Musbahu El Yakub

LLast week we started this series by introducing the concept of self-management, its benefits and its four elements. This week we will begin to discuss specific ways we can develop our self-management skills.

If there’s one set of skills we need to be successful in life, it’s self-management skills. These are the skills we need to do the right things correctly and efficiently in any situation we may encounter. For example, a very well-managed entrepreneur trying to build a business would have no problem waking up early on a cold morning after a late night at work to get ready to go back to work even though he would have preferred to stay at bed for three more hours. Getting out of bed may not be easy under the circumstances, but the budding self-directed entrepreneur is clear that going to work and getting the job done is imperative if they are to have any chance of succeeding. This decision and its execution will be based on understanding and accepting the imperative to do the right thing and not just what is practical in the situation.

Self-management skills are based on some simple but fundamental success principles that do not change over time and space. In my opinion, there is only one tripod of these principles:

You must work hard to succeed: Hard work is the enforceable part of all that is right and good in life. But don’t get caught up in the “work smart, not hard” arguments. “Hard work” actually includes both a intelligent mind as good as a component of physical exertion. Therefore, ‘smart’ work is an integral part of ‘hard’ work and emphasizes the intellectual rather than the physical dimensions of work. But both are necessary as complements to each other. The complementarity of the two is summed up succinctly by Tim Notke when he says, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.

You must be honest: Our technical skills and the relationships we have can always open doors for us. But in the long run, nothing honors us and sustains the opportunities we get, as well as creating new ones, than being honest. People may sometimes find your truths inconvenient, but you will always be respected for it. The English proverb that “honesty is the best policy” is timeless and fundamental to success. In every situation you find yourself in, you should never have to think about telling the truth. This should be a permanent, default setting of your mind.

You must continually develop: Despite technologies making things easier for us, our lives will continue to be more difficult, perhaps due to globalization, opportunities, cultural mixes, etc. The only way to always understand our place and role in the program of events, and to be able to do what we should be doing right, is to continually try to understand people, events and things. As you grow, you will be able to put problems in their place, regardless of the noises and distractions around you.

Life throws stuff at us, good and bad. Often we also attract things to us, good and bad as well. We have to be very vigilant and able to try to do the reasonable things and to make corrections when we are wrong. According to George Bernard Shaw, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” What he meant was that we should continually strive to develop ourselves to be the best we can be.

How do we develop the alert mind, the right mindset, and an active body that’s always ready to do the right things?

Start by taking care of yourself: Airplane cabin crew would always announce that in an emergency you should put on your oxygen mask first before helping people in need around you. The logic is very simple: if you don’t protect yourself first in this situation, you could pass out before you even finish helping the person in need near you. It’s the same with most other things in life. But taking care of yourself is not a matter of gratuitous greed. It’s more about self-development. It’s about preparing and strengthening yourself in the areas you need to help yourself, your loved ones, your business, and even the world. Simply put, do the right things to legitimately take care of yourself and only then can you do so much more for others.

Always make thoughtful decisions: The first evidence you’ll notice as you begin to develop your self-management skills is that you’ll make better, faster decisions, even when they’re a little difficult. But there are two lanes on the decision-making highway: There is a fast lane for issues against which you have already internalized principles of action. If, for example, a customer unknowingly pays you more money than was charged, you will promptly alert the customer and return the overpayment to them. It requires “no thinking” and no time is wasted. On the other hand, if you are planning to start a business in which you have never been involved in the past, you will have to study it a lot. You will have to meet several experts and people experienced in the trade before you can finally make a decision one way or the other. In this situation, you need to take your time and not rush to make decisions.

Next week we will take other ways to develop our self-management skills.

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