Putting first things first is likely one of the most important and most difficult challenges we face as adults. There are so many pressures and all of them come with the insistence that they are the MOST important. When everything is the MOST important, paralysis ensues and nothing gets done.
Earlier this week I was speaking with a student in the elevator about her day. She commented that it was a busy day, but that she was there to finish a degree she had delayed years earlier. She went on to explain that when she had her daughter, she stopped school to focus on her daughter with the intent of starting back when her daughter started Kindergarten. Her daughter started Kindergarten this fall and she started back on her degree, determined to get it finished. She obviously knows how to prioritize her life and understands how to put first things first. While her choices may not be the same for you, it is still up to you to make conscious choices about your priorities.
While you are in the season of getting your degree, don’t be easily pulled away. Jesus, in talking about the cost of discipleship in Luke 14:25ff, urges those listening to count the cost with the realization that following him will be costly, but will also be worth everything.
The same concept applies, although with obviously lesser consequences, regarding the pursuit of your academic goals. You have counted the cost and started your degree. Don’t treat this casually by missing nights unnecessarily, or coming late unless unavoidable, by not completing your homework, or plagiarizing your work. This is YOURfuture; Put first things first.
Everything is not of equal importance, and the importance of different priorities changes over time. Keeping the first things first is the surest path to success. Take the time at least yearly, but preferably once a quarter to evaluate the different priorities in your life. You can always find an excuse to delay your goals and procrastinate, but the one who suffers when you do that, in the long-run, is you and potentially your family. Put first things first.
First, recognize that when you make a public presentation, no matter how minor, you will probably get nervous. This is completely normal even for experienced speakers. The nervousness will pass within a minute or two after you start. Expect it to happen and don’t let it shake you. Second, . . .
No one wants to be labeled a “quitter,” but there are times when EVERYONE has felt the pull to quit. It could be a job, a friendship, a project, an educational program, even a marriage. If you are human, you have fell the temptation to quit. Sometimes quitting is the right answer, but most of the time real victory and growth take place when you are willing to persevere; to stick with it, in spite of the temptation to quit.
I’m sitting at my desk this morning and receive a phone call. It was from a student. She was surprised that I answered the phone and was prepared to leave a message, so it caught her off guard for a minute. We chatted a bit and then she got down to what she called about.
It seems she received a letter in the mail from me yesterday. She picked up her mail and pulled into her drive and pondered whether or not to open it, thinking it was a bill or some other kind of bad news. She has been going through some difficult challenges and didn’t know if she could handle another piece of bad news. Still, she steeled herself and opened the letter, only to discover it was a congratulatory letter for her making the Dean’s List. She said she sat there cried happy tears and has read and re-read the letter several times.
All I did was send the letter, she was the one who put in the hard work to achieve this honor, but she was so appreciative of my acknowledgment of her effort. I have to be honest I got a little teary listening to her.
The faster we go the less there seems time to give a compliment or recognize the efforts of those who are truly giving their best . . . and the more these kind of encouragements are needed. I know I like to feel appreciated, and I suspect we all do. So, be a Leader, let your people know you recognize the work they are doing and make it your goal to be an encourager to someone every day. We don’t have to allow our culture or society to drive us to be cogs in some machine determined to use us up and leave us empty. We are created in the image of God and that is all about relationship. Relationships are built and nurtured when we take the time to value each other.
Being present in the moment is one of the secrets of level 5 leaders. This is a skill that is often ignored or discounted by those aspiring to leadership who are busy trying to be all things to all people. Great leaders know how to come fully into the moment and focus their attention, intelligence, and relational energies in working with people and issues.
Getting your paper completed and submitted is a great feeling. Getting it back with a lot of negative comments about your writing, style, and grammar, not so much. Here are three things you can do which will have a HUGE impact on the quality of your final submission.
Always try to have your paper completed a day early and leave it sit for at least a few hours before going back to re-read and tweak before you submit. I can guarantee this one fact alone will pay off huge dividends in the quality of your writing.
Proofread your paper by reading it out loud. I know it sounds crazy but this is a secret that all the best writers employ. By reading your paper out loud your ears will catch problems in syntax and grammar that your eyes don’t. In fact, I’m willing to say that you will be surprised at some of the mistakes you will find.
Keep the APA Quick guide near you when you write. Planning to come back and check things for APA later may sound like a good idea, but you and I both know that life gets busy, and good intentions won’t save you when the paper is being graded. You can find the APA quickguide at this LINK. It isn’t long, either save it to your phone for ready access, or print it off and keep it close when you write.
There you go, three tips that will improve your final product.
Multitasking is doing two or more things at the same time. For example, watching television, reading a book or playing a video game, while listening to a lecture. A LOT of people swear that when they do this they are able to concentrate better, learn more, and are more productive. However, studies have shown that when you attempt to multitask, both activities suffer. That is, neither activity gets 100% of your attention.
This seems obvious, but you can’t really be a great leader until you have learned how to be a great follower. There are several types of followers: the actively disengaged, the slacker, the confronter, the “yes” man and the fully engaged. Each one has specific characteristics, however, it is the fully engaged Follower who rises to become the great Leader.
“It doesn’t matter what happens to you, what truly matters is how you respond to what happens to you.” The stories of those who have overcome adversity to achieve great results inspire us. Yet, somehow when WE are the ones in adversity the real temptation is to make all kinds of excuses why we should be pitied and excused for quitting.