Posts Tagged ‘self-management’

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: The Messi Effect

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Ready Set Grow
Before I am innundated by a flood of emails: Yes, Lionel Messi is an outstanding soccer player, with this proviso: Messi also makes mistakes. And Messi plays badly from time to time.

But during the World Cup, has it occurred to you that Messi (almost) always did everything right, brilliantly, strategically—at least in the opinion of the commentators. Even when he made a particularly bad move, it was “strategically well-conceived.” When Messi took a shot, “Messi, Messiiii, Meeeeeesssssiiiiii!” Too bad he missed, by ten feet. Commentary: “That was really, really close. A great idea from the Argentinian star player, but his teammates let him make his run all by himself. Even the best can’t do anything that way.” Ho hum.

There it is, the “Messi factor.” The star can’t play badly, because that isn’t on the agenda. If he doesn’t get a shot, it’s because “he was taken out of the play by four, five opponents.” I see.

There’s an on-going Messi factor in daily life. The authorities make no mistakes, and everything that the authorities do has a reason (supposedly). It reminds me a little of a satire by the great Ephraim Kishon, wherein he describes a guided tour through a museum. The guide kept asking, “What is the artist trying to tell us?” But Kishon never had an even half “correct” answer because he saw only meaningless sculptures or moronic images having four squares instead of the alleged epiphany before his eyes. At the end of the tour, near the exit, Kishon pointed out to the guide and the tour group a pile of sand, ingeniously formed so that it seemed that it must have a very special significance. The guide: “Oh, the fire department forgot to remove that after the last drill.”

Don’t let alleged authorities bully you. We all make mistakes. All of us.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia –

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: Time is More Important than Money

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Ready Set Grow

When I used to lecture on self-management, sooner or later we came to the point where I told my students that time is more important than money. You can imagine what the usual reaction was. Correct. “That’s all well and good for you to say!” Especially students financing their own studies—which is definitely a challenge at the private college where I teach—couldn’t imagine such a thing. Time is more important than money? Impossible.

But it’s true. If we lose 50 bucks, we can earn it back. If we don’t get an order, we’ll get another one. But if we lose an hour, it’s gone forever. Among other things, this also means that poorly-paid deals are bad deals indeed. I find it preferable to lie in a hammock than to accept a crummy order.

So let’s make the best use of each hour of every day, and not wait around for some better time to come along. We are the ones who decide whether an hour will be well spent, or not.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia –

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Plan Some Downtime

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Haven’t you also had the impression that every moment of your time is spoken for? Not only your working hours, but your private time, as well? Easter, Whitsuntide, Christmas? Family get-togethers—at least Easter and Christmas. Weekends? Run errands. Take care of something that wasn’t finished during the week. Take the kids to their sports, you to your sports. The garden is waiting, too. A few light bulbs need changing. Pay bills online. Do a few things that you’ve volunteered for. If that sounds familiar, you’re in the best of company.

In my speeches about self-management, I have argued for planning some downtime. That is to say, downtime is by no means something objectionable. By “downtime,” I mean giving yourself the freedom to set aside a certain amount of time to do nothing, or to do something unscheduled, something that appeals to you. It sounds paradoxical, but it shouldn’t. See it as a protected time slot, defended against any and all intruders, in which you can do what you wish. Ideally, planned downtime should also include your partner. Try it sometime. Exciting dialog, insights, moments could arise as a result. One rule of the game: The reasonableness of doing this will be under-appreciated


© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Three Goals, Not Ten

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

What have you resolved to do in 2014? What won’t get done?

Here is my advice, which works beautifully: From your presumably numerous goals, pick the three most important ones and write them on your office flip chart (You don’t have one? Then it’s high time.), or in your calendar, or enter them into your smart phone. Or hang the three goals on the wall. Whatever. What’s important is that you always keep in mind the three (not ten, five, seven) of them.

For each of them, ask yourself: What am I doing right now to reach this goal? How much I am putting into it? If the answer is “nothing,” then why bother with the goal at all? Don’t tell yourself that it’s beyond your control; that’s a sorry excuse.

Three goals, not ten. Give it a try. Come the end of 2014, you’ll reap the rewards.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Wrap It Up

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

There are people who can’t wrap things up, or don’t want to. Projects aren’t brought to a close, because the finishing touches are still missing. Journal articles or books aren’t finished, because the one or the other could still use some polishing. Assignments aren’t completed, because there is still a new idea to be worked in. Bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral theses are (always) completed at the last minute, because a new insight slips in at the very end.

If you really want to grow, you have to wrap things up. The final good insight, the fine tuning, that addition of yet something else – all pointless. Either the project, assignment, the book was good to begin with, in which case the finishing touch won’t improve it. Or it was bad, in which case the finishing touch still won’t help.

Wrap the thing up, and get on with something else.

Oh, one more thing comes to mind . . . No, that was a joke.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: How Do You Know That You Are Any Good?

Friday, March 14th, 2014

How do you tell that you are performing well or have done so in the past? How can you know that you are any good?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? We know without a doubt if we have performed poorly. We notice it right away: something doesn’t work out; something goes haywire, whether it might be a product or a relationship with a customer; there is negative feedback; it was an obvious failure. But how are we to know that we have performed well? Praise rarely comes from customers. In the south of Germany, there’s a maxim: “Nothing said is complement enough.” As a rule, companies, executive boards, CEOs get no praise, anyway. Someone in one of these positions who has relied on external praise, is not going to be happy. The conviction that all is well must come from within. How do we pin this down?

Here is where goals and results enter the picture. Without goals, no direction. Without goals, no compass. The results we achieve show whether we have performed well. It is not direct feedback. It is the conviction to do the right thing. When customers return, when employees perform at their peak, when suppliers become partners, when the company shows healthy growth – then we have obviously done something right.

We concern ourselves too much with what we might be doing wrong and too little with what we might be doing right. Today, in speaking with customers and employees, focus on what you are doing right and how you know that.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.